SOme information about the abbeY

of the Order of St. Augustine
History of the Old Brno Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady at Mendel Place
Old Brno Madonna – Our Lady of St. Thomas – Icon of the City of Brno
The Silver Altar

The main altar of the catedral

Founder of the Cathedral – Queen Widow Eliška Rejčka

The Augustine Thurn Foundation

Well-known personages of the Augustinian Order of Brno

The Era of Nazi and Communist Totalitarianism

Hours of the Cathedral and of Holy Services

Guided tours

Exxhibition "Gregor Mendel"

Appearance of the Order of St. Augustine

The commonly used name "Augustines" was approved by the Roman Congress for Monasteries for the Order of St. Augustine, or the Order of the Brothers of Saint Augustine, or the Latin Ordo Fratrum Sancti Augustini (OSA) on December 2, 1969.

The Order appeared in 1244 as a result of the unification of various groups of hermits by two Bulls of Pope Innocent IV, Incumbit Nobis and Praesentium vobis of December 16, 1243. The Bulls were directed to "all anchorites of Tuscany" except the Brothers of St. William (the Williamites).

The founding chapter of the order originated in Rome in May 1244 in the time of Cardinal Richard Annibaldi and with the assistance of two Cistercians. It may appear at first that the initiative began with Innocent IV, but the reality was otherwise. Individual anchorites, or many of them, had requested the founding of an order of St. Augustine (Bulls Cum a nobis of March 18,1244; Pia desideria, March 31, 1244; and Cum a nobis February 15,1254 ).
The rules of the order were outlined by the Pope in various documents. They had already been outlined in 1244, when its apostolic character was established. The contemplative life of members of the order was the central feature. 




  Augustin z Hippa
  Svatí augustiniánského řádu

G. J. Mendel


Zpět na úvod

Seeking God in complete solitude, a concept that arose from the earlier hermetic way of life, was to be realised in the founding of a society of brothers.

The Order of Saint Augustine was exempted of any Bishopric already in the 13th Century. The goal of the Order is not any particular activity, devotion, any direct apostolic activity as such.

 The apostolic function, rather, arises from the results of preaching and from earning merit by association to God and by association among the members of the community. This arises from vocation and, as always, accords to the needs of the Church. Apostolic activities are a basic part of the order but are never its fundament.

Right from the beginning, St. Augustine set his brothers the basic goal of the order: “The primary goal of your life in the community is to live together in harmony and to be “one heart and one mind” in God.” (Orders 1.3). The Order of Saint Augustine is based in the tradition of mendicant orders.


History of the Old Brno Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady at Mendel Place

Three phases of building the Oldbrno Cloister have been detailed. (1) A Gothic phase was followed by (2) a Romanesque monolith with a quadrilateral apse, and (3) a rotunda had been begun in the 11th Century or at the latest at the beginning of the 12th Century.

A newer Romanesque sanctuary has been identified as the Chapel of Our Lady that is referred to in some written sources from the beginning of the 12th Century. Sources from the first half of the 12th Century refer to three church buildings – the Chapel of Our Lady, the Chapel of Saint Oldrich, and the Chapel of Saint Wenceslas.

Archaeological research has confirmed the ground plan of the Gothic church that Eliška Rejčka received in 1323 where she founded a Chapter of the Cistercian Order. Brickwork from the walls of the original Romanesque church has been uncovered. These doubtless are those referred to in writings about the Church of Our Lady from 1210.


Old Brno Madonna – Our Lady of St. Thomas – Icon of the City of Brno

This painting is composed into a richly developed baroque altar situated in front of the main altar of the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Old Brno.

It was brought to this place in 1783 from the Chapel of the Church of Saint Thomas when the Augustines, who had had the painting since the Middle Ages, moved to the Cloister of the abolished Cistercian Order in Old Brno.

