Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert—The Melting Pot of Czech Religious, National, and State Identity and Its Legal Status
1. Introduction—Prague and Its Castle
2. Prague Castle and the Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert
2.1. Christianity and Its Manifestations at the Castle before the Foundation of the Cathedral
2.2. The Cathedral and Its Role
“During the reign of Charles IV and the decades that followed, the holy aureole of the St. Vitus Cathedral was strengthened by new graves of saints and patrons of the land—St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert […]. The sacredness of the Prague Cathedral was also enhanced by a number of holy relics that Charles IV acquired for the metropolitan Cathedral. At the same time, the whole building was pervaded by the glorification of the ruling family, the House of Luxembourg, and the ancient House of Přemysl to which Charles IV belonged on his mother’s side. The idea of a State union under the Bohemian crown, conceptualized by Charles IV, is represented in the Cathedral by a heraldic set in the staircase by the south-east corner of the transept. This world was entrusted to the protection of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the community of Czech patron saints, portrayed in a number of busts at the upper triforium, a place appearing to almost touch heaven. The union between the divine order and the sacralised earthly rule was presented here with extraordinary strength.44 This is also related to the fact that the Cathedral became the place where the crown jewels are stored. The chamber where they are kept is accessible directly from the St. Wenceslas Chapel. The close connection between the Bohemian royal crown and the patron saint of the land was also emphasised by the fact that it was placed on the head of St. Wenceslas from which it was removed only for coronation. The Bohemian royal crown with a cross with a thorn from Christ’s crown was a transpersonal symbol of the Bohemian kingdom and the royal power “by the grace of God”. In other words, it was the sacred symbol of the Czech state, which is still true today. The Cathedral as the venue of the coronation and the place where the royal insignia are kept thus became a kind of guardian of the Czech state, the notion of which was sacralised due to all these attributes. […] Just like in many other European cathedrals, the royal code is clearly visible in St. Vitus Cathedral. The royal aureole of Prague Castle with the Cathedral in its centre did not fade away even in 1918, when the monarchy perished and the Czechoslovak Republic was established. Significantly, just like the rule of the kings used to be legitimised by the coronation ceremony and anointment at the Cathedral in the past, after the establishment of the republic, the assumption of office by newly elected presidents was blessed by the Te Deum ceremony in St. Vitus Cathedral.”
3. Legal Status of the Cathedral
3.1. General Context
3.2. Dispute over the Cathedral
“‘This issue is in its way embarrassing,’ Zbořil63 told Deník, saying that the dispute is, in the first place, about symbolism. ‘For the Church, it is about remedying a wrong and injustice of the past, for the Castle, it is about the greediness of the Church,’ the political scientist commented. He believes that the only option is to reach a reasonable agreement. Zdeněk Zbořil concludes: ‘To say it outright, the State has the cash, the Church does not. The State should not take care of the Cathedral as if it were like any other church, but rather as the tomb of Bohemian kings, and the Church should make sure that it is not used for hosting parties, but for religious events.’”.
“(a) building without a building number or a registration number, services to the public (St. Vitus Cathedral) on plot of land No. 4;(b) building without a building number or a registration number, services to the public (tower of the St. Vitus Cathedral) on plot of land No. 5;(c) plot of land No. 4 covering the area of 5005 sq m, built-up area and courtyard;(d) plot of land No. 5 covering the area of 502 sq m, built-up area and courtyard […].”
3.3. Core of the Dispute
3.4. Historical Context: Divided Ownership and the Building of a Church as a Legal Entity
“The institution of ‘divided ownership‘ played a crucial role in the Middle Ages. Simply put, the superior owner held the right of disposition, while the utility owner only had a (restricted) utility right. This means that it was the traditional relationship based on the principle of a fief between the lord and his subject. The same relationship also applies to the Cathedral, which was constructed on the same basis during the era of medieval feudalism: the superior owner—duke, king, emperor—gave the Cathedral to the Church for use.”
