The Legenda of a thirteenth century saint is not a modern biography. The author assumes his contemporaries know what is going on in local and world history and will rarely refer to it. What he is trying to demonstrate is the holiness of his subject, in a such a way that the Church and her people can understand and will be helped and encouraged by it.
St Agnes was brought up as a princess, she resisted an Imperial marriage against all human odds and followed the poverty of the Gospel in the form of life of the Poor Sisters of St Clare. Clare wrote four letters to to Agnes and Agnes was the first to adopt Clare’s Rule in 1253. Agnes was greatly loved by her sisters and the Candor lucis eterne bears extensive witness to this. She died in the famine which occurred during the civil war over the succession of her great nephew, Wenceslaus II. She is one of the loveliest and gentlest of saints and her memory is alive amongst the Franciscan family and the Czech people, even today.
The unnamed friar who wrote this account of the life of St Agnes, claimed to be a contemporary witness and to have consulted St Agnes’ community and other who knew her, - but he is not strong on dates! He says: “In the process of telling this story I have, however, not always described events chronologically, in order to avoid confusion”! We have added this chronology (it is here) and supplemented the notes to lessen the confusion that the author was trying to avoid! The timeline follows the research which prompted the Czech Republic to select the year 2011 for the eighth centenary of the birth of St Agnes. Ottokar I and Constance of Hungary had eight children; two of them bore the name Aneska (Agnes). The first was born in 1205 and died in infancy, the second, their youngest child, was born in 1211.
Candor lucis eterne
The Radiance of Eternal Light
The Legend of St Agnes of Bohemia1
This is the prologue of the life of the famous virgin Sister Agnes of Prague of the Order of St Clare. Agnes was the daughter of King Premysl or Ottokar2 of Bohemia.
I was urged by the frequent petitions of the consecrated virgins, the sisters of the Order of St Clare at Prague, to record the life and deeds of the most renowned virgin, Sister Agnes, daughter of the August Lord Premysl, King of Bohemia, so that her extraordinary holiness should not be covered by inexcusable silence.
Rightly must her memory be celebrated with praise,
for the inexplicable wisdom of God
placed her, like a lamp on the lamp stand of the Church Militant
and lit her with the fire of His grace.
By this, she was set passionately on fire,
and she gave light to others by
the healing example of the merits of her life.
Hoping to receive eternal rewards, I desire to show goodwill and to respond to this justified and devout request. After mature reflection, I considered myself unsuitable and unworthy of this task and refrained from writing, fearing that, through clumsy speech, I should cover with darkness what ought to be expressed through clear and strong praise. Finally, urged in obedience by the reverend Father, my Minister, I accepted this task which is beyond my strength. I preferred in humble obedience, to collapse under the burden of such a great work rather than oppose the will of the one who commanded. For disobedience is rated like the sin of sorcery and the sin of idolatry. As we are unable to think, by relying on our own strength, but our success is based on God, who by His merciful compassion achieves within us the desire, as well as the accomplishment of this desire. I am wholly confident that He will aid me in this enterprise.
As regards this exceptional virgin, my intention is to write nothing else but what I have heard from those, who, having lived with her, can witness to her outstanding virtues and whose statements, based on their own meritorious life-style, can hardly be contradicted. I myself 3have witnessed some of the happenings which took place both during her life and after her blessed departure to heaven. Other events were told by eye-witnesses, and having been confirmed by trustworthy people, came in that manner to my knowledge. In the process of telling this story I have, however, not always described events chronologically, in order to avoid confusion. Regardless as to whether they happened at the same time or not, I have recorded the items in all simplicity as best as I could. So that those who prefer a pithy rendition, should not be bored and that the love of the faithful might burn more brightly, thus leading them to imitate this shining virgin.
The story of her life is contained in thirteen chapters as reported below:
The first chapter deals with her birth and her early conduct;
the second with her holiness of life when she lived after her parents’ death with her brother;
the third with her entering the Order of St. Clare;
the fourth with her deep humility and obedience;
the fifth with her holy and true poverty;
the sixth with her mortifications;
the seventh with her zeal for prayer and her wonderful veneration of the Blessed Sacrament;
the eighth with her burning love for the Crucified;
the ninth with her generous love for her sisters and those in need;
the tenth with the divine revelations which she had received;
the eleventh with her departure from this life and the events that occurred at that time;
the twelfth with the burial of her remains.
The last chapter deals with the miracles which were brought about by divine power.
I The life of the outstanding virgin Agnes, sister of the Order of St. Clare at Prague:
Firstly her birth and early youth.
The radiance of eternal light,
the immaculate mirror of the majesty of God
and the image of the goodness of the eternal Father,
this Lord Jesus Christ,
while the world was going to its end
remembered the fullness of his mercy.
He looked down in mercy from the august mansions of heaven
upon humankind sitting in darkness and the shadow of death.
Out of the darkness He kindled a light of remarkable holiness,
so as to reveal for future ages the over-flowing riches of His grace and goodness.
He did this by setting blessed Agnes,
in this last hour,
like a morning star on high,
just at the right time
and by letting her appear like the evening star
above the children of the earth.
By means of her excellent conduct,
comparable to that of a light-bringing star,
the people of her ancestors
who had been walking in darkness
were then to change their way
and were, henceforth, to set the footprint of their heart
upon the path of peace.
The announcement of her birth
Agnes came from a noble family, indeed, she came from royal stock, because her father was Premysl, named Ottokar, the famous king of Bohemia. Her mother, Constance4, was the sister of the Lord Andreas, king of Hungary and father of St. Elizabeth5. She was of royal descent on both sides and Agnes herself embellished this noble origin with exquisite manners. Her mother, during her pregnancy was given in a dream a pointer to future events. On entering the chamber which contained the many and precious robes of her royal family, she noticed among them a habit and cloak of ash-grey material and also a cord which was worn by the sisters of St. Clare. Much puzzled as to who had added such rough and simple garments to the costly robes, she heard a voice saying to her: “Do not be surprised, for the child you are carrying will wear such garments and she will be a light for all the people of Bohemia.”
A pointer to her holiness
God, knowing in advance future events,
wanted to reveal what was going to happen before it actually occurred.
By a wondrous inspiration, the holiness of Agnes - just born -
was made manifest by visible signs.
Her nurse often found her lying in the cradle with her hands and feet crossed over.
This seemed to mean that He, who for our sakes, endured the bitterness of the cross,
was resting like a bundle of myrrh between the breasts of her mind
so that she could for ever preserve for Him the blossom of her virginity.6
Her education in the monastery in Trebnitz
At the age of three, her parents, intending to see her married as befitted her noble lineage, promised her to a Polish Duke.7 Together with her nurse and an honourable entourage, she was taken to that place and with befitting honours was received into a monastery at Trebnitz.8 Here, with docility of heart, she received the foundations of conduct and faith, from the teaching of the daughter of St. Hedwig9. Here she remained and, although very young, she showed no childishness in her behaviour. Moreover, when the nuns entered the choir in order to chant the canonical hours, she knelt before the images of Christ and the glorious Virgin and recited in their honour the Lord’s prayer and the Angelus. She frequently encouraged her companions to do likewise.
Further formation at the monastery in Doksan10
It came to pass, since Divine Providence had intended something better for her, that after the death of her fiancée the above-mentioned duke, when she was six years old, she was returned to her father. He in turn sent her to the nuns of the monastery at Doksan in the kingdom of Bohemia, for further education in conduct and the acquisition of reading and writing. She spent a whole year with them and made good progress. The Holy Spirit, the teacher of the interior life, who does not need time, anointed her heart with His mercy so that she acquired by His grace what to others is given by daily reading. Because she was more advanced in her conduct than other girls of her age, she avoided noisy activities and games, since only the place of prayer, the church, was pleasing to her.
Return to the parental home
At the age of eight, the noble disciple of Christ was returned from the monastery to her paternal home. On account of her serious conduct which manifested itself in all her actions, she was deeply loved, not only by her parents, but by all who lived with her.
Engagement to the son of Frederick
After some time, messengers sent by Emperor Frederick arrived to arrange with her parents a marriage with his son and thus she became engaged to this young man11. On this occasion, something happened that should not be passed over in silence. At the hour of the engagement, none of those present could recall the name of the renowned virgin; albeit that it was well known to almost everybody. This event should make it clear that Agnes was to be everlastingly bonded not to a mortal, but to the Lamb without blemish, in whose book her name had been inscribed for all time.
Her stay at the court of the Duke of Austria
Finally, when all matters concerning the engagement had been settled in accordance with imperial etiquette, she was sent by her father, together with an ornately decked out royal escort, to Austria. After some time, she was to be given by the Duke as spouse to the son of the Emperor. During her stay, she did not yield to the demands of her body, but kept the fast throughout Advent, by living on bread and wine, whereas the family of the Duke in accordance with the custom of the country ate meat. Also during Lent, when the children of the Duke were given dishes made with milk, she was content with bread and wine. As she did not wish her fasting to be observed by others, she did it secretly so that only her nurse and a few trustworthy servants were aware of it. Thus she desired to carry the death of Christ in her body; she chastised her tender flesh and restrained its desires with the bridle of continence that she might not be considered before God as one dead because of a life of pleasure.
Her imitation the Blessed Virgin Mary
She also excelled herself in almsgiving as well as in prayer, having chosen the Immaculate Mother of Christ as her patroness. Recommending herself and her virginity to the Virgin, she implored her that she might become a become a worthy imitator and companion of her virginal purity. Throughout her life, she venerated the Annunciation of Our Lord more fervently than any other feast. Devoutly, she reflected how the young girl - still a virgin - had conceived the Saviour of Mankind by the dew of the Holy Spirit; also, how she had preserved her virginity and had become worthy to be called Virgin and Mother.