We read about the painting on its installation in the Hufnagle Chronicles (Chronicles of the Cloister of St. Augustine 1664). This was published as Gemma Moraviae a v Conchylium Marianum work when a public even celebrated the installation of the painting in 1736. According to this chronicle, St Luke painted the icon. Later, Eustorgius, Bishop of Milan, who had been in service to St. Helen in Constantinople, brought it to Milan by way of Genoa. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II conquered Milan with the help of King Vladislav of Bohemia. Frederick, gave the painting to Vladislav in recognition of his bravery. Vladislav took it to Prague. Further adventures of the painting are associated with Charles IV who, according to Gemma, presented it to his brother Count John in 1356.

The first historical reference to the painting in Brno is from 1373. John IX, Bishop of Olomouc, in a document of August 20, provided an indulgence of 40 days "for the altar with the painting of Mary in the Church of St. Thomas in Brno." The picture is referred to again in documents of 1376,1403, and later. This proves that the picture was in Brno at the end of the 14th Century. 


The Silver Altar

The Order of Augustine of Brno sought permission from the Holy See in 1727 to save coins in honour of the icon. Permission was granted May 5, 1736, and Prior Zirkl

, addn exceptional organiser, had already signed an agreement with the goldsmith Johann Georg Herkommer, an Augsburg goldsmith, for building an altar to host the icon. This is how the "Silver Altar" came to be, along with its matching silver candelabra; service of three silver chalices, silver pitchers, and trays, monstrance's; and Bishop's crook. Vestments were included, too.


The main altar of the catedral

The monumental painting of the Assumption of Our Lady in the centre of the altar was painted by Joseph Thaddeus Rotter. Andreas Schweigl created the matched altars and pillars between the central transept and the side chapels. The central altar is surmounted by a statute of the Holy Family. Herkommer's silver altar with the image of Our Lady of Saint Thomas stands in front of the original central altar that dates from the time when the Cathedral was part of the Monastic Order of the Cistercians. When the Augustine Order took over the cathedral, they placed the silver altar here after it had been moved from the Cloister of the Church of St. Thomas.

The Silver Altar

Altars were added in the main and diagonal transepts in the early 1760's. Joseph Thaddeus Rotter painted them and plastic decorations were the words of unknown plasters.


Founder of the Cathedral of the Assumption Ascension of Our Lady – Queen Widow Eliška Rejčka

King Vaclav II's Queen died very suddenly in 1297. He was offered the hand of a 14-year-old Polish Princess Richenza, named Ryksa in Polish. The coronation took place in 1300 in Hnězdno. The young Queen took the name of Eliška after the coronation. Czechs changed her name later to the popular name Rejčka and Alžběta Rejčka, perhaps to distinguish here from Vaclav's not-much-younger daughter Eliška.

The Poles believed that dowering their princess to the Czechs would always protect her life because the Kingdom of Bohemia was fairy-tale rich at that time. (Kutná Hora was providing the court five to six ingots of silver every week.) However, fate stepped in, and Eliška was widowed in not quite 20 years. Václav II died of tuberculosis. His successor, Václav III was assassinated, and the Czech peers impressed Rudolph Habsburg as regent under the condition that he would marry one of the eligible princesses. He considered Eliška and Markéta, and chose the 20-year-old Queen Widow, the stunning Eliška. She was widowed a second time in a year, however. Her husband Rudolf died of dysentery during the siege of Horažďovic.

Eliška lived as a widow in her country seat near the city of Hradec. She established the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit there. Lord Jindřich of Lipé, the most powerful personage of the kingdom at the time, favoured her and became her friend and protector. She indeed needed this protection as an extreme animosity developed between her and the new Queen Eliška Přemyslovna after John of Luxemburg began to frequent Hradec more often than befitted the royal position. In spite of this Jindřich z Lipé became the unequivocal protector of Eliška Rejčka. He was created Chief of Moravia, and, on the instant of his installation, she relocated.

In l323, Queen Eliška Rejčka founded a Cistercian Monastery called Aula Sanctae Mariae (Saint Mary's Hall) at the old Church of Our Lady Mary.

The first housing of this order of nuns was temporary. Nevertheless, the generosity of the founder and the gifts of the highborn permitted starting the works at once and the work proceeded quickly. In 1332, the founder relocated to the Monastery permanently. In 1335 Eliška Rejčka died. According to the chronicles, she was buried under the Altar of the Holy Cross between the presbytery and the diagonal transsept of the convent chapel. The place of her last resting is marked by a tile that bears the letter "E." 

