The Thief's Arm at Kostel Sv. Jakuba Vetsiho – Prague, Czechia - Atlas Obscura

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The Thief's Arm at Kostel Sv. Jakuba Vetsiho

Kostel Sv. Jakuba Vetsiho

A 400-year-old mummified arm dangles from the ceiling of St. James the Greater, serving as a warning to thieves. 


The baroque Church of St. James the Greater (or Kostel Sv. Jakuba Vetsiho) in the heart of Prague’s Old Town is the home of a mummified arm and a rumored live burial.

As you enter, take a look to your immediate right. Up by the ceiling, you’ll see a withered black arm dangling by a meat hook. Legend has it that a thief tried to steal the jewels off the statue of the Virgin Mary. When he touched them, the statue reached out, grabbed his arm and held him there until the parishioners (many of whom happened to belong to the nearby butchers’ guild) discovered him. They couldn’t free the thief from the statue’s grasp so they were forced to amputate. As soon as the limb was severed, the statue dropped the arm and immediately returned to her normal pose. The arm was hung from a meat hook in the narthex as a remembrance and a warning and has been there ever since.

Also of note is the beautiful tomb of Count Jan Vratislav of Mitrovice. According to local lore he was buried alive in the 1700s. He wailed and moaned for 3 days but the parishioners thought it was his ghost haunting the church. When the tomb was opened several years later, his body was found outside of his coffin.

Know Before You Go

On Malá Štupartská between Masna and Jakubská

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