Archdiocese of Prague

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Archdiocese of Prague
Map Archdiocese of Prague
Basic data
Country Czech Republic
Diocesan bishop Dominik Cardinal Duka OP
Auxiliary bishop Václav Malý
Zdeněk Wasserbauer
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Karel Herbst SDS
founding 0973
surface 8,765 km²
Parishes 145 (2016 / AP 2017 )
Residents 2,319,000 (2016 / AP 2017 )
Catholics 558,800 (2016 / AP 2017 )
proportion of 24.1%
Diocesan priest 180 (2016 / AP 2017 )
Religious priest 154 (2016 / AP 2017 )
Catholics per priest 1,673
Permanent deacons 37 (2016 / AP 2017 )
Friars 220 (2016 / AP 2017 )
Religious sisters 320 (2016 / AP 2017 )
rite Roman rite
Liturgical language Czech
cathedral Vitus Cathedral
Suffragan dioceses Diocese of Budweis
Diocese of Königgrätz
Diocese of Leitmeritz
Diocese of Pilsen

The Archdiocese of Prague ( Latin : Archidioecesis Pragensis , Czech .: Arcibiskupství pražské or Arcidiecéze pražská ) is the largest diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic . It includes the densely populated areas in the center of Bohemia . The Episcopal Church of St. Vitus and the Archbishop's Palace are located on the Prague Hradschin .

Coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Prague
St. Vitus Cathedral (Vitus Cathedral) in Prague

Time of Christianization

The Christian mission from Bohemia and Moravia took place from the ecclesiastical province of Salzburg . Missionaries from Regensburg were active in Bohemia and Passau missionaries in Moravia . In 845 14 greats ( duces ) from Bohemia were baptized in Regensburg. However, they soon gave up Christianity. In 863 Saints Cyril and Methodius came to Moravia. They translated the Bible and other texts into the Slavic language and used them in the liturgy. Around 883, Duke Bořivoj I and his wife Ludmilla were baptized and brought Slavic priests with them to Bohemia. At the same time, a Latin archipelago presbytery with clergymen from Regensburg had existed in Prague since around 895 .

Foundation under the Přemyslids

Since the 960s, the Přemyslid Duke Boleslav I negotiated with Pope John XIII. on the establishment of a diocese for all of Bohemia and Moravia. The diocese of Prague was founded in 973 through an agreement between Boleslav II and Emperor Otto I and the Regensburg Bishop Wolfgang , whose jurisdiction had previously included Bohemia. It included Bohemia and Moravia with Silesia , Lesser Poland and the Tscherwener Land . The first bishop Thietmar , appointed by Boleslav II , could not be consecrated until 976 by the Mainz Metropolitan, to whom the new diocese was assigned for political reasons. The rotunda of St. Vitus on Prague Castle was designated as the episcopal church, in which the grave of the national saint Wenceslas was located. After Thietmar's death, Boleslav II elected Adalbert as second bishop in 982 . In the year 1000 Silesia and Lesser Poland went to the new Archdiocese of Gniezno. With the establishment of the Diocese of Olomouc in 1063, Moravia was separated, so that the area of ​​the Diocese of Prague was identical to the Duchy of Bohemia, to which the Glatzer Land and Zittau also belonged.

The material security of the diocese was provided by the duke, who also decided on the occupation of the diocese. Only under Bishop Daniel was there a solution to the dependence on the sovereign. Daniel divided the diocese into ten archdeaconates, for whose material security the income from the episcopal goods was used. The archdeacons were the first clergy to depend on the bishop and supported Daniel in his endeavors to break away from ducal supremacy. The Prague archdeacon also acted as prelate of the episcopal chapter . Finally, at the end of the 12th century, King Ottokar I Přemysl recognized the cathedral chapter's right to elect bishops, but reserved the investiture . The investiture dispute, which was therefore waged during Bishop Andreas' term of office , was settled with a concordat in 1222 . The strengthening of the episcopal position resulted in a positive development of the church structures. A comprehensive network of parishes was set up, which were occupied by the bishop at the suggestion of the respective church patron and which were under his supervision. In 1244, the Mainz Metropolitan Siegfried von Eppstein made a visit to the diocese of Prague. After the expansion of the parish network at the end of the 13th century, there were 2084 parishes, which were divided into 57 deaneries.

