Few U.S. communities sacrificed as much during World War II as this Czech-heritage village in South Central Texas. During the war’s last year, Praha population under 100) lost nine local men in combat, more than any other U.S. town its size. That sacrifice is memorialized at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, one of the famous painted churches of Texas. Its cemetery and grounds include three small stone chapels and a Texas pink granite monument — all paying tribute to the town’s nine fallen soldiers. Each Veterans Day, St. Mary’s hosts a memorial service in which flower petals are dropped on the historic site as part of a military flyover.
Other communities among the rolling blacklands of the region are home to the “painted churches.” These include Dubina, High Hill, Praha, and Ammansville, and Schulenburg. Nineteenth-century German and Czech settlers employed traditional fresco and mural techniques to give the interiors of their churches the look of European cathedrals.