Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Good King and the Feast of St. Stephen

One of the statues we came across of Wenceslas
 in Prague, Czech Republic.
John M. Neale, an Anglican priest, wrote the words to "Good King Wenceslas" in 1853 to inspire children to be generous on St. Stephen's Day (today - Dec. 27). The lyrics of the song are based on events that occurred in the tenth century... about a kind-hearted king and his page who set out to help a poor man on a cold winter's night and how they experienced a miracle along the way. (If the incident is merely legend, the hero most certainly is not.)

Wenceslas was born into a royal family in Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic.  My husband and I just had the pleasure of taking a trip to the city of Prague to see our son, who is on a student exchange program there.  We saw statues and tributes to Wenceslas all over the city.

Wenceslas was raised by his grandmother to be a devout Christian.  Since his father was killed in battle when Wenceslas was only thirteen years old, he became Prince of Bohemia just five years later, at the young age of 18.  He ruled the land fairly, as he sought to spread Christianity throughout Bohemia and give aid to those in need.  

In 935 he was killed by his brother in a political coup. As a result of his pious life and untimely death, Wenceslas is venerated by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as a martyr and a saint. (The Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously conferred the title of King to Wenceslas.)

At the suggestion of one of my readers, I'd like to add a third picture book about  Good King Wenceslas to the two I posted about last year.  This particular book has wonderful pictures by Tim Ladwig that help introduce the story and illustrate the text of the song.  There is also a historical note at the back of the book.

To read my previous about this Good King, GO HERE.


  1. In Italy (from where I am writing this) St Stephen (or San Stefano) is commemorated on December 26, as you note in your earlier Wenceslas post. The East celebrate his feast a day later.

    From a cracker pulled by some friends in the USA on Christmas Day:

    Q: How does King Wenceslas like his pizzas?

    A: Deep pan, crisp and even! :)

  2. Hahaha! (That's how I like my pizza, too). ;)

    Yes - last year I discovered that St. Stephen's Day is celebrated on the 26 and 27, depending on Western or Eastern traditions. How wonderful to be in Italy on the Feast of Stephen - no snow lying "round about", though, I'd assume...?