“It all started with a theory that quickly became widespread: ‘The cardinal does not have the keys to his Cathedral’. […]. This was, of course, nonsense that only the naive could believe. The cardinal has always had the keys to the Cathedral. When this statement was proved to be untrue, also by an official letter written by the head of the Office of the President Medek,75another theory appeared, namely that Charles IV ‘donated the Cathedral to the chapter in 1344 in a golden bull’. First of all: Charles IV was a prince, not a king, in 1344, so he could not have issued a bull. Second of all: there was no Cathedral at that time, its founding stone was laid only in November that year. And thirdly: no such bull of donation exists, let alone a golden one! […] Charles IV., who initiated the construction, ordered together with his father John of Luxembourg that one tenth of the yield of the royal silver mines be used for this work. He then basically charged the chapter76 with supervising the construction. This meant that the Church was the administrator, user, and operator, but never the direct owner. However, a third theory soon emerged. According to this one, Charles IV entered in the Tables of the Land that the Cathedral is owned by the chapter. […] there was no such record and it could have never existed. […] this is an utterly absurd formulation for the Gothic period. Back then, no one established the ownership of universities or cathedrals. Everything was, of course, in the king’s power and in his ownership. Even though some volumes of the Tables of the Land were destroyed by fire, so they cannot prove or disprove the statement, there is still no way that there was ever such an entry in them, and any historian would confirm that. If the king is the owner of the building and finances the construction, then he, of course, holds the right of patronage, which is inherited by his successor. Emperor Joseph II […] transferred the rights of patronage to all cathedrals in the monarchy to the State. This means that in a traditional Catholic country, such as Austria, the coronation St. Stephen’s Cathedral is, of course, in the State’s ownership.77 […] The land records books supposedly contain an entry from 1873, saying that the Church owns the Cathedral. I can tell you exactly what this entry says and how it came to be: that year, the Institute of the Blind in Hradčany asked Emperor Franz Joseph to give them another piece of land, so that they could build a new building. It was therefore discovered that part of that land was owned by the archdiocese. So the archdiocese requested that all of their property in Hradčany be entered in the land records books that were being compiled then. The list was four pages long. When everything was added and recorded, it was found out that the entry did not mention the Cathedral. The secretary at the cadastral office was ordered to add the Cathedral. He did so, but being an honest bureaucrat, he noted ‘sine presentato’ above the entry, meaning without written evidence. The entry itself, written in Gothic script in German, says that plot of land No. 4 on which the east horseshoe of the chapels is built, and plot of land No. 5 on which the tower is built are owned by the ‘Metropolitan Church of St. Vitus’. So the land is owned by the church, not the archdiocese! This makes sense, the land, of course, belonged to the king, who provided it for the construction, meaning the church. And since a church is not a legal entity,78 a person who will take care of it is appointed, that is, its administrator. That is the chapter in this case. So let me emphasise this again: the land records books do not refer to the ownership of the Cathedral, but the plots of land. And these are not owned by the Church or the chapter, but the Cathedral itself!”
“[T]he Church pressured secular lords to surrender their right of ownership to the churches (and the related arbitrary appointment of clerics to the church administration), and to settle for the “right of patronage”, which included (and still includes) the right of presentation (that is, the right to bindingly propose the appointment of a cleric at the specific church to the bishop of the diocese). Property rights in the case of churches where the secular lords surrendered their ownership rights in this manner were settled elegantly: in most cases, the right of ownership did not pass to the Church, or a legal entity representing the Church (after all, this act could be considered a forced donation). The building of the church (fabrica ecclesiae) became legally independent, in today’s legal terminology: it acquired legal personality […]. The Church authorities (preserving the rights of patronage of the secular authorities) only administered the property of these legal entities.”
3.5. Amicable Settlement
“It was only thanks to the current archbishop Duka,91 who tries to find common ground with politicians, that the dispute was settled, even at the cost of the Church basically waiving its claim to the Cathedral. In May 2010, only three months after Vlk left the office of archbishop, Duka and Klaus entered into an agreement under which the State and the Church settled and share the administration of the Cathedral “fifty-fifty”. […] The dispute over the Cathedral may serve as an example of the different approach taken by the two cardinals. ‘Each of them dealt with the issue in a different way—Cardinal Vlk and the chapter emphasised the legal and economic aspects of the affair, while Dominik Duka decided to end the dispute with an agreement on the shared, amicable administration of the Cathedral,’ said Milan Badal, External Relations Director at the Archdiocese of Prague and Duka’s close friend, for Aktuálně.cz. However, their diverging opinions supposedly had no effect on their relationship.”.
4. Epilogue: Cathedral and the Current Civil Code
Conflicts of Interest
|Official Declaration of the President of the Republic and the Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia Regulating the Mutual Relationship with respect to the Maintenance of the Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert102|
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That is not to say that this single view gives a full picture of today’s Prague, a highly varied and diverse city in terms of its geography, architecture, and population, covering an area of 496 sq km, with a population of 1,275,406 people.
