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St. John Nepomucene

St. John Nepomucene by Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS

Artist Narrative:

San Juan was a 14th century priest and confessor to the queen of Bohemia. When Juan refused to divulge her confession to the queen’s jealous husband, King Wenceslaus, the king had Juan thrown off a bridge and drowned in the Moldau River. A miraculous light appeared over the place where Juan was drowned. In sacred art the saint is shown wearing a cassock, surplice, biretta and sometimes an ermine-trimmed cloak. He holds a cross and the palm of martyrdom.

In New Mexico San Juan is the patron of secrecy, silence, and the Brothers of Penitence. He protects against gossip and slander and blesses the irrigation ditches so vital to local agriculture.

His feast day is May 16.

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While a child, Juan was cured by the prayers of his parents; they then consecrated him to God. He became a priest. Juan was a great preacher who converted thousands. He was Vicar-general of Prague. Juan was counselor and advocate of the poor in the court of King Wenceslaus IV. He refused several bishoprics. Juan was confessor to the queen, and taught her to bear the cross of her ill-tempered husband the king. He was imprisoned for refusing to disclose the queen's confession to the king. When he continued to honor the seal of the confessional, he was ordered executed. St. Juan is the symbol of Bohemian nationalism. His image has been used in art as a symbol of the sacrament of Confession, and many bridges in Europe bear his likeness as their protector.

Born: c.1340 as John Wolflin at Nepomuk, Bohemia

Died: Burned, then tied to a wheel and thrown off a bridge into the Moldau River on March 20, 1393; on the night of his death, seven stars hovered over the placed where he drowned

Beatified: May 31, 1721 by Pope Innocent XIII

Canonized: March 19, 1729

Name Meaning: God is gracious (= John)

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