jeudi 23 avril 2015

Saint ADALBERT de PRAGUE, évêque et martyr



Saint Adalbert, sur le monument de Saint Venceslas, place Venceslas, Prague.

Saint Adalbert de Prague

Évêque de Prague, martyr ( 997)

Après des études à Magdebourg, ce fils d'un magnat de Bohème revint dans son pays où il fut choisi pour devenir évêque de Prague. Il vécut cette charge pastorale avec beaucoup d'abnégation d'autant que le clergé lui-même, par sa conduite, neutralisait les efforts de réforme du saint évêque. Il se retira quelque temps pour devenir moine au Mont-Cassin, et quand il revint à Prague, il fut très mal reçu par ses fidèles. Il se dirigea alors vers Gdansk puis vers le nord de la Pologne pour évangéliser ces régions encore païennes. Et c'est au cours de cette mission qu'il fut arrêté par des païens, avec ses deux compagnons. Chargés de fers, ils moururent percés d'un coup de lance. Leurs reliques sont désormais à Gniezno.

"Le Christ a été glorifié par saint Adalbert à travers sa vie fervente et une mort héroïque."

Homélie de Jean-Paul II pour la conclusion des célébrations du millénaire de Saint Adalbert, le 5 juin 1999 à Gdansk.

Mémoire de saint Adalbert (Vojtech), évêque de Prague et martyr. Il souffrit beaucoup dans cette Église, entreprit plusieurs voyages pour le Christ, travailla activement à extirper les habitudes païennes, mais, constatant qu’il n’obtenait que peu de résultats, il s’en alla à Rome et s’y fit moine sur l’Aventin. Enfin, il alla en Pologne et, comme il avait l’intention d’attirer à la foi les Borusses voisins, il fut assailli, en 997, par les païens à Tenkitten, près de Gdansk, un lieu sacré pour eux, qui le percèrent de leurs lances.

Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/1022/Saint-Adalbert-de-Prague.html


VOYAGE APOSTOLIQUE EN POLOGNE

HOMÉLIE DU PAPE JEAN PAUL II 


POUR LA CONCLUSION DES CÉLÉBRATIONS 

DU MILLÉNAIRE DE SAINT ADALBERT



Samedi 5 juin 1999, Gdansk
   
1. «Au fait, ceci me persuade; je sais que je vais rester et demeurer près de vous tous pour votre avancement et la joie de votre foi, afin que mon retour et ma présence parmi vous soient pour vous un nouveau sujet de fierté dans le Christ Jésus» (Ph 1, 25-26), nous dit l'Apôtre Paul dans la liturgie d'aujourd'hui. Il s'agit de la Lettre aux Philippiens, mais ces paroles retentissent ici d'une façon admirable, sur les traces de saint Adalbert. Comme si ce n'était pas Paul qui parlait aux Philippiens, mais Adalbert qui nous parlait, à nous, Polonais.

L'écho de cette voix retentit sans cesse sur cette terre où le Patron de l'Eglise de Gdansk subit le martyre et mourut. «Le Christ représentait tout pour lui et la mort - un gain» (cf. Ph 1, 21). Il parvint en 997 à Gdansk, où il annonça l'Evangile et administra le saint baptême. Le Christ a été glorifié par saint Adalbert à travers sa vie fervente et une mort héroïque. Au cours de mon précédent pèlerinage à Gniezno, auprès de la tombe de saint Adalbert, j'ai dit qu'il suivit le Christ «comme un serviteur fidèle et généreux, en lui rendant témoignage au prix de sa propre vie. Voilà pourquoi le Père lui a rendu honneur. Le Peuple de Dieu l'entoure sur terre de la vénération que l'on réserve à un saint, dans la conviction qu'au ciel, un martyr est enveloppé de gloire par le Père [...] Sa mort par le martyre [...] se trouve à la base de l'Eglise polonaise et, d'une certaine façon, également de l'établissement de l'Etat polonais» (cf. Homélie du 3 juin 1997, cf. ORLF n. 24, du 17 juin 1997). Deux ans après sa mort, l'Eglise le proclama saint et, aujourd'hui, alors que je célèbre ce Très Saint Sacrifice, je commémore le millénaire de sa canonisation.

2. Je rends grâce à Dieu pour être à nouveau venu chez vous et pour la célébration commune de ce jubilé. Le jour que le Seigneur nous a donné, dans sa bonté, est grand. Je me réjouis, car l'occasion m'est donnée de visiter à nouveau la belle ville historique de Gdansk. Je salue ses habitants et tout l'archidiocèse, ainsi que les habitants de Sopot, de Gdynia et d'autres villes et villages. Je salue Mgr Tadeusz, pasteur de cette Eglise, l'Evêque auxiliaire, les prêtres, les personnes consacrées et tous les participants à cette Très sainte Eucharistie. Je rappelle avec vénération les défunts évêques, Mgr Edmund Nowicki et Mgr Lech Kaczmarek, qui exercèrent leur ministère de pasteur dans cette Eglise de Gdansk à une époque difficile. J'ai toujours à l'esprit ma rencontre d'il y a douze ans avec cette ville et ses habitants, en particulier avec les malades dans la basilique mariale, avec le monde du travail à Zaspa de Gdansk, et également avec les jeunes à Westerplatte, où encore avec les gens de la mer à Gdynia. Je conserve tout cela au plus profond de mon coeur et dans ma mémoire. Si on la replace dans une perspective historique, on comprend combien cette époque était différente! Les nations devaient alors faire face à d'autres expériences et d'autres défis. Je me suis alors adressé à vous, mais d'une certaine façon je parlais également en votre nom. Le monde d'aujourd'hui est différent, et nous rendons grâce à Dieu pour cela. Je rappelle ces moments avec émotion, conscient des grandes choses qui ont été accomplies à cette époque dans notre patrie. «La nouveauté est venue», elle est venue sur cette terre et Adalbert y eut une part essentielle.