According to Bohemian legends, Duchess Libuše was the daughter of Duke Krok and the wife of Přemysl the Ploughman, legendary founder of the House of Přemysl.
Cosmas, born c. 1045—died 21 October 1125, was the first known Bohemian chronicler and the author of the Chronicle of the Czechs, or Bohemians (Chronica Boemorum).
Born 28 September 1735—died 31 August 1802, Czech Catholic priest, revivalist, and Slavicist.
Place above the confluence of the Vltava River and the original channel of the Berounka River, located in today’s Dolní Břežany, a municipality south of Prague.
Aventine, Capitoline, Caelian, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal.
Letná, Vítkov, Opyš, Větrov, Skalka, Emauzy, Vyšehrad, Karlov, and the highest one, Petřín.
The Czech term “opyš” is an archaic and rare word of unclear origin, which might have designated a tail. In addition to being the name of the hill upon which Prague Castle was built, the term “opyš” means a geomorphological shape in the form of a narrow declining ridge (hence the similarity to a tail). There is, after all, a street which goes from Klárov gently upwards in the direction of the Black Tower of Prague Castle and is still called “Na Opyši”. Interestingly, the name “Opyš” appears in the historical Bohemian lands only in one other instance—in addition to designating the hill in Prague—as the name of a hill not far from Drozdov near Hořovice (also sometimes referred to as “Vobyš”).
Bořivoj I., born c. 852/853 (?)—died 888/890 (?), the first recorded Bohemian ruler of the House of Přemysl and son of legendary Duke Hostivít according to Cosmas (Cosmas of Prague 2009, p. 53): “Hostivít begat Bořivoj, who was the first duke baptised by the venerable Methodius, bishop in Moravia at the time of emperor Arnulf and of Svatopluk, king of that same Moravia.”
Cf. Cosmas (Cosmas of Prague 2009, p. 91): “[…] climbing at night to a higher point (called Žiži) in the middle of the burg […].”
The Mrákotín Monolith, sometimes also referred to as Plečník’s Monolith, is a truncated square pyramid in the Castle’s third courtyard near the Old Provostry. It was revealed in 1928 on the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Cf. above footnote 9 and also the Christian’s Legend (Kristián and Ludvíkovský 1978): “On the second day, he instructed the Duke and thirty courtiers who came with him in the basics of religion, and after they performed the customary ceremonious fasting, he revived them with the holy source of baptism.”
It is also the second oldest church in Bohemia. The oldest one was the Church of St. Clement (Climent) in Levý Hradec, also founded by Duke Bořivoj.
Born 875—died 905/915 (?), Bohemian duke of the House of Přemysl.
Born c. 1033—died 14 January 1092, Bohemian duke and from 1085, the first Bohemian king of the House of Přemysl. His coronation took place on 15 June 1086 at Prague Castle (Cosmas of Prague 2009, p. 91): “[…] Archbishop Egilbert of Trier, obeying the emperor’s orders, came to the metropolis of Prague on 15 June. Among the holy solemnities of the Mass, he anointed Vratislav, dressed in royal bands, as king and placed a diadem on both his head and that of his wife Swatava, wrapped in a royal rob […].”
For more details about the significance of the House of Přemysl, see, e.g., (Třeštík et al. 2009).
The third Bohemian duke of the House of Přemysl, born 878/888 (?)—died 13 February 921, father of St. Wenceslas.
St. Ludmila, born c. 860—died 15 September 921 in her residence at Tetín at the hands of murderers hired by her daughter-in-law Drahomíra of Stodory (the wife of Ludmila’s son, Vratislav). Duke Wenceslas (Ludmila’s grandson and Drahomíra’s son) had her remains transported from Tetín to the St. George’s Basilica in 925.
St. Wenceslas, born c. 907—died 28 September 935 (929 in older sources) at the hands of murderers hired by his brother Boleslav. Bohemian duke, patron saint of the Czech nation, and the symbol of Czech statehood. Under Section 1 of Act No. 245/2000 Sb., regulating public holidays and other holidays, significant days, and rest days, 28 September is a public holiday called Czech Statehood Day.
Born c. 297—died c. 303 as a martyr.
Boleslav the Cruel, born c. 915—died 967/972 (?), the fifth Bohemian duke of the House of Přemysl, son of Vratislav I and Drahomíra of Stodory (cf. above), St. Wenceslas’ brother.
