St. Wenceslaus was born around 903. His father, Duke Wratislaw, was Catholic, but his mother, Princess Dragomir, followed the native pagan religion. As a boy, Wenceslaus was educated in the Catholic faith, and attended college near Prague. After his father died, Wenceslaus was forced to come home and defend the family’s home. His mother used her husband’s death to try to eliminate Catholicism from the country, purging Catholics from public offices, closing the churches, and preventing anyone from teaching the faith.
Wenceslaus’s grandmother, St. Ludmilla, encouraged him to take power from his mother and restore Catholicism. When he did this, the country split into two sides: one under him, and the other, under his brother Boleslaus and his mother. Although Wenceslaus wanted to become a monk, he led his country with prayer, charitable service, and a vow of chastity.
Dragomir had Ludmilla strangled in her private chapel, which left Wenceslaus to defend the faith on his own. He was threatened by invasion from Prince Radislaus of Gurima, and challenged him to single combat. It’s said that angels appeared to deflect the javelin Prince Radislaus threw at Wenceslaus, and Radislaus immediately surrendered.
In an attempt to gain total control, Boleslaus pretended to broker peace with his brother, and came for a visit. When Wenceslaus was praying, Boleslaus and his men attacked him, and Boleslaus delivered the killing blow to his brother. Wenceslaus died on Sept. 28, 935.
After Wenceslaus’ death, Emperor Otto waged war against Boleslaus, eventually winning and forcing him to restore Catholicism. Boleslaus repented of his actions when he learned that miracles were occurring at his brother’s tomb. He had Wenceslaus’ body venerated at a cathedral.