Today marks the great Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Blessed Lady, it also marks the celebration of Our Lady’s patronage of our Order. One of the Order’s most famous canonries is also under her patronage – the Royal Canonry of Strahov in Prague, Czech Republic.
Exterior view of the canonry buildings
One of our confreres was recently privileged to visit Strahov and there to pray for our community and all its friends, relatives and benefactors, living and deceased, before the shrine of St. Norbert.
Statue of St. Norbert above the gatehouse
The canonry was established in in 1149 by Bishop Henry Zdik of Olmütz, Bishop John of Prague, and Prince LadislausII. The community of canons came from the well-known abbey of Steinfeld. The present buildings incorporate parts of the earliest buildings on the site and the church was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. The library of Strahov with its superb frescoes is famed throughout Europe, not only for the buildings themselves but for the unique collection of manuscripts.
Interior of the abbey church
As well as playing an important rôle in the history of Bohemia, the abbey is especially revered throughout the Order as the final resting-place of Our Holy Father Norbert.
Shrine of St. Norbert. Beneath the golden casket containing his relics is another casket that contains the heart of the last abbot of Prémontré
The relics were transferred to Strahov on May 2nd 1627. A wagon drawn by eight white horses brought the body of Our Holy Father into Prague and thence he was borne on the shoulders of eight abbots, accompanied by two hundred coaches of the nobility, a hundred Premonstratensians carrying candles and with the sound of triumphant trumpets. The Chancery of Prague preserved the abjurations of six hundred Protestants who, on the day, or during the octave, of the translation, adjured their heresy. On that occasion the Archbishop of Prague, at the request of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities, proclaimed St. Norbert the Patron and Protector of Bohemia.
The community suffered much under the atheistic communist government during the latter part of the last century, but in the 1990s the canons returned to gloriously restore this jewel in the crown of the Order and it is now home to a vibrant and growing community. You can read more about the history and life of Strahov at their website.
With thanks to the Abbot and Community for their hospitality