St. Adalbert, born c. 956—died 23 April 997, the second Archbishop of Prague. He was a member of the House of Slavník, and escaped the massacre of the Slavník family at Libice on 28 September 995. He died as a martyr at the hands of pagans.
Břetislav I., born between 1002 and 1005—died 1055, Bohemian duke of the House of Přemysl, who is best known for the kidnapping of his future wife Judith of Schweinfurt from the local monastery.
Boleslav II, or Boleslav the Pious, born c. 932—died 7 February 999, Bohemian duke of the House of Přemysl.
Spitihněv II, born 1031—died 1061 February 999, Bohemian duke of the House of Přemysl.
For more details about the development of Prague Castle, see, e.g., (Kroupa et al. 2022).
Available online: https://www.monasterium.net/mom/CZ-APH/AMK/152-VII%7C2/charter (accessed on 23 August 2022).
Arnošt of Pardubice, born 25 March 1297—died 30 June 1364, the last Bishop of Prague and the first Archbishop of Prague, Bohemian metropolitan.
Charles IV, born as Wenceslas, born 14 May 1316—29 November 1378, 11th King of Bohemia, first Bohemian king to also become the Holy Roman emperor, who ruled in person in all kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire. He accepted the name Charles at his confirmation while he was raised in France. For more details about the significance of the House of Luxembourg in Czech history, see, e.g., (Royt and Kuthan 2016).
John of Luxembourg, born 10 August 1296—died 26 August 1346, 10th King of Bohemia. He became the King of Bohemia by marrying Elizabeth of Bohemia (born 20 January 1292—died 28 September 1330, the last member of the House of Přemysl on the Bohemian throne), who gave birth—among other children—to their son Wenceslas, later known as Charles IV.
For more details about the significance of the House of Luxembourg in Czech history, see, e.g., (Šmahel and Bobková 2012).
In addition to this great deed, it is worth mentioning the foundation of Prague’s New Town on 8 March 1348, as well as the establishment of Charles University on 7 April 1348 as the oldest university north of Italy and east of Paris, as well as the construction of the Charles Bridge and the foundation of Karlštejn Castle.
Vyšehrad is an ancient fortified settlement, castle, and fortress in Prague built on a rock overhanging the right bank of the Vltava River. Although the fortified settlement was founded only in the 10th century, it is linked to a number of legends from the very beginnings of the Czech history. According to these legends, Vyšehrad was founded by the legendary Duke Krok and it was the seat of the legendary Duchess Libuše, who made many prophecies there, including the one about Prague, and sent a deputation from there to her future husband, Přemysl the Ploughman, legendary founder of the House of Přemysl. Another legend tells the story of Horymír, who fled from Duke Křesomysl by jumping from Vyšehrad into the Vltava River on the back of his horse Šemík. As for Vyšehrad’s actual historical significance, it was the seat of the first King of Bohemia Vratislav II for some time (cf. above) due to conflicts with his younger brother Jaromír, Bishop of Prague. In opposition to the religious power at the Castle, Vratislav II ordered the construction of the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul at Vyšehrad, with a chapter of clergymen excluded from the bishop’s jurisdiction and subordinated directly to the Pope. The second climax in the recorded history of Vyšehrad came during Charles IV’s rule; he demonstrated the continuity of his reign with the Přemyslid tradition by giving a lot of attention to Vyšehrad, including in the form of construction work. However, Vyšehrad never became as important a symbol of Czech statehood or religious power as the Castle with its Cathedral. For more details, see, e.g., (Moucha et al. 2015).
Přemysl the Ploughman, legendary Bohemian ruler, husband of the legendary Duchess Libuše, founder of the House of Přemysl. It should be added that legends about a ploughman (peasant) of humble origin as the founder of the ruling dynasty are to be found also in other Slavic cultures, cf. in particular, Piast as the founder of the ruling family of Poland, the Piast Dynasty.
For more details about coronations, see, e.g., (Kyzourová and Vlnas 2016).
“[…] it is a building of dual character from the very beginning. This was Charles IV’s concept: it is a place of god and a symbol of Czech statehood at the same time. The fact that it is not only a cathedral but also the sacro sanctum of statehood is proved by the crown jewels […].” (Stern 2006).
Matthias of Arras, born c. 1290—died 1352, French architect, constructor, and stonemason.
Petr Parléř, born 1332 or 1333—died 13 June 1399, German-Czech architect, constructor, stonemason, sculptor, and woodcarver.
