Radhost--In the Metamorphosis of Time

by Radek Hasalik, translation by Chantal Gray, London, U.K.


There is one mysterious mountain in Eastern Moravia named Radhošt’ (129 m. above sea level). This mountain has a complicated history. The social activities for which it is now famous began during the 18th Century, perhaps even the 17th Century. Radhošt’ was well-known for its Pagans, who sacrificed victims to their god, Radegast. The people of eastern Moravia (called “Wallachian”) were mostly shepherds. For them. Radegast was a god of harvest and fertility (fields and women, or course). They came every year to the top of the Radhošt’ mountain during the summer solstice to welcome the sun, which brought a new harvest. At that time, Radhošt’ was in the power of “Satan.” Some devilish orgies were taking place with sexual games, music, and drinking all enjoyed to excess. However, the Radhošt’ image had a similar and older analogy with Slavs of northwestern Europe in the Baltic area. Already by the 12th Century Radegast was their god of the sun, and later god of war because of their battles against the Germans (who defeated them). The history of the Baltic Slavs in known mainly thanks to three historians (thietmar_om Merseburg, Adam from Breman, Helmold from Buzow (all lived during the 11th and 12th Centuries).

 Radegast's sculpture not far from Pustevny

On the Basis of sources available, it is possible that Radegast represents a symbol of the Baltic Slavs and Moravian Wallachian’s ever-renewed vitality. The first printed text about the heathen history of Moravian Radhošt’ first saw light in 1710. The Moravian historian Jan Jiří Středovský finished his work “Sacra Moraviae Historia” during that period. This work included six pages in latin about Radhošt’ and Radegast. He used a portrait of Radegast, probably the oldest, from “Chronicon Slavorum: by _elm old, published by Bangert from Lübeck in 1659.

Radhošt’ became a Christian during the Baroque period. Priests were well aware of Radhošt’ popularity with the people of Moravia and the Slovaks [?]. That is why they decorated the top of the mountain with the symbols of Christian religion, i. e. a cross and chapel. The first wooden cross was erected at the top of the mountain in 1735. A few years later, the first wooden chapel of St. Cross was built. It contained a simple altar, a big Crucifix and paintings or sculptures of Beata Virgo Maria and John the Evangelist was well as two smaller paintings of Konstantin-Cyril and Metodéj, the missionaries from Thessalonika in Greece, who came to Magna Moravia in 863 bringing with them an old Slavonic language and a liturgy for the local people. The summer solstice was celebrated…[and transformed into?]…the Christian holiday of Saint John the Baptist. The Christian priests of Wallachia forgot the pagans for a time. They used the legend about the arrival of Cyril and Metodéj to Radhošt’ and their destruction of the heathen images. But in the memory of the heathen history of our mountain lived on for some time.

The wooden chapel was destroyed during a storm after 780 and it is presumed that the cross was destroyed at the same time. A picture of Franciscus Xaverius was on the original wooden cross. He was one of the founders of the “Societas Jesu.” Xaverius was a missionary in the Asiatic lands of Japan and China. During the Baroque period some Jesuit monks worked in Wallachia. It is perhaps they who placed this picture of their “father” on the cross at Radhošt’.

A second cross was erected in Radhošt’ in 1805 thanks to one Rožnovian citizen, Michal Janík. František Palacký, a well-know Czech historian who was born on June 14th 1798 in the village of Hodslavice (eastern Moravia), wrote a lyric poem about Radhošt’ when still a teenager in 1817. At the beginning of the 19th Century, another Moravian historian, Josef Heřmann Agaapit Gallás, also wrote about the history of Radhošt’.

The importance of Radhošt’ Mountain grew quickly during the period leading to the Cyrilometodianian Millennium in 1863. A very big “národni tábor” (“National Meeting”) was held in Radhošt’ in the summer of 1862 and performed despite an official ban. About 10,000 people came to this gathering in Radhošt’. Another monumental meeting (several hundred thousands of people) was held the following year in the South Moravian monastery Velehrad, where it is thought Cyril and Metoděj lived during their preachings in Moravia. From that time onward, ,many Wallachians also attended mass at Velehrad mostly yearly on July 5th. This date is now a Moravian holiday in celebration of Cyril and Metoděj but before 1863, the Cyrilmetodianian holiday was celebrated on March 9th. Thus Radhošt’ became one of the symbols of Moravian patriotism.

In 1868, a big stone was quarried from Radhošt’ Mountain and used as a foundation stone for the National Theatre in Prague. František Palacký (+ 1876) welcomed the delegation bringing the stone to Prague. The organizers of the National Meeting held in Radhošt’ had wanted a sculpture of Cyril and Metoděj to be erected. This did not materialize but, at least, a cyrilometodianian stone chapel was opened on Spebember 11, 1898. The first mass given in this chapel was consecrated by the Archbishop of Olomouc, Theodor Kohn. The chapel was originally built of stone only, and without a wooden bell tower. The latter was added between 1924-1926 during extensive reconstruction, the who chapel was protected with a special wooden covering “a shingle” (šindel). The architectural plans for the original chapel were in the Byzantion-Roman style whilst the wooden bell-tower was built in a Greco-uniat style. The interior of the chapel consists of the high altar with a marble sculpture of Cyril and Metoděj, with tow adjacent altars (one of them shows a “Valašská Madona” painted by Adolf Liebscher, the second shows the picture of “Immaculatata”). There are eight round stained-glass windows and four larger stained-glass windows representing the pictures of the following saints: Václav, Ludmila, Jan Nepomucký and Hedvika.

During the 20th Century, religious fervor decreased and Radhošt’ then became a beautiful place of attraction for tourists. From being famous for its religious past, Radhošt’ has now become famous for its beautiful surroundings. Tourism has been further strengthened by the construction of hotels in pustevny such as the Tanečnica (1926) and the Pustevena, Šumná, Libušín, Manna (all built during the 1890’s).

In the hearts of the Wallachian people, Radhošt’ lives both as a reminder of the conflicts between the pagans and the Christians and as a memoriam to the works of Cyril and Metoděj. IT also lives as the national mountain of Moravia.

Over the years, Radhošt’ gradually presented us with three faces, religious, patriotic, and aesthetic.