Mlada (abbess)

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Mlada from the tympanum of St. George Monastery (1220s)

Mlada was a Benedictine abbess and founder of the first monastery in Bohemia. In 965 she undertook a diplomatic trip to Rome and was instrumental in the formation of the Diocese of Prague.


Mlada was the youngest daughter of the Bohemian prince Boleslav I. The 12th-century Chronica Boemorum by Cosmas of Prague describes her as an educated woman; she had studied Latin and was destined for a clerical career. In the years 965 to 969, she was sent by her father to Rome to Pope John XIII to request permission for the establishment of a separate diocese for Bohemia and Moravia. The negotiations were tough. Bohemia was part of the Diocese of Regensburg and Bishop Michael refused to forego the revenue from Czech churches until his death on 23 September 972. The approval was only granted by his successor, Wolfgang of Regensburg. Mlada left Rome in the winter of 972 and returned to Prague. The ecclesiastical permission was followed by secular negotiations. After the Reichstag, meeting in Quedlinburg in March 973, had decided to approve the foundation of the diocese, it took another three years, to 976, until Dětmar was ordained as the first bishop of Prague.

Mlada had also brought another result of her diplomatic mission back to Bohemia: the permission to found a monastery. During her stay in Rome she had entered the Order of Saint Benedict, adopting the religious name Maria, and had been ordained as abbess. Thus she was able to lead the newly formed Abbey at St. George's Church in the Prague Castle, the very first congregation in Bohemia. She held this office until her death.

Contemporary sources do not report the birth nor the death date of Mlada. The oft-cited claim that she died on 9 February 994 goes back to the Jesuit Georgio Crugerio and dates from 1669, based on the oral tradition of the monastery. The Benedictines of the Monastery of St. George have not been able to secure an official status as "Saint" or "Blessed" for their founder, who is therefore referred to as "Venerable". Her grave is reportedly located in the Mary Chapel of the former Monastery of Saint George. Archaeological investigations have, however, been unable to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the person buried there is indeed Abbess Mlada.

Literature and sources

  • Cosmas of Prague, Chronica Boemorum. Edition by Berthold Bretholz, Berlin 1923, MGH SS Rer. Germ. N. S.
  • Jiří Sláma. "Výkladový heslář vybraných historických osob, míst a reálií". In: Rostislav Nový, Jiří Sláma, Jana Zachová: Slavníkovci ve středověkém písemnictví. Prague, Vyšehrad 1987.
  • Petr Sommer. "Kaple Panny Marie v klášteře sv. Jiří na Pražském hradě a začátky české sakrální architektury". In: Přemyslovský stát kolem roku 1000: na pamět knížete Boleslava II (7. února 999). Prague, Nakl. Lidové Noviny, 2000. ISBN 80-7106-272-3.