Le sang qu'il a versé produit toujours de nouveaux fruits spirituels. Il est cette semence évangélique qui est tombée en terre et qui est morte, et il a produit une récolte multiple dans tous les pays auxquels sa mission fut liée. Ce fut le cas de la Bohême, de la Hongrie, de la Pologne des Piast et également de la Poméranie, de Gdansk, des peuples qui habitaient cette terre. Après les mille ans qui nous séparent de sa mort sur la Baltique, nous nous rendons encore plus pleinement compte que précisément le sang de ce martyr, versé sur ces terres il y a dix siècles, contribua de façon essentielle à l'évangélisation, à la foi, à une vie nouvelle. Combien est grand aujourd'hui notre besoin de suivre l'exemple de sa vie entièrement donnée à Dieu et à la diffusion de l'Evangile! Son témoignage de service et de ferveur apostolique est profondément enraciné dans la foi et dans l'amour pour le Christ. De saint Adalbert, nous pouvons dire avec le Psalmiste: «Son âme a soif de toi [Dieu], après toi languit sa chair, terre sèche, altérée, sans eau» (cf. Ps 62 [63], 2).

Merci, saint Adalbert, pour ton exemple de sainteté, car, à travers ta vie, tu nous as enseigné la signification des paroles «pour moi, la Vie c'est le Christ et mourir représente un gain» (cf. Ph 1, 21). Nous te remercions pour le millénaire de foi et de vie chrétienne en Pologne, et également dans toute l'Europe centrale.

3. «Vous donc, vous serez parfaits comme votre Père céleste est parfait» (Mt 5, 48) - dit le Christ dans l'Evangile d'aujourd'hui. A la veille du troisième millénaire, ces paroles écrites par saint Matthieu retentissent avec une force nouvelle. Elles résument l'enseignement des huit béatitudes, exprimant dans le même temps toute la plénitude de la vocation de l'homme. Etre parfait à la mesure de Dieu! Etre, comme Dieu, grand dans l'amour car il est amour et c'est lui qui «fait lever son soleil sur les mauvais et sur les bons, et tomber la pluie sur les justes et les injustes» (Mt 5, 45).

Nous touchons ici le mystère de l'homme créé à la ressemblance de Dieu, et donc capable d'aimer et de recevoir le don de l'amour. Cette vocation originelle de l'homme a été inscrite par le Créateur dans la nature humaine et c'est celle-ci qui fait que chaque homme recherche l'amour, même s'il le fait parfois en choisissant le mal du péché, qui se présente sous les apparences du bien. Il recherche l'amour car, au plus profond de son cur, il sait que seul l'amour peut le rendre heureux. Toutefois, l'homme cherche souvent ce bonheur à tâtons. Il le cherche dans les plaisirs, dans les biens matériels et dans ce qui est terrestre et passager. «Vos yeux s'ouvriront et vous deviendrez comme Dieu, connaissant le bien et le mal» (cf. Gn 3, 5), entendit Adam au paradis. C'est ce que lui dit l'ennemi de Dieu - satan, auquel il se fia. Pourtant, à quel point cette voie de la recherche du bonheur sans Dieu s'est révélée douloureuse pour l'homme! Il fit immédiatement l'expérience des ténèbres du péché et du drame de la mort. En effet, lorsque l'homme s'éloigne de Dieu il ressent toujours comme conséquence une profonde déception, accompagnée par la peur. Il en est ainsi, car son éloignement de Dieu a pour effet que l'homme reste seul et commence à ressentir une solitude douloureuse, il se sent perdu. De cette peur naît toutefois la recherche du Créateur, car rien ne peut satisfaire la faim de Dieu, enracinée dans l'homme.

Chers frères et soeurs, ne soyez «nullement effrayés par vos adversaires» - nous rappelle saint Paul dans la première lecture. Ne vous laissez pas intimider par ceux qui indiquent dans le péché la voie qui conduit au bonheur. Vous «menez le même combat que vous m'avez vu soutenir» (Ph 1, 30) - ajoute l'Apôtre des Nations. Il s'agit de la lutte contre nos péchés personnels, et en particulier les péchés contre l'amour: ils peuvent prendre des proportions inquiétantes dans la vie sociale. L'homme ne sera jamais heureux au détriment d'un autre homme, en détruisant la liberté des autres, en bafouant la dignité des personnes humaines et en cultivant l'égoïsme. Notre bonheur se trouve dans le frère qui nous est donné et qui nous est confié par Dieu et, à travers lui, ce bonheur est Dieu lui-même. En effet, «quiconque aime est né de Dieu et connaît Dieu [...] parce que Dieu est Amour» (1 Jn 4, 7-8).

