Agnes of Prague

Agnes of Bohemia has been called Agnes of Prague.  She was born January 20, 1211,  She was the princess daughter of King Ottokar I of Bohemia, and her mother was the sister of King Andrew II of Hungary.  Agnes was the first cousin to St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  When Agnes was three years old, she was to be raised by St. Hedwig of Andeches.  Hedwig decided she should be educated by a community of Cistercian nuns. 

When she was eight, she was promised to marry Henry, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry was only ten years old himself and had just been crowned the King of Germany.  Agnes should have spent her childhood with her future husband.  Instead, Agnes was sent to Duke Leopold.  The duke wanted Henry to marry his daughter Margaret.  After six years, the contract to marry was canceled.  Agnes was a valuable political pawn.  In 1226, Agnes’s father went to war because of the canceled contract.  Her father then planned for Agnes to marry Henry III of England, but this was not allowed by the Emperor who wanted to marry Agnes, himself.  Agnes didn’t play any part in these arrangements.  She decided to spend her time in prayer and spiritual works. 

On land donated by her brother, she founded the Hospital of St Francis, two Franciscan friaries.  Agnes learned of Clare of Assisi and the Order of Poor Clares.  She began to write to Clare and wrote to her for more than twenty years. 
Agnes built a monastery and friary complex attached to the hospital. It housed the Franciscan friars and the Poor Clare nuns who worked at the hospital. This was the first Poor Clare community north of the Alps.  Agnes became a member of the Franciscan Poor Clares in 1234  As a nun, she cooked for and mended the clothes of lepers and the poor.  She even became the abbess of the Prague Clares in 1235. That same year she gave her hospital property to the Teutonic Knights in Bohemia.

A lay group working at the hospital was organized by Agnes in 1238 as a new military order, dedicated primarily to nursing, known as the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, following the Rule of St. Augustine. That next year, Agnes handed over all authority over the hospital she had founded to these monastic knights. They were recognized as an order by Pope Gregory IX in 1236–37.  Agnes lived out her life in the cloister, leading the monastery as abbess, until her death on 2 March 2, 1282.