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O Praem Jan Hroznata Svatek (1916 - 2008) - Biography

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Even in jail you have the chance to talk with people. You just have to treat them with respect and let them know that you feel for them

Jan Svatek was born in 1916 in Sedlec, Central Bohemia. With support of the local priest in Sedlec, he started attending the "little seminary" at the Archbishop grammar school in Prague at the age of eleven. He also lived at the Canonry of Premonstratensians at the Strahov Monastery where he later became a friar. After his studies at the grammar school he graduated at the Catholic Theological faculty in Prague and he was ordained a priest on June 14th 1940. He entered the Canonry, but he did not stay at the monastery and for the rest of his life he was in service as a diocesan priest. After 1948 he lost the so called state permission for ecclesiastical service and he had to work as a manual worker. In 1950, same as many young priests and theologians, he had to go through an army service in the auxiliary technical battalion (PTP) which in his case lasted for two and a half years. After the service he started working as an auxiliary carpenter in Teplice, North Bohemia. In 1954, he was interrogated for the first time on suspicion of subversion of the state supervision over the Churches. Half a year later he was arrested, kept in custody for four months and finally sentenced to 12 years in prison. He spent five years in the Valdice-Kartouzy Penitentiary and after a small amnesty in 1958 he returned to manual work in a factory for diesel engines. Since 1968, he participated in unofficial pastoral activities, mainly among manual workers. During the Prague Spring he regained the state permission and moved to Staňkovice, North Bohemia, where he served during the normalization period as a parish priest and vicar. After the revolution he served as priest emeritus at the St. Norbert parish in Prague - Střešovice. He spent his last two years in the Borromean Home of St. Charles where he died in January 2008 at the age of 92.


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