The dream of a knight concerning the coronation of Agnes
It so happened, that through a wondrous hint from God, who frustrates the designs of princes, the plans for the wedding were secretly abandoned. Therefore, having reached her fourteenth year of age, she was returned to the land of her birth12. And behold, not long afterwards there arrived at the court of her parents, messengers sent by the Emperor13 and messengers sent by the King of England14. Both deputations petitioned on behalf of their respective masters for the hand of their daughter. During their stay, one of the messengers belonging to the Imperial party, a knight of good standing, had a vision which deserves to be reported. He saw in a dream a crown of astonishing size15 being lowered upon the head of the virgin; she, however, taking it off, replaced it with far better one. On waking in the morning, he reflected in his mind on what he had seen and also told others about it. As an earthbound mortal and lacking spiritual insight, he interpreted as certain that his mission had been successful: namely that Agnes would despise the King of England and choose the one of higher dignity, the Emperor, as her husband. But the great God, who reveals secrets in heaven, wished by means of this dream to point out that Agnes was soon to become the bride of Christ. Instead of being crowned with the diadem of a passing kingdom, she would be crowned by Christ Himself with the crown of unchanging glory.
II Concerning the life she led with her brother after the death of her father
After her father, King Ottokar of glorious renown, had passed away, she remained with her brother, the successor to the kingdom, the famous Lord Wenceslaus16. She grew in age and love of devotion; in this way progressing from virtue to virtue. Arising at dawn, she changed her dress and was accompanied by those who knew her secret. With great devotion, she moved from one consecrated church to another, since there are many of these in Prague and she visited those cloistered, who dwelt there, recommending herself to their prayers. Often, however, observing her warming herself after her efforts, one could notice that, because of the the frost, her feet were reddened with blood. Since she endeavoured to enter into life by the narrow path, she frequented the rough lanes. As the sun rose, surrounded by noble company, she moved to the chapel of the royal palace or to the cathedral, with her attention placed, not on idle gossip, but on the Word of God. Having entered the church or chapel, she remained there participating in as many masses as she could. Then she attended vigils for the dead with the devotion due to God and never allowed her mind - untiring in prayer - any rest. Because she perceived that the shape of this world is passing, she already experienced fleeting earthly glory as burdensome. So as to avoid as far as possible the attraction of worldly clothing, she wore underneath the gold-embroidered garments that befitted a royal descendant, a short penitential garb. She avoided her bedchamber which was decorated with magnificent beauty, sleeping next to her exquisite bed upon a hard and low stretcher covered with straw. Such was her outstanding conduct in the house of her brother and of such a kind was her love for heavenly things and her contempt of those of this world.
The offer of marriage by the Emperor
Since scripture says that a burning light cannot remain hidden under a basket, so also the reputation of Agnes’ virtues and her good name, spread like oil around the adjacent provinces even reaching the ears of the Emperor. He sent - as before to the father - so now, a second time, messengers to the brother of the virgin, imploring him with many promises, asking him not to refuse him his sister in marriage. Her brother agreed to the wishes of those who had been sent, but the virgin of Christ considered that holiness in body and spirit was proper to one who belonged to the Lord. Desirous to follow, with the virgins, the Lamb, she resolved not to enter into marriage with any mortal, whatever station or rank he might hold. In order to be faithful to her resolution received by the inspiration of God, she undertook something of great impact. She revealed her intention to the noble Vicar of Christ, the Lord Pope Gregory IX17, by means of honourable and discreet messengers. The blessed Bishop, rejoiced on hearing of the magnanimous dedication of the virgin and through the same messengers confirmed her, in a friendly letter in the Lord, by praising and approving her holy proposal. Accepting her as a daughter, he presented her with many spiritual gifts and accompanied her throughout her life with the benevolent affection of a father. By reason of these gifts which she had received from the Pope, the handmaid of Christ was filled in return with deep consolation of spirit and immediately revealed her plan to her brother, the Lord King Wenceslaus. Being greatly troubled, the King sent messengers to the Emperor to apologize and likewise to explain the intention of his sister. The Emperor, however, answered as follows: “If anyone had done Us such an injustice, we would not have hesitated to revenge such disgraceful contempt. But since the virgin preferred a Lord greater than Us, We do not attribute her refusal to contempt for Ourselves. It is therefore Our belief that it is due to Divine Inspiration.”18 He praised the good intention of the virgin with laudatory statements and handed on to her many precious gifts and relics. In a letter19 he encouraged her, advising her to bring to conclusion what she had so nobly begun.
III How the fortunate virgin entered the Order of Saint Clare
Agnes shows interest in the manner of life of Saint Clare
The fortunate virgin now planned to realise her intention.
With this in mind, she invited the Friars Minor,
for whom, by divine inspiration,
she entertained a much deeper affection than for other religious.
These she asked to instruct her in the Rule of the Order of St. Clare.
Clare was still alive, dwelling then together with other virgins
as cloistered nuns at San Damiano, near the city of Assisi.
Like the incense burning in fire during the days of summer,
so did she spread the scent of her virtues throughout the regions of the world.
The friars instructed her that the rule, based on the holy gospel,
counseled those intent on entering,
to sell all that they had, to distribute it to the poor
and in that way to serve the poor Christ in poverty and humility.
Filled therefore with heavenly bliss, she exclaimed:
“This is what I desire, this is what I want with my whole heart.”
The building of the hospital dedicated to Saint Francis
Soon afterwards, she gave orders for gold and silver, precious jewelry and other adornments to be taken away for distribution among the poor. It was her desire that her riches should be carried by the hands of the poor into the heavenly treasuries. Finally, in imitation of her cousin, blessed Elizabeth, she built a general hospital for the sick at the head of the bridge in Prague, in honour of the blessed confessor Francis, for which she provided rich endowments. There she also settled the Croziers of the Red Cross and the Star, instructing them to care for the sick and provide for the needy.
The monastery for the Friars Minor and for the Sisters of Saint Clare
She also took care to provide, out of her own means, a monastery, built within the city of Prague, in honour of the above-mentioned confessor for the Friars Minor and likewise the famous monastery for the sisters of the Order of St. Clare, in honour of the Saviour of the World. This she decorated with magnificent reliquaries and costly vessels, destined for the services, for she was very pleased to beautify the house of God. Then five sisters from Trent20 belonging to the Order of St. Clare, sent to her, at her request, by the favour of the Holy See, arrived. These she received with profound joy of spirit leading them with honour into the above-mentioned monastery. On the feast of St. Martin, seven virgins of noble descent of the kingdom of Bohemia, desirous to unite themselves by the bonds of chastity to the Bridegroom of Virgins, were added to their number, wearing the habit and leading a common way of life.21
Agnes herself enters the monastery
Now the wise virgin reflected, that, in this present life,
we are continuously tossed about in the floods of our mortality
and rendered unable to meditate on higher things
because of the unrest of worldly affairs.
This reflection inflamed her heart
to a more burning ardour in regard to heavenly things.
She rejected the dignity of royal kingdoms
and despised every worldly honour.
In the presence of seven bishops,
the Lord King, her brother, and the Queen,
many dukes and barons
and a vast crowd of men and women of different nations,
she hastened, together with seven virgins of the nobility of her kingdom,
like an innocent dove out of the destructive flood of this age
into the ark of holy religion.
In the monastery her hair was cut off round,
then - like a second Esther - she laid aside her robes of state
and dressed herself with clothing suitable for mourning and weeping.
With this, she intended to become like her poor mother, Clare, in attire and conduct.
Thus she took flight from the dangerous storms of the world
and cast her anchor of salvation confidently upon the Rock - that is, Christ.
On the wings of love
she flew into the solitude of religious life.
There she intended to safeguard her purity and inner peace
and in that way to taste with the palate of her heart,
the sweetness of eternal bliss.
Out of love for the poor Crucified and His dearest Mother
she locked herself into this holy cave of poverty until death,
spreading like an exquisite myrrh,
the scent of holiness.
For, following her example,
many famous people began to build monasteries in different parts of Poland22;
numberless virgins and widows hastened into religious life,
by living in the flesh, but yet outside it,
and in that way to lead a heavenly life.
IV About her deep humility and her obedience
Humility is the firm and reliable foundation for a spiritual building; which the model of all perfection, the Lord Jesus Christ, taught by his word and example. Therefore Agnes, the true disciple of Christ, holding herself in low esteem, considered only her own lowliness, whereas she held others in high estimation. Throughout her life she avoided a position of authority in her order preferring to obey with humility rather than to issue commands to others. Following the example of the highest Master, she wished to perform amidst the handmaids of Christ the lowliest and most despicable services, rather than to be served herself.
Agnes undertakes the lowliest services
The eminent virgin did not hesitate to light the oven and to look after the kitchen of the sisters’ convent. With great devotion she prepared with her own hands special dishes, sending them to the ailing and weak brothers. Like Martha she was concerned to serve Christ and she refreshed and fed Him in the person of His poor. The dishes and other utensils she washed up with great cheerfulness of heart. The living quarters of the sisters as well as other places she cleaned secretly, in that way becoming (as St Paul said) so much refuse for Christ’s sake. With admirable humility and self-forgetfulness, she ignored her innate sensitivity and with compassionate pity she had the foul smelling and soiled covers of sick sisters and leprous people brought to her. These she washed with her delicate hands, frequently she suffered from roughened skin because of the soap she used. Afterwards, during the hours of the night, she mended garments which were torn, because she did not wish to have any onlookers but God from whom alone she expected the reward for her devout labours. Like a ruby set in jewelry of gold so shone the generosity of this wonderful virgin. Her humility rendered her lovable in the eyes of God and worthy of imitation by others. Led by the strength of Him who lifts up the lowly, she was brought to the abundant riches of God’s gifts of grace.
Saint Clare confirms Agnes in her endeavour
When St Clare23 heard about the admirable holiness of Agnes she rejoiced, because, by the grace of God, she had been blessed with such noble progeny and she praised the greatness of the Almighty. Frequently she comforted her by her charming letters in maternal, reverent and warmhearted ways, and confirmed her eagerly in her holy intention. As a token of inheritance she sent Agnes the Rule which Pope Innocent IV24 had confirmed. This document the little lamb of God received with devotion and, subsequently, she obtained from Lord Pope Alexander IV of happy memory, for herself and the sisters of her monastery for all times, a confirmation of that Rule.
Trusting the promises of the Rule,
she conquered herself by her strictness of obedience
which is more valuable than sacrifice.
She laid her own will upon the altar like a peace offering.
