The Emaus Monastery in Prague New Town is a place, where you can see the largest Gothic painting to the north of the Alps: the wall painting cycle with more than 70 scenes from the Old and New Testament is one of the most precious Gothic works in Europe. It is situated in the cloister.
Illuminated Reims Gospel
The monastery was founded by Emperor Charles IV. in 1347 as a rare Slavonic monastery with a non-Latin liturgy. It became a centre of Slavonic literature and scholarship and some precious documents were written here: for example a part of the illuminated Reims Gospel which became a part of the French coronation attributes. The French kings swore allegiance on it till 1782.
The strange name of the monastery “Emaus” (Emauzy) is because of the day, when it was consecrated: it was on the Easter Monday in 1372, when the Easter gospel about the Christ´s disciples going to Emaus was read.
Ghost in the Emaus Monastery
The monastery was a residence of Benedictine Monks for centuries. In the 17 th century, the Spanish Benedictines of Montserrat resided there and made it a Baroque building with two big towers. There is a legend connected to their arrival to the Emaus Monastery, which is probably from the era of Czech nationalism in 19 th century: it tells about a bell-ringer, who cut the bell ropes to avoid it ringing when the Spanish “foreigners” arrived. He was killed by one of them in revenge. His ghost allegedly appears at the place even nowadays. He comes to the belfry to cut the ropes again anytime the country is in danger.
Sad history of the monastery in the 20 th century
The monastery was abolished in 1941 by the Nazis. An abbot and his five monks died in a concentration camp. The Emaus Monastery was used by the Nazis as a hospital, till it was damaged by the American bomb attack in 1945. The attack was probably aimed at the strategic factories in Vysocany district, but a mistake in navigation caused that a Prague New Town was demolished instead.
The fate of the Emaus Monastery after the war was no better. The monks had just started with a reconstruction, when the Communist coup came and the anti-communist monks were dragged off the monastery to the “detention monasteries”, a variation on concentration camps. The prior P. Marian Schaller died because of being tortured. The Emaus Monastery was administrated by Communists for decades.
Modern concrete wings of the monastery
The rebuilding of the damaged frontage of the church came in 1960s. It was projected by F. M. Cerny, who installed a modern construction there, two mighty concrete wings. The Benedictine Monks came back to the Prague Emaus Monastery after the fall of Communist regime, in 1990.