The Hussite movement was a primarily religiously (but also socially and politically) motivated movement in the late Middle Ages, which followed the ideas of priest and philosopher Jan Hus, born c. 1370—died 6 July 1415 (burnt at the stake in Constance), whose main aim was to carry out a comprehensive reform of the church.
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, also known as “President Liberator,” born 7 March 1850—died 14 September 1937, first president of the Czechoslovak Republic, politician, sociologist, teacher, and the main ideologist behind the idea of independent Czechoslovak statehood.
Similar collections were also organised for the construction of the National Theatre, which was opened in 1881 but burned down shortly after during finishing work and reopened in 1883. In this case, the collections financed not only the construction of the original building, but also the repairs of the building destroyed by fire. To a certain extent, these collections may be considered as competition to the collections for the completion of the Cathedral.
The original date of St. Wenceslas’ death was said to be 929, but based on more recent knowledge, the date of his murder is usually considered to be 935.
However, it is also sometimes referred to as the Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, Adalbert, and the Virgin Mary (with reference to Spitihněv’s Basilica, cf. above), for example (Maříková-Kubková et al. 2019).
Emphasis in bold added by the authors.
For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that they include George of Poděbrady (born 23 April 1420–died 22 March 1471), who was excommunicated from the church on 23 December 1466 as a heretic, oathbreaker, blasphemer, and a filthy sheep. Pope Paul II anathemised George and declared a crusade against him.
Václav Havel, born 5 October 1936—died 18 December 2011, Czech playwright, dissident, and critic of the communist regime, first president of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic after the fall of the communist regime in 1989 and first president of the Czech Republic.
A State funeral should be distinguished from a funeral with State honours. Neither of them is regulated by the law in the Czech Republic and their form stems from historical traditions. A State funeral expresses the highest honour by the State in the case of the death of a prominent personality, typically a high representative of the state, a personality that significantly contributed to the State or the functioning of the whole country, or someone who created extraordinary, impressive work in their lifetime. A funeral with State honours is not bound by ceremonial rules as much as a State funeral, and its form is less restricted in general. The family of the deceased person and the State agree on the specific State honours for the funeral (for example, a minute of silence, honour guard, speeches by high representatives of the state).
Karel Gott, born 14 July 1939–died 1 October 2019, popular Czech singer, who recorded 2500 songs in total and released 293 solo albums (in Czech as well as in other languages) which were immensely successful with large audiences in the Czech Republic and abroad (in particular in Germany).
These events came to be known as the “Velvet Revolution”.
The term Church is used for Christian religious communities, while a religious society designates communities that do not profess faith in Jesus Christ, cf. details in (Tretera 1997).
Beran was interned by the communist State police (StB) at various locations in Czechoslovakia from 1949 to 1963. In 1965, Beran was given permission to travel to Rome for the handover of a cardinal’s hat, but he was not allowed to travel back.
For more details about the act, see, e.g., (Kříž and Valeš 2013).
Section 18(10) of the act provides that: This Act does not apply to the Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert on plot of land No. 4 covering an area of 5005 sq m and plot of land No. 5 covering an area of 502 sq m in Prague, cadastral district Hradčany, including the land. This Act also does not apply to building No. 37 located on plot of land No. 85 covering an area of 776 sq m and building No. 48 on plot of land No. 6 covering an area of 982 sq m in Prague, cadastral district Hradčany, including the land.
Cf., for example, Judgment of the Supreme Court Case No. 3 Cdo 404/96. “The person who is entitled to the property enumerated in the Appendix to Act No. 298/1990 Sb is not authorised to assert the ownership right to property which monastic orders and congregations have been deprived of in the exercise of the State supervision of the property of Churches and religious societies but which is not enumerated in the Appendix to the Act.” Quoted from: ASPI [Legal Information System], Wolters Kluwer ČR, Praha, The Czech Republic, [ASPI ID: JUD9650CZ].
Available online: http://kraken.slv.cz/II.US528/02 (accessed on 20 August 2022).