She paid attention to the observance of the Rule
and no injunction in it was passed over.
It was her wish
to hasten on the path of God’s commandments and the orders of her superiors
with great humility and reverence all the days of her life.
Out of love for the Lord she considered the yoke of obedience as sweet
and the burden of religious life as light.
V About the holy and genuine poverty of this virgin
The most high poverty with which the humble of heart buy the heavenly kingdom, was deeply rooted in her heart, so that she had no desire to own anything of a passing and perishable nature. In the world of mortals, she wished to own nothing, so that the Lord would be her portion and heritage in the land of the living.
Agnes refuses possessions
The most Reverend Lord John Gaetano, Cardinal of the Holy See, tried by means of letters to persuade her, on account of the evils of the time and the uncertainties of the future, to acquire for herself and her sisters some kind of possessions. This occurred during the time of the Council of Lyons25 which had taken place under Gregory X. With inner strength she withstood this, adding that she would prefer to perish by want and destitution rather than to fail in the poverty of Christ, who became poor for our sakes. When her brother, the Lord King Wenceslaus and other members of the nobility sent her generous alms, she endeavoured to make friends with the unjust mammon. One part she spent on reliquaries and the adornment of the church, which she provided with the utmost diligence. A second part she kept for the needs of her sisters; the third part she distributed among widows, orphans, lepers and other poor people. In this way she tried to rid herself of the burden of all earthly things - like the camel its hump - so as to be able to enter through the narrow gate of poverty into the infinite riches of heaven.
Her patience during the time of famine26
After several years, the famous Lord King Wenceslaus (also called Ottokar)27 passed away. He had loved her not so much as an aunt, but as a mother. With uprightness and reverence and with praiseworthy generosity he had provided for all her needs. God thus allows that His chosen ones sometimes experience want, so as to receive, in exchange for earthly riches, heavenly treasures and eternal goods for perishable ones. Agnes found herself in deep distress, having scarcely anything to eat or to wear, but she endured it with the greatest patience.
The miracle of the fishes
One Friday, as they were seated at table, the sisters noticed that she was rather weak. Therefore they wished to strengthen her with a few small fish but as there were none available they were deeply saddened. The virgin beloved by God, noticing it, stretched her arms towards heaven and smiling sweetly, she acclaimed the Almighty for such a privation exclaiming: ”Give praise to the Lord, my sisters, that we lead a poor life. If we keep holy poverty as we ought to, God will not desert us in times of trouble.” Lo and behold, the God of all consolation listened to the plea of the poor and came to their aid. The portress had some business to settle at the turn28 which is used to convey necessary goods into the enclosure, there she found some fish, called Flounders. These, the handmaid of Christ always enjoyed eating, particularly when they had been prepared according to her liking. Having found them in the turn, the Portress made enquiries as to who had given them and for whom they were destined, but she received no reply. Filled with joy she brought them to the handmaid of Christ, relating to her how she had found them. She, in turn, gave more thanks to the Giver of all things for His divine compassion, whereby the sisters were more confirmed in their intention of poverty, than by the refreshment of the body, and she rejoiced in the Lord her Saviour.
The miracle of the loaves
At another time, a devastating famine swept through the kingdom of Bohemia. One day, the sisters had just finished the Divine Office and mealtime was approaching. There was, however, not a single slice of bread to be found as substance for a meal. The dispensarian29 having assured herself of this, full of confidence, took refuge in the Lord. She implored the Heavenly Father who opens His hand and fills every living being with His blessing, that He might provide food for His handmaids at the proper time. Meanwhile the portress had gone to the turn to beg a brother to get some bread for the sisters. Every sister would need to have at least one piece to satisfy the worst pangs of hunger. On arriving at the turn, she found it filled with white loaves. Only He to whom nothing is hidden, knows who had brought and deposited them there. Indeed, one may believe that the loaves were brought there by the power of Him who sent Habbakuk with food for Daniel in the lion’s den. By His inexpressible providence He always distributes food in plenty for animals and birds.
VI About her harsh chastisements of the body
Her rigorous fasting
The above-mentioned shows clearly how strictly the blessed virgin disciplined her body when still in the world. Having mastered the Rule to perfection, in order to conquer the ‘enemy’, lust, she submitted herself to severe fasting and in that way gained the palm of victory. She desired to subdue the body and to submit it to the guidance of the spirit. For the duration of many years in the monastery, she partook of no vegetable, except uncooked onion together with a little fruit. Her intent was to fill her mind with the nourishment of divine grace rather than pander to the palate with tasty morsels. She fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays on bread and water during the season of Lent and St. Martin’s Lent, while she still possessed good health. She also included the vigil-days of the four great feasts of the glorious Virgin and of All Saints, as fast days, so as to become worthy of their intercession and finally to enter into their heavenly community.
Her penitential exercises
Relentlessly, she pursued her penitential exercises by submitting her already weakened body to stricter torments. Wearing a hair-shirt, she fastened it with a cord tightly around her waist and scourged herself. No longer did she shine by wearing a brocade robe fit for a queen neither did she clothe herself in fine garments, as she had once in the royal palace. As the poorest handmaid of Christ, she was satisfied with a worthless garment, serving not to beautify the body but to cover its nakedness. In that way the beauty of the daughter of the King lies within, in purity of conscience and the beauty of rich virtues. Because of this strictness, the comeliness of her face waned and her bodily strength declined and the skin clung to her bones. Following the footprints of the suffering Saviour she wished to bear His manifold pains and to exchange temporal bitterness with the eternal consolations of victory.
VII About her zeal in prayer and her wondrous devotion of the Blessed Sacrament
In conversation with her Beloved
The flame of divine love burning continuously upon the altar of her virginal heart was leading her upwards. She sought her Beloved without ceasing. Being separated from Him by the wall of mortality, she was wholly animated by the desire to be united with Him in spirit. When she had reached her hidden oratory she kept the door locked. There she stayed in solitude, except for the hours that she spent with her sisters. Inflamed by her yearning for God, she was lifted above herself on the wings of contemplation. With copious tears she moistened her conscience; lost in constant prayer, she conversed with her Beloved. Occasionally it happened that the sisters, because of some needful business, waited near the oratory for her return from prayer. There they heard her conversing with the Lord and it seemed as if a very mellow male voice answered in return. On leaving the prayer-room, her face shone so brightly that she could hardly be looked at by anyone. Without doubt the beam of eternal light that had flooded her during her prayer, was also reflected in her body.
Wholly immersed in light
It so happened on a certain Friday, that a nobleman was sent to her by order of the king. One of the sisters, named Benigna, who attended her, hastened to the oratory to call her to see the messenger. On quietly entering, she beheld Agnes surrounded by a wonderful brightness, like that of a cloud. She could not see her face, but only distinguish a human shape immersed in this light. Utterly confused by this vision, she left silently, telling the messenger that in no way could she have disturbed Agnes, as the latter was absorbed in prayer.
Agnes is taken up
On another occasion, on the feast of the Ascension of Christ, she sat together with two sisters, Benigna and Petruska, in the garden next to the choir, reciting the canonical hour. Suddenly, she vanished from their midst. Filled with astonishment, the sisters dared not speak to each other. After about an hour, Agnes reappeared in the same place where she had previously been. On being asked where she had gone, she smiled tenderly but failed to answer. Because she had prepared the stairway of virtue, climbing in her heart behind the ascending Christ, one is obliged to believe that it was divine energy that used to lift her, bodily, into the heights.
She is thrown down the staircase by the evil one
During Lent, she recalled to her mind the mysteries of the redemption of mankind. She was, therefore, lifted up in devout contemplation and for that reason and because of her perpetual yearning for heavenly things, she led an angelic, rather than a human life. Having finished her prayers, she sometimes met up with the sisters; there no idle or vain remark was uttered, but she burst forth in burning and wonderful words as regards heavenly things, for the edification of her listeners. When she mentioned, read or heard something about the Lord she could hardly suppress tears and sobbing. The old enemy could scarcely endure her piety. Having completed her prayer at the window-seat, her usual place when praying or reading, she began to go downstairs, when he threw her down with such violence that her elbow was dislocated. For many days, she suffered serious pain because of this fall, but she applied the remedy of divine love, hiding it as best she could from her sisters.
Her prayer for the restoration to life of her niece who had died
Now I wish to report one of many events in which the Lord answered her fervent prayer. One day it so happened that the daughter of her brother, the Lord King, still a young child, passed away. She was carried to the monastery where the virgin lived, to be buried there. Seeing the Queen30, the mother of the child, weeping bitterly, Agnes was deeply moved; prostrating herself next to the stretcher she prayed silently. Then she began this responsory: “Qui Lazarum resuscitasti a monumento fedidum31” and lo, the lifeless and cold body began suddenly to grow warm, and the veins pulsated, as happens with the living. But the soul of the deceased addressed the virgin of Christ even as she was still praying: “Why do you recall me out of bliss, back into exile and wretchedness? Know that, if you do this, I shall neither be a consolation for my parents or anyone else; such will be their sadness.” When the virgin of God heard this, she ceased from praying and immediately the small body, having shown itself alive, warm and pulsating became as cold as before. This event shows the efficacy of humble prayer which penetrates the clouds, the benevolent generosity of God inclining His ear to the prayer of His faithful, as well as the thoughtfulness of the one petitioning.
A revelation during Holy Communion
This noble virgin was deeply devoted to the veneration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. When she intended to receive Holy Communion, she separated herself from the sisters and prepared herself by prayer and meditation. For many years she received the Body of Christ through a window in her cell, because she did not wish to reveal the mysteries of the divine visitation and her interior consolation. There, she sucked like a bee, the honey of His wondrous Godhead out of the rock, and the oil of the lowliness of His manhood, out of the stone. Once, being seriously ill, her life was despaired of. As was her custom, she had prepared herself with the usual devotion to receive the Immaculate Lamb. Receiving the Body of the Lord she heard, in a marvellous way, somebody saying to her: “Agnes, do not think that you will come to die until you have seen all your dear ones depart from this life.” This revelation she made known, under the seal of confidentiality, to the Minister Provincial and to some other persons. This was as it indeed happened, as later events proved.
