Monday, 23 April 2007

Crosses and Shrines

When you start to explore the area around Cesky Krumlov, one of the things that strikes you as a protestant Brit is the number of wayside shrines and crosses. Although you will find them in the centre of villages, these crosses are not just in the places you would expect but also in the middle of fields and on footpaths through forests. They mark old trails and processional routes. They are a sign of the country's devout Catholic past, but in some places, as in England , these crosses are sited on older pre-Christian religious sites. If you are interested in identifying the sites of such shrines, you can find them on the large-scale maps.

But there are not as many shrines and crosses as there once were. Under the Communists many crosses were desecrated and destroyed. Some Czechs sought to save the crosses from destruction, removing the metal Christ figures and putting them into storage. Some friends invited us to a mill they have near Cesky Krumlov - there in the yard was a pile of Christ figures (above). The vision was like one of those photos of naked dead bodies at concentration camps, brutal and strange.

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