September 16, 2019

Holy Martyr Ludmilla, Princess of the Czechs and Grandmother of Saint Wenceslaus (+ 921)

St. Ludmilla of Bohemia (Feast Day - September 16)

The Holy Martyr Ludmilla, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from Saint Methodios, the Enlightener of the Slavs (May 11).

As Christians, they showed concern for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the Christian faith. They built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Their efforts to convert Bohemia to Christianity were initially not well received, and they were driven from their country for a time by the pagans. Eventually the couple returned, and ruled for several years before retiring to Techin, near Beroun.

Prince Borivoy died early at age thirty-six. Saint Ludmilla, as a widow, led an austere, pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for thirty-three years.

Bratislav was married to Dragomira, with whom he had a son, Wenceslaus (Vyacheslav). After the death of Bratislav, eighteen-year-old Wenceslaus came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to introduce pagan manners and customs in the country.

Saint Ludmilla, of course, opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When Saint Ludmilla moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent two boyars in secret to murder her. Saint Ludmilla was praying at the time, and the two assassins entered the house and carried out Dragomira’s orders, strangling her to death with her veil. This took place in 921 when she was sixty-one years old.

The relics of the holy Martyr Ludmilla were buried in Techin in the city wall. Numerous healings occurred at her grave. Prince Wenceslaus transferred the body of Saint Ludmilla to the city of Prague and placed it in the Church of Saint George. Many miracles occurred over her relics. She is venerated as a patroness of Bohemia and is considered to be a patron saint of Bohemia, converts, the Czech Republic, duchesses, problems with in-laws, and widows.