VIII About her ardent love of the cross and passion of Christ
The cross is her resting-place
The Lord’s devoted handmaid, Agnes, loved His passion and cross with the deepest ardour. Every Friday, she was wholly absorbed in His crucifixion; she prolonged her meditation up to the ninth hour so as to stay beside the cross with the sorrowful Mother. She meditated on the agony of His painful death, beholding it with the compassionate eye of her mind; she dwelt in bitterness. Throughout her life, she carried unceasingly the precious cross behind Jesus32, by the arms of her faith and the practice of virtues. This was the reason for her boasting, this the ladder of her ascent to God, this her resting-place when exhausted. By means of this saving wood she used to sweeten her labours, her serious illnesses and the manifold obstacles which, like the waters of Mara33, she innocently suffered. With this wonder-working sign, she healed the sick and drove out demons. Of this I shall reveal a little, whereas I shall remain silent about many other things.
A sick woman wishes for an apple from Agnes
A noble lady, named Sophia, the wife of a knight, named Konrad, lived in Prague opposite the entrance of the monastery in which the handmaid of God dwelt. It so happened, that the lady, after having given birth, was so enfeebled, that, for many days, she could neither eat nor drink and thus could be likened rather to a dead than a living person. Lo, one day, she began to speak as if she had seen a vision, saying: “I wish that the Lady Agnes would hand me an apple so that I might eat it.” For some time she had already venerated the virgin of Christ; Konrad, too, trusted that his wife could be healed through the merits of the kind-hearted virgin. He hastened to the handmaid of God entreating her with many tears to intercede with the Lord on behalf of his wife and to send her an apple. He maintained that, if this were to happen, his wife would regain her health.
By the sign of the cross, a tree bears healing apples
Agnes, filled with compassion for those suffering from sadness, shared the deep pain of the knight and hastened to the orchard of the monastery. But neither she, nor the sisters who had followed her, saw any fruit on the tree to which they had gone. Having made, however, the sign of the life-giving cross over the tree and calling on the name of the most Holy Trinity she then perceived three apples hanging on one single twig. Quickly, she picked these and sent them to the Lady Sophia saying: “Eat these fruits sent by God in such a marvellous manner with full confidence; with the help of the Lord you will obtain not only health of body but also health of soul.” Filled with joy, her husband, on returning home, called on the name of Christ and held the health-bringing remedy with confidence to her lips. The wife, sensing the power of God emanating from the fruit, opened her eyes and grasping the fruit began to eat it with such appetite as if she had never been ill. Thus it happened that she was returned to her former health, by the power of the holy Cross and the merits of Agnes. After some time her husband died and she served the Lord as a widow in chastity. She became the mother of all the poor through her works of mercy and, as the virgin of God had predicted, obtained a more perfect spiritual health.
The healing of a sister by means of a veil and the sign of the cross
At one time, one of the sisters of her monastery, named Elizabeth Rehnick had taken to her bed because of a violent headache. For the duration of three days, she could neither move her head nor look up and she could neither eat nor drink34. Finally, she was led with great difficulty by one of the sisters to the virgin of Christ. She, in turn, having perceived her suffering, removed her own white veil from her head, giving orders that the head of the sick sister was to be covered with this veil. She also made the sign of the saving Cross on the head and the forehead of the suffering sister. All pain disappeared immediately through these actions.
Agnes drives out demons by means of the sign of the cross
One day, the virgin of Christ hastened to her oratory, being supported, by reason of her weakness, by Sister Domka of Skvorec35. On reaching the door of the oratory, she and the sister noticed through the window the angel of darkness, in a horrible and disfigured human shape, standing under a tree and leaning against it. Full of fear, the sister screamed, but the handmaid of God made the sign of the cross against the demon, calling on the name of the divine Trinity, so that the sister should not be afraid. The demon could not bear the power of the cross and immediately disappeared with his face all in wrinkles! Another time, supported by her relative, the lady, Sister Elizabeth ‘of the Empress’36 she came to the oratory and was about to cross the threshold. There the evil enemy appeared in the form of an Uhu (Vulture) and it seemed, as the sister herself perceived, that he blocked the way with his tail. When Agnes made the sign of the cross, she drove the cruel beast to flight. Indeed, the virgin (was able to exercise) the power of the holy Cross because she carried in her heart the suffering of Him who offered himself upon the cross.
IX About the great love she bore to the sisters and all those in distress
The love, which the virgin of Christ bore to her neighbour, was most clearly revealed in her actions. When, because of her severe fasting, her strength diminished, she had, however reluctantly, by the will of the Pope and the orders of her superiors, to partake of more nourishment than formally. However, what was given to her for her own strengthening, by reason of the weakness of her emaciated body, she sent to the sick and ailing sisters. These sisters she visited very frequently in person and took great care of all their needs. As a hen gathers her chicks under her wing, so she cared for and nurtured her sisters in the wide embrace of her motherly compassion. Merciful and generous to all those in distress, she was unsparing and hard with herself. Being hungry herself, she fed others and whilst her own face was pale because of her fasting, the hunger of her neighbour tortured her.
Agnes was the consoler of all who were sad
During her life in the world, as well as in the Order, she had a compassionate heart for all those in need. With devout remedies, she came to the aid of all who took refuge with her. Refugees and prisoners she returned to their former freedom, those condemned to death or tortured she set free, those living in discord she reconciled and she aided everybody as best she could. Almighty God had filled her heart with such deep devotion and poured upon her lips such charm, that she not only rejoiced with the joyful and wept with the weeping, but also had a gracious and loving word for all those who were tortured for one reason or another or burdened by misfortune or bad luck. In that way she became the consoler of all those in need.
Kindly correction of those in error
Agnes did not pass it over in silence if a sister needed to be corrected, as sometimes happened. Indeed, she acted as a lover of her neighbour’s salvation with great charity and maturity, in such a way that she seemed to love the one whom she had so strictly corrected. Having admonished and advised a sister with holy words for her good, she prostrated herself the sister’s feet, saying: “Forgive me, beloved sister, if I have hurt you in some way”. She was most carefully concerned not to upset anyone without good cause. Hearing about the transgressions of others, she sighed deeply, from her heart. She mourned with more sadness their misfortunes, than the death of her own dear ones. The Lord of all things loved her with justified delight because of her love for her neighbour.
X About the divine revelations given to her in extraordinary ways
Agnes has knowledge of the death of the king
It must not be passed over in silence that she was aware of things hidden and far-removed, because God had revealed them to her as if they were visible and present. When the son of her brother, the Lord King Premysl, named Ottokar37, entered into a war against Rudolf38 the Roman King, in Austria, the sisters often walked in procession carrying the wood of the holy Cross and other relics, reciting with devotion the penitential psalms for the salvation of the Lord King. One day, when processing with the sisters, Agnes beheld the king, seriously wounded, being led between two men of tall appearance. She told the sisters about this vision thinking it could be a demonic imagination, as she did not consider herself worthy to receive such insights by divine inspiration. However, as this vision was displayed before her eyes, the king was actually wounded by the enemy, and captured and killed, as the report of these events later on truthfully confirmed.
She perceives an attempted theft by a sister
At another time, apples were brought to the handmaid of the Lord, by the order of some person. The apples looked most attractive. This particular sister, overpowered by the desire of the eyes, reserved one apple for herself. However, rebuked by her conscience, she put the apple back and handed them over as they had been given in. The virgin much loved by God who had interiorly perceived what had happened, took the apple for which the sister had craved and, adding another to it, gave them to the sister, saying, “Well done, daughter, that you have returned the apple! It is better for you to have two apples without any rebuke from your conscience, than to have one obtained by sin.” Indeed the spirit of Elisha rested on her, enabling her to see actions committed by those from whom she was distant in body, but present in spirit.
She beholds the fruitless prayer of a sister
Another sister, named Irmgard ‘the Little One’, secretly prayed many prayers for a particular intention. When the handmaid of God interiorly perceived it, she said to her with some asperity, “Stop repeating the prayers, with which you address the Lord for this particular intention. Since that for which you are praying is not pleasing to God!”
A dead sister begs for forgiveness
Agnes, was by custom present, when one of the sisters with whom she had lived was dying. Filled with compassion, she implored the mercy of God, because she frequently recognised - enlightened by the Spirit - the punishment of some and the merits of others. It so happened that a sister, in the absence of the handmaid of God, had said certain offensive words, and after some time departed from this life without needful reparation. One day, the virgin of God was praying on her own, when she heard, next to the oratory, the soul of that sister exclaiming loudly, humbly recognising her guilt. Urgently, she implored Agnes to forgive her for God’s sake because she could not be freed from her torments in any other way.
Agnes sees a sister who has died accompanied by two angels
Another sister, by the name of Brigitta, had entered the order with the virgin of Christ and was renowned for her honorable conduct and her great devotion to Agnes. After many years in Religion, having spent her life in an honorable way, she fell seriously ill and finally departed from this life. Agnes, because of her illness, had suffered greatly, but had shown no sign of mourning when she died, for she had observed that holy angels stood next to her incensing her (Brigitta’s) body and had shown her much affection.
Many were of the opinion that everything Agnes had foretold came to pass in the same way as it had been predicted by her. This fact will be revealed further on. Her mind was filled with the spirit of eternity; nothing was seen as being in the past or in the future, everything was uncovered and open. It is for that reason that she knew not only the hidden thoughts and movements of the heart, but also spoke about future events with the utmost certainty, as if they belonged to the present or the past.
XI About her passing from this life and events relating to it
Agnes receives the Last Rites
The end was approaching; Christ desired to take His handmaid Agnes out of this world, to lead her into the heavenly bridal chamber and to present her with the crown of righteousness as a reward for her devoted labours. It was the beginning of Lent; it was her custom to withdraw from the crowd of worldly people who visited her out of devotion and also from her sisters, following the example of Christ who fasted alone for forty days in the desert. Fixing her attention on God alone and fasting in sackcloth and ashes, she prayed with many tears to the merciful God. She asked Him to cleanse her in this font of mercy, in case some negative influence which had resulted from her exchange with people, should cling to her. One day, the hand of the Lord came upon her, taking away her bodily strength and her mental alertness, so that her progressive weakness laid her low on a bed of sickness. On the Sunday of the third week of Lent, she was sure that her departure from this world was imminent. This she made known to a few of her closest friends. In the presence of the brothers and sisters, the Christian virgin secured her last journey with the Viaticum, which is the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Anointing with the blessed oil.
