World War II and 40 years of communist regime followed, and since that time, Christian believers have been a minority in the Czech Republic, a largely atheistic country.
Kavička is a co-founder of the Society for the Restoration of the Marian Column on Old Town Square in Prague, which was established in April 1990, "immediately after the fall of the totalitarian communist regime."
For Kavička, because of his country's history, the re-erection of the Marian column represents "an opportunity for peace with the hope of a better future."
"We followed the initiatives of our ancestors, who sought to restore the column immediately after its demolition," he said. "These activities were interrupted by the Nazi occupation, World War II and then the communist regime. We promised ourselves that our initiative would be the last to fulfill the wishes of many generations."
Kavička, who has advanced degrees in philosophy and theology, is writing a book about the history and restoration of the Marian column.
He said he had no evidence that the man who led the tearing down of the statue in 1918, Franta Sauer, was Catholic, but it is believed he likely was, in part because he died in a Catholic monastery.
The end of Sauer's life is believed to be recounted in a historically based poem by Czech poet and playwright Václav Renč.
In The Prague Legend, Renč tells the story of the toppling of the Marian statue, led by an enthusiastic young bohemian artist named Oskar. The poem recounts Oskar's remorse for his actions, and tells that on his deathbed in a hospital run by Catholic sisters, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary and had a conversion of heart.
The statue of Mary now restored to Prague's Old Town Square is not the only one of its kind in the Czech Republic. Around the country there are "dozens of Marian columns in the squares of many cities," Kavička noted.
These Baroque-era -- and, in some cases, Renaissance-era -- statues "were built by the citizens and representatives of these cities to thank them for their protection in times of plague epidemics or to thank the Virgin Mary," Kavička said.
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