Good King Wenceslaus

We’re just three months away from Christmas and while we don’t like to prematurely celebrate the Birth of Christ, it is fitting to discuss St. Wenceslaus, as his feast day was September 28th. St. Wenceslaus is, of course, the same man featured in the Christmas song by Bing Crosby, “Good King Wenceslaus.”

Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale looked at the life, works and miracles of this legendary saint, as well as how we can imitate him in our own lives.

Contrary to the lyrics of the song and popular belief, Wenceslaus was not actually a king. However, he was born into royalty as the son of the Duke of Bohemia, a title he eventually inherited. He came to be known as “Father of the Wretched” because of his famously favorable rulings and deeds, including his habit of almsgiving. According to Church writer Cosmas of Prague, it was well known that every night, Wenceslaus would leave his royal chambers and walk the streets barefoot, giving alms to widows, orphans, and the homeless.

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In the words of Pope Francis, as Cale remarked, Wenceslaus really had the “the smell of the sheep”, meaning he was amongst his people. He did not remain locked away in his towers or castle. He put himself out there, living for his subjects, getting his hands dirty. At its core, it is this type of example that the song “Good King Wenceslaus” is encouraging. Regardless of our level of wealth or power, we should always be on the lookout for our next opportunity to be generous and selfless.

Continuing, Cale mentioned that Wenceslaus’ grandmother was one St. Ludmila, the former duchess of Bohemia. She was married to Borivoj I and they both ended up converting to Christianity because of St. Methodius. Ludmila’s daughter, Wenceslaus’ mother Drahomira, was highly opposed to Christianity and she conspired to have her mother Ludmila killed by two of her noblemen. Drahomira’s plot was successful, and Ludmila is considered a martyr of the Church.

Shortly after that plan, Drahomira conceived another to kill Wenceslaus with the help of her other son Boleslaus. After inviting him to celebrate Mass on the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, they ambushed Wenceslaus on his way to the church and he collapsed and died on the church steps. After his death, people began to ask for his intercession, and several miracles eventually led to his canonization. Some years after his death, his brother Boleslaus repented of his sins, and had the remains of his brother moved to the Cathedral of St. Vitus.

The reason St. Wenceslaus is known as King Wenceslaus is because the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Otto I, gave him the title of king posthumously. St. Wenceslaus is upheld as a shining example of the ideal leader. He was politically wise, a shepherd to his people, and a pillar of Christianity. He too is hailed as a martyr of the Church and is the patron of the Bohemian people.

In our own lives, we should imitate the example of St. Wenceslaus in the areas of charity, humility, and piety. He was charitable to those less fortunate and generous in providing those who did not have enough to get by. He was humble in the fact that he did not worry about rank, status, or wealth in who he associated with. Every night, he would mingle amongst the impoverished even though he was a duke. And he showed piety in his fervency to live out the example of Jesus Christ. He even died on his way to praise Our Lord.

Listen to the full talk below:

Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 6pm CT

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.