Dying, Agnes heals another sister
Whilst this was taking place, a sister of the same monastery named Katharina Eckhard was lying in bed. For more than ten years she had suffered from illness, particularly in her feet and for that reason she needed to be carried by the sisters, from one place to another, with great difficulty. On hearing that the handmaid of Christ, Agnes, to whom she was very devoted, had received the Body of Christ and been anointed with Holy Oil, she attempted, with loud cries, to make herself heard to the absent sisters. The sisters came and she urgently demanded them to help her reach the virgin of Christ. Having been brought into her presence and weeping bitterly, she moaned, saying, “Woe is me, dearest Mother, why do you want to desert your daughters and me in particular? Who will comfort me, unhappy one, when you, dearest virgin, should die?” The virgin of Christ moved by her unhappiness said to her, “Do not weep, Katharina, soon you will receive consolation from the Lord.” Together with the other sisters, the sick sister implored her urgently to bless her with the sign of the cross. When Agnes, out of humility, would not agree, the suffering sister gently took Agnes’ hand and placed it on the painful spot. A severe pain penetrated her whole body, so that it seemed as if all her muscles were being torn by the force of the pain. Then she perspired heavily, but afterwards she regained her strength and began to walk about, with everybody looking on and from that time onwards up to her death, she could walk very well. There is no doubt that the Lord did this to stress the excellent merits of his handmaid. As she had in her life stood out by her holiness, so also in death she was meant to become famous by the working of a miracle.
Last words and death of Saint Agnes
Although very weak in body, her mind remained strong and fervent. Sometimes she prayed with devotion, sometimes she consoled the sisters, who would made orphans by her departure. These sisters, who were weeping bitterly, she comforted with kind words, encouraging them with maternal affection to aspire to the summit of perfection saying:
“My dearest daughters,
eagerly observe love of God and neighbour to the utmost.
Take care to imitate the humility and poverty
which Christ has lived and taught;
make yourselves subject to the Roman Church.
Follow the example of our holy Father Francis
and the virgin Clare,
whose Rule has been handed down to us.
You will know with certainty
that the merciful Lord never deserted them,
so, in like manner, you will not be deserted by Him
provided you follow their example.”
Throughout that evening and the following night, she impressed on the minds of her sisters these and other admonitions, in place of a testament, to be observed forever. On the following day, which was a Monday, she began to be flooded with a certain joyfulness. She gave the appearance of one smiling and, up to the sixth hour, her whole body was suffused by light. When the brothers had chanted the hour of None and begun to offer the sacrifice of Holy Mass, at about that hour during which the Redeemer of the human race, hanging on the cross surrendered his spirit, this handmaid, so pleasing to God, surrendered herself into the hands of her heavenly Father. She passed away on March 2 in the year of grace 127139. Blest by the Lord and accompanied by angels, she entered into eternal bliss with great rejoicing.
In praise of the blissful virgin Agnes
O Blessed Virgin!
Throughout the duration of forty-six years
she had shared in the sufferings of Christ
and also in dying, imitated the hour of his death.
Having put aside the darkness of mortality
she now beholds
with a clear vision and the uninterrupted glance of the spirit,
the God of gods in Holy Sion.
Well pleasing to God,
released from her imprisonment,
she approaches heaven
seeking the company of the heavenly choirs.
Inebriated by divine bliss and eternal feasting
she breaks out in pleasing songs
in praise of the King of Eternal Glory.
XII About the funeral of her holy body
How her holy body emanated fragrance
The sisters and daughters of such a wonderful mother, bereft of consolation, filled the monastery with sighs and bedewed their mother’s virginal face with tears. Taking her body they carried it to the choir; it remained there for the length of two weeks. It exuded an astonishing fragrance, so that all coming near were filled with an unusual sweetness. Her innocent hands, too, were not stiff and cold, but soft and mobile - as those of a living person.
The veneration and burial of her remains
In the course of those fourteen days, the Friars Minor entered the enclosure daily to venerate the body by celebrating masses and vigils. A large crowd also came each day, indeed, almost the whole town gathered around the monastery, petitioning to be allowed to be able to view, at least through the grille, this great treasure presented by the generous mercy of God. Whenever the body was shown to the crowd, many, with profound devotion, touched it with rings, girdles and other artifacts. It was their hope that by subsequently touching these items, they might receive the desired remedies through the merits of the glorious virgin. Later on, it was made known that this had, indeed, been granted through the kindness of God. In the end, the sisters could no longer endure the continuous crowd of petitioners. They placed the body in a new wooden coffin, fixed the lid with iron bands and closed it with a big nail.
The coffin opens of itself for one wishing to venerate the saint
The news of the departure of this outstanding virgin spread with great speed, far and wide thus reaching, through reliable sources, a lady by the name of Scholastika of Sternberg40. She was of noble descent and conduct, and had loved the virgin tenderly, serving her devotedly. As fast as she could, she hastened to the city of Prague. There she entreated the sisters for permission to enter the monastery to see the body of her much-loved mistress, claiming that the Holy See had granted her permission to do so. The sisters insisted that it was against the custom of the monastery to permit entry to seculars during Lent, whatever permission she might have been granted and that anyway, she could not see the body, even if she came inside the monastery. Finally, yielding to her persistent pleas they allowed her inside. With bitter tears she prostrated herself next to the coffin which contained the body. One of the sisters nearby whispered, asking whether the coffin was to be opened, as this seemed to her rather laborious and difficult. But as she (Scholastika) approached the coffin, the nail that had been driven in with such force, jumped out, whilst everybody was looking on and dropped on the floor. The coffin opened of itself and the body lay there for all to see. One may suppose that He who holds the key of David, made this possible because of the merits of this extraordinary virgin, to comfort her who had loved her so dearly.
Agnes is buried by the Minister General41 of the Friars Minor
Meanwhile, the sisters and brothers had sent messengers to the venerable Lord Tobias,42 the Bishop of Prague, and to other abbots in the neighbourhood, entreating them that one of them might come to bury the body with befitting honour. Because in the hidden design of God it had befallen otherwise, these men refused to come, claiming previous engagements. Shortly before her death, the glorious virgin had predicted that neither a bishop nor a superior of another order, but a friar minor, one who had not been seen in Bohemia before, would bury her body. A fortnight after her departure, there arrived the reverend father, the Minister General, Brother Bonagrazia. On the following day, Palm Sunday, in the presence of many brothers, he buried this precious token with due devotion and reverence in the chapel dedicated to the blessed Virgin Mary. It was there that Agnes, in times of necessity, had attended Holy Mass and there she had begged to be buried. For several days the sisters who had gone there to pray noticed a wonderful fragrance.
A sister asks Agnes in a dream the reason for this fragrance
One day, it happened that a sister, having entered the chapel to pray, found herself overpowered by sleep. On seeing the virgin (in her dream), she asked her why there was such a strong fragrance exuding from her tomb. The virgin answered that it was because such a vast number of angels were visiting her body. It was indeed fitting that her body should be so sweetly scented after her death, since, already during her lifetime, she could be likened to a garden bed sown by a merchant dealing in aromatic salves; such was the fragrance of her virtues.
Now she is embraced by her red and white Lover with chaste embraces;
for the sake of His love
she had rejected a mortal bridegroom,
and now the humble handmaid
will be rewarded in the heavenly dwelling-place
with the crown of glory in place of ashes
and with the oil of eternal bliss in place of earthly sadness.
Now she is given the treasures of eternal happiness in place of severe poverty,
now she is enjoying the luscious pastures near overflowing rivers in place of her abstinence. Now, the dress of mourning having been torn apart,
she is clothed with the garment of joy
and arrayed like a bride with the jewelry of her dowry.
Now she has entered the chamber of the true Ahasuerus
to unite herself to Him for ever with the bonds of profound love.
There she rejoices with the daughters of Sion in her King,
with gladness she beholds His face
and ever delights in the revelation of God.
Through the intercession and merits of this glorious virgin
may Our loving Redeemer, Jesus Christ,
make us sharers in His splendour.
To Him, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
be honour and glory for ever and ever.
XIII Of the miracles brought about by the Power of God
God the Almighty, glorifying His saints by means of His magnanimous tenderness, allowed Agnes, the fortunate virgin and noble plant of St. Clare, not only through the merits of an outstanding life, but also through many miracles, to shine forth ever more brightly. By means of His right hand she hastened with compassion to aid those who, in distress and danger, called on her name.
I decided to relate, even if only in a few words, some of these miracles. My reason for doing so was twofold: so that the glory of God should be increased and praised in His saints, and that devotion to this renowned virgin might multiply.
The healing of Margaret,43 the daughter of the King
The Queen of Bohemia, Lady Jutta,44 wife of the Lord Wenceslaus, mindful of the merits of the noble virgin Agnes, arranged for her daughter, Margaret, who was almost dying, to be brought to the monastery in Prague, so as to be laid upon the tomb of the afore-mentioned virgin. For the glory of God and this virgin, a costly chasuble was also placed upon her tomb. Scarcely had that been done, when the little child began to sneeze again and again. Restored through the milk of the wet-nurse, she was returned to her mother in a state of perfect health and continued to live for many years.
The healing of the son of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia45
The Lady Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and wife of the renowned King John46 of the same kingdom, loved her firstborn, her still tender and only son, Lord...47 with deep affection. On one occasion, she was staying in the royal city of Prague, whilst her son together with his nurses was in the Elbogen fortress, more than a two-day journey away from the city. One night he was afflicted with a sudden and very serious illness and on the threshold of death. His mother was unaware of what had befallen him. On retiring to bed at night she heard in a dream a voice saying to her: “Are you asleep?” When she denied this, the voice said: “You are accustomed to ask many good and devout people to intercede for you with the Lord, why do you not ask your great-aunt, holy Agnes, to intercede for you, because, by her merits, all your intentions and wishes could be accomplished?” On asking where she could find Agnes, as she had already died, the voice spoke to her again: “She has not died, but abides in the monastery of St. Francis and she is very well.” On hearing these words the queen arose from her bed - as it seemed to her - and hastened to the above-mentioned monastery.
