Neratovice - Libiš (Neratowitz - Libisch)

Neratovice - Libiš (Neratowitz - Libisch)

Libiš (165 metres above sea level, population nearly 2,000 inhabitants) has been an independent village since 1990. Originally it used to be a part of the nearby town of Neratovice. The Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren (ECCB) congregation has since kept its name Neratovice-Libiš.

A small rural settlement which was mentioned in historical references already in 1323 was founded to the north of Prague on a trade route leading from Prague to Mělník and further north to Zittau (today in Germany), in the place of the century old so-called Stephen’s ferry crossing over the river Elbe. At the end of the 14th century, a one-nave Gothic Church of St. James the Greater (sv. Jakub větší) with invaluable fresco paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries was erected there. The original ferry crossing was replaced with a bridge across the Elbe in 1912.

The greatest development of Libiš started during the First Czechoslovak Republic. At the end of World War II a part of the village was destroyed in an air-raid by the Allied Airforce. Libiš was a birthplace of the famous historian V. V. Štech.

Like in many other villages along the river Elbe the secret Protestants remained also in Libiš during the whole counter-Reformation period. After the proclamation of the Toleration Patent in 1781 by Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II of Austria, they chose the Augsburg confession and later joined the Reformed Church as they found the former one similar to the Roman Church. That was the reason why they experienced many spurns from their authorities.The first service of the newly established congregation took place in a barn on 20th July 1783 when a Hungarian preacher Jan Végh, one of the most significant toleration preachers, had his first sermon in Libiš. As the authorities did not want to allow the construction of a new house of prayer, Jan Végh requested a personal audience with Emperor Joseph II who granted him the permission. The house of prayer in the rural Baroque style was consecrated on 30th November 1792. In its simplicity it is a very impressive building which has survived various attempts of the later church members to add a tower, rebuild it or even tear it down. The house of prayer has remained intact with its original distinct interior, including carved benches and colourful decorations. A new organ was added in 1958.

One of the congregation members in Libiš was also Jan Palach. A small tablet commemorates the seat where he sat only a few days before his death. The funeral worship was served by Libiš minister ThDr. Jakub Trojan.

The rectory building, erected in 1888, was reconstructed in the 1950s. The newly built congregation hall and other rooms are used for various church activities.