And when it still did not happen, the Constitutional Court itself opened the door to justice in the specific case in its Judgment Case No. I. ÚS 663/06: “The Constitutional Court has proven many times in its established case-law that it does not tolerate public bodies, and in particular general courts, employing formalistic procedures using, in essence, sophisticated reasoning for apparent injustice. […] If restitution is understood as the effort of a democratic State based on the rule of law to remedy certain wrongs committed by a totalitarian regime, then a solution in the form of restitution would be appropriate where the wrong is apparent and ascertained by authorities (cf. also the reasoning of the trial court), as in this case. The formal acts of the State which disposed of the property based on its interests regardless of its actual owner and various inconsistencies on the part of the State may not be interpreted to prejudice the complainant in a State aiming to apply the principles of the rule of law; such procedure would apparently present the threat of committing a further wrong. […] Lapse of time plays a key role in this case. The legitimate expectation on the part of the legal entities representing the Church reaches notional “majority” on 24 June 2009, and the legislature, although aware of the duty to meet the legitimate expectation for more than 4 years and notified in a relevant manner of its commitment based on Section 29 of the act regulating land, has failed to act (note: to be more precise, it has failed to act since 1991, which follows from the previous text). […] The complainant’s action is therefore not precluded in this specific case. However, it would need to be interpreted as an action of its own kind (not unlike a restitution action) aiming to fill the gap created by the long-term failure to act on the part of the legislature in violation of its duty based on Section 29 of the act regulating land, using a procedure corresponding to the purpose of remedying wrongs after 1989, with regard to the relevant specific circumstances of the case.” The Judgment is available online: http://nalus.usoud.cz/Search/GetText.aspx?sz=1-663-06 (accessed on 24 August 2022). Although this judgment did not concern the Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert, it will also be mentioned below in connection with the Cathedral. For more about Section 29 of the act regulating land see, e.g., (Valeš 2012).
Given its scope, the present paper does not aspire to provide the reader with an exhaustive detailed description of the entire dispute. After all, it would not make any sense to describe all the procedural aspects, so the following text is, to a certain extent, a simplification. Firstly, we will not further discuss the issue of the right to sue in relation to the individual legal entities acting on behalf of the Church whose cases were eventually joined. Secondly, we will further discuss only the Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert (“Cathedral”), although the action concerned, in addition to the Cathedral, the All Saints Church and the “canonical Houses”. Finally, the paper does not cover the other disputes over the furniture and other movables in the Cathedral. We would also like to emphasise that the purpose and aim of the paper is not to evaluate the individual court decisions. There have been many of them, some of them contradictory. The aim is to explain the legal status of the Cathedral and its main aspects in the past and today and the importance of settling the whole dispute amicably. Readers looking for a comprehensive description of the entire dispute might be interested in Pavla Zápotočná’s bachelor’s thesis (Zápotočná 2011).
Born 2 October 1878–died 19 or 20 August 1948.
As stipulated in Section 354 of the Austrian General Civil Code of 1811 (“ABGB”), and also in Section 1012 of the current Civil Code (Act No. 89/2012 Sb., the Civil Code, “CC”).
Born 7 December 1928–died 17 March 2018, acclaimed Czech teacher, writer, screenwriter, musicologist, and, most importantly, promoter of Czech history. In the end, he sided with the opinion that the Cathedral should not be owned by the Church.
Emphasis in bold added by the authors; regardless of Mahler’s personal opinion on the dispute, the authors consider this statement absolutely fitting.
Zdeněk Zbořil, born 22 October 1938, Czech historian, political scientist, university professor.
Miloslav Vlk, born 17 May 1932–died 18 March 2017, Czech Catholic cleric and theologian, 35th Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia, vigorously advocated, among other causes, for the return to the Church of property confiscated by the State during the totalitarian era.
Authors note: “land records book” is mentioned; however, in 1996, it is the Real Estate Cadastre.
Available online: http://kraken.slv.cz/28Cdo3318/2006 (accessed on 23 August 2022).
In Czech civil procedure, an application for an appeal review on points of law is an extraordinary remedial measure, which may be used to challenge (in prescribed cases) final decisions of an appellate court. Cf. Section 236 et seq. of Act No. 99/1963 Sb., the Code of Civil Procedure.
The act refers to, for example, substantial improvement in the standard of living of workers based on a further increase in production, growth in work productivity and cost effectiveness, as well as to securing the development of fuel and energy sources, an increase in the production and productivity of agriculture, or to a decrease in the prices of consumer goods. For the sake of completeness, Section 6(11) of this act stipulates: “Furthermore, cultural care will be increased. The artistic level of theaters and concerts will increase and the number of their visitors will increase significantly. The construction of 19 cinemas will begin. In film production, the majority of color films will be produced. Television broadcasting and its programs will be expanded and improved.” It is questionable if a kind of relationship to the Cathedral can be determined from this provision, namely from the first sentence. Seeing the provision in a complex, the purpose of it is different (to increase cultural care) than to nationalise the Cathedral.