Je prononce ces paroles sur la terre de Gdansk qui fut témoin de combats dramatiques pour la liberté et pour l'identité chrétienne des Polonais. Nous nous rappelons du mois de septembre 1939: la défense héroïque de Westerplatte et de la Poste polonaise à Gdansk. Nous nous rappelons des prêtres martyrisés dans le camp de concentration de la proche ville de Stutthof, que l'Eglise élèvera à la gloire des autels au cours de ce pèlerinage, ou encore les bois de Piasnika, près de Wejherowo, où des milliers de personnes furent fusillées. Tout cela appartient à l'histoire du peuple de cette terre et s'inscrit dans l'ensemble des événements tragiques des temps de guerre. «Des milliers de personnes devinrent les victimes des prisons, de tortures et d'exécutions capitales. Cet élan inégalé de toute la société, et en particulier de la jeune génération des Polonais, en défense de la patrie et de ses valeurs essentielles a été digne d'admiration et d'un souvenir éternel» - ai-je écrit dans le Message à la Conférence épiscopale polonaise à l'occasion du 50 anniversaire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale (n. 2). Nous embrassons ces personnes avec notre prière, en rappelant leurs souffrances, leurs sacrifices et, en particulier, leur mort. Nous n'avons pas non plus le droit d'oublier l'histoire plus récente, à laquelle appartiennent, pour commencer, le tragique mois de décembre 1970, lorsque les ouvriers descendirent dans les rues de Gdansk et de Gdynia, puis, le mois d'août 1980, rempli d'espérance, et, pour finir, la période dramatique de l'état de guerre.

Existe-t-il un lieu plus adapté que Gdansk, pour parler de tout cela? En effet, dans cette ville, naquit il y a dix-neuf ans «Solidarnosk». Ce fut un événement qui marqua une étape de l'histoire de notre pays, mais également de l'histoire de l'Europe. «Solidarnosk» a ouvert les portes de la liberté dans les pays réduits en esclavage par le système totalitaire, il a abattu le mur de Berlin et a contribué à l'unité de l'Europe divisée en deux blocs depuis l'époque de la seconde Guerre mondiale. Nous ne devons jamais l'effacer de notre mémoire. Cet événement fait partie de notre patrimoine national. Je vous ai entendu dire, à l'époque, à Gdansk: «Il n'y a pas de liberté sans solidarité». Aujourd'hui, il y a lieu de dire: «Il n'y a pas de solidarité sans amour». Et même, il n'y a pas de bonheur, il n'y a pas d'avenir pour l'homme et la nation sans amour, sans cet amour qui pardonne, mais qui n'oublie pas, qui est sensible aux malheurs des autres, qui ne cherche pas son propre avantage, mais désire le bien des autres. Un amour qui se met au service des autres, qui oublie son individualisme et qui est disposé à donner avec générosité. Nous sommes donc appelés a construire un avenir fondé sur l'amour pour Dieu et le prochain, afin d'édifier la «civilisation de l'amour». Aujourd'hui, le monde et la Pologne ont besoin d'hommes au cur grand, qui servent avec humilité et amour, qui bénissent et qui ne maudissent pas, qui conquièrent la terre par la bénédiction. Il n'est pas possible de construire l'avenir sans se référer à la source de l'amour qui est Dieu, lui qui «a tant aimé le monde qu'il a donné son Fils unique, afin que quiconque croit en lui ne se perde pas, mais ait la vie éternelle» (Jn 3, 16).

Jésus-Christ est celui qui révèle l'amour à l'homme, en lui indiquant dans le même temps sa vocation suprême. Dans l'Evangile d'aujourd'hui, il indique grâce aux paroles du discours sur la Montagne, la façon dont il faut accomplir cette vocation: «Soyez donc parfaits, comme votre Père céleste est parfait».

4. Revenons aux paroles de la liturgie d'aujourd'hui. L'Apôtre Paul écrit: «Menez seulement une vie digne de l'Evangile du Christ, afin que je constate, si je viens chez vous, ou que j'entende dire, si je reste absent, que vous tenez ferme dans un même esprit, luttant de concert et d'un coeur unanime pour la foi de l'Evangile» (Ph 1, 27).

C'est ainsi que l'Apôtre Paul s'adresse aux Philippiens et que nous parle Adalbert.

Après dix siècles, ces paroles semblent remplies d'une plus grande éloquence. Depuis ces temps éloignés, ce saint Evêque, l'apôtre de notre terre, vient nous trouver, pour examiner, vérifier en quelque sorte si nous persévérons dans la fidélité à l'Evangile. Notre présence liturgique sur son parcours doit constituer la réponse. Nous voulons l'assurer que, oui, nous persévérons et nous voulons continuer à le faire. Il prépara nos ancêtres à entrer dans le deuxième millénaire. Aujourd'hui, ici, en répondant à ces paroles, nous nous préparons tous ensemble à entrer dans le troisième millénaire. Nous voulons y entrer avec Dieu, comme un peuple qui a placé sa confiance dans l'amour et qui a aimé la vérité. Comme un peuple qui veut vivre en esprit de vérité, car seule la vérité peut nous rendre libres et heureux. Nous chantons le Te Deum, en glorifiant Dieu, le Père, le Fils et le Saint Esprit, Dieu Créateur et Rédempteur, pour ce qu'il a accompli sur cette terre à travers son serviteur, l'Evêque Adalbert. Et en demandant dans le même temps: Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic haereditati tuae.

Beaucoup de choses ont changé et sont en train de changer en terre polonaise. Les siècles passent et la Pologne croît au milieu d'événements changeants, comme un grand chêne de l'histoire, aux racines saines. Nous rendons grâce à la Divine Providence, car elle a béni le processus millénaire de cette croissance par la présence de saint Adalbert et par sa mort comme martyr sur la Baltique. Il s'agit d'un grand héritage, avec lequel nous nous acheminons vers l'avenir. Grâce à l'oeuvre de saint Adalbert et de tous les patrons polonais réunis autour de la Mère de Dieu, que demeurent les fruits de la rédemption et qu'ils se consolident au cours des générations qui se succéderont. Que les hommes du troisième millénaire assument la mission autrefois transmise, il y a mille ans, par saint Adalbert et, à leur tour, qu'ils la transmettent aux nouvelles générations.

