Thursday, June 3, 2010
A Tour of Prague: Spring 2010 - Part I
The above picture is Prague's Old Town Square. I was lucky enough to get a day's tour of Prague from Sybille, Fr. Ricky Yates' fabulous wife. My tour was Tuesday of Holy Week Fr. Ricky is the Anglican priest and Pastor of St. Clement's Anglican Episcopal Parish in Prague. Interestingly, Fr. Ricky has two bishops: The Anglican Bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe and the Old Catholic Bishop of the Church of the Czech Republic, See also Fr. Ricky's blog site, which I might add has some wonderful stories and pictures of his life in Prague: St. Clement's is known as the English speaking Old Catholic parish in the Old Catholic Diocese of the Czech Republic. Below is a picture of St. Clement's, Prague.
I met Sybille on Tuesday of Holy Week (2010) at the Anděl (Angel) tram station close to downtown Prague. After a mix-up on my part as to where we were to meet, Sybille and I found each other and began touring the city. One of the first places we went was to St. Vitus Roman Catholic Cathedral, one of the oldest (if not "the" oldest) standing cathedral's in Prague. The one thing I absolutely love about Prague's churches and other historical sites is its accessibility to the public! It's one thing to look at these magnificent sites and another thing to be able to enter them, touch them, etc. St. Vitus Cathedral is very plays an important role in Czech history because, apart from the celebration of Mass, it was where most of the coronations of Czech kings and queens took place. The foundation stone for the cathedral was laid in the year of 1344, during the reign of Roman Emperor Charles IV.
Below is a picture I took of St. Vitus Cathedral from the view of its very old cemetery.
A picture of part of the cathedral cemetery. One could easily spend almost an entire day just touring this area!
The cemetery was amazing!! The mosaics (not fresco's this time, ha!) covering certain crypts were just breath-taking. Here are some pictures of them...mind you, the pictures do not do justice to what was seen in person.
I was captivated by both these guardian angel statues. One depicts the symbolic glory of our Triune God in beautiful mosaic gold, blue, and other magnificent colors while the other one (below) is grey and seems to be shielding/protecting the person whose grace the angel hovers over. I never quite saw a statue like this before.
For some reason I was drawn to this grave's crucifix headstone. It really depicts the horror of the crucified Christ, and the act of crucifixion itself.
I thought this was an unusual headstone of a women who had her image molded into an almost life-like statue depicting her being taken up from the ground over her grave. Amazingly original.
Here is the resting place of the great Czech composer Dvořák (d. 1904). His famous Kyrié composition (among others) is still often used for Mass celebrations across the world. Interestingly, Cornerstone Old Catholic Community often sing Dovorak's Kyrié throughout the year, especially during the liturgical season of Lent. I was happy to see that most of the Old Catholic Czech liturgies I attended chanted this version of the Kyrié.
Below is where the sisters (nuns) that served the cathedral are laid to rest (forgive me but I do not know what order the sisters are from...maybe someone can help me out with this??). I was struck at how modest their graves were amidst all the cemetery mosaics and grand headstones, statues, etc. It was a bit strange too that the sisters' graves were caged and separated from the rest of the graves. I took it to mean the old Roman idea of religious and ordained persons as being somehow seperate from the laity in life...and, in this case, in death.
It just so happened that Sybille and I were at the Cathedral at the right moment to hear the grand bells of the cathedral ring. Here is a short video I captured with my digital camera, so you could experience hearing the magnificent bells of the cathedral, enjoy.
Here are some pictures of the gorgeous mosaics above the cathedral's very large doors.
Lastly, above one of the doors is a carved depiction of the last judgement. Sybille and I shook our heads a bit after noticing that most of the persons going to heaven (the one's above) were men (mostly clergy and bishops, some kings), and the one's below in hell or purgatory were the women, poor, etc. Look closely at the picture and you will be able to see it too.
More to come...