St Thomas' Church, Prague
Saint Thomas Church (Czech: Kostel svatého Tomáše) is an Augustinian church in Malá Strana, Prague, Czech Republic. The address is at Josefská 8. The church is easily recognisable in the Prague skyline. Saint Thomas' Church stands within the vicinity of both Saint Nicholas' Church and the Castle of Prague. In 2003, Saint Thomas Church celebrated its 775 anniversary.
The original Church of St. Thomas and its adjoining Chapel of St. Dorothy was constructed in the Romanesque style sometime before 1227 by Benedictine monks from Břevnov Monastery. In 1285 , the property was given to the Augustinian friars. Václav II and his wife Guta built for them a Gothic church on the site of a previous church. A monastery, built next to the church, served as a house of studies for members of the order. The church was consecrated in 1379. The monastery was burned down and the church damaged in 1420 during the Hussite Wars; restoration was delayed for a time by lack of funds. After an accidental fire in 1541, the church and monastery were once again rebuilt during the reign of Rudolf II. St. Thomas served as both a parish church and as Prague's pro-cathedral. It subsequently suffered another fire during which the church gallery collapsed.
In 1708, the Augustinians at St. Thomas commissioned Jan Bedřich Kohl to design the statue of Saint Augustine for the Charles Bridge. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the Church was restored on the occasion of its 600 year anniversary. The monastery brewed beer until 1951.
After a fire caused by a lightning strike, the church was rebuilt in 1725 in baroque style, according to a design by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. It features a dome on top of the nave and a bell tower topped with slender spire on the front facade of the structure. To save expense, Dientzenhofer retained the Renaissance portals. Kohl carved a statue of St. Augustine for the niche above the main portal.
Frescoes by Václav Vavřinec Reiner, depicting the scenes from the life of St. Augustine, adorn the ceiling of the nave, along with three over the chancel on the life of St. Thomas. The wooden carvings of SS. Augustine, Monica, and Ludmila are by Ferdinand Brokoff.
The chancel contains an altar dedicated to Saint Sebastian with a painting depicting his martyrdom by Bartholomeus Spranger. The altarpiece above Saint Roch's altar is by Franz Xaver Palko. There are altarpieces by Karel Škréta of the Holy Trinity, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and Thomas of Villanova, and in the side aisle statues of St. Roch and Sebastian by Johann Georg Bendl.
It is the burial place of Butautas Kęstutaitis, the son of Kęstutis, Grand Duke of Lithuania. His brother Grand Duke Vytautas donated a large carpet to the church. The sculptor Adriaen de Vries is also buried in St. Barbara's Chapel in the crypt. A fountain designed by him is in the Italian garden of nearby Wallenstein Palace. Also buried at St. Thomas is the noted engraver Aegidius Sadeler, Spanish ambassador Guillen de San Clemente, and the English-Czech poet, Elizabeth Jane Weston.
In 1637, Peter Paul Rubens painted The Martyrdom of St Thomas for the high altar. Two years later, he did a painting of Saint Augustine. They were removed to the National Gallery Prague in 1639. Those above the main altar are copies.
Masses are celebrated in Czech, English, Spanish, and Filipino.
- ^ St. Thomas Parish
- ^ "Prague", #4203, Augnet
- ^ a b c "St. Thomas Church in the Lesser Town", Prague City Line
- ^ a b c "Church of St Thomas", Prague.eu
- ^ The Rough Guide to Prague p68 Rob Humphreys, Tim Nollen - 2002 "Better preserved is the neighbouring priory church of sv Tomas (St Thomas), rebuilt by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer's in the 1720s. The rich burghers of Mala Strana spared no expense, as is clear from the ornate interior "
- ^ "Church of Saint Thomas", Prague Vetruvius