St Wenceslas

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Patron saint of Bohemia. Duke and martyr. Born in 907, the name of St Wenceslas was immortalised in the Victorian Christmas carol, based on a much earlier song. But very little facts are known about his real life.

He was a devoted Christian who worked for the religious and educational improvement of his people. He accepted German rule, recognising King Henry the Fowler as the successor to Charlemagne. He was murdered in 929 by his brother Boleslaw's pagan followers.

A huge cult formed around him soon after death, centred on the church of St Vitus in Prague where his relics were brought. The Crown of Wenceslas was taken as a symbol of Czech nationalism. A series of paintings at the castle of Karlstein underline his national as well as religious importance.