November 28, 1996 in Nation/World

Cathedral In Heart Of Prague Belongs To Nation, Church Says

Associated Press

Prague’s landmark St. Vitus’ Cathedral will be returned to the nation as its 14th-century creators had intended, the Roman Catholic church announced Wednesday.

The decision ends a dispute between the church and the presidency over ownership of the building with a spire that dominates the skyline. Located in the sprawling Prague Castle, it has magnificent stained glass windows and an altar with semiprecious stones.

Built on orders of King Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, St. Vitus’ Cathedral was transformed into a Gothic jewel by the beginning of the 15th century. When the Czech lands were still ruled by kings, it was the coronation cathedral.

In 1955, seven years after they took over, the Communists decided that the cathedral belonged to “all the people.” Religious services, however, were allowed to continue.

A Prague court ruled in 1994 that the cathedral belonged to the church, not the state. But in February 1995, President Vaclav Havel’s office announced it was appealing the verdict. The president had received mass petitions asking that the cathedral belong to the nation.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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