Keeping the Faith
Religious statue bridges the generational gap.
by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner
Imagine leaving the only country you've ever known to begin life in a new, unfamiliar world. What would you bring with you to remind you of your homeland and culture?
When the Ignac Muzny family left Moravia (now the Czech Republic) in 1856 to come to Texas, they brought with them this statue, the Blessed Mother and Infant of Prague, important to their Catholic faith. The story of the original Infant of Prague describes a statue brought to Bohemia by Spanish princess Maria Manriquez de Lara in the 1550s upon her marriage to a Czech nobleman. Eventually gifted to the Carmelites at the Church of Our Lady of Victory in Prague, it miraculously survived years of war in Czech lands. In the 1700s, copies of the statue were made and distributed throughout Europe as devotion to the Infant spread. By the time the Muzny family landed in Galveston, the statue represented 300 years of worship.
In November 1856, the Muzny family helped establish the Czech settlement of Dubina in Fayette County. The community reflected their Catholic heritage and services were held in private homes until a church could be built. Muzny himself was instrumental in the construction of Dubina’s first Catholic church, Saints Cyril and Methodius, in the late 1870s. He donated a portion of the land for the adjacent cemetery. Over the years, the statue was treasured and passed down through the family.
Lender Ed Janecka is the great-great-grandson of Ignac Muzny. Janecka was born and raised on a farm in Dubina, and grew up attending mass at Saints Cyril and Methodius Church, rebuilt after being leveled by a hurricane in 1909. In the 1950s, the exquisite interior stenciling that reflected the Czech heritage of the church's founders was painted over. Judge Janecka remembers seeing the faint outline of the original stenciling when he was an altar boy. In the 1980s, he helped lead the renovation work of the church with the entire community coming together to restore the original stenciling. Janecka himself painted the last angel that flies above the altar. Today, Saints Cyril and Methodius is one of Texas’s noted “painted churches.”
Janecka and his family still attend mass at the church, and when they leave after services, they can visit his great-great-grandparents, Ignac and Rozalie Muzny, at the church cemetery.
Courtesy of County Judge Edward Janecka, La Grange
Time Period: 1821 - 1834
This artifact is not on view.