Agnes of Bohemia, St.
AGNES OF BOHEMIA, ST.
Also known as Agnes of Prague; princess; Poor Clare abbess; b. Prague, Bohemia, c. 1200–1205?; d. Prague, Bohemia, March 2, 1281 or 1282; canonized by Pope John Paul II, Nov. 12, 1989.
Agnes, daughter of Ottokar I, King of Bohemia, and Constance of Hungary, the sister of King Andreas II of Hungary, received her early education from the Cistercian nuns of Trebnitz. This cousin of St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207–1231) was betrothed at the age of three to Boleslaus, son of Duke Henry of Silesia. Later she appealed to Pope Gregory IX, and he intervened on her behalf to allow her to consecrate herself to virginity.
Agnes established two hospitals for the poor, and she persuaded members of the Military Order of Crusaders of the Red Star (Bethlehemites) to staff them. In 1232, Agnes accomplished the building of a Franciscan friary and the Poor Clare convent of Saint Savior in Prague. Saint Clare sent her five nuns from Assisi to help establish the convent, where Agnes received the veil in 1234 or 1236 and was later elected abbess. Four letters from St. Clare addressed to Agnes are extant.
Agnes is known for her humility and loving service to others. She enjoyed cooking for the sisters and mending the clothes of lepers. She is said to have been gifted with the working of miracles and prescience. She predicted the victory of her brother Wenceslaus over the Duke of Austria. Before her peaceful death, Agnes obtained permission to give up all revenues and property held in common.
Agnes was buried near her convent. About 1322, her body was exhumed and transferred to a special coffin that was lost during the Hussite uprising.
Feast: March 2 (Franciscans).
Bibliography: i. brady, ed., The Legend and Writings of St Clare of Assisi (New York 1953), 9–10, 88–98, 157–159. m. fassbinder, Die selige Agnes von Prag, eine königliche Klarissin (Werl 1957). t. johnson, "To Her Who Is Half of Her Soul: Clare of Assisi and the Medieval Epistolary Tradition [Analysis of Clare's Letters to Agnes of Prague]," Magistra: A Journal of Women's Spirituality in History 2, no. 1 (Summer 1996): 24–50. j. nemec, Agnese Di Boemia: La Vita, Il Culto, La Legenda (Milan 1987). w. w. seton, Some New Sources for the Life of Bl. Agnes of Bohemia (Aberdeen, Scotland 1915; New York 1966).
[k. i. rabenstein]