Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian

According to legend, the church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian was founded in 928 by Prince Wenceslaus. Originally a parish church towered on a rock above the Vltava river four centuries before the rest of the monastery grounds.

Josef Svátek in his book Prague Legends (1883), tells about the founding of the church as follows: "The pagan Prague inhabitants had their first burial ground on Slavic hill (...). During the time of Princess Libuše, there was a sacred grove with statue of Morana, the pagan goddess of death, where the dead pagans of Prague were buried. After Christianity was introduced in Bohemia, St. Wenceslaus had the statue of Morana taken down and eradicated the pagan grove; in place of the statue, he had built a little church to honor Sts. Cosmas and Damian, which is still standing in front of the Emmaus church."

The location of the monastery foundation is thus connected with the first christianization of Bohemia. However, it should be noted that the idea of the goddess Morana dates back to the time of the national revival, as the ancient Slavs did not know such a deity.

The first monastic community used the church for worship until the monastery construction was sufficiently advanced. Even in later centuries, it may have temporarily served as the main monastic sanctuary. In 1611 Abbot Matouš Placidus was buried in the little church, because the large monastery church was looted and desecrated after the events of the war and subsequent riots. The Benedictines of Montserrat gave the church its current appearance in the years 1657–1659, the altarpiece of Sts. Cosmas and Damian standing by the side of St. Wenceslaus has been preserved from this period.

Did you know that...?

St. Wenceslaus was murdered at the church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian in Stará Boleslav, on the morning following these saints feast day. (Until 1969, the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian fell on September 27, currently it is celebrated one day earlier.) The Benedictines of Emmaus traditionally celebrated the mass in the church on the feast day of Sts. Cosmas and Damian and throughout the octave of the St. Wenceslaus feast day.