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Svata Hora shrine

(Holy Mountain or Holy Hill)

CoronationIn 1665, Bohuslav Balbin, a historian of Bohemia, published a book on Svata Hora written in Latin. One of the illustrations of this book is an engraving by M. Küssel, representing the most ancient depiction of Pribram. It would be hard indeed to recognize in it the present town of forty thousand. A tiny chapel looms above a diminutive and ugly borough bearing the traces of devastation of the Thirty years' war. Though Svata Hora was renowned in Balbin’s times, it still awaited its grandiose rebuilding. Bohuslav Balbin, who saw the chapel in its original form, assumed on grounds of the appearance of its bells and of paintings of miners on its walls that it was very old. The chapel is likely to have been built in the 14th century when Pribram belonged to the bishops of Prague who later became archbishops. Though the Pribram population embraced the Hussite cause in the 15th century, the chapel suffered no adversities.

Chapel Staircase

A major breakthrough in the destiny of Svata Hora, however, came about in the half of 17th century. On the emperor's orders, the Jesuits, experts in propaganda efficiency, took over the chapel administration in 1647. The Baroque appreciation of mystic excitement and miracles of every kind launched the shrine of Virgin Mary to the highest position among all the pilgrimage centers of Bohemia. Most of the second half of the 17th century was occupied by a fundamental rebuilding of Svata Hora according to the plans of Italian architects. The original simple church completely changed its appearance, having been enclosed by a cloister with four corner chapels.

ChapelSilver altarTerraceMap

The present shape of Svata Hora dates from the beginning of the 18th century. A balustrade with statues of saints, four staircases descending from the terrace into a cloister, two impressive gates and a priceless stucco decoration of the ceilings…. Svata Hora is by far the most beautiful architectural monument of Pribram. This structure incorporates a unique component: a long and roofed staircase connecting it to the town. This staircase was built in 1658 with funds provided by a pious nobleman. Since then it fell into disrepair and was renewed several times.

Svatá Hora - Main gateWell

On 22 June 1732, the third Sunday after the feast of the Holy Spirit, the Svata Hora statuette was solemnly crowned; this event has been commemorated annually ever since then. This is the greatest Svata Hora feast of the whole ecclesiastical year. The glory of the pilgrimage center was somewhat dimmed in 1773 when the Jesuit order was abolished and Svata Hora became a mere residence of secular provosts. A certain renewal was brought about in 1861 when new regular administrators, the Redemptorists, were appointed. In the Communist dictate period of 1950-1989, the Redemptorists were exiled from here and normal life returned to Svatá-Hora only in 1990. For practicing Catholics, Svata Hora is the ultimate goal of joyous pilgrimages and a source of spiritual consolation; for connoisseurs and lovers of art and its beauty it represents an architectural treasure and an unusually impressive and harmonious dominant feature of the local landscape.


------------- 18-I-1999 ------ Stanislav Pecha (c) mlha@post.cz ------------