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Marian column not to be re-erected in Prague centre

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Prague, Sept 15 (CTK) – The Column of Virgin Mary, a copy of the original 17th-century baroque sculpture destroyed by a mob in 1918, will not return to Old Town Square in Prague’s centre, the Prague assemblymen decided in a resolution adopted on Thursday night after debating two petitions on the issue.

The Prague City Hall dealt with a petition for the renewal of the Marian column signed by more than 3,000 people and another petition against it with more than 1,000 signatures.

The resolution orders the Prague City Council to take all necessary steps to withdraw from contractual commitments and cancel Prague’s consent to the placing of the column on Old Town Square by the end of this year.

Prague assemblyman Lukas Kaucky (Social Democrat, CSSD) told CTK that on the basis of the resolution, the capital would not accept a copy of the Marian column as a gift. Prague would have done so if it had approved its renewal.

The Association for the Marian Column Revival received a consent to the erection of the copy from the Prague 1 district in July. Several civic groups appealed this decision.

The Virgin Mary Column was erected on Old Town Square in 1650 and consecrated two years later as a symbol of the Catholic Church’s victory in the Czech Lands. It stood close to the place of execution of the Czech Protestant estates representatives and leaders of the resistance to the Habsburg rule in 1621.

The column was pulled down by the angry crowd in November 1918 after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) monarchy and the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak Republic.

The opponents of the column’s return to the square argue that this was a symbol of the Habsburg hegemony and recatholisation of the country, which caused a strong migration wave.

“The restoration of the Marian column would mean the denial of the Czech history developments,” the petition said.

Moreover, the opponents say a true copy of the column cannot be created since some original architectonic elements were not preserved.

On the contrary, its supporters stress other dimensions of the column’s return to the square. They describe the Marian column as a symbol and commemoration of the defenders of Prague’s Old Town during the Thirty Years’ War as well as a spiritual artifact. They also argue that the column is one of the first baroque sights in Bohemia that influenced the whole Czech baroque sculpture.

The petition in support of the column says the erection of the Marian column next to the monument of John Huss, church reformer burnt at stake in 1415, would be a symbol of reconciliation.

Stormy debates have accompanied the plans of the column’s renewal since the 1990s. The Prague City Hall has dealt with petitions on the idea several times.

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