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The history of Nové Hrady church

The history of Nové Hrady church

The first mention of the Parish Church of the Sts. Peter and Paul at Nové Hrady originates from 1284. The church which stands there now was built 300 years later. The town of Nové Hrady was destroyed in 1425 by Taborites (a religious community centred on the Bohemian city of Tábor during the Hussite Wars in the 15th century). In 1467, before the town could recover, it was burnt down to ashes by Zdeněk von Šternberk, who took revenge on Jan of Rosenberg for being loyal to King George of Poděbrady. We can guess from the building history of the current church what kind of difficulties the town faced at that time. The building of the Church begun around 1500 and the late gothic nave was finished by 1590. So it is the last complex gothic work in Bohemia and it deserves our recognition. Only the tower, which was hit by lightning in 1607, was rebuilt in Renaissance style. In 1726 the tower received the eight-sided bulbous dome, which has remained there until now. Spiritual management was provided by the order of the Cistercians from Vyšší Brod and it was the same in the surroundings: at Stropnice, Rychnov and later also at Dobrá Voda. In 1677 the Monastery of the Servites was established. When the monastery was built, some alterations were made inside the Church too. The new sacristy and the oratory above were raised, and the Church was newly furnished in early baroque style. The main altar and both side altars by the arch of triumph are from 1678. The author is not known but the same altar can be found in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Pelhřimov. The pulpit, the confession booth and pews are from 1697, the floor was paved with granite flagstones in 1733. The picture on the main altar shows The Sending of Holy Spirit. Above it, there is the picture of Charles Borromeo of Milan, who died in 1584 and was canonized in 1610.  At the end of the altar there is a statue of St. Wenceslaw, St. Sigmund and St. Adalbert of Prague. On the sides of the altar there are over life-size statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, the patrons of the Church. The reliefs on the pedestal of the altar demonstrate some events of their lives: an angel is releasing Peter from prison and Paul is being rescued by being let down in a basket from the curtain walls of Damascus to escape from death. Over the tabernacle there is a yellowed woodcut of the Virgin Mary of Good Advice (17 x 37 cm) in a valuable frame. Charles Bonaventura Buquoy found this picture in a burnt house at Záblatí in 1619. The altar of St. Anne is decorated with statues of St. Catherine and St. Barbara with a sword and a chalice. The altar is topped of with a statue of the Archangel Michael. On the altar of The Seven Holy Founders of the Servites there are statues of St. Sebastian, St. Rochus and at the top the statue of St. George. There are also other saints of the Order of the Servites: St. Peregrine under the cross on the altar of St. Anne and St. Phillip Benicius on the pulpit among four western church fathers.

The picture of Mary of Zablatí

The picture of „Virgin Mary Trost“ or „Virgin Mary of Záblatí“ with the size of 17 x 34 cm is situated on the main altar of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul at Nové Hrady. It shows the figure of Virgin Mary with Jesus on her left arm on a half-moon iconographically. It is the woodcut that the Count Charles Bonaventura Buquoy saved from a burning house in The Battle of Záblatí near Vodňany. After that, he used to carry the picture with him and pray to Virgin Mary. When he had been killed in the campaign near Nové Zámky in Hungary, the Jesuit St. Ann’s Church in Vienna received the picture and there it used to enjoy great public adoration.

In 1674 the family of Buquoy requested that the picture be returned to Nové Hrady. The Countess Margaret Buquoy let the woodcut, which was black from the fire,  be put into a frame with a gilded aureole.  Every year thereafter there was a celebration on the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Nové Hrady. On June 11, 1753 the picture was hung on the main altar of the Servites´ Church and the Church became a place where many pilgrims from the surrounding areas came to visit. On May 8, 1974 people in the village of Volders in Tirol commemorating the picture having been transported to Nové Hrady.  Up to the present Madonna of Záblatí is often portrayed on procession standards.

(Černý, J., Poutní místa Českobudějovicka a Novohradska , Veduta, České Budějovice: 2004, ISBN 80-86829-03-0)