Brigitteneau & The Heraldic Red Tongue

Brigitteneau in Vienna, Austria, has a most unique coat of arms. It’s a tongue in cheek pun, but the history behind it is very serious.

The coat of arms commemorates John of Nepomuk, who was canonized in 1720.

John was a Czech priest during the reign of Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. The legend tells that John was the queen’s confessor. The king suspected the queen of having a lover. The king questioned John. When John refused to reveal her confession to the king, Wenceslaus drowned John in the Vltava River. Shortly thereafter, Wencelas also had his queen put to death.

On the night John was drowned, five stars were visible in the night sky. In 1719 the Roman Catholic Church declared the tongue of John of Nepomuk to be ‘incorruptible’, as he refused to violate the sanctity of the confessional.

Brigitteneau, a district of Vienna, Austria, commemorates his deeds in their coat-of-arms. The five stars on a halo, the red tongue, and an anchor, to which he was likely attached to drown.

Image courtesy Wikipedia

John is considered to be a protector from flood and vicious attacks. His statue is seen on bridges in many countries. John’s statue shows him with a halo of five starts, priestly garb, a palm of martyrs, a cross, and an angel with a finger over the lips, indicating John’s silence.

One of these statues protects the Ponte Milvio bridge in Rome. This bridge has gained it’s own fame as a symbol of enduring love.

Ironically, John was entombed within the St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral, which is located in Prague, Czech Republic, within Prague Castle. Wonder how King Wenceslas would feel about that?

Image courtesy Wikipedia, Matteo Agostinelli

Wikipedia has a larger view of the symbolic details at St. Vitus Cathedral.

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