Economic equipment of the diocese

The episcopal estates were scattered and fragmented all over the country. With the state development promoted since the end of the 12th century, areas of dominion were created around individual goods, which were administered by burgraves and whose income had to be delivered to the archbishop's court. Moldauthein , Příbram , Bischofteinitz , Rothřečitz and Pilgram belonged to the oldest episcopal estates . The diocesan estates were subordinate to the bishop, but had fewer freedoms than aristocratic property. They represented a special form of royal property from which the ruler could request support at any time.

Among the Luxembourgers

The appointment of a vicar general and the existence of an auxiliary bishop is documented for the first time in 1311 . In 1341 Pope Benedict XII. the Prague bishop the right to crown the Bohemian king and at the same time dissolved the diocese of Prague from the Mainz metropolitan association . On April 30, 1344 Pope Clement VI. the diocese of Prague became an archbishopric with the suffragan dioceses of Olomouc and Litomysl , which was newly founded in the same year and which was assigned four deaneries by the previous diocese of Prague. The first archbishop was Bishop Ernst von Pardubitz , who had been in office since 1343 , and who from 1348 also held the office of first chancellor of Charles University . At the reform synod he chaired, provincial statutes for the archbishopric were passed for the first time in 1349. The plan pursued by Charles IV to detach the diocese of Breslau from the church province of Gniezno and its assignment as a suffragan of Prague had to be abandoned in 1353. At Charles's instigation, the Archbishop of Prague received from Pope Innocent VI. the title of Legatus natus , whose powers extended to the dioceses of Meissen , Bamberg and Regensburg and which were valid until 1396. During the reign of Charles's son Wenceslaus IV , an internal church reform movement began, which was also linked to criticism of the church institutions. Archbishop Johann von Jenstein opposed it, who reorganized the church administration, visited the parish priests and convened synods. Although he devoted himself to the episcopal tasks with full energy and made high moral demands on the clergy, he came into permanent conflict with the king, which is why he resigned his office in 1393.

Hussitism and Counter Reformation

The university professor Jan Hus combined the criticism of the church institutions with Czech national concerns. Since he confessed to the teachings of John Wyclif , he was excommunicated by the Pope in 1411 and, despite the promise of safe conduct, burned as a heretic at the Council of Constance in 1415 . Hus' supporters, who divided into a moderate and a radical wing, reacted to the burning with an increased radicalism, which among other things led to the First Lintel in Prague and finally to the Hussite Wars . In May 1420, the Hussites agreed on the Four Prague Articles , which the incumbent Catholic Archbishop Konrad von Vechta accepted in April 1421 with the intention of being able to save his archbishopric. In fact, he became the head of the Hussite Church, which, from the Catholic point of view, began the period of Sedis vacancy , which lasted until 1561. In 1425 Konrad von Vechta was removed from office by the Holy See. Jan Rokycana , elected by the Calixtines in 1435 , was not recognized by Rome. The cathedral chapter remained loyal to the old church and moved its seat to Zittau from 1434 to 1436. Administrators appointed by the Pope were in office during the Sedis vacancy . Only towards the end of the 15th century did the Catholic Church gain strength again. The reasons for this were the Catholic King Vladislav II , who had been a Catholic since 1471, and his court, the Catholic nobility and the rapprochement of the moderate wing of the Hussites. Since the Council of Trent , King Ferdinand I tried to renew the Archdiocese of Prague as a common institution for Catholics and Utraquists. After lengthy negotiations, in which the Utraquists demanded the admission of the Chalice Communion and the Catholics demanded the return of the confiscated church property, Emperor Ferdinand I appointed Anton Brus von Müglitz as Archbishop in 1561 . Instead of the required restitution of the confiscated church property, the emperor provided funds from the royal chamber and received the right to nominate the archbishops in return.


Although Anton Brus also ordained Utraquists as priests for the first two years and the Pope permitted the lay chalice in 1564, the archdiocese developed into a Catholic institution. Since the Archbishop's endowment granted by the Emperor was insufficient, he also held the office of Grand Master of the Lords of the Cross with the Red Star . The condition of the diocese was confusing, and only about 15 percent of the population professed to be Catholic. From 1556 the Jesuits campaigned for early church reforms as well as education and upbringing with the establishment of the Catholic University Clementinum and colleges in Krumau , Wittingau , Komotau and Neuhaus . The goal of re-Catholicization of the population pursued by Archbishop Zbynko Berka von Duba and Leipa from 1593 onwards was intensified by Jan Lohelius and finally led to the Bohemian class uprising in 1618 . After its suppression in the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, consistent re-Catholicization took place over the next few decades, but this continued until the middle of the 18th century. As early as 1621, the Pope again forbade cup communion; the utraquist consistory was dissolved. 1621–1623 all non-Catholic priests were expelled. Because of the subsequent shortage of priests, religious and priests from other countries were appointed as pastors. The subjects either had to return to the Catholic faith or emigrate. As late as 1725, all means were used against the crypto protesters . In 1664 and 1665 the suffragan dioceses Königgrätz and Leitmeritz were founded. In the course of the Josephine reforms , the church administration was subordinated to the state. In 1785, South Bohemia, which had been part of the Prague diocese, was spun off and the Budweis diocese was established in this area .

