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The history of Dobrá Voda church

The Rosenbergs´ archivist and genealogist, Václav Březan, wrote the biography of one of the last Rosenbergs, Vilém. In his biography he mentioned that in the domain of Nové Hrady above the village of Stropnice, continuing on to the Austrian border, a spring had been found containing water through which many people had been healed.  There a village was founded and named after the Rosenberg – Vilémova Hora (Vilém´s Mount). Today the village is known as Hojná Voda (Healing Water). 130 years later, at the end of the 17th century, a new spring was found near Hojná Voda under the Kraví hora and the, spring as well as the newly established village, were named Dobrá Voda (Good Water). In the meantime the Rosenberg family died out.  In 1611 the Rosenbergs´ domain was take over  by the house of the Švamberks in the south eastern part of Bohemia.  During this time a new suzerain appeared, the old French nobility, the house of Buquoy. Charles Bonaventura Buquoy received the domains of Nové Hrady, Rosenberg and Libějovice for his faithful service from the emperor Ferdinand II. His descendants built the pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary near the newly found spring. The building of the church was preceded by two apparitions. The first of these apparitions was seen by the brothers Hans und Matěj from the small village Šlagles near Stropnice. On the feast of the Epiphany, 1698 they saw a crowd of people pilgriming to the column of the crucification which stood in the place of the new spring. When they told the others they all laughed at the two brothers. Matyáš Egidi, the son of a farmer from the village Bedřichov near Stropnice, received the second apparition one night in a dream in the year 1701. In his dream he was ordered to build a chapel on the place where he would find limestone. He found the limestone on there he built a chapel. Suddenly there were crowds of pilgrims coming to the place including people from as far away as Freistadt in Upper Austria or Třeboň in South Bohemia. Soon, the chapel was not large enough to accommodate all the pilgrims and so the Count Albert Charles Buquoy began with the building of a large church. He used charitable gifts and money from the pilgrims for this purpose and it made 634 gold coins in 1704.

The cornerstone was festively laid by the prelate Jan Jakub Bukovský from Český Krumlov on May 13 in 1706. The building of the church itself began two years later, in 1708. Neither the architect nor the planner are known. On August 1 in 1709 the first holy mass was celebrated there. The church was completely finished and dedicated by the prelate Sigismund Heuner from Český Krumlov on May 26, 1715. The rectory was finished in 1719 and the following year the rector Ringler settled down there.  Until the 1950s the Cistercian Fr. Daniel Waschenpelz was as the last administrator there.

After the dedication the work continued in the interior of the new church. The main altar was gilded in 1718, the new organ was acquired in 1727, and the frescoes were painted in 1729. At the same time the village around the spring was growing rapidly. In 1717 there is mention of the small town of Dobrá Voda, which was given the right to hold markets and a town sign by the Count Charles Kajetán Buquoy. In the town sign there is a wooded hill on the blue background from which a spring gushes forth There is a small silver shield above the spring and in the shield there is a small golden bell. In 1718 the Count let a residence on the west side of the church be built. It functioned as a summerhouse.  In 1818 the Buquoys allowed the whole village to use it and in 1852 they gave the building to the village as a gift (it was demolished in 1963). In 1786 there a graveyard was built near the church, prior to that, the deceased had been buried in Hojná Voda. In 1888 the Countess Filipina Buquoy allowed expensive restorations of the pilgrimage church to be done.  Martin Josef Říha, the Bishop from České Budějovice, consecrated the newly restored church on October 14, 1888. The Pontifical Mass was celebrated by Leopold Wackarž, the Abbot from Vyšší Brod. At that time Dobrá Voda had 101 houses with 470 inhabitants, a church, a rectory, a public bath and a post office.

Much time has passed, many things have changed but it has not always been changes for the better.  The old appearance of Dobrá Voda has been completely lost. Dobrá Voda depopulated after WW2. The worst incident that happened there was a fire that was caused by human carelessness. It happened on April 8, 1949. In the inn Panský, next to the eastern side of the church, there broke out a fire which completely destroyed twelve houses. Fortunately, the wind blew from the West, so the church remained miraculously untouched. During the Communist regime the pilgrimage place fell into total disrepair. The Buquoys´ residence was torn down in 1963, the inn called Panský, where the pilgrims used to stay overnight, was burnt and then torn down. Thanks to the sisters from the Congregatio Jesu the Baroque rectory didn’t suffer they same fate.  They also managed to save the pilgrimage church. In 1987–1992 there was a thorough restoration of the outer shell of the pilgrimage church. Now, the wistful beauty of the magnificent pilgrimage sanctuary, under the patronage of Virgin Mary, to whom it is dedicated, is still visible from the basin of Třeboň and other corners of South Bohemia.

The pilgrimage church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary is a registered cultural monument. Up to the displacement of German inhabitants in 1945, this pilgrimage place belonged to the most important Marian pilgrimage places in our country and it united pilgrims from Bohemia, Moravia, Austria, Germany and even from Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. Regarding the number of pilgrims, in 1913 Dobra Voda shared the10th place together with pilgrimage place in Stará Boleslav. It was even considered to be the most important place in the German-speaking parts of Southern and Western Bohemia. The importance and popularity of this place can be seen in it’s nickname„The Lourdes of South Bohemia“, which the well-known writer Zikmund Winter used to describe it.