MINISTER JAN HUS (1371-1415)

When the seminal figure of the Reformed Church, Martin Luther, began to spread his teachings he called and urged the followers of Jan Hus to join the movement in the spirit of their great martyr. It is evident that a hundred years before Luther there was another significant religious reformer, who worked in Europe and it was Jan Hus. He tried to reform the church and the society, same as Luther, but because of the historical and political circumstances his teachings did not exceed the borders of the Czech kingdom. Because his teachings did not reach Europe he stayed as a heretic until the pontificate of the enlightened pope, John Paul II. Before that, the heresy of Jan Hus caused a dispute between Czechoslovakia and the Vatican.
Hus was born around 1370 in southern Bohemia in a village called Husnice, therefore, the last name Hus. While he was studying, he carefully watched the social crisis of the late 14th century, which was primarily a crisis of the church because the church was increasingly shifting from its original mission.
After graduating the Prague University, Hus served as a very popular preacher and his reform views, largely based on teachings of the English reformer, Wycliffe, gained him many followers. Hus was preaching in Prague’s largest chapel, the Bethlehem Chapel. In this chapel, he spread his ideas on social justice and these ideas were based on Christian principles that relied on the texts in the Bible. As Rector of the University he had a large influence on the upper-class, including the King and the aristocracy.
His ideas and teachings were criticised and attacked by the system of the feudal society and therefore, it was only a matter of time before there would be a direct conflict with the Catholic Church with Rome and with the system. In particular the criticism of indulgences, associated with trading the holy relics, disrupted the well-functioning business that was bringing the Church and the King enormous revenues. The pope excommunicated Hus from the Church and he was forced to leave Prague but he continued his work under the protection of his patrons. Hus´s efforts to defend his teachings led him to the Church council convened in Constance. The primary task of the council was to deal with the largest Church problem of that time, the Papal Schism - existence and the rule of multiple Popes. The trial of Jan Hus was a secondary, but the unifying theme for the arguing sides. Not long after arriving in Constance, Hus was imprisoned and he was not allowed to defend his views. He was accused of heresy and asked to withdraw his teachings. Hus refused to withdraw his teachings and thus, he was burned at the stake on 06.07.1415. His teachings and the following revolutionary movement in Bohemia played a vital role in Czech history. Hus was made a martyr because he gave up his life for what he believed in was the truth and his importance is shown by the fact that his memorial stands on the most important square in Prague.

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