Le grain tombé en terre, sur cette terre, a porté du fruit au centuple.

Amen.
  
© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vatican

SOURCE : http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/fr/homilies/1999/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19990605_gdansk.html


Martyre de saint Adalbert

April 23

St. Adalbert, Bishop of Prague, Martyr

HE was born of noble parentage in Bohemia, in 956, and received at baptism the name of Woytiech, which, in the Sclavonian tongue, signifies, Help of the Army. In his childhood his parents saw themselves in great danger of losing him by sickness, and in that extremity, consecrated him to God by vow, before the altar of the Blessed Virgin, saying: “O Lord, let not this son live to us, but to you, among the clergy, and under the patronage of your Mother.” The child, hereupon recovering, was sent by them, without delay, to Adalbert, archbishop of Magdebourg, to be educated in piety and learning. The archbishop provided him with the ablest masters, and, at confirmation, gave him his own name, Adalbert, or Albert. The noble pupil, in his progress in learning, outdid the highest expectations of his spiritual father and master; but made piety his principal study. The hours of recreation he spent chiefly in prayer, and in secretly visiting and relieving the poor and the sick. After nine years the archbishop died, in 981, and our saint returned into Bohemia, with a useful library which he had collected. In 983, he was promoted to holy orders by Deithmar, bishop of Prague. That prelate fell sick soon after, and drawing near his end, cried out, in a manner that terrified all the by-standers, that the devils were ready to seize his soul on account of his having neglected the duties of his charge, and pursued with eagerness the riches, honours, and pleasures of the world. Adalbert, who had been present at that prelate’s death in these sentiments, was not only terrified with the rest, but being touched with the liveliest sentiments of compunction for whatever he had done amiss in the former part of his life, put on a hair-shirt, went from church to church in the habit of a penitent to implore God’s mercy, and dealt out his alms with a very liberal hand. An assembly was held a few days after for the choice of a successor, and Adalbert’s opposition proving ineffectual to prevent his election to the vacant bishopric, he received episcopal ordination at the hands of the archbishop of Mentz, in 983. From that day he was never seen to smile, and being asked the reason, made this answer: “It is an easy thing to wear the mitre and a cross; but it is a most dreadful circumstance to have an account to give of a bishopric to the Judge of the living and the dead.” He entered Prague barefoot, and was received by Boleslas, prince of Bohemia, and all the people with great joy. His first care was to divide the revenues of his see into four parts, allotting the first to the support of the fabric and ornaments of his church; the second to the maintenance of his canons; and the third to the relief of the poor: reserving the fourth for himself and his household, in which he constantly maintained twelve poor men, in honour of the twelve apostles, and allowed provisions to a much greater number on festivals, besides employing his own patrimony in alms. He had in his chamber a good bed, but on which he never lay; taking his short rest on a sackcloth, or on the bare floor. His fasts were frequent, and his whole life most austere. He preached almost every day, and visited the poor in their cottages, and the prisoners in their dungeons. A great part of his diocess had continued till then involved in the shades of idolatry, and the rest mere barbarians in their manners, slaves to their passions, and Christians only in name. Finding them, by inveterate habits and long connivance, incorrigibly fixed in their evil courses, he made a journey to Rome, and obtained of Pope John XV. leave to retire, in 989. He visited Mount Cassino, and put on the monastic habit, together with his brother Gaudentius, at St. Boniface’s in Rome. He took the last place in the monastery, and preferred always the meanest offices in the house. After five years, the Archbishop of Mentz, in 994, urged the pope to send him back to his bishopric. His Holiness, upon mature deliberation on the affair, ordered him to return; but declared him at full liberty to withdraw a second time, in case the people continued disobedient and incorrigible as before. At his arrival in Prague, the inhabitants received him with great acclamations, and readily promised an exact obedience to his directions, but proved as deaf to his admonitions as ever. Seeing himself useless here, and only in danger of losing his own soul, he left them, pursuant to the license he had received, and preached the gospel in Hungary; where, among others, he instructed their king, Stephen, famous afterwards for his sanctity. Though this event more probably happened on his former departure from Prague, about six years before. At his return to his monastery, in Rome, his abbot, Leo, made him prior, in which station he behaved with his usual humility and condescension to the meanest officers of the house. The emperor, Otho III., was so much delighted with his conversation, that he could scarcely bear him out of his sight. At the repeated solicitations of the Archbishop of Mentz, Pope Gregory V. sent him once more to his diocess. On the news of his approach, the barbarous citizens, having at their head Boleslas, the wicked prince of Bohemia, massacred several of his relations, and burnt their castles and towns. The bishop, being informed of these outrageous measures, instead of proceeding on his journey to Prague, went to his friend, Boleslas, then duke, and afterwards the first king of Poland, who, after some time, advised him to send deputies to the people of Prague, to know if they would admit him as their bishop, and obey his directions, or not. The message was received with scorn, and they returned for answer, that there was too great an opposition between his ways and theirs, for him to expect to live in peace among them; that they were convinced it was not a zeal to reform them, but a desire to revenge the death of his relations, that prompted him to seek a re-admission; which, if he attempted, he might be assured of meeting with a very indifferent reception. The saint took this refusal of his people for a sufficient discharge for the present, which made him direct his thoughts to the conversion of infidels, with which Poland and Prussia then abounded. Having converted great numbers in Poland, he, with his two companions, Bennet and Gaudentius, went into Prussia, which had not as yet received the light of the gospel, and made many converts at Dantzic. Being conveyed thence into a small island, they were presently surrounded by the savage inhabitants, who loaded them with injuries; and one of them coming behind the saint, as he was reciting the psalter, knocked him down with the oar of a boat, upon which he returned thanks to God, for thinking him worthy to suffer for the sake of his crucified Redeemer. St. Adalbert and his companions attempted after this to preach the gospel in another place in the neighbourhood, but with no better success; being told on their arrival that if they did not depart the next day, it should cost them their lives. They accordingly withdrew, in order to provide for their safety, and had laid themselves down to take a little rest after their fatigues; when, being pursued, they were overtaken by a party of the infidels, by whom they were seized and bound, as victims destined for a sacrifice. St. Adalbert offered his life to God by an ardent prayer, in which he begged of him the pardon and salvation of his murderers. The priest of the idols first pierced him in the breast with his lance, saying: “You ought now to rejoice; for you had it always in your mouth that it was your desire to die for Christ.” Six others gave him each a stab with their lances; of which seven wounds he died on the 23rd of April, 997. The heathens cut off his head, and fixed it on a pole: his two companions they carried away captives. Boleslas, duke of Poland, bought the corpse of the martyr at a great price, and translated it to the abbey of Tremezno, with great solemnity, and from thence, in 998, to Gnesna, where it is kept with great honour in the cathedral, and has been rendered famous by many miracles. In the catalogue of the rich treasury of relics, kept in the electoral palace of Hanover, printed at Hanover, in folio, in 1713, is mentioned a portion of those of St. Adalbert in a precious shrine.

