Posts Tagged ‘Svata Dobrotiva’

9:44 am

Svata Dobrotiva

Last year, I joined the pilgrimage to svatá Dobrotivá. This year, I did so again.

The experience was very similar to last year’s: the bus ride to Olešna, where we began our procession:

Then the cross-country procession. I remain amazed that the area surrounding Prague becomes so quickly pastoral on leaving the city:

The Augustinians (with the help of some of sv. Tomáš’s parishioners) are continuing to restore the monastery, with the view of turning it into a family retreat center. They’ve made a fair amount of progress since last year:

But there’s still a good deal more:

The church, too, is only partially restored. The main altar has been finished, of course:

But the side altars and aisles still need work:

1:59 am

Pilgrimage to Svata Dobrotiva

While the Augustinians have been at sv. Tomáš since the end of 13th century, svatá Dobrotivá, near Zaječov, was the first Augustinian foundation in the Czech lands. The church and monastery are named for Saint Benigna (and how you get “Dobrotivá” from “Benigna” is a mystery to me), whose relics are kept there. sv. Tomáš holds an annual Marian Pilgrimage there the Saturday of the 6th week of Easter. This year was the 11th such pilgrimage since the practice was resumed.

The Story behind the Pilgrimage

Quoting from the program:
“According with the oldest legend, in the year 1262 Oldrich of Valdek, who was devoted to the Blessed Mother, one night heard in his room a certain whispering, or slight movement, and while still in bed listened to a voice that said:

“Oldřich, this is the will of both my Son and myself that in this place in which you see me standing you would as soon as possible build in his honor and in my name a church and a monastery for my servants and you will receive from my Son whom you willingly serve an ample reward…”

“The tradition said that everybody who went to the sactuary and left their problems at the feet of Mary, she would take them upon herself. Let us go to Mary. Do not forget our petitions. O holy mother.”

The Pilgrimage

I’m told that there were about 85 of us; I’m guessing that roughly 2/3 were Czech and (most of) the rest were English-speakers. (There was one girl who was pointed out to me as being from the Spanish-speaking community, but for the most part, the Spanish-speaking community was not represented. I don’t know why not.) We left Prague at about 8:30 and arrived at Olešna, the starting point for our walk, at about 9:30:

The buses were available to transport those who felt themselves unable to walk the 2 km or so, but the rest of the group set off for Zaječov. The walk took us through some lovely, open countryside:

As we walked through some of the villages along the way, the residents turned out to watch us and even to take pictures. We apparently introduced a marked note of novelty into their day!

There was a little chapel at about the midpoint, where we stopped for the Litany of Loreto:

The monastery complex came into sight a little bit past the chapel:

The cemetery en route is where the priests, parishioners, and benefactors of sv. Tomáš and the Augustinians are buried, and so we paused to pray for their souls:

There is what I think is a war memorial along the side of the monastery as we approached:

And a closer view:

When we reached the church, we processed around the altar to see the place where Our Lady is said to have appeared to Oldřich of Valdek and then sang the "Salve Regina"

The local parishioners turned out to welcome us. While we had been instructed to pack lunches, this turned out to be completely unnecessary: our local hosts were ready for us. Tray upon tray of open faced sandwiches, cookies, seriously addictive baby tarts and more were waiting for us in the refectory. They were extremely gracious in their hospitality, and it seems that this pilgrimage is a high point in the parish’s year.

After lunch, we had free time for exploring the monastery and for the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Mass at 2 PM. We headed back to Prague at about 4 PM.

The Augustinians had been turned out of sv. Dobrotivá by the Communists in 1950, and the monastery subsequently used as an internment camp, refugee asylum and finally a sports museum before being returned in 1998. The Augustinians have been working on its restoration since then, and the church has been largely restored:

Restoration of the cloister, on the other hand, remains an ongoing project and clearly has a long way to go:

(Once a month, on the third Saturday, sv. Tomáš sponsors a "work party" to go down to sv. Dobrotivá to help with the restoration.)

The parish website had a slideshow of last year’s pilgrimage, but apparently it’s no longer available.

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