The buildings of the Abbey were erected in the 18th Century. This complex of baroque architecture is the work of Mořic Grimm.


The role of the Brno Order of Saint Augustine in the Development of Science, Culture, and Art

The Order of St. Augustine that originated in 1244 settled in Brno in 1346. Jan Jindřich Lucemburský, Count of Moravia set down the constitution of their Brno cloister six years later.The basic works of the Brno Order were spiritual leadership, education, and scientific activity.

The Augustine Thurn Foundation

In 1653, the Order was located in the Abbey of St. Thomas at today's Moravian Place. A bequest from the Brno noblewoman Sybil Polyxen Františka (née Countess of Thurn and Walsassina), created a foundation for the support of music. Scholars originally 6, later numbered 11, volunteers and amateurs lived together and were educated in playing a wide variety of instruments. They had a small chapel and practised both spiritual music and chorales. The main effect of this foundation was to enrich musical life and education in the Brno of the day.

Beginning in 1848, Pavel Křížkovský joined in the work of Abbot Nappa in a creative capacity. Upon taking the monastic vow, Křížkovský became the director of the Old Brno Choir and taught liturgical music during the years 1848-1872. He composed the well-known chorale Utonulá in 1848; the chorale Dar za lásku in 1863; and the cantata Sv. Cyril a Metoděj in 1863. He directed chamber concerts, symphonic compositions, and dramatic presentations in the refectory of the monastery.

When the young Leoš Janáček came to Brno from his native Hukvaldy in 1865, Křížkovský even became one of his patrons. Janáček took over the direction of the Old Brno Choir when Křížkovský moved to Olomouc. Janáček was a teacher of music, as well, at the nearby Pedagogical School on Poříčí (today the Pedagogical Faculty of Masaryk University) and took over the direction of the newly founded Brno organ academy.


Well-known personages of the Augustinian Order of Brno

Cyril František NAPP


František Matouš KLÁCEL

František Tomáš BRATRÁNEK

Tomáš Eduard ŠILINGER

Gregor Johann MENDEL



Cyril František NAPP (1782-1867)

Abbot Cyril František Napp achieved exceptional prominence in the first half of the 19th Century by the study of history and the development of Czech nationalism and culture. He was a member of the Order for 44 years altogether and managed to attract gifted young men to the monastery who thus benefited from the education that the Brno Order was ready to provide. Many of them became famous.

Antonín THALLER  (1796-1843)
Antonín Thaller became professor of mathematics and innovative builder of the Brno Botanical Garden after taking his monastic vows. It was on his inspiration that Abbot Napp ordered the construction of experimental beds (1828) that later became the basis for the works of Gregor Mendel.

František Matouš KLÁCEL

(František Matouš Klácel (namesake of Klácel Street in Masaryk Quarter) was a distinguished representative of the literary life of Moravia a the time. His formation began in the Litomysl Philosophical Institute and matured in the Brno Order of St. Augustine. He became a professor of philosophy in 1835 in the Philosophical Institute and began to publish as a poet. In the technical field, he published Notes on Czech Scientific Grammar.

František Tomáš BRATRÁNEK

Klácel's friend František Tomáš Bratránek replaced Klácel as professor of philosophy in the Brno Bishopric School. His specialisation was philosophy, aethetics, and the history of German literature. He left for Poland in 1851 where he was named professor of German literature at Jagellonsky University in Cracow.

Tomáš Eduard ŠILINGER (1866-1913 )

Tomáš Eduard Šilinger (the namesake of Šilinger Place in Brno) was foremost a renowned Moravian journalist, political figure, and Czech patriot. He began editing the Czech Catholic Daily Hlas in 1896. In 1906, he became national- and later imperial representative in Vienna. He was a fellow founder of Brno's Czech nationalist movement.