She approached the grating, that is, the window through which the sisters can have speech. She began to knock on it saying: “Are any of the sisters here?” When one of them answered from inside, in the affirmative, she (Elizabeth) asked her: “Is not my great-aunt, the saintly Agnes here in this monastery?” When the sister confirmed this, the lady said: "Please, go and tell her that I am Elizabeth, the Queen of Bohemia, the daughter of King Wenceslaus, and ask her in my name to come here to me.” It seemed to her that, finally, Agnes arrived at the window. She noticed that her countenance bore the same expression as during her life-time, but that a wonderful graciousness and an unusual brightness made her look younger. Having beheld her aunt, she (the Queen) knelt down in front of the grating saying: “Pray for me, dearest great-aunt, for I experience terrible trepidation of heart, although I do not know any reason for it. I know that God will grant you whatever you ask.” Turning her face away from her, the virgin asked: “For what reason should I pray for you?” The queen in utter confusion collapsed in front of the grating exclaiming: “Great-aunt, please pray for me, for I will not leave this place, but remain here and die in anguish of heart, if you will not intercede for me with the Lord!” Thereupon the virgin turned back again and answered: “Go in peace, for I will pray for you.”
On the following day, a messenger arrived, sent by the family48 of her son, saying: “Lady Queen, please give me payment, for your son, whose recovery we had despaired of, was, by God’s help, restored to health.” On hearing of her son’s illness the queen was at first deeply shocked but also delighted about his recovery; she understood that her dream had been confirmed by these facts. At once, she sent a beautiful candle to the sisters in whose monastery the virgin of Christ had been interred, together with a precious cloth and a very generous alms. She entreated them to render thanks to God who has power over life and death and to the glorious virgin, explaining that, through her intercession and merits, her only son had been freed from the devouring grasp of death.
The Healing of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia
The third miracle
At another time, the same Lady Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, succumbed suddenly, during the third night after the birth of her second child,49 to a very serious illness. Even those who had known her beforehand failed to recognise her, such was the effect of her suffering. 50Doctors and other persons present had given up all hope for her recovery, whereas she put herself, as best she could, under the protection of the merciful virgin. She made known to all those present, her promise, that, should she be freed from her grave illness by the merits of the glorious virgin, she would, with all vigour, seek to promote the canonisation of the glorious virgin. Having done this, she experienced immediate relief from her burning pain and, with divine assistance, she obtained her health as she desired.
The healing of the boy Martin of Prague
The fourth miracle
A boy named Martin, the son of Mistress Margaret of the city of Prague, having been attacked by a grave illness, grew so weak that one could perceive neither his voice, nor any response nor the pulsation of his veins. His Grandmother, whose name was Kunigunda, took him, without any assurance as to what state he was in51, with the permission of the Holy See, into the monastery of the sisters and laid him on the tomb of blessed Agnes. The sisters implored the assistance of the merciful virgin and the grandmother made a promise on behalf of the boy - and immediately he was roused, as if from the dead. He received from God such energy that he was able to be nourished by the wet-nurse as if he had never been ill.
Sister Domka is cured by the cloak of Agnes
The fifth miracle
A sister by the name of Domka, daughter of Lord Domaslav of Skvorec, living in the monastery of the virgin of Christ at Prague, suffered four successive attacks of fever. She was given the Viaticum and the Anointing of the sick as her life was despaired of. Finally, presuming that she was about to die, her cousin, Sister Jutta of Lyznik, covered her with the cloak of blessed Agnes. Lying thus underneath the cloak, she beheld a great light and began to laugh so that the sisters standing nearby, thought she had taken leave of her mind. There came from the cloak such a strong fragrance that, strengthened by it, she began to perspire and by the help of Christ she recovered.
The Healing of Sister Wracka from a fatal illness
The sixth miracle
Another sister of the same monastery by the name of Wracka of Ugezd52 was suffering so severely from a certain ailment, that she was near to death. As was the custom, the Office of the Dead was being recited and some of those present were under the impression that she had already passed away. As she was in her last agony, she implored the help of blessed Agnes, asking her, that, as a sign of healing, a drop of the Lord’s sweat53 should be granted her. She also added her intention to make a vow for three masses to be celebrated. This was to be done in honour of the virgin, rather than for her own soul. Having stated this, she was healed through the intercession of her Helper. Mindful of her vow, she arranged for three masses to be said, but, due to the negligence of the priest, this did not take place. On the anniversary of the virgin, the sister hastened, together with the other sisters, to the tomb, there to say the vigil prayers. As she stood there, her former illness returned, so that she had considerable difficulty in reaching her bed. When she realised that her vow had not been accomplished, she renewed it again, taking great care that this time it was fulfilled. Thereupon, by the merits of blessed Agnes, she obtained complete healing.
The healing of Sister Ludka from a heart disease
The seventh miracle
Another sister of the same monastery, named Ludka54 of Turnov, who was suffering from a serious heart defect seemed to be on the threshold of death. The sisters, however, gave her some wine to drink that had been used to wash the bones of blessed Agnes. After she had tasted some of it, she began, by the power of God, to recover.
A healing by water into which Agnes’ hair had been dipped
The eighth miracle
A gentleman by the name of Przibko, butler of Lord Kunso of Hermanitz, of the diocese of Prague, went on Easter Monday together with other faithful to church. He was standing among the people as the Mass of the Resurrection was being sung. Suddenly he collapsed, the colour of his face changed and he began to struggle against death. Behold, a nobleman named Nikolaus of Nayzycz said to the by-standers: “Quick, run to my wife and fetch the strands of the hair of blessed Agnes which is in her keeping.” Once it was brought and dipped into water, the mouth of the sufferer was forced open and this same water poured into his mouth and throat. Scarcely had he tasted it, when he stood up thanking God and the renowned virgin. To everybody’s surprise he left the church in perfect health.
A woman is rescued from drowning
The ninth miracle
A young woman by the name of Wanka of Prague, called by many ‘the little one’, once crossed the river Moldau by ferry. She carried with her a few strands of Agnes’ hair. It so happened that she fell off the boat into the river and within a short space of time she found herself (beneath the water) covered with sand. Lying thus, she called on the help of the devout virgin Agnes and when the sailors came to her rescue they were able to pull her out of the sand as if from a tomb.
The healing of a young woman Christina
The tenth miracle
Another young woman named Christina, the daughter of Godfrey the procurator of the Friars Minor in Prague, was afflicted by a certain illness, so that her whole person was covered with a dark blue and yellow colour. All those who saw her discoloured body, despaired of her life. She, too, had given up all hope of obtaining human help, so, turning to Agnes for aid, she promised with many tears that, if by the merits of the virgin, she survived the illness, she would then make a vow to spend the rest of her days living in consecrated chastity.
What a miracle! Scarcely had the young women called upon the virgin (Agnes), when the virgin effected a complete recovery, thus enabling her to follow the Queen of Virgins. Having been restored to health she received the holy habit and in that way fulfilled by her deeds that which she had vowed with her mouth.
How the virgin helped a woman in labour
The eleventh miracle
A lady, the wife of a citizen of Prague, known as Martin ‘of Eger’, had for several days been in labour, but had not been able to deliver the child. She sent for the friars minor to whom she was devoted in the love of Christ, imploring them to beg from the sisters something that the virgin of Christ had used. This object she then intended to carry on her person without a clear conscience. The friars obtained a belt that, after (Agnes’) death, had touched her body55. The suffering lady put on the belt and called on the assistance of the merciful virgin. Aided by the meritorious intercession of the virgin, she gave birth to her baby, a perfect child, and she herself remained in good health.
The healing of an illness of the womb
The twelfth miracle
A lady, named Dobroslava of the village of Slany in the diocese of Prague, was suffering from a grievous infection of the womb, which left her moaning, day and night. Finally, encouraged by the friars minor, she sent to the sisters in Prague asking them to send her, for the love of God, a little wine in which the relics of blessed Agnes had been steeped, because of the constant demand made by sick people. When it had been brought to her, she tasted some of it and was restored to complete health.
The healing of an infection of the neck
The thirteenth miracle
Tasso, a nobleman from the kingdom of Bohemia, suffering from an abscess in his throat, humbly requested the friars minor to obtain for him some relics of blessed Agnes. The friars, for their part, dipped strands of the hair of the virgin into wine and then brushed this wine on to his neck. They also persuaded him to drink the rest of the wine and advised him, for the glory of God and His handmaid Agnes, to make a vow and to give an alms to the poor. Not only did he follow their advice, but did even more than was asked and therefore received the gift of complete healing.
A healing from serious angina
The fourteenth miracle
Another nobleman of the kingdom of Bohemia, Hynek of Duba, was frequently so seriously afflicted by angina that, in a repellant manner, his tongue stuck out and hung down to his chest. There was no medicine that gave him relief. Those sisters of the Order of St. Clare who were his relatives, advised him to drink some wine in which the bones of blessed Agnes had been steeped. This he did with great devotion and did not suffer again from that ailment.
The relief of a young notary from pains of the throat
The fifteenth miracle
A young man named Wenceslaus, who was the notary of a certain Bohemian knight, who bore the title ‘of Protivec’, suffered so much from an infection of the throat that he found himself unable to utter one single word. Finally, his master led him to the friars minor of Prague, there he (Wenceslaus) tried to explain by gesticulations that he wished to be blessed with the relics. As the friars did not grasp the meaning of his gestures, his master explained, saying: “What he is trying to convey, I, too, beg most urgently: namely, that you bless his painful spot with the relics of blessed Agnes, if you have some - for he hopes by means of this to be completely cured.” At once, one of the friars rushed off and with due reverence brought strands of the hair of the virgin which he had in his keeping. These he dipped into water and brushing the sore spot with the it, made the sign of the cross three times in honour of the Blessed Trinity. Then he offered the remaining water to the sick man who, not having eaten or drunk anything for several days, consumed it with the utmost difficulty. At the same time he gave forth a sound like the bleat of a lamb. As he did this for the third time, he began to feel weak and to perspire. But, after a short while, he burst out into shouts of jubilation, saying: “Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ who liberated me, a sinner, through the intercession of the blessed virgin Agnes!” Restored in mind and body he mounted his horse and together with his master rode off in high spirits.
