St. John of Nepomuk

Myths, legends and real facts have combined and the story of St. John of Nepomuk came to life.

He studied at the Universities of Prague and Padua and in 1387, under the reign of King Wenceslas IV of Bohemia, Emperor of Rome he was named vicar-general to the bishop of Prague.

He was a worthy, valuable man in the cleric society of those times and was offered the bishop’s place many times, but each time he refused with honesty, considering that there were others, far more worthy than he was. Here is where legend and reality come apart. Chronicles say that he had learned of the King’s plan to reward an unworthy cleric with an abbey and he convinced the monks into electing a new abbot behind King Wenceslas IV back. He was therefore accused of treachery and sent to prison along with the archbishop and others. The archbishop managed to escape, but John of Nepomuk was tortured to death and his body was plunged into the River Vltava (Moldau).

It is said that in the same night when John was murdered, five stars were seen over the very spot where he was drowned.

As time passed, another hypothesis was spread along with the Saint’s story. As legend has it, King Wenceslas IV was a very jealous man and suspected his wife of being unfaithful. Wanting to find out the truth, he ordered vicar John to “tell him the secrets of his queen”.  As John refused, the king had him murdered and thrown in the river.

John Wolfin, born in Nepomuk, was canonized in 1729 as Patron Saint of bridges and ladies, since he would not tell the confession of the queen.

It is said that if you touch the dog on the left below the statue on Charles Bridge and make a wish, it will come through.  Touch the lady on the right, and you will return to Prague.  Also, if put your hand over the five star cross on the bridge and send a wish for someone else, this too will come through.  Be carefull though, it must be a good wish or it will come back to you.

This lesser known star is to be found on the left wall of the bridge, about halfway down, as you walk from the Little Quarter to Old Town.