The fateful journey of the priest John of Nepomuk to universally respected martyrdom
It is assumed that John of Nepomuk came from a German-Bohemian family in western Bohemia. He entered the episcopal service in Prague in 1370. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church was split, owing to the papal schism.
Emperor Karl IV appointed his son king Wenceslaus IV to be chancellor of the Prague archbishopric. The archbishop supported the Roman pope, while King Wenceslaus supported the antipope in Avignon. A power struggle escalated. Because Wenceslaus IV was not permitted to execute the archbishop, he chose John of Nepomuk, the archbishop’s subordinate, as the victim of his purge. As the general vicar, John of Nepomuk was the highest-ranking member of the bishopric who could still be led to the Inquisition.
On 21 March 1393, a judicial murder was carried out and John of Nepomuk was thrown from the stone bridge in Prague into the Vltava. But there is also another version of this story. After King Wenceslaus IV suspected his wife of infidelity, he requested John of Nepomuk as confessor to provide information. But the priest kept the secret of the confession. The frustrated king let John of Nepomuk be tortured and thrown into the Vltava. The veneration of the former Prague priest began in the 16th century, reaching its zenith in the following century.
All over, but especially on bridges, statues were erected in his honour. In 1729 he was canonised by Pope Benedict XIII.