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Published on Sep 4, 2011
Good King Wenceslas is a popular Christmas carol that tells a story of Good King Wenceslas braving harsh winter weather to give aims to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (the second day of Christmas, December 26 western churches). During the journey, his is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather, but is enabled to continue by following the king's footprints, step for step, through the deep snow.
In 1853, English hymnwriter John Mason Neale wrote the "Wenceslas" lyrics, in collaboration with his music editor Thomas Helmore,
Wenceslas was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death in the 10th century, when a cult of Wenceslas grew up in Bohemia and in England. Within a few decades of Wenceslas's death four biographies of him were in circulation. These hagiographies had a powerful influence on the High Middle Ages conceptualization of the rex justus, or righteous king that is, a monarch whose power stems mainly from his great piety, as well as from his princely vigor.