A man by the name of Marek56 is cured from an infection of the throat
The sixteenth miracle
In like manner, a gentleman named Marek of the diocese of Prague, found himself, for the duration of eight days, unable to utter one single word, but only pitiful and loud screams, because of a very serious infection in his throat. Having drunk of the water into which strands of the hair of blessed Agnes had been dipped, the virgin herself, dressed in the habit of the sisters of St Clare, appeared to him, saying that she was Agnes. Then she put two fingers into his mouth right up to the painful spot and by the touch of her hand the pain ceased.
Manifold healing through the relics of blessed Agnes
The seventeenth miracle
On one occasion, the river Moldau on the banks of which the monastery of the sisters had been built was flooding not only the building but also the tomb of the virgin of Christ. After the flood had subsided, Sister Margaret, the daughter of Jacob, a citizen of Prague, hauled water out of the tomb of Agnes. This she kept for a long time, it did not grow stagnant, but became for many a remedy for manifold sufferings. A gentleman named Albert and his sister Elizabeth of the city of Prague, were both near to death, but were delivered from crossing the threshold of death after they had taken the water. Many others, too, were set free from various ailments. The sisters feared, that, because of the frequent flooding, they might have to burn the bones of blessed Agnes. They removed them from the tomb, soaked them in wine and with great reverence had them put into a wooden coffin by the hands of their priest-brothers. For over a year this wine was kept in a pewter jug without ever losing taste or colour. It became a healing medicine for many sick people, as has already been.
The healing of a person suffering from a fever, through the hair of Blessed Agnes
The eighteenth miracle
A nobleman of Bohemia, called Marquard of Wlasim, had obtained from a sister of the Order of St. Clare in Prague, some strands of the hair of blessed Agnes. As he met a number of sufferers in his town of Wlasim, he gave to several of them strands of this hair, others he only blessed with it and fifteen of them were set free from the grasp of fever through the merits of the handmaid of Christ.
Sister Constanze is cured from attacks of fever
The nineteenth miracle
Sister Constanze was for several years after the death of Blessed Agnes, Abbess of the monastery. She had suffered, before the death of the virgin, from several attacks of fever. On the day Agnes died she was more than usually suffering, so that she felt faint and her whole body immensely heavy. After dinner, whilst the sisters said grace in the choir, she went to the bier on which the body of the virgin had been placed and called on the merits of the virgin, that she, together with the other sisters, should be able to recite during the following night the psalter for her eternal rest. Arising from her prayer, she felt neither pain nor heaviness, so that she was able to fulfill her intention.
The healing of the paralysed hand of Sister Agnes
The twentieth miracle
Another sister, by the name of Agnes of Sberzkowcz57, who also held the office of abbess in the monastery several years after the death of the gentle virgin, was struck by such a serious paralysis of the right wrist that she was unable to use this hand for work. She, therefore, carried it around tied with a string to her chest. This all happened before she became abbess. One day, she chanced to come to the coffin containing the body of the virgin; she asked one of the sisters to help her stretch out her afflicted hand, as she could neither put it down nor extend it without crying out in serious pain. As she placed her hand, as best she could, on the coffin, the pain vanished - she was able to make use of her hand and was restored to her former health.
Healing by the touch of blessed Agnes
The twenty-first miracle
A noble lady named Scholastika, the wife of the Lord Habard of Zerotin in Bohemia, suffered for a long time from a kind of abscess due to malignant fluid gathered on her right hip. This took place during the lifetime of Agnes. Various remedies applied by the doctors had been of no avail. She, therefore, visited the virgin of Christ, together with her great-aunt, the Lady Scholastika of Sternberg, who had permission to go inside the enclosure of the monastery. Persuaded by a pious deception, she planned to touch with her ailing hip that of the virgin of Christ in the hope of regaining her desired health by means of that touch. And thus it happened! Intending to bid farewell, she embraced the virgin, likewise moving her hip to touch that of the virgin. Even before leaving the monastery, she felt that she had been completely cured by the wonderful strength of God. No healing bandage had been able to procure this. In order to show her gratitude, immediately on leaving the monastery she gave witness before many trustworthy people, proclaiming with a loud voice that by the merits of the outstanding virgin she had been set free from this wretched ailment.
The healing of a festering sore
The twenty-second miracle
Another lady of noble family, named Hostyrhildis, the wife of Lord Jaroslaus of Sternberg, also known as Zabrzieh, suffered for several years from a festering sore. On hearing that by the merits of Agnes many people had been healed of various ailments, she entrusted herself to the intercession of the virgin. With fasting, prayer and almsgiving she implored God, and, prompted by devotion to the handmaid of Christ, she made a vow. All the pain she had previously suffered subsided. On seeing that the sore had completely healed, she fulfilled her vow and gave thanks to God.
The healing of a haemorrhage by means of a vow
The twenty-third miracle
Another lady, the wife of the Lord Mladota from the region of Leitmeritz, having suffered for several years from a hemorrhage, came, on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross to the monastery where the body of blessed Agnes rested. A large crowd having gathered there, there was much talk of miracles and healing from various ailments, which had come about through the intercession of the virgin of Christ. Moved by this witness, the lady, too, turned to the virgin for help. Having made a vow in honour of the virgin, she was, at once, cured. Loudly, she proclaimed the miracle, encouraging many who had heard her, to honour and praise the Lord in His saints.
Sister Domka is saved from burning
The twenty-fourth miracle
Sister Domka of the Order of St Clare in Prague, daughter of Domaslav of Skvorec, gave a hand in the kitchen one day to the sister who was preparing the food for the other sisters. Intending to pour water into the kettle hanging over the fire, she lost her balance and fell headlong into the flames. Loudly she screamed: “Blessed Agnes, help me!” She lifted herself out of the consuming fire; her clothes were not singed and her body showed no trace of burns.
The chair of Blessed Agnes
The twenty-fifth miracle
On one occasion, the house being on fire, the chair of the virgin of Christ remained unspoiled amidst the flames, only showing slight marks of burning. It is kept to this day in commemoration of this event.
Saved from drowning
The twenty-sixth miracle
One day, the river flowing around the monastery of the sisters in Prague, was flooding a large part of the convent and also the chapel where the body of blessed Agnes was buried. One of the sisters, named Elizabeth, the daughter of the Lord Albert of Lubsycz, rushed to the chapel, intending to retrieve from the tomb the casket containing the bones of blessed Agnes. By some very unfortunate mishap, she slipped and losing her balance sank beneath the water. One of the sisters, Zdenka Paulikonis, threw her a rope in order to rescue her from drowning. Having emerged from the water, no trace of wetness could be found on her body or clothing; for this reason, one needs to believe that this could only be brought about by the merits of blessed Agnes.
The wonder-working blood of blessed Agnes
The twenty-seventh miracle
Another sister, by the name of Jutka of Lesszan, intended to trim a nail from the big toe of Agnes, as the body had not been interred, and to keep it out of devotion. At the time there was nobody present. Scarcely had she begun when blood poured out profusely. Deeply shocked she wiped the blood off with a linen-cloth which to a large extent became reddened from it; for this reason the cloth served later on as a remedy for many ailments. The sister, however, fearing that she might be corrected and feeling saddened by this, threw herself together with another sister on the ground beside the bier, asking the Lord and the merciful virgin for compassion and to stop the flowing blood. And so it happened.
Many other signs
There are many other signs which the Lord deigned to work through the merits of this glorious virgin, not only as regards sick persons, but also for the finding of lost objects; she aided all those who called on her. The above (accounts) were mentioned by me in passing, so that orators, more worthy and more competent than I, may have the opportunity to make other additions for the glory of God and the blessed virgin.
Prayer to blessed Agnes for her intercession with God
O tender virgin,
you enjoy a resting place
on the shore of the heavenly fatherland.
Look down with merciful eyes
upon those devoted to you and
on me, the last and the least of the Minors
amongst the servants of God
who made known your glorious deeds,
stammering and as best I might.
We, poor wretches,
are still drifting on the stormy sea
not knowing how to salvage the boat of our body
from the devastating waves,
so as yet to reach firm land.
By your prayers
may you pull us out of the pit
of horror, of mud and of waste,
so that neither the stormy waters
of multiple oppression,
nor the abyss,
may devour us.
Intercede for us with the King of Majesty,
whose dearest vision you now enjoy,
that He might direct us through the floods of this sea
with His powerful right hand.
In this way, may we pass by Scylla and Charybdis,
so as to avoid the danger on both sides
and with the boat still intact
together with the cargo
may arrive at the harbour of eternal happiness.
May this be granted to us through
your merits and prayers
by Him, who as God, reigns from eternity to eternity.
In the year 1234 the friars minor arrived in Bohemia.
In the year of the Lord 1236 the devout virgin of Christ, Agnes, the sister of Wenceslaus, the fourth King of Bohemia, received the Order of St. Francis. In imitation of the blessed Father Francis, who constructed three churches as an image of his three orders she, too, had three magnificent churches built in Prague. The first she built in honour of the Redeemer of Mankind into which she retired together with her sisters. The second was built next to it in honour of the holy Mother of God and of blessed Francis, for the benefit of the Friars Minor, so that they would be able to undertake the spiritual care of her and her sisters. The third she built within her hospital, also in honour of the blessed Francis for the order of the Croziers which had by command of the lady Agnes herself, been newly founded by the friars minor. To these she entrusted the hospital which she had equipped lavishly with her own royal possessions, so that all those who were weak, sick and poor and who found refuge there should find material and spiritual assistance.
In the year 1277 King Premysl entrusted his daughter, in the presence of five bishops to the monastery of St. Francis in Prague to the order of St. Clare.
In the year 1277 King Premysl, being at war, smote King Rudolf on the head with a mace, seriously wounding him; these wounds, Rudolf himself showed to the friars minor in Iglau. The horse of King Premysl was killed under him, he himself was picked up by a nobleman and brought to safety. But as he rested, he was killed by the same, in a deplorable manner.
