The Church of Saint Simon and Jude (Kostel svatých Šimona a Judy in Czech) is situated on U Milosrdných Street in the Old Town. As the only church in Prague it was consecrated to two Apostles – St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude Thaddeus.
It is maintained by the Prague Symphony Orchestra who uses the church as a concert hall for its chamber projects. Especially the series of the baroque music authentic interpretation is highly acclaimed by both the public and the critics due to perfect location setting and the frame content.
Sir Bohuslav from Olbramovice has founded a hospital in 1354 on the place where the Church of Ss. Simon and Jude is today located. As a part of the hospital complex, a chapel has been necessary. This chapel has been sanctified by bishop Arnošt from Pardubice, a close friend of the Emperor Charles IV, and dedicated to saints Simon and Juda – two original biblical missionaries.
The same walls were used in 1615-1620 by the Unity of the Brethren to build a new church. It was a hall construction with galleries and chapels with high Late Gothic windows – an interesting mixture of the Gothic and Renaissance styles. It was consecrated on 14 July 1620. Shortly after the consecration, on Christmas Day of the same year, the Emperor Ferdinand II gave the church to the Order of the Merciful Brethren of John of God.
The order reconstructed the church, but also a new convent and a large hospital were built during this period. The church was consecrated again in 1632.
In the middle of 18th century it was redecorated in late Baroque style together with the buildings of the convent and hospital to which the Church belonged. During this reconstruction, the tower was added to the building and the interior decoration, altars and statues were installed. Some of the statues had been made by Ferdinand Maxmilian Brokoff before 1723.
At the end of the 1770s, the hospital was the only one in Prague. At the same time it was a modern scientific institution, Prague’s first anatomy lecture hall, e.g. in 1847 the first operation under narcosis in the Austro-Hungarian Empire took place here. The members of the order were important physicians, pharmacists and musicians. They made the church one of the most sought after musical centres of the order in Central Europe. Johann Theobald Held (1770-1851), a musician and composer, was also the physician, dean of the medical faculty and the head of the hospital. František Xaver Brixi died in the hospital in 1771. The organ in the church was built in 1724 by Andreas Wambesser and was played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Joseph Haydn.
Unfortunately the order had to leave the premises during the communist era and the church became a repository of the Museum of the Capital City of Prague. After 1990 the building was given back to its original owners. The church was thoroughly reconstructed and rented by the Order of the Merciful Brethren for the purpose of classical music concerts. In that time a treasure was found in the church – 350 silver coins from the times of the reign of George from Poděbrady and Maxmilian II. (1564 – 1576), kings of Bohemia. The reconstruction added a professional background to the historical space, including floor heating which allows all-year services in the church. The church is a perfect location for concerts but also for additional congress activities, audio and video recording, radio and TV broadcasts. A site-tours may be organized. An exhibition dedicated to the historical and architectural development, archaeological research and social events of the church is constantly installed in the foyer.
The reconstruction of the organ carried out by Vladimír Šlajch was finished in 1993 to reveal an instrument of quite exceptional sound quality.
The church steeple, which is 39 metres tall, is situated on the east side. The steeple, originally of Gothic-Renaissance style, was adjusted in 1620 and in 1720. Today it has typical signs of the peak-Baroque style such as the corner pilasters, the cornice segmentation and the oval windows. The octahedral bulbous roof with lantern is crowned with a spike, a finial and a cross. The tower also features a spiral staircase, which leads to the belfry.
Learn about the Saint Vitus Cathedral.