Cherishing Everyday Beauty invited me to do a guest post about one of my favorite saints, so I had to share with everyone about my new love, St. Agnes of Prague (or Bohemia, if you prefer). Since her blog is invitation-only, here’s the piece I wrote:
As a mother of two precious toddler girls, I am constantly surrounded by princesses.
And glitter. And dreams of ballerina fairies. But mostly princesses. So it should come as
no surprise that the girls went crazy when they found out that there are REAL LIVE
princesses– and even better: some of them have been saints!
In an effort to captivate their fanciful little hearts, I began scouring the internet for
“princess saints” and today I am happy to present to you one of the most amazing
examples of royal holiness that you’ve probably never heard of: Princess Agnes of
Agnes was just canonized in 1989, though her story takes us back to the early 13th
century. Her father was the King of Bohemia and at that time Bohemia was very small,
but considerably rich. The countryside was littered with silver mines and the King sought
to use Agnes to secure his title and position by marrying her off to a rich young suitor
(preferably one that came with a large army attached). Agnes was sent to school
alongside the eligible bachelors of Europe and the rest plays out like a bad soap opera:
her first betrothed died unexpectedly, her second was the subject of a political conspiracy
and so he was underhandedly given to another and the engagement was broken.
Sent back to Bohemia with the shame of no marriage prospects, Agnes sought to
become a Poor Clare– but to her politically-minded father this was nonsense. Instead,
she was promised in marriage to none other than the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, a
man whose three excommunications, multiple marriages and unethical experiments on
human subjects made him a less-than-ideal match. So Agnes took it upon herself to write
directly to the Pope and ask for permission to become a consecrated virgin, thus
dispensing her from the obligation to marry. Her request was granted and eventually
things took a turn for the better.
When he ascended to the throne, her loving brother King Wenceslas (no, not the one
from the song) helped her purchase land and build a hospital, Gothic church and double
monastery in Prague. Again with the help of the pope, she started her own group of Poor
Clares and was immediately elected abbess. She served her fellow sisters with much
humility, often taking the most tedious and odious tasks upon herself.
The best part yet? Though they never met in person, she became best friends through
correspondence with Clare herself and some of their letters still survive. Clare called her
“the other half of my heart” and together, they worked over many years to petition the
pope to grant the Poor Clares their own special rule.
Agnes is a wonderful example of a holy woman who gave up the glamour of being
“Holy Roman Empress” in order to follow Christ and wed herself to poverty in the style
of Francis and Clare. She was a woman who knew how to get things done, but never at
the expense of others. Although I’m a mother and never had any royal prospects, I
absolutely love Agnes because she is a model of perseverance, gumption and holy
friendship. And if my toddler girls fall in love with her because her silvery crown comes
attached to the halo, then that’s just a bonus.