St. Adalbert is styled the apostle of Prussia, though he only planted the faith at Dantzic. The present King of Prussia, in his elegant memoirs of the house of Brandenburgh, 1 tells us that the conversion of the country of Brandenburgh was begun by the conquests and zeal of Charlemagne, and completed in 928, under Henry the Fowler, who again subdued that territory; that the Prussians were originally Sarmatians, the most savage of all the northern idolaters; that they adored their idols under oak trees, being strangers to the elegance of temples; and that they sacrificed prisoners, taken from their enemies, to their false gods. After the martyrdom of St. Adalbert, three kings of Poland, all named Boleslas, attempted in vain to subdue them. The Teutonic knights, in 1239, conquered that country, and planted Christianity in it. See the two lives of St. Adalbert, written soon after his death, with remarks of Henschenius, Apr. t. 3, p. 174. Also John Dlugloss, alias Longinus, Hist. Polonicâ, p. 112. Dithmar, Chronici, l. 4, and Chronicon Hildesheimense.

Note 1. P. 36 and 264. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.



Adalbert of Prague, OSB BM (RM)

(also known as Adelbert, Voitech, Voytiekh)


Born at Libice, Bohemia, c. 956; died in Pomerania, 997. Born of a princely family and christened Voytech, Saint Adalbert took the name of the archbishop who healed and educated him, Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg. Upon the death of his mentor, today's saint returned to Prague with a prized collection of books. In 983, while still under 30, he became bishop of Prague. As a man of high moral as well as intellectual standards, he visited the imprisoned and the poor, and divided his revenues according to the guidelines established by Saint Gregory the Great. With the zeal of Christian youth, he tried to convert Hungary and Bohemia, but the pastoral and political difficulties were such that in 990 he withdrew in desperation to Rome and there became a Benedictine at SS. Boniface and Alexius on the Aventine.


At the request of Duke Boleslas, who agreed to support Adalbert's exercise of authority, Pope John XV sent him back to his diocese. There he founded the great Benedictine monastery of Brevnov with the help of Majolus of Cluny; but again he met with trouble. A penitent adulterous noblewoman, who had been given sanctuary in a convent by Adalbert, was dragged out and killed by her accusers. He encountered such opposition to his ministry from the nobility whom he excommunicated because of this affair that he again retired to Rome in 995. This time some of Adalbert's relatives were massacred and the people of Prague refused to receive him back.

Thus, it became apparent that there was no hope of his working unmolested in Prague, and he was allowed to turn his attention to the heathen Prussians of Pomerania. But he had no more success there. He and his fellow missionaries nevertheless persevered in their mission, preaching in Poland, Prussia, Hungary, and even Russia. Eventually the missionaries were executed as suspected Polish spies by the Prussians, perhaps near Königsberg or Danzig.

Despite the disappointments of his career, Saint Adalbert of Prague seems to have had considerable influence. He was a friend of Emperor Otto III, encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars, and inspired Saint Boniface of Querfurt. The bishop was buried at Gniezno, but in 1039 his relics were translated to Prague. Adalbert's cultus was widespread in central Europe, reflecting his importance in the conversion of the people. He in his turn was influenced by the ideals of the great monastery of Cluny. The saint is also credited with the composition of Czech and Polish hymns in the vernacular (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

In art, Saint Adalbert holds a two-headed cross, two lances, and a club. At times he may have a lance with a club at the lower end or he may be shown pierced by three lances and beheaded (Roeder). An 11th-century sculpture of Saint Adalbert can be found today in the church of S. Bartholomeo all'Isola Tiberina. Bronze doors dating to about 1175 at the church at his original burial site bear an image of him receiving the pastoral staff from Otto III (Farmer). He is the Apostle of Bohemia (Roeder).


