It is the 600th anniversary of the martyrdom of Jan Hus

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Puritan Board Freshman
It was during the time of the Western Schism where there were three popes. the Council of Constance (the 16th ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church) was convened by the Pisan pope John XXIII in 1414 to resolve the issue. This was endorsed by Gregory XII. The council, advised by the theologian Jean Gerson, secured the resignations of John XXIII and Gregory XII, who resigned in 1415, while excommunicating the claimant who refused to step down, Benedict XIII. The Council then elected Pope Martin V, essentially ending the schism.

But this council was the council that condemned the Czech priest, philosopher, early Christian reformer and Master at Charles University in Prague, Jan (John) Hus to be defrocked and burned at the stake. The Council of Constance also declared Wycliffe a heretic on 4 May 1415, and banned his writings. The Council decreed Wycliffe's works should be burned and his remains exhumed. In 1428, at Pope Martin V's command for a posthumous execution, Wycliffe's corpse was exhumed and burned and the ashes cast into the River Swift, which flows through Lutterworth.

After his death in 1415, the followers of Hus's religious teachings (known as Hussites) rebelled against their Roman Catholic rulers and defeated five consecutive papal crusades between 1420 and 1431 in what became known as the Hussite Wars. See here for the amazing victories that they had won before sadly being killed off.

But what were the reasons for the condemnation of Jan Hus? Jan spoke against indulgences and the crusades, and differed on topics such as the Eucharist (he was utraquist, meaning that the wine should also be served to the congregation and not the priesthood only) and ecclesiology. The charges against him were mostly about Wyclif's doctrines, which had been often condemned by councils at Rome and elsewhere, but which Huss was supposed to hold; and when he tried to explain that in some things he did not agree with Wyclif, nobody would believe him. The following are the condemned articles by Jan Hus as listed at the Council of Constance:

1. There is only one holy universal church, which is the total number of those predestined to salvation. It therefore follows that the universal holy church is only one, inasmuch as there is only one number of all those who are predestined to salvation.

2. Paul was never a member of the devil, even though he did certain acts which are similar to the acts of the church's enemies.

3. Those foreknown as damned are not parts of the church, for no part of the church can finally fall away from it, since the predestinating love that binds the church together does not fail.

4. The two natures, the divinity and the humanity, are one Christ.

5. A person foreknown to damnation is never part of the holy church, even if he is in a state of grace according to present justice; a person predestined to salvation always remains a member of the church, even though he may fall away for a time from adventitious grace, for he keeps the grace of predestination.

6. The church is an article of faith in the following sense: to regard it as the convocation of those predestined to salvation, whether or not it be in a state of grace according to present justice.

7. Peter neither was nor is the head of the holy catholic church.

8. Priests who live in vice in any way pollute the power of the priesthood, and like unfaithful sons are untrustworthy in their thinking about the church's seven sacraments, about the keys, offices, censures, customs, ceremonies and sacred things of the church, about the veneration of relics, and about indulgences and orders.

9. The papal dignity originated with the emperor, and the primacy and institution of the pope emanated from imperial power.

10. Nobody would reasonably assert of himself or of another, without revelation, that he was the head of a particular holy church; nor is the Roman pontiff the head of the Roman church.

11. It is not necessary to believe that any particular Roman pontiff is the head of any particular holy church, unless God has predestined him to salvation.

12. Nobody holds the place of Christ or of Peter unless he follows his way of life, since there is no other discipleship that is more appropriate nor is there another way to receive delegated power from God, since there is required for this office of vicar a similar way of life as well as the authority of the one instituting.

13. The pope is not the manifest and true successor of the prince of the apostles, Peter, if he lives in a way contrary to Peter's. If he seeks avarice, he is the vicar of Judas Iscariot. Likewise, cardinals are not the manifest and true successors of the college of Christ's other apostles unless they live after the manner of the apostles, keeping the commandments and counsels of our lord Jesus Christ.

14. Doctors who state that anybody subjected to ecclesiastical censure, if he refuses to be corrected, should be handed over to the judgment of the secular authority, are undoubtedly following in this the chief priests, the scribes and the pharisees who handed over to the secular authority Christ himself, since he was unwilling to obey them in all things, saying, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death; these gave him to the civil judge, so that such men are even greater murderers than Pilate.

15. Ecclesiastical obedience was invented by the church's priests, without the express authority of scripture.

16. The immediate division of human actions is between those that are virtuous and those that are wicked. Therefore, if a man is wicked and does something, he acts wickedly; if he is virtuous and does something, he acts virtuously. For just as wickedness, which is called crime or mortal sin, infects all the acts of a wicked man, so virtue gives life to all the acts of a virtuous man.

