November 15, 2013

0863 CZECH REPUBLIC (Vysočina) - Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora (UNESCO WHS)

John of Nepomuk was the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, being drowned in 1393 in the Vltava river at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia, because, as the confessor of the queen of Bohemia, refused to divulge the secrets of the confessional. In 1719, when the Roman Catholic Church declared the tongue of John of Nepomuk to be "incorruptible", was started the work to a church in Zelena Hora (Gruenberg), near the border between Bohemia and Moravia, where the future saint had received his early education. It was consecrated immediately after John's beatification in 1720, although construction works lumbered on until 1727.

This church is the final work of Jan Blazej Santini, a Bohemian architect who combined the Borrominiesque Baroque with references to Gothic elements. The composition of the complex is based on the aesthetic concept of a perfect central complex with an explicit central vertical dominant. The centrality of the plan (evident in the postcard) is accentuated by the ground plan, which is based on the parallel to two equivalent radials, with the number 5 dominant in the layout and proportions. Around the church is built a ring cloister divided into ten sections by five chapels and five gates all this on a circular ground plan. Roof of each chapel originally culminated into five Pylons. These pointed to the meaning of light and symbolized eternity.

The church was a major centre of pilgrimage from its foundation until 1784, when the monastery was abolished. It continued as a place of worship, and in the 19th century the cloister was used as a cemetery; the tombstones of this period survive in situ. In 1993, it was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. The nomination dossier pointed out to Santini's ratios aimed at "the creation of an independent spatial reality", with "the number 5 being dominant in the layout and proportions" of the church.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of a common Czech and Luxembourg issue (designed by Karel Zeman), featuring John of Luxembourg and Elisabeth of Bohemia, and commemorating the 700 years since the succession of the Luxembourgs to the Czech throne.

The second stamp, depicting even the Church of St. John of Nepomuk, was issued on June 26 1996, and is part of a definitive series.

Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk - Wikipedia
Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora - UNESCO official website
Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora - official website
Common issue with Luxembourg 700 years since the succession of The Luxembourgs to The Czech Throne - Česká pošta

sender: Ondrej Surový (direct swap)
sent from Prague (Prague / Czech Republic), on 08.11.2013
photo: Petr Toman

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