For example, Section 6(1) of Act No. 71/1959 Sb., providing for measures regarding certain private real property expressly states that, under certain circumstances, the executive body of the District National Committee may decide that a rental house together with the building plot on which it is built and the garden bordering the plot, if owned by the owner of the rental house, “passes to the State socialist ownership.”
Available online: http://nalus.usoud.cz/Search/GetText.aspx?sz=st-22-05_1 (accessed on 23 August 2022).
Decision of the Supreme Court Case No. 28 Cdo 3318/2006.
That is, from the previous Decision of the Supreme Court Case No. 28 Cdo 3318/2006.
The decision is available online: https://www.zakonyprolidi.cz/judikat/nscr/28-cdo-4969-2008 (accessed on 24 August 2022).
Dušan Třeštík, born 1 August 1933–died 23 August 2007, historian of the Academy of Sciences of the CR and journalist.
Ivan Medek, born 13 July 1925–died 6 January 2010, journalist and musicologist, head of the Office of the President of the Republic Václav Havel.
That is, a body of clergy headed by a dean or provost.
It should be noted that the building of St. Stephen’s Cathedral does have legal personality (it is a legal entity) under canon law, which is called “Römisch-katholische Metropolitan- und Pfarrkirche zu St. Stefan in Wien”, and as such it is entered in the Real Estate Cadastre (Grundbuch) as the owner of the plots of land on which it is built, namely plots of land No. 817 (5670 sq m) and No. 818 (70 sq m). Cf.: https://austria-forum.org/af/AustriaWiki/Stephansdom_%28Wien%29#cite_note-97 and https://kataster.bev.gv.at/#/center/16.37316,48.20846/zoom/18.3 (both links accessed on 23 August 2022). By contrast, the Paris cathedral, Notre-Dame de Paris, is owned by the State in accordance with the Act of 9 December 1905, regarding the separation of the Churches and the State (la loi du 9 décembre 1905 de séparation des Églises et de l’État), similar to most religious buildings in France. Cf.: https://www.vie-publique.fr/fiches/271400-la-loi-du-9-decembre-1905-de-separation-des-eglises-et-de-letat (accessed on 23 August 2022). Finally, the Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster is a “Royal Peculiar,” that is, it is excluded from the jurisdiction of the diocese in which it is located, and it is subordinated directly to the monarch. Cf. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11795159 (accessed on 23 August 2022).
It should be noted that a church is, in fact, a legal entity under canon law. However, that does not change Mahler’s conclusion that the plots of land on which the Cathedral is built are in the ownership of the Cathedral.
Act No. 141/1950 Sb., the Civil Code.
Act No. 40/1964 Sb., the Civil Code and Act No. 89/2012 Sb., the Civil Code.
Similar to, for example, the institution of “floor co-ownership”, which has survived until today in exceptional cases. Cf., for example (Svoboda 1909).
Under Section 120(2) of Act No. 99/1963 Sb., the Code of Civil Procedure, in contentious proceedings, the court is not bound only by the evidence proposed by the parties, but it may also present other evidence in addition to the evidence proposed by the parties where it is necessary to ascertain the facts of the case and where it follows from the case file, but this was not considered by the courts deciding the case.
For more details about founders and patronage rights, see, e.g., (Hledíková et al. 2005).
Cf. also (Frinta 2008).
The current Civil Code uses the term ‘endowment institution,’ which includes foundations and endowment funds (cf. Section 303 et seq.).
It is not the aim of this paper to describe in detail the legal entities representing the Church and their development. The authors believe that basic information about this institution suffices for the purposes of the present study. For more detailed information on this complicated topic, cf. in particular (Czernin 1997), also (Pšenička 2002) and (Beran 2004).
Literally: “[…] wird das Eigenthumsrecht für Katholische Metropolitankirche zum heiligen Veit, einverleibt.”
Dominik Václav Duka, born 26 April 1943, 36th Archbishop of Prague and 24th Primate of Bohemia from 2010 to 2022, appointed Cardinal in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Václav Klaus, born 19 June 1941, Czech economist and politician, President of the Czech Republic from 2003 to 2013.
