Wooden Figurine, Presumably Depicting Saint Nepomuk

Chur, undated

The Bohemian priest John of Nepomuk died in the 14th century as a martyr for refusing to violate the seal of confession. After his canonization in 1729 a noticeable Nepomuk cult flourished.

This wooden figurine was found in 1923 under unusual circumstances, namely during the bathing of horses in the riverbed of the Rhine. How might the figurine have got there? There are known instances of figurines of Saints «disposed of» in the water in the course of the Reformation. However, in our figurine’s case a different explanation is more likely: Nepomuk is known as the patron saint of bridges. Representations of him could be found at many river crossings. Possibly the figurine accidentally fell off a bridge.