Czechoslovakian Boys' Clothes: Activities--Religion

Figure 1.-- Here is a Czech boy about 10 years old in his First Communion suit. The boy wears a dark double breasted suit with a white shirt and open collar, knee pants, and long stockings which seem to be dark brown rather than the more customary black. He wears high top shoes. The photo was taken in 1935. The boy's is Jaroslav Valdman who was born in 1925. The portrait was taken in Susice, a small town in the south-western Bohemia. Karel Cech has a wonderful Flickr page with other interesting views of his family.

Czechoslovakia had a varied religious heritage. Several major creeds have played a role in the country's history: Roman Catholic, Uniate, the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, Lutheran, Calvinist, Orthodox, the Czech Reformed Church (the Hussites), the Old Catholic Church, and Judaism. Czechoslovakia was built around the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia. The Czechs were an early convert to Lutherenism during the Protestant Reformation. It was also one of the successes of the Counter Reformation through which by force of Hapsburg arms, the Czechs were forced back into the Catholic Church. Even so, it left and indelible mark on both the Czech church and people. Roman Catholicism, esoecially the papacy, came to be seen as both pro-Hapsburg and pro-German by the Czechs and other ethnic groups. (Compare this to Poland and Ireland where the Catholic Church was a symbol of national identity to foreign control.) After the 16th century religious wars there were minorities of various Prorestant scects among the various mostly Catholic ethnic groups: Bohemian Brethren in the Czech lands, Lutherans in Slovakia, and Calvinists among the Hungarians. At the time Czechoslovakia became independent after World war I, about two-thirds of the population was Catholic. While Czechoslovakia was overwealmingly Catholic, the Protestant minority and history of religious discent helped to forge a more tolerant Catholicism. A spirit of resistance to Rome began even befoe the Reformation with the Hussite heresey. Another factor here was surely the fact that the Hapsburgs were strongly suported by the papacy helped to create a resistance to papal control within the Czech church, especially in the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia. The Catholics split with Rome over the issue of papal infallibility even before Czechoslovakia was created (1870). The Czechoslovak National Church was Catholic but decidedly antipapal, and very nationalistic with a range of inluences, including Hussite and Unitarian . Relations between the Vatican and the new independent Czechoslovakia were uneasy. The papal nuncio twiceleft Prague in protest over preceived anti-Catholic government actions (1925 and 33).


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Crerated: 11:30 PM 9/3/2006
Last updated: 4:46 PM 4/9/2007