The crown jewels are stored (in a strongbox) in the crown chamber. The door to the crown chamber from the St. Vitus Chapel has seven locks (hence the seven keys), leading up a stairway above the southern entrance to the Cathedral (Golden Gate). The crown chamber itself is located above the Golden Gate, behind the mosaic of the Last Judgment (two windows in the mosaic lead directly to the crown chamber). The location of the crown chamber (and the crown jewels kept there) is not random; in the past, people entered the (unfinished) Cathedral through the Golden Gate, so everyone had to (symbolically) pass below the crown jewels—the most important symbols of State power. The symbolism of combining religious and State power is therefore extremely strong.
For the sake of completeness, the authors add the current Archbishop of Prague, Jan Graubner, born 29 August 1948, assumed office on 2 July 2022.
Cf. Resolution of the Constitutional Court Case No. I. ÚS 1240/09-1 available online: https://www.zakonyprolidi.cz/judikat/uscr/i-us-1240-09-1 (accessed on 24 August 2022).
The problem was that, in addition to the Cathedral, the dispute concerned the Collegiate Chapter of All Saints at Prague Castle, led by another legal entity representing the Church, different from the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus. The dean of this chapter, Václav Wolf, opposed Archbishop Duka, and refused to withdraw the constitutional complaint. Archbishop Duka resolved the delicate situation by electing a new dean as the head of the chapter: German Albert-Peter Rethmann, who withdrew the complaint. However, Václav Wolf informed the Constitutional Court that he still considered himself to be the rightful dean, since Rethmann’s election had been invalid. The Constitutional Court expressed its opinion on the matter in Resolution Case No. I. ÚS 1240/09-2, stating that “The interpretation of the individual provisions of the Code in borderline or contentious situations […], however, does not fall within the competence of the either the bodies of the Czech Republic, general courts or the Constitutional Court. The above follows from the principle of the secular State and the autonomy of Churches and religious societies enshrined in the constitution [in particular, Article (2)(1) and Article 16(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms]. Where doubts arise concerning the canon validity or permissibility of a certain act, possibly relevant to Czech law, the bodies of the Church (ecclesiastical courts, congregations, etc.) have exclusive competence to decide the case, and the State body (recording body, courts, etc.) does not review the autonomous opinion of the Church in any way, and accepts it as is.” Cf. also (Pregler 2017).
Cf. Resolution of the Constitutional Court Case No. I. ÚS 1240/09-2 available online: https://www.zakonyprolidi.cz/judikat/uscr/i-us-1240-09-2 (accessed on 24 August 2022).
Available online: https://www.zakonyprolidi.cz/judikat/uscr/iv-us-822-11-2 (accessed on 24 August 2022).
Miloš Zeman, born 28 September 1944, Czech politician, economist, and the President of the Czech Republic since 2013.
Cf. Section 155 et seq. of the 1950 Civil Code and Section 119 of the 1964 Civil Code.
Under Section 506(1), component parts of a plot of land include the space above and below the land, structures built on the land, and other facilities, except for temporary structures, including anything embedded in the plot of land or attached to the walls.
The situation where a plot of land and a structure built on it are owned by different persons is regulated by Section 3056 of the CC by the establishment of a statutory right of pre-emption, where the owner of the land on which a structure is built, which is not a component part of the plot of land under the existing legal regulations and did not become a component part of the plot of land on the date of effect of this Act (meaning, in particular, due to being owned by a different person), has a right of pre-emption to the structure, and the owner of the structure has a right of pre-emption to the plot of land.
Available online: https://ikatastr.cz/#kde=50.09018,14.39985,19&info=50.09093,14.40027 (accessed on 23 August 2022).
A component part of a thing is defined in Section 505 of the CC as anything that belongs to a thing by its nature and cannot be separated from a thing without devaluing the thing.
The text is available online: https://www.cirkev.cz/archiv/100524-slavnostni-prohlaseni-o-spolecne-peci-o-katedralu (accessed on 24 August 2022).
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Frinta, O.; Frintová, D. Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert—The Melting Pot of Czech Religious, National, and State Identity and Its Legal Status. Laws 2023, 12, 25. https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12020025
Frinta O, Frintová D. Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert—The Melting Pot of Czech Religious, National, and State Identity and Its Legal Status. Laws. 2023; 12(2):25. https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12020025Chicago/Turabian Style
Frinta, Ondřej, and Dita Frintová. 2023. "Cathedral of Sts. Vitus, Wenceslas, and Adalbert—The Melting Pot of Czech Religious, National, and State Identity and Its Legal Status" Laws 12, no. 2: 25. https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12020025