Saint Adalbert, Bishop of Prague

Saint Adalbert was born in Bohemia, of noble parentage, about the middle of the tenth century. His father, a Slavonian, sent him to study at Magdeburg, under the care of the Archbishop Adalbert; who placed him in a school, under the direction of a holy monk, named Odericus, where the pupils, by serious attention to their studies, and most exemplary morals, edified one another.

Saint Adalbert, having remained nine years in this school, made considerable progress in human sciences, but still more in the science of the saints; for whatever time was allowed for recreation, he spent in holy prayer, in relieving the poor, and visiting the sick. Having made a copious collection of books, consisting chiefly of the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, he returned to Bohemia, and entered the ecclesiastical state at Prague. Diethmar, bishop of that city, was greatly enamored of his virtue, and ordained him sub deacon shortly before his death.

An assembly was held to propose a successor, at which the prince of Bohemia and other grandees were present, and, by unanimous consent, Saint Adalbert was chosen. Notwithstanding all his reluctance, and his pleas of unworthiness and youth, he was obliged to accept the onerous charge; and the election having met the approval of the emperor, our saint received the Episcopal consecration at the hands of Villegisus, Archbishop of Mayence. He immediately proceeded to Prague, to take possession of his see, and was received amid the acclamations of the people. In assuming the government of his Church, his extraordinary piety became manifest; for on all festivals he distributed abundant alms, and supported twelve poor persons continually. He slept upon the bare floor, or upon sack-cloth, and passed a considerable part of the night in prayer. His continual preaching, and frequent visits to the sick and those in prison, manifested how totally he was devoted to the glory of God and the welfare of his flock.

But they treated his admonitions with an obstinacy surpassing the enthusiasm with which they had at first hailed his arrival; and Saint Adalbert accordingly resolved to leave them, having first consulted, and obtained permission from Pope John XV. His first intention was to make a pilgrimage on foot to the Holy Land; but on his arrival at Mount Cassino, the Abbot and some of the monks induced him to remain with them for some time, until it became known who he was; whereupon the holy bishop proceeded to Rome, and, by the advice of the Pope, received the religious habit in the monastery of St. Alexis, in the year 900. Here he lived in tranquility for three years and a half, until the Duke of Bohemia, moved by the wretched state of the Church at Prague, induced the Pope to send him back.

Upon his return, the most ample promises of obedience were made, but never fulfilled. So the saint again abandoned his rebellious flock, and went to preach the Gospel to the idolaters of Hungary. His success here, however, was not proportionate to his zeal; and the Bohemians continuing as obstinate as ever, he again returned to his monastery at Rome.

He was obliged by the Pope to repair a second time to Prague. The saint set out in obedience to this command; but being informed that his ungrateful flock had shown their implacable hatred of him by murdering his bothers, he requested the Duke of Poland to ascertain whether they were willing to receive him. The Bohemians replied: “Adalbert is a saint, and we are sinners; so it is impossible to expect that we can live quietly together.” The saint took this as a sufficient exoneration from the solicitude of his Church, and went to undertake the conversion of the pagans who were then in Prussia.

After he had suffered many hardships on this mission, the idolaters one day assembled in great numbers, and demanded of him why he had entered their country. The saint replied that he had come for their salvation, and exhorted them to abandon the worship of idols, and to adore the true God. But the barbarians were displeased at his words, and Siggo, the priest of the idols, ran him through the breast with his lance, whereupon the others rushed upon his also, while the saint, raising his hands to heaven, prayed to the Lord for their conversion. The inhuman wretches placed his head upon a pole, and bore it away amid shouts of exultation. His martyrdom happened on the 23rd of April, of the year 997, and the Lord honored him by many subsequent miracles.

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

SOURCE : http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-adalbert.html

St. Adalbert
Born 939 of a noble Bohemian family; died 997. He assumed the name of the Archbishop Adalbert (his name had been Wojtech), under whom he studied at Magdeburg. He became Bishop of Prague, whence he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to reform the clergy of his diocese. He betook himself to Rome, and when released by Pope John XV from his episcopal obligations, withdrew to a monastery and occupied himself in the most humble duties of the house. Recalled by his people, who received him with great demonstrations of joy, he was nevertheless expelled a second time and returned to Rome. The people of Hungary were just then turning towards Christianity. Adalbert went among them as a missionary, and probably baptized King Geysa and his family, and King Stephen. He afterwards evangelized the Poles, and was made Archbishop of Gnesen. But he again relinquished his see, and set out to preach to the idolatrous inhabitants of what is now the Kingdom of Prussia. Success attended his efforts at first, but his imperious manner in commanding them to abandon paganism irritated them, and at the instigation of one of the pagan priests he was killed. This was in the year 997. His feast is celebrated 23 April, and he is called the Apostle of Prussia. Boleslas I, Prince of Poland, is said to have ransomed his body for an equivalent weight of gold. He is thought to be the author of the war-song, "Boga-Rodzica", which the Poles used to sing when going to battle.

Campbell, Thomas. "St. Adalbert." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 23 Apr. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01127c.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Bob Knippenberg.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01127c.htm


ADALBERT (St.) Bp., M. (April 23) (10th cent.) One of the Patron Saints of Bohemia and Poland. A Bohemian bv birth, consecrated in his infancy to Our “Blessed Lady, he was educated by Adalbert, Archbishop of Magdeburg and, on his return to Bohemia, was ordained priest by Diethmar, Archbishop of Prague, whom he succeeded shortly afterwards. Driven from Prague, he retired for a time to the Abbey of St. Boniface in Rome ; and after vain efforts to re-enter his own Diocese, directed his zeal to the conversion of Hungary, Poland and Prussia. His missionary success was great, and his labours only ceased on his receiving the crown of martyrdom at Dantzig (A.D. 997).