From the 19th century

Coat of arms of a Prince Archbishop and legatus natus with legate purple, princely and episcopal heraldic symbols.

The Archbishops of Prague held the title of Prince Archbishop in the Holy Roman Empire . The Prague archbishops, like the archbishops of Gniezno / Gnesen , Gran / Esztergom-Budapest , Cologne and Salzburg, also held the honorary title of " born legate " ( Latin legatus natus ). As an outward sign of this position, they were allowed to wear legate purple in their archdiocese - a solemn dress that is much older than the purple robe of the cardinals. The title of Prince Archbishop and the use of the secular symbols of dignity associated with it (such as the prince's hat and coat ) was established in 1951 by Pope Pius XII. formally abolished.

In the 19th century, the bilingual Prague Archdiocese also got sucked into the national disputes between Czechs and Germans. Archbishop Wenzel Leopold Chlumčanský von Přestavlk was sympathetic to the goals of the Czech national rebirth and supported them. However, the period of office of Archbishop Leo Skrbenský von Hříště was overshadowed by the simmering nationality conflict.

After the founding of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the Archdiocese of Prague lost tens of thousands of Czech believers to the newly built Czechoslovak Hussite Church as well as numerous resignations from the church. After the Second World War , Josef Beran, persecuted by the National Socialists , was appointed Archbishop of Prague in 1946. After the seizure of power by the Communists in 1948, the possessions of the archbishopric were expropriated, priests and religious who withdrew from the political influence, removed from their posts and interned and the Catholic press into line . After Josef Beran made it clear by publishing a pastoral letter that the church would not submit to the communist regime, he was placed under house arrest from 1950–1963 and expelled from the country during a visit to Rome in 1965. Archbishop František Tomášek , appointed in 1977, was also unable to exercise his office freely and was under the supervision of the security authorities. Nevertheless, he called for improvements in political and religious life and for compliance with the CSCE's declaration of human rights . It was only since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that the state's relationship with the Vatican was based on trust and the unrestricted exercise of religion was constitutionally guaranteed. The pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II on April 21 and 22, 1990 as well as the European Youth Meeting 1991/92, in which 80,000 young people took part, were significant for the Archdiocese and for the whole of the Czech Republic . Archbishop Miloslav Vlk , who was in office from 1991 to 2010 , made great contributions to the reconciliation process between Czechs and Germans. The disputes over at least partial restitution of the church property nationalized in 1948 continue to this day (2008).

In 1993, the new Diocese of Pilsen was established from the West Bohemian territories of the Archdiocese , to which also smaller shares came from the Diocese of Budweis.

See also


  • Zdeňka Hledíková : (Arch) Diocese of Prague (Czech Praha) . In: Erwin Gatz : The Dioceses of the Holy Roman Empire up to Secularization , ISBN 3-451-28075-2 , pp. 574-587.
  • Ernst Nittner (Ed.): Thousand Years of the Diocese of Prague 973–1973. Contributions to the Millennium. Munich 1974.
  • Zdeňka Hledíková (ed.): Pražské Arcibiskupství 1344–1994. Sborník statí o jeho působení a významu v české zemi. Prague 1994. ISBN 80-7113091-5 .

Web links

Commons : Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Prague  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Heinrich IV. ( Boundary description of the diocese of Prague ), in: Dietrich von Gladiss (Ed.): Diplomata 18: The documents of Heinrich IV. (Heinrici IV. Diplomata). Part 2: 1077–1106 Weimar 1959, pp. 515–517 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  2. ^ Franz Gall : Austrian heraldry. Handbook of coat of arms science. 2nd edition Böhlau Verlag, Vienna 1992, p. 219, ISBN 3-205-05352-4 .
  3. ^ Jörg K. Hoensch : History of Bohemia, ISBN 3-406-41694-2 , p. 439, 447-448