17. A priest of Christ who lives according to his law, knows scripture and has a desire to edify the people, ought to preach, notwithstanding a pretended excommunication. And further on: if the pope or any superior orders a priest so disposed not to preach, the subordinate ought not to obey.

18. Whoever enters the priesthood receives a binding duty to preach; and this mandate ought to be carried out, notwithstanding a pretended excommunication.

19. By the church's censures of excommunication, suspension and interdict the clergy subdue the laity, for the sake of their own exaltation, multiply avarice protect wickedness and prepare the way for antichrist. The clear sign of this is the fact that these censures come from antichrist. In the legal proceedings of the clergy they are called fulminations, which are the principal means whereby the clergy proceed against those who uncover antichrist's wickedness, which the clergy has for the most part usurped for itself.

20. If the pope is wicked, and especially if he is foreknown to damnation, then he is a devil like Judas the apostle, a thief and a son of perdition and is not the head of the holy church militant since he is not even a member of it.

21. The grace of predestination is the bond whereby the body of the church and each of its members is indissolubly joined with the head.

22. The pope or a prelate who is wicked and foreknown to damnation is a pastor only in an equivocal sense, and truly is a thief and a robber.

23. The pope ought not to be called "most holy" even by reason of his office, for otherwise even a king ought to be called "most holy" by reason of his office and executioners and heralds ought to be called "holy", indeed even the devil would be called "holy" since he is an official of God.

24. If a pope lives contrary to Christ, even if he has risen through a right and legitimate election according to the established human constitution, he would have risen by a way other than through Christ, even granted that he entered upon office by an election that had been made principally by God. For, Judas Iscariot was rightly and legitimately elected to be an apostle by Jesus Christ who is God, yet he climbed into the sheepfold by another way.

25. The condemnation of the forty-five articles of John Wyclif, decreed by the doctors, is irrational and unjust and badly done and the reason alleged by them is feigned, namely that none of them is catholic but each one is either heretical or erroneous or scandalous.

26. The viva voce agreement upon some person, made according to human custom by the electors or by the greater part of them, does not mean by itself that the person has been legitimately elected or that by this very fact he is the true and manifest successor or vicar of the apostle Peter or of another apostle in an ecclesiastical office. For, it is to the works of the one elected that we should look irrespective of whether the manner of the election was good or bad. For, the more plentifully a person acts meritoriously towards building up the church, the more copiously does he thereby have power from God for this.

27. There is not the least proof that there must be one head ruling the church in spiritual matters who always lives with the church militant.

28. Christ would govern his church better by his true disciples scattered throughout the world, without these monstrous heads.

29. The apostles and faithful priests of the Lord strenuously governed the church in matters necessary for salvation before the office of pope was introduced, and they would continue to do this until the day of judgment if—which is very possible—there is no pope.

30. Nobody is a civil lord, a prelate or a bishop while he is in mortal sin.

[Source: The Sources of Catholic Dogma, translated by Roy J. Deferrari, from the Thirtieth Edition of Henry Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum, copyright 1957 by B. Herder Book Co., published by Marian House, Powers Lake N.D. 58773, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 57-5963, pages 212-215.]
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Puritan Board Junior
This is amazing, more than 100 years pre-Luther. I differ with "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," but it may be so in this case. Thanks for sharing this.


Puritan Board Freshman
This is amazing, more than 100 years pre-Luther. I differ with "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," but it may be so in this case. Thanks for sharing this.

You are welcome sister. There were other cases before Hus as well. I recently watched a documentary named 'Tares Among the Wheat' and they talk a bit about the sects that have been slaughtered by Rome down the ages. I know that some of them did hold to heretical beliefs. There were the Waldensians (12th century), Henricians (12th century), Albigenses (13th century), Lollards (14th century), Hussites (14th century).


Puritan Board Freshman
This is great stuff and what some thought the RCC should have done but did not listen..........


Puritan Board Junior
There is a great historical novel about the time of Huss: Crushed Yet Conquering by Deborah Alcock, Inheritance Publications, Neerlandia, Alberta, Canada.


Puritan Board Graduate
When I lived in Prague, I visited Tabor (the city of Hus's exile, before martyrdom) and his home village. I used to sit on a bench at the feet of the Hus statue in Old Town Square (Starometska) and watch tourists take picture of the "statue of the old guy" with absolutely no awareness of who he was and what he had done.


Puritan Board Freshman
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