MLA Citation
  • Monks of Ramsgate. “Adalbert”. Book of Saints, 1921. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 April 2012. Web. 23 April 2015. <http://catholicsaints.info/book-of-saints-adalbert/>
SOURCE : http://catholicsaints.info/book-of-saints-adalbert/

ST. ADALBERT OF PRAGUE
Originally given the name of Wojtech, the boy who would be known as St. Adalbert was born to a family of nobility in the Central European region of Bohemia during the mid-900s. When Wojtech became seriously ill during his childhood, his parents resolved that they would offer their son to God as a priest if their prayers for his survival were granted.

Wojtech survived the illness, and his parents sent him to study with Archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg, a Benedictine missionary who would later be canonized in his own right. The archbishop gave the young student his own name at confirmation, setting an example that the boy would follow in his own life as a bishop, missionary and monk.

The young Adalbert was 25 when his mentor died in 981. He returned to his native Bohemia, where Bishop Deitmar of Prague ordained him a priest two years later.

However, the end of Bishop Deitmar’s life provided the young priest with a cautionary example that would remain with him until the end of his life. During his last illness, the bishop became terrified of his impending judgment, confessing that he had neglected his spiritual duties in favor of wealth, honors and pleasure.

After watching his bishop die on the verge of despair, Adalbert immediately resolved to live his own life in a more penitential spirit than before. He began wearing a hair-shirt and distributing his money to the poor. Soon, he would be chosen to replace the bishop whose agonizing death had shown him the gravity of spiritual leadership.

Adalbert was consecrated as the Bishop of Prague just months after becoming a priest. “It is an easy thing to wear the mitre and a cross,” Adalbert reflected, “but it is a most dreadful circumstance to have an account to give of a bishopric to the judge of the living and the dead.”

The bishop took steps to reform the finances of his diocese, ensuring that his own expenses made up only a small portion of the budget. Meanwhile, he slept on the floor, fasted regularly, gave sermons almost daily, and visited poor neighborhoods and prisons.

But in six years of constant prayer, fasting, and preaching, Bishop Adalbert made little headway among the Bohemians. The low point came when he unsuccessfully attempted to shield a woman convicted of adultery from a mob that sought to kill her. He responded by excommunicating the murderers, but the public seemed to favor them rather than the bishop.
Frustrated and dejected, Adalbert journeyed to Rome and asked Pope John XV for permission to retire from his diocese in 989. He joined a Roman monastery and purposely took on its most undesirable tasks of work and maintenance.

Five years after Adalbert’s departure, the Archbishop of Mentz – who had consecrated him as a bishop – asked the Pope to send him back to the diocese of Prague. Pope John did so, but made it clear that Adalbert was free to leave if the residents of his diocese continued to resist him.

When their former bishop returned, the residents of Prague welcomed him warmly and promised to change their ways. Sadly, however, this promise proved false, and Adalbert came to fear that he might be driven to despair by the rebellious locals. In keeping with the Pope’s provision, he left and became a missionary to the Hungarians.

In the course of his Hungarian missions, Adalbert taught – among many others – King Stephen I, who would later be canonized as St. Stephen of Hungary. Afterward, he returned to the Roman monastery of St. Boniface, where he served in the office of prior. But Adalbert’s consecrator remained insistent that he should return to Prague yet again.

Pope Gregory V finally ordered Adalbert to resume his duties as the Bishop of Prague. This time, however, the citizens defied him openly. A Bohemian prince named Boleslaus went so far as to kill several of Adalbert's relatives and burn their homes, to make it clear how unwelcome his presence would be.

Nonetheless, Adalbert attempted to obey the Pope’s charge, and sent a message asking whether the other residents of Prague might allow him to return. The response he received indicated he should not come back, and would be in danger if he chose to do so.
Rejected by his own people, Adalbert decided to begin a mission to the pagan tribes in Poland and northeastern Germany. He successfully converted many of them, but eventually encountered the same hostility that had driven him from his diocese. This was partly because he denounced the native practices of tree-worship and human sacrifice, but also because he was suspected of being a Polish spy.
A pagan priest eventually captured Adalbert and his two companions, binding them and taking them hostage while they slept. Adalbert prayed aloud, offering his own life to God and begging forgiveness for his attackers.
“You had it always in your mouth that it was your desire to die for Christ,” he heard the pagan priest say, as he stabbed Adalbert in the chest with a lance. Six others proceeded to stab him, and he died of his wounds on April 23, 997.
A Polish prince ransomed back St. Adalbert's body from the pagans, exchanging his remains for their weight in gold. His relics were transferred to the Polish city of Gniezno, and kept in the church known as Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Adalbert.
SOURCE : http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint.php?n=685

April 23

ST ADALBERT, BISHOP OF PRAGUE, MARTYR (A.D. 997)

ST ADALBERT was born of a noble family in Bohemia in 956 and received in baptism the name of Voytiekh. He was sent to be educated under St Adalbert at Magdeburg, who gave him his own name at confirmation. On the death of the archbishop the young man returned to Bohemia with a library of books he had collected, and two years later he was ordained subdeacon by Bishop Thietmar of Prague, who died in 982. Adalbert, though so young, was elected to the vacant bishopric. He had been much impressed by the death-bed scruples of Thietmar as to whether he had neglected his episcopal duties, and "It is easy to wear a mitre and carry a crozier", Adalbert was heard to say, "but it is a terrible thing to have to give account of a bishopric to the Judge of the living and the dead". Barefoot he entered Prague, where he was received with enthusiasm by Boleslaus II of Bohemia and the people. His first care was to divide the revenues of his see into four parts, of which one was devoted to the upkeep of the fabric and ornaments of the church, a second to the maintenance of his canons, a third to the relief of the poor, whilst the fourth portion was reserved for his own use and for that of his household and guests.

