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St. John of Nepomuk was born as John Wolflin in the small town of Nepomuc, in the district of Pilsen, Bohemia. He lived about 600 years before our school days at SJN.
In his early childhood, John was stricken with disease but was spared by God through the constant prayers of his parents. In thanksgiving to God for His healing grace, John's parents dedicated him to the service of God and provided him with both a secular and religious education.
John Wolflin (1340 - 1393)
As a young man, John began studying for the priesthood. He was a man of prayer which aided in his rapid advancement in school and in the seminary. John was educated at the Universities of Prague and Padua.
Shortly after being ordained a priest, John was assigned a parish in Prague where crowds would swarm to hear his sermons. He was a great preacher. Thousands of those who listened to his words changed their way of life and were brought to love God more and to serve Him better.
Around 1379, because of John's great reputation, King Wenceslaus IV invited him to join the court as confessor. John accepted the position and became the confessor for the royal family and many members of the court. In addition to his sacramental duties, John was influential in solving many public disputes and was well known for his generosity with the poor.
One day in 1393, the king asked John to tell him what his beautiful wife had said in confession. When John refused, King Wenceslaus ordered him to be tortured. He was stretched on a rack, tortured, and his sides were burned with torches, but he never complained. He was then thrown into prison. On May 16, the king asked him a second time to reveal the queen's confession and promised him riches and honor over death, but again John refused. The king ordered his death. His hands and feet were bound with rope and he was hurled into the river from the bridge at Prague.
The Bohemians considered John a martyr and a saint. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII canonized St. John of Nepomuk. He is the patron saint of Bohemia and his feast day is celebrated on May 16th.
Three hundred and thirty years after his death, the shrine of Saint John at the cathedral in Prague was opened. They found that all the flesh was gone from his whitened bones except for his tongue. This remained just as it was at the moment of his death, still giving glory to God by its silence.
During the night of John's murder, seven stars were seen over the very spot where he was drowned. The king's attempt to cover up his crime failed. John's body washed ashore the next day. The people recognized who it was and he was buried in the cathedral at Prague with all the honors and glory of the Church.