augury doggerel

Wednesday, April 23, 2003


Saint Adalbert, a local god, died just over a thousand years ago on April 23 near this city.

Adalbert must have been quite a striver: he became bishop of Prague before he was 30. The people of the city disliked him so much that he had to run off to Rome more than once to avoid mob violence. Eventually he was forced to quit the city, and in 997 he went north to convert the pagan tribes of the Baltic coast to Christianity. Folk up here didn't like him either; they lopped off his head and threw him in the water.

Back in Bohemia, Duke Boleslaw the Brave knew how to play politics, and he knew that Adalbert had been the Holy Roman Emperor's teacher. Boleslaw went north, bravely paid the pagans a large pile of gold for Adalbert's remains (which presumably had washed ashore when news of a buyer became known), and buried the relics on friendlier ground. The Holy Roman Emperor in return made Boleslaw the first king of Poland, and Adalbert became the country's patron saint.

People up north meanwhile remained happily pagan � the next missionaries sent this way were soon known as the "Five Martyred Brothers" � until about 1260, when the Teutonic Knights, Christian storm troopers, came and exterminated most of the local residents.

Thus was the one true faith spread to our happy land.


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