Procopius of Sázava

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Saint Procopius of Sázava
Josef Mathauser - Kníže Oldřich se setkává s poustevníkem Prokopem.jpg
Duke Oldřich meets Procopius during a hunt by Josef Mathauser (1846–1917)
Born c. 970
Chotouň, Bohemia
Died March 25, 1053
Sázava, Bohemia
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church
Canonized June 2, 1204 by Pope Innocent III
Feast July 14; formerly July 4; September 16 in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Attributes devil ploughing before him; depicted as an abbot with a book and whip, devil at his feet; with a stag (or hind) near him; with Saints Adelbert, Ludmila, and Vitus; hermit with a skull and a girdle of leaves
Patronage Bohemia

Saint Procopius of Sázava (died March 25, 1053) was a Bohemian canon and hermit, canonized as a saint of the Roman Catholic church in 1204.

Little about his life is known with certainty. According to hagiographical tradition, he was born in 970, in a Central Bohemian village near Kouřim. He studied in Prague and was ordained there. He was married and had a son, called Jimram (Emeranus) but later entered the Benedictine order, presumably at Břevnov Monastery, and eventually retired to the wilderness as a hermit, living in a cave on the banks of Sázava River, where over time he attracted a group of fellow hermits. The community of hermits was incorporated as a Benedictine monastery by the duke of Bohemia in 1032/3, now known as Sázava Monastery, or St Procopius Monastery, where he served as the first abbot for the span of twenty years until his death.

Local veneration of Procopius as a saint is recorded for the 12th century. After his canonization, he became greatly venerated throughout Bohemia, to the point of his being considered the national saint of the kingdom of Bohemia. His remains were transferred to All Saints Church in Prague Castle in 1588.

The Cyrillic portion of the Reims Gospel manuscript (since 1554 kept in Reims, France) were attributed to Procopius in the 14th century, and Charles IV commissioned an extension of the manuscript in Glagolitic script in 1395.

Sázava Monastery had been destroyed in the Hussite Wars, but was re-established in the 17th century, and Baroque-era frescos "The Meeting of Hermit Procopius with Prince Oldřich" and "Abbot Procopius Giving Alms" besides other frescos depicting scenes the saint's life and the history of the monastery, were discovered there (under layers of 19th-century paint) in the 2000s. Hugo Fabricius, a monk at Sázava, wrote a new life of St. Procopius in the 18th century, Požehnaná Památka Welikého Swěta Diwotworce Swatýho Prokopa ("The Blessed Legacy of the Great Miracle Worker of the World, St. Procopius"). The "Cave of St. Procopius", the supposed site of his original hermitage, was discovered by Method Klement OSB in the 1940s.

Numerous churches in Bohemia are dedicated to him, and many Baroque-era statues and paintings of the saint are extant. Among these is the early 18th century Procopius statue on Charles Bridge by Ferdinand Brokoff. Modern retellings of the saint's life were published by Czech poets Jaroslav Vrchlický and Vítězslav Nezval.

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