St. Wenceslaus (Vaclav) and Podiven, his assistant

Artist: 
Lewis Williams, OFS

Artist's Narrative:
St. Wenceslaus (b.903AD - d.979AD) was declared ruler of Bohemia (Czech Republic) after a coup. Later, his brother Bolelaus was angered that he was superseded as heir to the throne when Wenceslaus begat a son. He responded by murdering his brother at the door of a church September 28, 979 and gained the throne. Wenceslaus asked forgiveness of his brother as his dying wish.

The patron saint of Bohemia, as well as the “Good King Wenceslaus” of Christmas carol fame, Podiven served as his ‘page’, mentioned at the start of that carols’ second verse. Podiven is noted to be the most trustworthy of all his valets. Boleslaus later had him killed to end his spreading stories of the saintly Wenceslaus. His body remained incorrupt despite being hung outdoors on a gibbet for three years.

Wenceslaus was extremely generous. Nightly he made rounds to accomplish charitable work with Podiven at his side. In this icon the snowstorm is representative of the miracle story of the ‘warm footprints in the snow.’ On this night, Podiven complained that he could go no further on his frozen, bare feet. Wenceslaus asked that he trod in his footsteps and his feet warmed immediately.

This icon is dedicated to the memory of Fr. Larry Craig (d.06.10.06) whose countenance served as the model for Podiven. He was known in the Chicago area for his dedication to the Latino community, and his prison ministry. He would stand outside the Cook County Jail through the night, passing out sandwiches and bus passes to surprised inmates who had just been released. In a way, he did Podiven’s work, walking in warm footprints.

His feast day is September 28.

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