The Benedictine Monastery Church of the Virgin Mary was founded by Slavs in the 14th December 1347, when Pope Clement VI granted the request of Charles IV. and gave his consent to the establishment of the monastery with the Slavonic liturgy. The monastery was taught by Benedictines monks who are called the Eastern rite of Dalmatia and Croatia, and who used it as a liturgical language Old Church Slavonic. It was the intention of the Emperor to consolidate the Slavic relations and help to eliminate divisions between the Western and Eastern churches. It was the only Slavic monastery and one non-Latin associations in Western Christianity during Charles‘ reign. The monastery became a center of learning and the arts. Among the language students of Cyril and Methodius were Jan Hus, Jerome of Prague, and others. There arose a series of illuminated literary gems, including the so-called Reims Gospel, which through Constantinople, the Hussite message entered the treasure of the French Monarchial coronation.
The history of Reims Gospel book is very interesting, so here it a little focus. The Reims Gospel was composed of two parts. The first part was established in Kievan Rus and was written in Cyrillic. The second was here in the monastery and was written Glagolithic script (from glagolic grew Cyrillic). Both parts were bound into one book, which was sent to Constantinople as a gift to the local monastery. But in Constantinople this book the Archbishop of Reims bought it, thinking that it was an original of St. Jerome. So until the early 18th century French kings solemnly swore on the gospel at his coronation in the Reims cathedral. However in fact, it largely originated in the Emmaus Monastery. The truth about the gospel learned early 18th century by the Russian Tsar Peter the Great. When he was on an official state visit to Paris, where he was then at Rheims to be shown the Holy Gospel, he of course he knew immediately that this was the Cyrillic alphabet. Following that discovery, which, by the way, nobody at first wanted to officially believe him, even Peter the Great hiself hesitated whether to call into question its authenticity, and thus whether it will have any effect on the interaction of the Franco-Russian relations, as the French kings already used the Gospel.
The monastery was built near the old parish church Cosmas and Damian supposedly was built by st. Wenceslas. The monastery and church were completed and consecrated archbishop of Jan Ocko of Vlašim in the presence of Charles IV, his son Wenceslas IV and other important guests on 29 March 1372. That day he read the Gospel in which Christ meets with his disciples at Emmaus, so the place is also called Emmaus. The origin of the name Emmaus is also thought to have perhaps come from another source: At the place where monastery is there once stood a derelict farm Emmahaus (Emin house) belonging to a nearby castle, where the first Czech Queen once lived; Emma, daughter of King Conrad of Burgundy.
The building cost the same amount of money as the Charles Bridge. The architect is unknown. The church is made in honor of the Saints Jerome, Cyril and Methodius, and St. Adalbert Prokop and later the Virgin Mary. It has some architectural features and figural themes reminiscent of the work of the court builder when presided by Petr Parler. It also recalls his courage to build a massive atrial, an unusual building without a tower, as well as the displaying the engravings of old Prague. The construction lasted 24 years, including the exterior decorations. In the left corner behind the altar is a statue of a seated Madonna of Montserrat. When the church was bombed in 1945, the statue miraculously survived and was not injured. It was taken to the church St. Ignatius of Charles Square, but eventually taken back to its original location.
The wall paintings are among the rarest sights Czech Gothic: the cloister – Ambit – is decorated with a painting of the steam, ie, it is depicting scenes from both the biblical laws. It’s kind of fresco, which is a European rarity, and the most precious surviving monument of the Gothic period. During the Hussite movement it was moved to Constance by the Hussite group, and so was spared popular anger and destruction towards Catholicism. In the 16th century the Abbot Matthew Benesov converted it into a pub with a bowling alley and musicians for entertainment. In the early 17th century, the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler lived there for a few years.
After the Battle of White Mountain, Ferdinand III invited the Spanish Benedictines, which in effect renovated the monastery and church in the Baroque fashion. They removed a high ceilinged roof of the church and replaced it with a three-part roof and built two small towers with bulbous façades of the church (1712).
U.S. bombing of the city destroyed the church on 14 February 1945. The bombing killed a number of German Red Cross nurses. The Society for the Reconstruction of Emmaus supported people after the bombing and began providing work. After 1947 the damaged Gothic frescos were restored in the cloister. In subsequent years, they built a new concrete roof. Renovation work entrusted to professor Stefan Ulrich. Anonymous 1964 was announced a competition for architectural roof and destroyed the church tower. Out of this the competition won the design by the architect FM Black; under whose leadership a new tower was installed rather than the totally modern structure. It was designated Courage, belonging to the most valuable expressions of modern architecture in Prague: it is an asymmetric 32 meter landmark shell with 40 cm thick concrete structures of white . The structure is a 4m high spike with 1.3 kg 24-carat gold gild. The spitz is a height of 52 m, 32 m from the shelf there is an optical illusion caused by the south tower, which is closer to the river. It appears to be higher, although it is not. During the reconstruction the chapter hall of the monastery fragments of wall paintings and inscriptions were uncovered. An inscription written in Croatian Glagolithic script (probably old Czech Ten Commandments from the year 1412) is the first and only evidence Glagolitic epigraphy at home and in western Slavic countries in general. Another interesting feature of the modern history of the church is the second half of the last century when the monastery was threatened by complete disappearance. Then the highest authorities concluded that this church would be ideal garage. Fortunately, the revolution came in time and the church was gradually repaired and re-consecrated. Near the monastery they will certainly not miss the modern cubic houses with glass facades, which were built here, despite the protests of the population between 1968 – 1974. Paradox is that the body belonged to the chief architect of the city of Prague.