Adalbert was born to a prestigious family in 956 in Bohemia. At the age of 27, he was chosen as the Bishop of Prague in Czechoslovakia. As Bishop, he instituted a program of reform as to the clerics of his day, which was opposed by those clerics. As a result of his action, Bishop Adalbert was exiled for approximately eight years.
Because the people of Prague loved Bishop Adalbert, they requested that his exile end and that he would be returned to the important position of being their Bishop. Adalbert, again, enforced the Gospel by excommunicating those individuals who violated the right of sanctuary in a Church, because they had dragged a woman accused of adultery from the Church and murdered her. What immediately comes to mind is Our Lord Jesus Christ’s protection of a similar woman who was also accused of adultery, inviting the Pharisees and other accusers to cast the first stone if they had not sinned. As we recall, they all walked away. Accordingly, Bishop Adalbert was once again exiled because he exercised excommunication against these self-righteous criminals.
Bishop Adalbert ministered to the people in Hungary, and then went in 997 with two companions to preach the Gospel to people who lived near the Baltic Sea. All three of them were martyred by pagan priests from that area. Bishop Adalbert’s body was ransomed and then buried in Gniezno Cathedral in Poland.
It is never easy to stand up for what is right against the people you love or the people of your Faith. St. Adalbert of Prague was exiled on two occasions because of his reform of clerics and his upholding of the right of sanctuary wherein he excommunicated those people who violated that right and who murdered a woman as set out above. That is the mark of true love of God and His Gospel, that we always put Our Lord first, and conduct our behavior accordingly. Our Lord told us, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
And finally, St. Adalbert of Prague spread the Gospel to the people of the Baltic Sea, with his companions, which cost them their lives at the hands of the pagans. Clearly, St. Adalbert and his companions stored up their treasures in heaven as a result of their fearless preaching and their love of Jesus.
Let us follow the example of this wonderful Saint, Adalbert, putting God and His Gospel first above anyone and anything. Pursuant to the Roman Missal, Common of a Martyr in the Easter Season:
O God, you bestowed the crown of martyrdom on the Bishop St. Adalbert, as he burned with zeal for souls. Grant, we pray, by his prayers, that the obedience of his flock may never fail the shephered, nor the care of the shepherd be ever lacking to the flock.
St. Adalbert of Prague, pray for us and help us!
Source: Franciscan Media; EWTN website