o reformador tcheco jan hus

Posted in Uncategorized by teologarte.com.br on 17/08/2009

the czech reformer john huss


(If English subtitles are not visible, turn on captions at the right lower corner of the video, after it starts running)


Read the video’s transcript:

Engraving with Jn Hus' image

Engraving with John Huss’ picture

Welcome to Prague, the delightful capital city of the Czech Republic and favorite destination of millions of tourists throughout the world. Prague is known by its charming and varied architecture, by its huge and fairytale-like castle, and by the peculiar astronomical clock at the Old Town Square, besides being the birthplace of famous writer Franz Kafka. However, there are many who aren’t familiar with the story of another very important character in Czech history and in Christian history, whose memory is honored by an impressive landmark at Prague’s main square: the reformer and martyr Jan Hus (John Huss), or, if we literally translate his name, “John Goose”.

Bethlehem Chapel's interior, Prague

Bethlehem Chapel’s interior, Prague

John Huss was born around 1370 in the small town of Husinec, south of the region known as Bohemia, today in the Czech Republic. But it was in Prague that he studied and was ordained priest, in 1402. For about 10 years, he preached the Gospel in the Czech language at the church known as “Bethlehem Chapel”. His sermons attracted all kinds of people, poor folk and members of the Czech nobility alike – even the queen used to come and listen to Huss. As a student at the University of Prague, Huss came across the writings of John Wycliffe, English priest and professor at Oxford who, in the former century, had been challenging several dogmas of the medieval church. Huss’ preaching, influenced by Wycliffe’s ideas, found fertile soil in Prague, where reformist and nationalist ideas were flourishing, in connection to the emergence of the Czech language and to the strengthening of a Bohemian national identity, in contrast with the Holy Roman-German Empire of which the region was part.

John Huss in the fire, fresco at Bethlehem Chapel, Prague

‘John Huss in the fire’, fresco at Bethlehem Chapel, Prague

Huss condemned the buying and selling of ecclesiastical positions (the so-called simony), and also the immoral and corrupt lifestyle of the clergy of his time. According to him, priests were supposed to lead a simple life, marked by humility and poverty. He denounced as blasphemy the attitude of certain priests who claimed to have power of forgiving sins, and some even demanded money in exchange of that false forgiveness. In the celebration of the Eucharist, Huss maintained that the laity should also have the right to share in the cup. Centuries earlier, the church had adopted the practice of giving the laity only the bread, without the wine. Similarly to Luther and to the Catholic church, Huss believed that the very body and blood of Christ are present in the elements of the Lord’s Supper. Therefore, according to one of Huss’ followers, when priests refused to share the cup with the laity, they became “robbers of the blood of Christ”.

The last straw came when one of the popes of the time decided to sell sacred objects, called indulgences, to fund a war in which he was involved. Such practice was publicly condemned by Huss, who ended up being forbidden to preach, in 1410, and was finally excommunicated by the Catholic Church. For a while he was still able to count on the Bohemian king’s protection, but, in 1412, when political circumstances compelled the king to support the pope, Huss had no choice but to leave Prague.

Vaclav Brozik: John Huss at the Council of Constance, 1883

Vaclav Brozik: ‘John Huss at the Council of Constance’, 1883

In exile he wrote several books and letters and, in 1414, he went of his own volition to the council that was being held in Constance, hoping to defend himself against all accusations. Despite having an imperial safe-conduct, which in theory gave him protection, Huss was arrested upon arrival in Constance and, after months spent in subhuman conditions, he was summarily judged, condemned and burned as a heretic on July 6th, 1415.

It is noteworthy that Huss was recognized as a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation by Luther, who applied to himself a prophecy attributed to Huss *. Before facing the fire, Huss supposedly said: “today you’re roasting a goose, but, a hundred years from now, you will hear a swan sing, and you won’t be able to roast or to catch him”. 102 years after the Bohemian reformer’s death, Luther published his 95 theses in Wittenberg.

* (NOTE: According to historian Philip Schaff, that prophecy was
falsely attributed to Huss, probably when Luther was already in full activity.)


(English translation: Renato Fontes)



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  1. Rita de Cássia said, on 22/03/2011 at 01:02

    Parabéns pela criatividade, sensibilidade e amor! Gostei muito!

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