Large Church of St James (kostel Sv. Jakuba Vetsiho) is situated in Prague Old Town and it’s one of the places you shouldn’t miss in Prague. Its decorations are considered to be the most beautiful and valuable church in Prague. The church contains 23 chapels and it’s connected with many legends. After St Vitus Cathedral it is the second largest church in Prague. The church’s acoustics are great, that is why there are so many concerts held there. One of the prides of the church is a magnificent organ from 1702.
This church was first built by Minorites (a branch of the Franciscans) in Gothic style. It suffered great damages in the fire of the Old Town in 1689. Then it was rebuilt and that is when it got its Baroque look. The tomb of Count Vratislav of Mitrovice inside the church is one of the most beautiful Baroque tomb in Bohemia. After Count Vratislav was buried, people could hear dreadful sound from the tomb. Religious people thought that the spirit of the count couldn’t find its peace and that’s why they sprinkled the tomb with holy water. After few days the sound stopped. Several years later, when the tomb was open again, they found the coffin damaged and the remains of the count outside the coffin. He was buried alive and when he woke up from his deep unconsciousness, he tried to alert the people in the church. Noone helped him and he found a terrible death there.
Several great artists contributed to the decorations in Church of St James, such as Peter Brandl, Hans von Aachen, Vaclav Vavrinec Reiner and many others. It’s said that the author of the picture on the main altar, Vaclav Vavrinec Reiner, was protected by the picture he was creating, even though everybody around him died of plaque. The moment after the painter made his last stroke of the brush, he was infected with the plaque and died the same day.
Visitors should also notice a mumified forearm more than 400 years old hanging on the right of the entrance. It belonged to a thief who tried to steel some jewels from the Madonna on the high altar one night. But the Madonna grapped his hand and didn’t want to let it go. The thief had to wait there until the next morning. The next day, when the Minorites came to the Church, they tried to separate the thief from the Madonna, but in vain. They had to cut his arm. Then the Madonna let the hand go. The monks hung the arm to remember this event and as a warning for other thieves.
Mala Stupartska – Prague 1