St John Nepomucene (martyr) healing oil
Born St John Nepomucene, Bohemia, in 1340. Saint John used the name of his native town for his surname instead of his family name. He studied theology and law at the University of Prague and was eventually ordained a priest. In time, he became vicar general of Archbishop John of Genzenstein at Prague.
In 1393, King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia, wishing to found a new bishopric for one of his favorites. Ordered that at the death of the present abbot of Kladrau Abbey. No new abbot should be elected and that the abbey church should be turned into a cathedral. The archbishop and John thwarted the king’s plan by approving the election of a new abbot immediately on the death of the old one.
An additional reason for John’s violent death may be because of the tale that is traditionally told about him. As the queen’s confessor, John was once ordered by King Wenceslaus to tell him what the queen had said in confession. But John vehemently refused to break the seal of the confessional. For this reason, St. John is also called the “Martyr of the Confessional” and is sometimes pictured with his finger to his lips.
St. John’s refusal to reveal what the queen told him in confession is a lesson for our times when the seal of confession is under siege. Let us pray for our priests today that they, like St. John, may be firm in withstanding the pressure of the courts and the media to reveal what they have heard in the confessional.
Standing up for what is right may not result in a painful martyrdom like St. John’s. Nonetheless, it can prove to be painful in other ways: we may lose friends, the support of our family