Saint John of Nepomuk - patron of confessors and confession, public faith and silence as a virtue. He is credited with power to save drowning people - this is why millers, sailors, rowers and bridge builders chose him as their patron. Since 2001, Jastrzębie-Zdrój has also been under his care.
Jan Welfin, because this is the real name of our patron, is a descendant of German colonists. He was born in 1348 in Pomuk (today’s Nepomuk) near Prague. He became a seminarian and then a pastor in one of the Prague churches. After starting his studies (first in Prague and then in Padua), he became a doctor of ecclesiastical law and later a deputy archbishop of Prague.
Jan died while fulfilling this function. The then king Wenceslaus IV of Luxembourg fell into conflict with the archbishop. On his order, the deputy bishop was arrested and tortured in 1393, and then thrown into the Vltava River. Another, unfortunately unconfirmed version of these events says that Jan died defending the secret of Queen Sofia’s confession. Supposedly, King Wenceslaus IV was so jealous of what the confessor knew about his wife that he ordered him to be killed and thrown into the river. Legend has it that the Vltava River dried up immediately after this event. After his death, Jan was venerated as a martyr and his remains were transferred to St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the remains of John of Nepomuk were unearthed for the purposes of the beatification process. To everyone’s surprise it turned out that after almost 300 years his tongue was still very well preserved. People considered it a miracle and proof that the confession was kept secret until the very end.
In Jastrzębie-Zdrój, the cult of John of Nepomuk already existed in the 17th century, even before his beatification. At that time, a painting with his likeness appeared in the Ruptava church. A chapel with a stone carving stood in the town as early as the 18th century.
Today we have many preserved traces of this cult in the city, including: the 18th-century Rococo chapel (Szeroka), a figure of the saint in Bzie next to the cemetery, a 19th-century brick chapel in Moszczenica (this is where a service in honour of the saint takes place every year on May 21), a wooden, polychrome figure in the Church of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ruptawa and a brick, whitewashed chapel in Cisówka - unfortunately, the figure of the saint is no longer there.
The patron of our city is usually depicted in the costume of a priest holding a cross, he often holds a martyr’s palm or a finger on his lips - symbolizing the secrecy of confession. His attribute is also a halo with five stars.
In 2009, one of the streets in our city was given the name of St. John of Nepomuk.