St John of Nepomuk healing oil
The St John of Nepomuk healing oil is dedicated to the Czech martyr. Saint John of Nepomuk (c. 1345 – March 20, 1393) is the saint of Bohemia (Czech Republic). He was drowned in the Vltava river at the behest of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. Later accounts state that he was the confessor of the queen of Bohemia and refused to divulge the secrets of the confessional. On the basis of this account, John of Nepomuk is considered the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, a patron against calumnies and, because of the manner of his death, a protector from floods and drowning.
Jan z Pomuku came from the small market town of Pomuk (later renamed Nepomuk) in Bohemia, now in the Czech Republic, which belonged to the nearby Cistercian abbey.
John becomes a priest
Jan first studied at the University of Prague, then furthered his studies in canon law at the University of Padua from 1383 to 1387. In 1393 he was made the vicar-general of Saint Giles Cathedral by Jan of Jenštejn (1348–1400), who was the Archbishop of Prague from 1378 to 1396. In the same year, on March 20, he was tortured and thrown into the river Vltava from Charles Bridge in Prague by order of King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia.
At issue was the appointment of a new abbot for the rich and powerful Benedictine Abbey of Kladruby; its abbot was a territorial magnate whose resources would be crucial to Wenceslaus in his struggles with nobles. Wenceslaus at the same time was backing the Avignon papacy, whereas the Archbishop of Prague followed its rival, the pope at Rome. Contrary to the wishes of Wenceslaus, John confirmed the archbishop’s candidate for Abbot of Kladruby, and was drowned on the emperor’s orders on March 20, 1393.
The vicar was put to death for defending the laws and the autonomy of the Catholic Church. He became revered as a saint directly after his death.
St John healing oil/Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.
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