Prague has a new basilica as Vinohrady church gets promotion

Pope Francis will anoint the Church of St. Ludmila at Náměstí míru as St. Ludmila's Basilica, bringing the number of Prague basilicas up to five.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 13.08.2022 15:45:00 (updated on 14.08.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague will officially get a new basilica as Pope Francis has decided to elevate the Church of St. Ludmila at Náměstí míru to basilica status. A spokesperson for the Prague Archbishop informed local media about the decision earlier this week.

A ceremony inaugurating the Basilica of St. Ludmila will most likely take place on September 16, during the annual Feast of St. Ludmila.

"I can confirm that the Church of St. Ludmila was elevated to a minor basilica [Tuesday] by the decision of Pope Francis. The ceremonial declaration, i.e. the announcement, will probably take place on the feast of St. Ludmila on September 16," Stanislav Zeman, a spokesman for the Prague Archbishopric, told local reporters.

There are now a total of five basilicas in Prague and sixteen across the Czech Republic that have officially been recognized by the Catholic Church. Because there are differences in an architectural basilica, those that bear the title, and those officially recognized by the Church, there can be some confusion over the designation. 

The Basilica of St. Ludmila in Vinohrady will join the Basilica of St. Margaret at the Břevnov Monastery, the Basilica of the Assumption at the Strahov Monastery, the Basilica of St. James by Old Town Square, and the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul in Vyšehrad as Prague's five basilicas.

In addition to the basilicas, Prague has also has one cathedral that tops them in hierarchy: the Cathedral of St. Vitus within the Prague Castle complex.

In the Catholic Church, sites designated a basilica hold certain privileges over other churches, including the items they use during processions and ceremonies. Some basilicas become notable pilgrimage sites, and receive millions of visitors every year.

The Church of St. Ludmila has not been the traditional pilgrimage site for those paying respects to Ludmila, however. The Basilica of St. George in Prague Castle contains Ludmila's remains, and serves as her pilgrimage site. Despite being called a basilica, however, the Basilica of St. George does not appear to officially hold this status within the Catholic Church.

Saint Ludmila has a strong connection to the Bohemian lands. As the first Duchess of Bohemia, she devoted herself to raising her grandson Wencelas, who would become one of the most important figures in Czech history as the Good King Wenceslas.

Ludmila was murdered in 929, purportedly at the behest of Wenceslas' mother Drahomíra, who was jealous of her influence over him. Today, she is considered a patron saint of Bohemia as well as widows and people who have issues with their in-laws.

The soon-to-be Basilica of St. Ludmila at Náměstí miru was designed by Josef Mocker in the late 20th century in the neo-Gothic style. It was closed for nearly two decades between 1974-1992, first due to construction of the Prague metro and later for major renovations.

The oldest Czech church to receive the designation of basilica was Svatá Hora, near Příbram, in 1905. The most recent was the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Nicholas in Žďár nad Sázavou in 2009.

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