Nepomuk – John's birthplace
”Iohannes natus quondam Welflini de Pomuk, clericus
Pragensis dyocesis, publicus auctoritate imperiali notarius - John, a son of
the late Velflín of Nepomuk, a clergyman of the Prague diocese, a notary
public by virtue of the emperor”.
Already this first known simple wording on the certificate of notary of 1369
contains everything than can be found out about the saint's youth. If in
1369 John of Pomuk was a notary public, he must have been more than twenty
years old. Thus he was probably born sometimes between 1340 and 1350. In
that time there were five municipalities named Pomuk in Bohemia.
Nevertheless, there are no doubts about determination of the right
birthplace. It was a market village near the Cistercian monastery of the
same name founded by its parent Ebro monastery in 1145. In 1234, king
Wenceslas I. authorised the abbot of the Pomuk monastery to appoint the
judges who were supposed to try in Pomuk and Blovice the criminals captured
in the monastery estate. In 1355 – 1367, in Pomuk whose name was as early as
the middle of the 13th century also known as Nepomuk and that finally
replaced the older name, a village mayor Velflín or Volflín is recorded who
is commonly considered John's father who was awarded the right of judge from
the abbot of the monastery. The name (a diminutive of the German name
Wolfgang) indicates his German origin, his office maybe a certain wealth.
Notary John was obviously descended from the settlers who in particular in
the 13th century were coming to settle the Czech monastery estates. John's
mother is not known. A little John might be baptised in the Church of St.
James. However, it is not confirmed in any way, how he received his primary
education, which might be in this church or in the Pomuk monastery.
the Church of St. James
Based on the tradition, John's native home was situated
in the place of the present pilgrimage church of St. John of Nepomuk. There
was allegedly the building ”St. John” there where people often came to pray.
In 1639, count Franti¹ek Matìj of ©ternberk bought it along with next-door
houses at the suggestion of Ka¹par Drau¹kovius and after demolition of the
buildings a small sanctuary in honour of St. John was founded there. This
small church was completed as late as 1654 and it had to be consecrated to
St. John the Baptist because John of Nepomuk was not recognised as a saint
yet. In 1689 the church and the town were destroyed by fire but in two years
the church was renewed. After John's canonisation in 1729, a lot of
processions streamed to Nepomuk and the small church could not accommodate
such a great number of pilgrims any more. In 1734 – 1738 a new Church of St.
John of Nepomuk and St. John the Baptist replaced it that was probably built
based on the plans of a well-known architect Kilián Ignác Diezenhofer. This
is a remarkable non-orientated building with the forefront orientated
towards south. In the middle of the aisle there is a small altar allegedly
directly in the place of the saint's cradle. However, in fact an exact place
of John's birth cannot be determined.
Hundreds of churches all over the world are consecrated to St. John of
Nepomuk. However, only one of them stands in his birthplace in the place of
an older sanctuary that was built as the first one in honour of St. John.
The foundation of the Church of St. John of Nepomuk, the author of the engraving Karel
St. John of Nepomuk points at his birthplace in Nepomuk, an engraving according to the design of Karel
Mgr. Ludìk Krèmáø