After his consecration at Mainz Adalbert had met St Majolus, abbot of Cluny, at Pavia, and had been fired with Cluniac ideals; but though he preached assiduously and visited the poor in their homes and the prisoners in their dungeons, he seemed unable to make any impression upon his flock, some of whom were still heathen, while many of the rest were Christian only in name. Thoroughly discouraged, he left his diocese in 990 and went to Rome. A good bishop, of course, does not abandon his charge in the face of pastoral difficulties, and there is evidence that there were serious political complications behind Adalbert's action.

In Italy he came under the influence of the Greek abbot St Nilus at Vallelucio and, together with his step-brother Gaudentius, the bishop became a monk of the abbey of SS. Boniface and Alexis in Rome. But soon Duke Boleslaus asked for his return, and at the bidding of Pope John XV Adalbert returned to Prague, on the understanding, it is said, that he should receive proper support from the civil power. He was well received, and at once proceeded to establish the famous Benedictine abbey of Brevnov, whose church he consecrated in 993. But difficulties again arose, culminating when a noblewoman, convicted of adultery, took refuge with the bishop to escape the sentence of death that was the penalty in those barbarous times. Adalbert sheltered her in the church of some nuns, and defied her accusers in the name of penitence and sanctuary. But the unhappy woman was dragged from the altar and slain on the spot. Adalbert thereupon excommunicated the principals in the affair; and this so aggravated the malice of his political opponents that he had to leave Prague a second time.
St Adalbert went back to his monastery in Rome, and there he remained as prior until a synod under Pope Gregory V, on the insistence of his metropolitan, St Willigis of Mainz, ordered him back again. He was prepared to obey; but it was agreed that he should be free to go and preach the gospel to the heathen if he found it impossible to return to Bohemia, for a powerful section of the citizens of Prague had massacred a number of his kinsmen and burnt their castles. To go amongst them against their will was only to provoke further bloodshed, and therefore the saint turned aside to visit his friend Duke Boleslaus of Poland, by whose advice he sent to Prague to inquire if the people would admit him and obey him as their bishop. They replied with threats, callously adding that they were too bad to mend their ways. Under the patronage of Duke Boleslaus, St Adalbert then directed his efforts to the conversion of pagan Prussians in Pomerania. With his two companions, Benedict and Gaudentius, he made some converts in Danzig, but also met with opposition, for they were regarded with suspicion as Polish spies and told to leave the country. But they refused to abandon their Christian mission, and very soon, on April 23, 997, St Adalbert and his brethren were done to death. Traditionally this happened not far from Königsberg, at a spot between Fischausen and Pillau, but it is more likely to have been somewhere between the Elbing canal and the Nogat river. Adalbert's body was thrown into the water and, being washed up on the Polish coast, it was eventually enshrined at Gniezno; in 1039 the relics were translated (by force) to Prague.

The importance of St Adalbert in the history of central Europe has perhaps been insufficiently appreciated. He was intimate with the Emperor Otto III, and appears to have entered into that monarch's scheme for a renovatio imperii Romanorum and the christianization and unification of the remoter parts of Europe. Adalbert sent missionaries to the Magyars and visited them himself, and was the "remote" inspiration of King St Stephen. St Bruno of Querfurt (who wrote his life) was his friend and devoted follower, as was St Astrik, the first archbishop of Hungary; and his memory was influential in Poland, where the foundation of a monastery, either at Miedrzyrzecze in Poznania or at Trzemeszno, is attributed to him. There was some cultus of him even in Kiev. The name of St Adalbert has also been associated with Czech and Polish hymnody; one thing seems certain, that he was not opposed to the use of the Slavonic liturgy in the tradition of SS. Cyril and Methodius: hostility to that was rather a product of the Gregorian reformist movement, half a century later. But above all he was a holy man and a martyr, who gave his life rather than cease to witness to Christ; and the wide extent of his cultus is the measure of his appreciation.

The sources available for the life of St Adalbert are unusually abundant and early; it must suffice here to give a reference to BHL., nn. 37-56, where the different items are carefully enumerated. There are two contemporary lives, by St Bruno of Querfurt and the Roman monk John Canaparius. The best modern biography is that of H. G. Voigt, Adalbert von Prag (1898), which includes a detailed list of sources. See also B. Bretholz, Geschichte Böhmens und Mährens... (1912); R. Hennig, "Die Missionsfahrt des hl. Adalbert ins Preussenland" in Forschungen zur Preussischen und Brandenburgischen Geschichte vol. xlvii (1935), pp. 139-148; and the Cambridge History, of Poland, vol. i (1950) pp. 66-68 and passim. But the most up-to-date account is F. Dvornik, The Making of Central and Eastern Europe (1949), pp. 97-135 and passim.


SOURCE : http://www.katolikus.hu/hun-saints/adalbert.html

Voir aussi : http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/Saint.aspx?id=1910,

http://orthodoxievco.net/ecrits/vies/synaxair/avril/adalbert.pdf

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/ccmed_0007-9731_1997_num_40_159_2697