Gregor Johann MENDEL

Gregor Johann (Jan) Mendel (the namesake of Mendel Place in Brno) joined the Order of St. Augustine in 1843. While he studied theology, he studied agriculture and viniculture at the Philosophical Institute of Brno. At the same time, he completed two years' study of natural science in Vienna. For a short time, he was a high-school teacher in Znojmo. Then he became professor of physics and philosophy at the Realschule (non-classical secondary school) in Brno (on the lower half of Jánská Street).

He was an active member of a range of natural science associations, among which we name:

  • The Brno Natural Science Society

  • The Moravian-Silesian Society for Agricultural Development

  • The Society of Beekeepers

He conducted experiments in crossing plants. He deduced his theory of inheritance from the crossing peas and demonstrated the meaning of this for enhancement of types. He experimented in bee keeping in 1871 on the slopes of the Monastery, where the hives, somewhat changed, are found to this day. He operated a meteorological station in the Monastery. It was first in 1910 that his works achieved world-wide recognition and fame. A committee, composed of 150 natural scientists from all over the world saw to the building of the Mendel Monument in the part of the Monastery (created by Theodor Charlmont).

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(1820 - 1885)

Pavel Křížkovský (namesake of Křížkovského Street in Old Brno) was a central personage of Brno music and popular culture at the close of the 19th Century. He was Silesian born of a family in Holasovicích u Opavy and came to Brno to study philosophy in 1843. Shortly after he arrived in Brno, he joined the Order of Saint Augustine and, upon taking his vows, he became director of the Old Brno cathedral and leader of the choir, carrying on this work from 1848-1872. Křížkovský composed his cantata Sv. Cyril a Metoděj and personally conducted the performance of a monumental number of singers for a monumental audience in 1863 on the great commemoration of Cyril and Methodus.

Křížkovský was for years advisor to the head of the Old Brno Thurn Foundation that had been established in 1653. He lead and taught performance, music, and organ. He was a renowned music teacher, theoretician, and composer and not the less a pioneer in choral song and chamber music. In the final years of his life (1872), when he had moved to Olomouc, he was chaplain, director of the choir, and composer at the Church of Saint Mořic. At this time, he focused on the study and reform of church music. Leoš Janáček took over his responsibilities for the Old Brno choir.


Leoš Janáček (namesake of Janáček Place and of the Janáček Academy of Music in Brno), was not a member of the Order. But he was very closely connected to the Order and to its Old Brno Thurn Foundation throughout his life. He entered the Monastery as a scholar in 1865 and was able to get musical and academic education thanks to its charitable establishment. Seven years after Janáček had been taken on as a scholar, Pavel Křížkovský moved to Olomouc and Janáček became director of the choir.

Upon leaving the foundation in 1925, Masaryk University awarded him an honorary doctorate as a beloved and gifted son of the Order. His works, jewels of the opera and concert podiums, are honoured and treasured by concert and opera performers. The Order of Saint Augustine of Brno carried him on his final journey from the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old Brno Cathedral.


The Era of Nazi and Communist Totalitarianism

The Nazi occupation began a new chapter in the history of the Monastery of Saint Augustine in Brno. Let us remember the sacrifices of these members of the order: P. Alfons ZADRAŽIL, P. BAŘINA Prelate, P. DVOŘÁČEK, P. Norbert DOLEŽAL, P. Alois PŘIBYL, P. Florián Fulgence JANČÍK, Pastors.

They were brought before a Nazi judge, having been denounced for anti-German thought and activities; for concealing church valuables from the German organs; and for listening to Western broadcasts. P. Alfons Zadražil paid for this with his life. He was executed, as was the Keeper of the Monastery, Martin LUKÁŠ, in February 1945 at the Kounic Dormitory.

The first few years after the Second World War were merely a hint of freedom for members of the Order of Saint Augustine. As early as 1950, the activities of the Abbey were prohibited, most of the monks were imprisoned, sent to labour camps, or driven into low-level civil occupations. Artifacts of the monastery were removed and later used for the Archaeological Institute. Spiritual activities were greatly restricted, limited mostly to the pastoral care of the Cathedral. When the Communist regime fall and democracy was established in 1989, the monks could return to the Abbey where there awaited them hard work at restoration and renovation that they will achieve in stages with God's help.