1st painting of the triptych "The magic of the word"

1916, size: 4.05 x 6.20 m

Jan Milíč came from a burgher family; he was a son of a master weaver from Kroměříž. Initially, he worked as a notary in the royal office of king Charles IV in Prague. He later became the royal vice-chancellor and a canon at St. Vitus. Both posts were very profitable. However, Milíč soon realised that many high-ranking dignitaries, both secular and clergy, lived immorally, and burghers and lower classes followed their lead.

Around that time, Charles IV invited the German preacher Konrad von Waldhausen to Prague to give sermons condemning local citizens' sinful and immodest ways. Jan Milíč felt deeply influenced by Konrad's teachings and followed the example of Francis of Assisi. He resigned, lived in voluntary poverty, led by example, and spread the word. He preached in Czech, Latin and German in churches and on the street and fought against pride, adultery and greed. It went so far that he was accused of heresy and had to defend himself before the pope.

In 1372, he achieved an unusually great success. His words deeply affected many Prague prostitutes, who have decided to repent. Milíč begged the king to donate him the land in the Old Town, where the brothel called Venice used to stand. He partly bought and partly received several construction sites in the vicinity. He built a chapel and a New Jerusalem, a monastic shelter for women.

In the background, the image shows the remnants of the brothel and the crowd of onlookers. On the left, Mucha depicted the gothic architecture of Konviktská Street in Prague. In the foreground, there is scaffolding rising over the construction site of the new shelter. Under the scaffolding, Jan Milíč speaks to the women, who, under the influence of his words, put down their jewellery and repent. The woman with her mouth bound symbolises repentance, rectification and doing good deeds.