There is a special ritual for the fence-like grille near the statue of Saint Jan of Nepomuk on Charles Bridge. The harmless ritual supposedly brings good luck and happiness. However, some have created an alternative ritual, which is culturally insensitive.
The small, grille is located where the saint was thrown from. Many believe that if the proper ritual is followed, they will receive good luck and happiness.
St. Jan of Nepomuk was a court priest of King Wenceslas IV who was brutally tortured and then killed after being thrown off of Charles Bridge. While the story varies, legend has it that this was a punishment for not revealing the confessions of the king’s wife. Many consider St. Jan of Nepomuk to be the most famous Czech Saint.
To be the recipient of good luck, one must first touch the image of St. Jan of Nepomuk on the grille, who is depicted lying down. It is important to use the left hand and touch the image saint with every finger. While rubbing the image, the right foot must be placed at the correct point on the ground.
Many people get the ritual wrong, rubbing the plaque on the statue, rather than the grille. However, getting the ritual wrong is not the problem. Some use an alternative ritual, thought to ensure love. Based on the popular “love lock” custom, a couple places a padlock on a fence to ensure their unbreakable love. However, some believe that this tradition minimizes the meaning behind the gate and St. Jan of Nepomuk’s cruel death.
This love lock tradition means that the city has to cut the locks off the gate. This is not only an additional cost to the city but is also an ironic outcome, considering the love lock ritual’s purpose.