Adalbert (Czech: Vojtěch Slavníkovec, 956-997)

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A Prague bishop. Missionary and martyr. A saint in the Roman Catholic Church and the first saint in Poland.

Born in Libice on the Bohemian territory. Descendant of the influential Slavníkovec family that had imperious ambitions. Already as a child he was meant to join the clergy. The parents' decision was caused by the miracle recovery of the son, who fell seriously ill and thanks to a heartfelt prayer returned to good health.

Two years after taking holy orders in 983 he was anointed bishop of the Prague diocese. A few years later he left for Rome where he joined the Benedictine order.

In relation to the conflict concerning the domination of the Adalbert's family in Bohemia it was slaughtered by the competing dynasty of the Přemyslids. These painful events made it impossible for Adalbert to come back to his country.

As a result of the situation, the monk went on an expedition to the pagan land of Prussia. The Piast duke - Bolesław Chrobry (967-1025) became a powerful patron of the mission.  After initial success the evangelising clerics came across the local population's resistance, which eventually led to Adalbert's death. He died like a martyr on 23 April 997 in the village of Święty Gaj, 30 km south of today's town of Elbląg. His body was bought back by Bolesław Chrobry and the pope Sylwester II canonised the missionary in 999.

He is particularily worshipped in Wielkopolska towns and the churches in Gniezno (Saint Adalbert's tomb and reliquary), Poznań, Trzemeszno and Strzelno, important places of worship on the Piast Trail.

 

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