Proposals to re-erect a Baroque column with a Marian statue in Old Town Square has led to a religious controversy.
A group of Catholics and Prague history enthusiasts hope to erect in the city's central Old Town Square a replica of the original column built in the 1650s and torn down in 1918.
Its height reached almost 14 m and on the top, there was a two meters high golden-plated statue of Virgin Mary, in the corners of the stone railings there were four groups of angels fighting with evil forces.
The column was viewed as a symbol of the Habsburg empire. It was erected to commemorated Prague's defenders against the Protestant Swedish army at the end of the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648.
The Marian Column was also very important for time determination because its shadow was showing the high noon during its fall over the Prague Meridian.
In the past, similar plans to re-erect the column were stopped under both Nazi and Communist rule when many Czechs turned away from the Catholic Church.
In 1989 — shortly after the fall of Communism — local Catholics and history enthusiasts set up the "Association for the Renewal of the Marian Column."
Archbishop Dominik Duka of Prague has spoken in favor of the project but has done so only privately "as a Catholic and a citizen." The archdiocese has not taken an official position.
However, the association has found itself caught in a bureaucratic tangle. It possesses a building permit — scheduled to expire in July — but not permission for construction to begin at a specific site.
Hence, the association's members have twice thwarted from digging up the square's paving stones by municipal police.
The remains of the Marian Column are nowadays placed in the Lapidarium of the National Museum in Výstaviště.