Navalis takes place May 16

Celebration of St. John Nepomuk culminates with water concert and fireworks

A long time ago, there were regular public religious events in Prague, but the few that reached the 20th century ended in the communist era.

In recent years, a Baroque festival called Navalis, celebrating St. John Nepomuk (sv. Jan Nepomucký), has made a comeback.

St John is considered a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church, and his statue on Charles Bridge is a major tourist attraction. Similar statues can be found near many Czech waterways.

The main events of Navalis will take place this year on May 16, starting at 4 p.m. with horses at Hradčanské náměstí, in front of Prague Castle. At 6 p.m. there is a mass at St Vitus' Cathedral, followed by a procession with costumed and uniformed participants carrying some of relics and a statue down from Prague Castle to Charles Bridge.

On the river there is a boat regatta , skydivers and swimmers on the river once the procession reaches its climax.

Another brief mass takes place at St. Francis of Assisi Church on the Old Town side of Charles Bridge.

This is followed by a concert with the musicians on the river at 9:15 p.m, and eventually fireworks.

The concert this years features the world premiere of Kryštof Marek’s concerto for violin called the Mystery of St. John of Nepomuk, featuring violinist Gabriela Demeterová.

Events start even earlier, at 10 a.m. With another mass at St John of Nepomuk on the Rock, and there is a baroque festival at 1 p.m. at Křižovnické náměstí, next to Charles Bridge.

Space in the churches for the masses is of course limited, but the skydiving, regatta, concert and fireworks can be seen from the banks of the Vltava river.

This year there are also events on May 15, with a Venetian afternoon at Čertovka, a channel jutting off from the river. Venetian gondoliers will come to Prague to participate in that celebration.

Saint John of Nepomuk is the patron of bridges, communications, good reputation and all people of the water.

According to his legend, in 1393 he was drowned in the Vltava under the orders of King Wenceslas IV for protecting the secrets of the Queen's confession, although the dispute may also have involved who has the right to appoint bishops.

He is one of the most popular Czech saints, although he was not canonized until 1729, more than 300 years after his death.

For more information on Navalis, see

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