THE CHAPEL OF BETHLEHEM

The chapel is more important for its historical role than its architectural value. The building of today’s chapel in the Old Town was built in the 1950s. The original chapel was established in 1391 and the preaching, which began three years later, was entirely in Czech. The space was not initially designed for church services because there was no chancel. It was a pulpit, a place that was used in the middle ages for the mass spreading of ideas and information. However, in the days of the Hussite movement, the Holy Communion took place here and it was performed in the non-Catholic way “under both”, i.e. sub specie utraque. The chapel played its role during the culminating social crisis in the late 14th and early 15th century. From 1402 - 1413, the professor and later, the rector of Prague University, Minister Jan Hus, preached here. His teachings reached almost 3000 people, which was incredible for the time. Hus was burnt at the stake in Constance in 1415 but his reformist teachings lived on and they significantly influenced Czech history. The representative of the European Reformation, Thomas Müntzer, preached in the chapel in 1521. After the battle of Bila Hora, the Jesuits gained the chapel and they incorporated it into their school system. After cancelling the order, the chapel deteriorated and was demolished in 1786 and the vacant lot was temporarily timber storage. In the 30s of the 20th century, a three-storey house was built here.
After the year 1948, the new Communist regime, which used the story of the Hussite movement and the personality of Jan Hus for its own ideological ideas, decided that the house would be torn down and the chapel would be rebuilt after the archaeological research. The chapel was designed by Jaroslav Fragner. It was used for propaganda of the socialistic ideology and the historical vision of the world. Hus and the Hussite movement were interpreted as a kind of vanguard of the communist and socialist movement.
Today, the restored chapel is used for social events; there are concerts, exhibitions or graduation ceremonies for students from various universities in Prague.

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