Holas František (1872-1929)

At least some people interested in regional history will recall the impressive book History of the Marian pilgrimage site of Svatá Hora u Příbramě, published in 1929, which contains almost 800 pages. Its author, František (Xaver) Holas, was born the son of a miner who was the fourth oldest victim of the mining disaster of 31 May 1892 and was 58 years old.

František Holas Sr. was born on 29 November 1833 in Nestrašovice near Březnice, No. 26. His father Václav was a poor householder, and so the son, like many others from the wider region, found his livelihood in the developing mines of Příbram. He took up residence in Příbram on 25 December 1865 and with his wife Magdalena, daughter of the miner Jan Kadlec from Oseč, they took several lodgings there. On 7 April 1866, their son Rudolf was born in Příbram. His godmother was Jindřiška Petersonová, the daughter of the Pribram bookseller Eugen Peterson.

Magdalena Holas died after a few years and František Holas married Maria Chalupna on 31 January 1871 in Těnovice. They lived again in Příbram. In Střelecka Street No. 603 (No. 68/II) a son František Václav was born to these elderly newlyweds on 9 February 1872 and a daughter Florentina was born there on 8 October 1873. It is very interesting and unusual that besides the miner Václav Hyspecky, they both had Florentine, another daughter of the bookseller Eugene Peterson, as godmother. One can only surmise what relations connected the two families. There is, for example, the possibility that father Holas was an avid reader, but this is only a hypothesis.

His son František Václav was a good student, and from the autumn of 1884 he began to attend the C.K. State Real and Higher Gymnasium in Příbram. It was not common for a miner's son to reach the graduation, as it was a great sacrifice for his family, although there was a scholarship for gifted students. If the miner's sons went to the grammar school, they attended only the lower classes and then, for existential reasons, transferred to the teachers' institute or went into practice.

However, František Holas the younger lasted until the graduating class, in which 35 young men were going to take the adulthood exam - girls were not allowed to study publicly yet. All of the graduating seniors were planning university studies: 16 students from the class, including František Holas, wanted to go on to divinity, one was going to the navy, one to forestry, one to philosophy, and the rest to medicine or law.

In the school year 1891/1892, the matriculation examinations were set for July 18-22, 1892. The matriculation examination was then an extremely demanding exam for which one had to study hard. When František Holas Jr. was preparing for his matriculation, a fire broke out at the Marie mine. František's father, a leading lama, who could already look forward to retirement, was on a shift at the V. horizon and suffocated. His body was taken out on June 2, 1892 by the Francis Joseph Mine. He was buried on 3 June 1892 at 7 p.m. in a common grave in the Pribram cemetery.

In the second half of July 1892, his son František passed the matriculation examination in Latin, Greek, Czech, mathematics, natural science and propedeutics (introduction to philosophy) with honours. He then studied theology and was ordained a priest on 25 July 1896. He became an archbishop's notary and worked for almost 30 years as a catechist in the general and municipal schools in Kolín.

He did not forget his home in Příbram. The last six years of his life he devoted to writing the history of the Holy Mountain - he was an oblate of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and shared their spirituality with the Redemptorists. After his retirement, a year before his death, he moved to Pribram. He carefully studied the St. Mary's archives, the Pribram city archives and many other sources. Before completing his enormous work, however, he died on 13 June 1929 at Svatá Hora, from where he was given a glorious funeral to Kolín.

The work on the Holy Mountain was published from his estate. The editors were not able to include all the references to sources in the book, and so finding these sources is very difficult at present. Nevertheless, this work is still unsurpassed and one must forgive it for taking from Bohuslav Balbín a historically incorrect and unsubstantiated legend about the foundation of Svatá Hora by the knight Malovec.

This February marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the writer František Xaver Holas. If it were not for the fact that in connection with the current commemorative events and the writing of articles for the Kahan magazine on the 130th anniversary of the March Mountain disaster it was necessary to study again the list of victims and their families, the anniversary of Francis X. Holas the Younger would probably have gone unnoticed.

That is the way of life: the poor father was buried in a common grave in a hastily packed coffin, the last journey of his esteemed son was made in a dignified box and in a sumptuous funeral carriage, but the memory of both is disappearing. He certainly deserves to be remembered.

By: PhDr. Věra Smolová