John Huss, 1369-1415, Bohemian Reformer
Written by: Ruckman Posted on: 03/13/2003
Bohemian reformer. John Huss was ordained to the priesthood
of the Roman Catholic Church in 1401, after receiving the
bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Prague.
He became a powerful preacher of Roman doctrine, until he be-
gan to translate some of the sermons of John Wycliffe into
the Bohemian language. These sermons moved him to cry out for
reform in the Church, and a return to the authority of the
Scriptures as the sole source of faith and doctrine for the
He at once was branded a heretic, excommunicated, and
his writings were suppressed. He found refuge outside of
Prague, where he continued to preach, write, and study. The
chief product of his pen concerning the Church developed the
Wycliffe teachings concerning the universal priesthood of all
believers, stating in no uncertain terms that Christ is the
only Head of the church.
In 1414 he was promised safe conduct by the Pope and
the Emperor Sigismund to the Council of Constance to present
his views. Instead of hearing him, the Council had him ar-
rested, gave him a mock trial without the benefit of an advo-
cate, and condemned him to death as a heretic. He was kept in
prison for seven months before he was brought forth to be
burned. As Huss stood before the stake he said, "In the truth
of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, I
die willingly and joyfully today." Then the fire was kindled,
and as the red tongues of flame driven by the wind from the
Lake of Boden rose high around the body of the martyr, Huss
sang, "Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, have mercy on
The Pope dismissed his own broken promise of safe
conduct to Huss with, "When dealing with heretics, one is not
obligated to keep his word."
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