Proseč u Skutče

At the boundary of the Iron Mountains and the Svitavy Upland, 9 kilometres southeast of Skuteč lies a small town Proseč (523 metres above sea level). Over 2,000 inhabitanst live here. For the first time, Proseč is mentioned in 1349. The country was poor, owners of the domain were changing whether it was the Benedictines or families living from the 14th century at the mighty castle of Rychmburk. The Hussite movement was spreading rapidly here and later the teaching of the Unity of Brethren had a big influence, too. They had a strong congregation in a nearby Litomyšl.

As everywhere in the Czech Lands, the era after the Battle of the White Mountain meant the end of a confessional freedom and recatholization. However, many secret Protestants were hiding around Proseč. After the declaration of the Toleration Patent the history of the Protestant congregation in Proseč started.

St. Nicholas’s Gothic Church comes from the end of the 13th century. However, it was rebuilt several times. In the 18th century Proseč became a small town with typical country cottages; a school cottage was built on the square. In the 1820s the production of pipes began to develop and made Proseč famous.

In 1903 writer Tereza Nováková with her husband bought a house in Proseč. She loved this county and she drew inspiration for her works from this region (her novels-for example- Jiří Šmatlán, Jan Jílek, Children of the Clean Alive One). Her friends visited Proseč, other artists and politicians arrived here, too. Tereza Nováková lived here till her death and her son dr. Arne Novák often visited her here. The 20th century was an era of progress and development but already at that time the situation was becoming worse for Europe. In 1935 and 1936 a citizenship of Proseč was granted to the German writers Heinrich and Thomas Mann who escaped together with their families from Hitler’s Germany. The Second World War pressed Proseč very hard. There were many victims among partisans and among civilians, too. The era of the communist regime was not easy, either. The inhabitants of Proseč as well as the members of the Proseč congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren welcome November 1989 as a new and hopeful challenge.

The Reformed congregation in Proseč was founded in 1783. The first worship was held in a farm. More and more people were coming and thus the wooden floor of the attic was removed in order that all the people could see and hear the worship well as if it was from the choir. A small rectory was quickly built near the future house of prayer. The raised rock place was assigned for the church – that was the worst possible place. Already in 1784 a small house of prayer according to the toleration rules stood there. The second house of prayer was built in the Empire style, it was consecrated on the 8th of July 1838. The planned construction of a tower has never been realized.

The building has nice semi-circular windows that fill it with light. The strong columns hold the galleries which are connected with the choir where an organ is placed. The pews are beautifully carved with arch-like backrest. In the 1960s the inner alterations were done in the church. Protestant minister Jiří Zejfart was an author of the alteration plans. The Lord’s table and pulpit are modern. There are woodcarvings in the front wall. They were done by the local woodcarver Ladislav Rejent and they symbolize Christian faith and are accompanied by Jesus Christ’s words about peace.

The original rectory had to be replaced by a new one which underwent number of alterations, too. In 1986 an extension construction was completed, there is a congregation hall now. A neglected rocky place where the house of prayer was built, finally became its advantage. The house of prayer, although without a tower, stands on a hill-top and it is visible from afar. There is an inscription saying “Lord’s House“ and the year 1783 above a beautiful entrance door.