St Agnes of Bohemia
Agnes had no children of her own but was
certainly life-giving for all who knew her.
Agnes was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia. At the
age of three, she was betrothed to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later. As she grew up,
she decided she wanted to enter the religious life.
After declining marriages to King Henry VII of Germany and
Henry III of England, Agnes was faced with a proposal from Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. She
appealed to Pope Gregory IX for help. The pope was persuasive; Frederick magnanimously said that he
could not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.
After Agnes built a
hospital for the poor and a residence for the friars, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare
monastery in Prague. In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery. St. Clare sent
five sisters from San Damiano to join them, and wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty
of her vocation and her duties as abbess.
Agnes became known for prayer, obedience and mortification. Papal pressure
forced her to accept her election as abbess; nevertheless, the title she preferred was "senior
sister." Her position did not prevent her from cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes
of lepers. The sisters found her kind but very strict regarding the observance of poverty; she
declined her royal brother's offer to set up an endowment for the monastery.
Devotion to Agnes arose
soon after her death on March 6, 1282. She was canonized in 1989.
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