In same year there died John, the twenty-fourth bishop of Prague, his successor being Tobias. Margrave Otto of Brandenburg, the legal guardian of the kingdom of Bohemia and of the king’s son Wenceslaus, began to oppress the people by claiming the inheritance for his own country. In the year 1278 Bohemia suffered from a serious famine, more than 300,000 people died.
On the second of March 1279, there died the revered lady, Sister Agnes, daughter of the King of Bohemia, foundress of the monastery of St. Francis as also of the hospital and of the church which was built in honour of St. Francis.
1 The Latin text of the Candor lucis eterne is from a Milanese manuscript of the early fourteenth Century. Apparently the work of an unknown Friar Minor, it is presumed to have accompanied the petition of Agnes’ great great niece, Queen Elizabeth 1292-1330, daughter of Wenceslaus II, in 1328 to John XXII for the canonisation of Agnes. It was also translated into Medieval German by the Nuremberg Poor Clare, Katherina Hoffmann. This version is from the German translation of Johannes Schneider OFM, from the 1932 Czech edition of J.K. Vyskocil.
2 Premysl Ottokar I, 1155 - 1230. Agnes is the last child of his second wife, Constance of Hungary
3 The unknown Friar, must thus be a contemporary.
4 Constance 1180 - 1240, daughter of Bela III of Hungary5 St Elizabeth of Thuringia 1207-1231 Agnes’ cousin, was four years Agnes’ senior. She was canonised by Pope Gregory IX in May 1235.
6 This might not be everyones’ first reaction!
7 Boleslav, son of Henry II (the Bearded) of Silesia and St Hedwig of Andechs. His dates are usually given as c 1191-1206/1208. They precede that of Agnes’ birth and do not relate to those of her eponymus sibling who died in 1205. The official biography published on the Vatican Website for Agnes’ canonisation in 1989 makes no allusion to Boleslaus, but there has to be some reason for her stay in Trebnitz. Boleslaus’ dates, given above, appear to be taken from the Encyclopedia Powzechna, Warsaw 1975. To correspond with the Lucis candor eterne, the ‘Polish Duke’ would have died in 1217. Genealogies of the Piast family mention an unnamed son born before 1208 who died 1214/17. His presumed name is Wladislav he is referred to here as a Polish Duke.
8 Trebnitz: the Cistercian Monastery founded by Henry at Hedwig’s request in 1202
9 Gertrude 1200-1268, daughter of Hedwig and Henry.
10 Premonstratensian Priory f. 1144 by Duchess Gertrude, wife of Vladislaus II. Presumably near present day Doksy, the site of one of the summer palaces.
11 Henry (VII) Hohenstaufen 1211-1242
12 Frederick II Babenberg encouraged Henry’s guardians, and through them the Emperor Frederick, to espouse Henry to his daughter and heiress Margaret Babenberg. Agnes is sent home. Margaret returns to the story in 1253 as the first wife of Agnes’ nephew Ottocar II.
13 Frederick II Hohenstaufen 1194-125014 Henry III Plantagenet 1216-1272
15 Frederick, according to his biographer, Curtis van Cleve, actually possessed an enormous crown, far too big for his head, which was held suspended above him by supporters!
16 Wenceslaus II c 1205-1253
17 Hugolino de Segni de Conti, friend of Francis and Clare. Without his support Agnes’ refusal of Frederick II would have resulted in war. Generous to a fault, Gregory IX is very reluctant to let the Poor Sisters live in the poverty they have promised.
18 Frederick is reputed to have said something similar when Agnes’ cousin, Elizabeth of Thuringia also turned him down!
19 If this is so, the letter has not survived.
20 Ignacio Omaechevarria OFM suggests that the sisters came direct from Assisi. Possibly they came first to Trent, founded before 1228 and then were sent on to Prague.
21 According to Johannes Schneider OFM, this is the 11 November 1234. He suggests that the Italian sisters arrive first and are joined by seven young Bohemian gentlewomen and that Agnes with another seven Bohemians enters at Pentecost 1235; making the twentieth member of the community.
22 Trnava,Slovakia 1239, Olomuc, Moravia, before 1249, Zawichost, Poland c1254, Nowy Sacz, Poland before 1279, Krakow, Poland 1325. Ignacio Omaechevarria OFM ‘The Poor Clares across the Centuries’
23 Clare wrote four surviving letters to Agnes: in 1234, 1235, 1238 and 1253. (Dating of Regis Armstrong OFM Cap.)
24 The Form of Life of the Order of Poor Sisters, 1253.
25 Gregory X 1271-1276. II Council of Lyons 1274
26 Agnes’ fasting should be viewed in context. A third of the population of neighbouring Hungary died during the Mongolian invasion which threatened Bohemia. Bohemia was in the frequent grip of external wars and after Ottokar II’s death,to which this text alludes, the country was convulsed by civil war. Famine was frequent. Chapter XIII suggests a death toll of 300,000 around the time of Agnes’ own death.
27 Premysil Ottokar II, her nephew, d 26 August 1278.
28 A turn is a revolving circular cupboard, set into a wall, to allow the donor to place a gift in it without either party seeing the other.
29 A title used for both the cook and the keeper of the communal stores. Chapter IV says that Agnes herself was, of course, the cook.
30 Kunigunde Hohenstaufen, second daughter of Philip II of Swabia, 1200-1248 married Wenceslaus I in 1222.
31 You raised Lazarus, a fetid corpse out of the tomb. From the Burial Liturgy
32 Like Simon of Cyrene, Luke 23:26
33 Ruth 1:20 Naomi calls her self ‘Mara’, bitterness. An apt comparison, since Agnes lost her dear ones, as Naomi lost her sons.
34 Symptoms of acute Migraine.
35 Sr Domka must have been very close to Agnes during her lifetime, for twice, after Agnes’ death, Domka is favoured with miracles at her intercession.
36 That is: ‘of the Household of the Empress,’ presumably a lady in waiting; indicating that members of her family were employed in important offices at the Imperial court.
37 Ottokar II 1233-1278. He died fighting Rudolf of Hapsburg’s forces at Jedenspiegen on 26 August 1278.38 Rudolf I of Hapsburg 1218-1291 King of the German Nations from 1273.
39 Agnes died in 1282. 1271 may be a copyist’s error or another example of the demurer: “In the process of telling this story I have, however, not always described events chronologically,” that the author makes in Chapter I, despite describing himself as an eye-witness!
40 Probably the wife of Albrecht of Sternberg. She not only experienced this particular miracle, but also the healing of her great niece, Scholastika, the wife of Habards of Zerotin. 41 Bonagrazia Tilelci of San Giovanni in Persicito, Minister General 1279 - 1283
42 Tobias of Bechyne, Bishop from 1278 - 1296. Bohemia was in the grip of civil war that occurred after the death of Ottokar II at the hands of Rudolf of Hapsburg’s troops. Ottokar’s son Wenceslaus II, was only seven and was promptly imprisoned by his guardian Otto of Brandenburg, whilst his mother’s second husband, Zavis of Falkenstein, also tried to seize power.
43 Margaret, daughter of Wenceslaus II and Jutta of Hapsburg, subsequently married to Boleslaus the Generous, Duke of Wroclaw.
44 Jutta,(Judith) of Hapsburg, 1271-1297, daughter of Rudolf I Hapsburg and first wife of Wenceslaus II
45 Elizabeth (1291-1330) daughter of Wenceslaus II and Jutta, and sister of Margaret mentioned above. After the murder of her brother Wenceslaus III and the failure of her sister Anna and her husband, Henry of Carinthia, to rule, she became Queen of Bohemia with her husband King John of Luxembourg. She was Agnes’ great-great neice and presented the process for her canonisation. Despite the implications of this account, she never saw St Agnes while she lived.
46 John of Luxembourg (John the Blind) 1296 -1346, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII Luxembourg. His marriage with Elizabeth was far from happy. Though they had seven children, she ran away from him several times. He died at the battle of Crecy; though he had been virtually blind for more than ten years, he fought with his horse’s bridle tied to that of his retainers, according to Froissart. His motto ‘Ich dien’ (I serve) was taken by Edward, the Black Prince and is part of the Royal Arms of Wales!
47 Name not given: presumably the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV 1316-1378, though he was, apparently, Elizabeth’s third child, and first son. According to Bartholomew of Pisa, Agnes’ prayers twice rescued him from death.
48 Family: meaning household or entourage. As even today, the Papal household is referred to as ‘the Pontifical Family’.
49 Elizabeth’s first child was, apparently, Margaret (1313-1341) who was the only one of her daughters born in Prague, and later the wife of Henry IV Duke of Bavaria. Her second-born was Jutta, called Bonne (1315 -1349) she was born at Maubisson Abbey on the outskirts of Paris.
50 This sounds like post-puerperal septicaemia: the greatest killer of the Middle Ages.
51 It was not clear whether he was alive or dead.
52 A suburb of Prague.
53 Obviously, Wracka had a very high fever and her body was incapable of lowering its temperature by the ordinary process of perspiration.
54 Diminutive of Ludmilla.
55 As mentioned in Chapter XII, many who came to venerate Agnes’ relics after her death “reached through the grille with rings, belts and other artifacts”.
56 Marek of Hoholycz, according to Jan Kapistran Vyskocil Legenda 1932
57 Contraction of Von Berkowitz
58 Our anonymous friar’s grasp of dates and details abandons him entirely at this point. It may be more correct to say:
The first friars appeared in Prague in 1217.
The Church of the Redeemer was built by Ottokar II to house his father’s remains in 1261.
Ottokar II entrusted the upbringing of his infant daughter, Kunigunda, to Agnes and she spent her first twelve years in the Monastery whose care she left in 1277. Kunigunda subsequently became Abbess of the Benedictines at St George in Prague, according to Jaroslav Polc, Agnes von Böhmen, 1989.
Bishop John III Drazik died in 1278, he was succeeded by Tobias of Bechne, bishop from 1278-1296.
The famine and civil war began, by all accounts, in 1278.
Agnes died in 1282.