The name is untypical, the only church in Czechia to carry it. It is derived from St Castullus, a Roman citizen of a high rank, who secretly converted to Christianity and took the pains to spread the religion illegally. In the end he fell victim to the tyrant and anti- Christian fanatic Diocletian (towards the end of the 3rd Century), who had him tortured and killed, like all the Christians he could find.
Formerly a small Romanic church was sanctified in St Castullus’ name in the 12th Century. There are foundations of the former building about a meter and a half under the current one. That was founded in the forties of the 14th Century and built in a Gothic manner. Originally a three- body project resulted in a combination of two bodies and a chapel.
As it is placed near the river and on a low level, the disastrous floods of 1436 decimated the church. The fact that it recovered owes much to spontaneous activity of the Prague wealthy citizens, since the number of contributions was considerable.
Like many churches, St Hastal church also served as a school. It is, however, believed, that it could not keep up with the demands and was closed down in 1624, becoming a Catholic vicarage after two centuries of unsuccessful management by Hus’s followers.
It burned down on 21 June 1689, as both the Old and the New towns were struck by a tragic, revolting case of arson. The disaster was probably caused by a group of French criminals operating in Prague and resulted in a series of brutal acts of vengeance against French expatriates in general. The church itself was repaired, though the reconstruction naturally gave it a different character and consequently, we may now see only remains of the original Gothic ceiling and the sacristy. It was damaged again in 1757, during the Prussian conquest of Prague, as a cannon ball flew through the altar and into one of the walls, where it still lies today.
Surviving Joseph II’ and his anti- church reforms, only the neighboring cemetery was closed down.
The inside offers famous religious statues and a sacristy, which was left unharmed by the many wounds St Hastal received. It is also in very pleasant a place, Hastalske namesti (Castullus Square), in an unusually calm area near the Republic Square. An area of narrow streets, older than the surroundings and visibly so since it is situated a bit lower than the neighboring parts.
Oct 12, 15:32 (Filed under: Chapters from history )