Tuesday, September 29, 2009

St. Wenceslaus: A Devotion Fostered by a Childhood Carol

Fr. Tim Finigan of The Hermeneutic of Continuity recently put up a post about the feast of St. Wenceslaus which we celebrated yesterday in both Roman calendars. (Right: Altar of St. Wenceslaus in St. Peter's Basilica.)

Fr. Finigan's post reminded me of my own attachment to this saint, and it made me ponder that particular attachment further.

The Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslaus -- which, as Fr. Finigan notes, is no doubt the reason why so many of us in the English speaking world have heard of the saint at all -- was a childhood favourite of mine. With that came a further curiosity about the person of the "Good King" and ultimately an attachment and devotion to St. Wenceslaus himself which is with me to this very day.

This perhaps speaks in its own particular way to the words expressed by St. Francis Xavier, give me the child to the age of seven and I will show you the man.

This can, and of course does, have a much broader application than simply fostering devotion to a particular saint, but it seems to me that this tiny example speaks again of why our various customs, traditions and practices -- both those that we find within the walls of our churches proper and without in the context of the domestic church -- are particularly important to foster and exercise, for they have the power to influence and to form, planting the seeds that might later bloom.

The Tomb of St. Wenceslaus, housed in the St. Wenceslaus chapel of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague. (Image source)

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