Sts. Simon and Jude Church
Dušní/U Milosrdných, Prague – Old Town
The Church of Sts. Simon and Jude is located to the North of the Old Town Square and close to the river. There are only a few churches in the Czech Republic consecrated to these two saints and in Prague, the only one is this baroque church on the corner of the Dušní and U Milosrdných Streets. The two apostles, Simon the Zealot and Jude Thaddæus, preached the Gospel together in Africa, Armenia and Persia and, as suggested in their attributes – a cross and a saw or an axe respectively –, both died martyrs.
The chapel was first built as part of a newly established hospital (before 1354) and consecrated by the Prague archbishop himself. Over the centuries, it was rebuilt and extended until it transferred under the hands of the Protestant Unitas Fratrum. Prior to the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, that marks the beginning of Counter-Reformation in the Czech Lands as well as the end of the Unitas Fratrum therein, the church was an important non-Catholic centre comparable in its importance to the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle. The Catholic ruler Ferdinand II gave the church and the adjoining hospital over to the Brothers of Mercy.
One hundred years later, the building underwent the most serious reconstruction in its history, apparent to this day in the interior decorations in High-Baroque style: altars, statues, the pulpit, tromp d’oeil murals and marquetry. Among the artists involved were Ferdinand Maxmilian Brokoff, Josef Hager, and Václav Vavřinec Reiner, the author of the main altar piece. In the loft, you will find a unique historical organ by Andreas Wambetsser that was played by both Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn.
The communist regime drove the Brothers of Mercy away from the church as well as the convent and the hospital. Today, Sts. Simon and Jude Church serves as a concert hall, mainly to the Prague Symphony Orchestra. Owing to its excellent acoustics and turbulent history, it is a perfect place for the performance of Early Music.