16 September 2018

Holy Martyr Ludmila of Tetín

Protomartyr Ludmila of Bohemia

Ludmila, Protomartyr of the Czech people and a South Slav by origin, was the wife of Kníže Bořivoj of the Czech lands. Bořivoj, who belonged to the pagan noble Přemyslovci, was baptised along with his wife Ludmila by Holy Father Methodius, Enlightener of the Slavs, in his evangelical mission to that people. Both husband and wife took to their new faith with the zeal of the newly-converted, and began supporting churches and inviting priests to hold Divine Liturgy among the Czechs.

Unfortunately, Bořivoj died in 889, leaving Saint Ludmila a widow at the young age of twenty-eight. Their sons, Spytihněv and Vratislav, succeeded their father to the office of Kníže, and Saint Ludmila assisted them as she could – though the young widow never remarried. Instead she devoted her life to prayer.

Vratislav married a pagan woman named Drahomíra, with whom they had a son who would become a saint in his own right: Martyr-Duke Václav the Good. Saint Ludmila was charged with the young child’s upbringing. She doted on young Václav, and made sure he was provided with a good education, sending him to the church school in Budeč. When Kníže Vratislav died, his wife Drahomíra assumed the regency for her son, who was then still only eight years of age. Drahomíra, jealous of her mother-in-law’s influence over Václav, began influencing the young Kníže to allow pagan practices among the Czech people.

Saint Ludmila objected – vehemently, and Drahomíra seized the opportunity to begin laying plans to have her murdered. When Ludmila retired to her home in the town of Tetín, Drahomíra sent after her two retainers, who burst in on her at home and strangled her with her own veil. Practically at once after the news of how the Martyr Ludmila died spread, she began to be venerated as a saint among Czech Christians. She was buried in the local church at Tetín, but her remains were later translated to the Basilica of St. George in Prague.

Holy Martyr Ludmila is remembered today on the Orthodox New Calendar, along with the Synaxis of Saints of Carpatho-Rus. Among the saints most important to the long-suffering Rusin people, Protomartyr Ludmila is honoured alongside Saints Cyril and Methodius, Holy Prince Rastislav, Martyr-Duke Václav, Venerable Prokop of Sázava, Venerable Moses of Kiev, Venerable Efrem of Novotorzhsk, Holy Father Alexis of Wilkes-Barre, Saint Aleksei of Khust, New Priestmartyr Maksim of Gorlice and New Hieromartyr Gorazd of Prague.

Ludmila, martyr for the True Faith and holy grandmother of the Czech people, pray to Christ our God that the souls of us, your wayward children, may be saved!
O Ludmila, when godly fear entered thy heart,
Thou didst abandon the glory of the world,
And hasten to God the Word.
Thou didst take His yoke on thy flesh,
And shed thy blood in a contest surpassing nature.
O glorious Martyr, entreat Christ our God to grant us His great mercy!

Synaxis of the Saints of Carpathian Ruthenia

No comments:

Post a Comment