THE CHURCH OF ST. FRANCIS

This church was dedicated to St. Francis of Seraphim or St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of Italy, and it is located close to the the Charles Bridge on Křížovnické Square. The church is part of the Monastery of Crusaders with the Red Star order. This order is the only Czech origin religious order of knights. This order evolved from the hospital Brotherhood, founded by St. Agnes Czech in the 13th century. It is also the only male order established by a woman. The grand Masters of the Order often held the office of the Archbishop of Prague, and because of this, there was great importance and status of the order in Bohemia, especially in the 17th century.
The church was built in the Baroque style on the site of the partly demolished church of the Holy Ghost, which was designed by the architect, Jan Batista Mathey, in the years 1679-1689. The facade of the church is decorated with statues of Czech saints from the workshop of Matej Jäckl. The interior of the temple consists of a dome covered oval nave, rectangular chancel and side chapels. This dome was one of the largest in Prague until the St. Nicholas Church at the Small Side. The dome is decorated with fresco of the Last Judgment by Václav Vavřinec Reiner. There is also a small painting by El Greco, which is considered to be an original.
There is a bronze statue of Charles IV. in front of the church. The emperor rests one of his hands on the sword and in the other hand he holds a rolled up charter with a seal, a Bula – the founding document of the Prague University. Underneath him there are significant personalities of his day, Archbishops of Prague Arnošt z Pardubic, Jan Očko z Vlašimi, builder Matyáš z Arrasu and chronicler Beneš Krabice z Weitmile. The funny fact about the statue is that if it is raining and you look from the right angle it looks like the Emperor is relieving himself but that is just the water passing through the Bula.
If you want to walk down the oldest pavement in Prague, go to see the Vineyard Pillar, which is next to the church, and from here you will see the paving stones of the first and oldest stone bridge, the Judith Bridge, the forerunner of today's Charles Bridge.

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