Jerome Of Prague And The Five Hundredth Anniversary Of His Death -- By: David S. Schaff

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 073:290 (Apr 1916)
Article: Jerome Of Prague And The Five Hundredth Anniversary Of His Death
Author: David S. Schaff

Jerome Of Prague And The Five Hundredth Anniversary Of His Death

David S. Schaff

Und ward och vertailt als ein kätzer und ward och verbrennt an der statt, da der Huss verbrennet ward (“and he was also condemned as a heretic and burnt on the spot where Huss was burnt”).1 In this blunt way Ulrich of Richenthal, the racy chronicler of the Council of Constance, reports that Jerome followed Huss in being condemned as a heretic and burnt at the stake five hundred years ago, May 30, 1416. Where no notice was taken of John Huss on the semi-millenary of his death last year, July 6, 1415, this anniversary might be used as a fitting opportunity for presenting these two men, so closely bound together in life and in death. They were joined together by the friendship of youth, in the struggles for moral and religious reform which made Prague the cynosure of Europe for a generation, before the tribunal of the Council of Constance, and in a common death in the flames.

To-day a single bowlder marks the spot where they died, bearing on one side the simple inscription, “Johannes Hus July 6, 1415,” on the other the inscription, “Hieronymus of Prag, May 30, 1906.” They agreed in advocating many of the opinions of John Wyclif, but Huss was much the superior in the native power of leadership and the impression he made upon his age. The emperor Sigismund was right in calling Huss the master and Jerome the disciple, at the same time assuring the Council that only a single day would be required to settle the case of Jerome and, his case being settled, it would then be easier to dispose of the principal, Huss. The Council’s own judgment of the two men is shown clearly in its official documents. Here Huss and Jerome are frequently mentioned together and both are denominated the disciples of Wyclif. While Jerome is called a heretic, he is never called a heresiarch. Huss, on the other hand, and his English prede-

cessor are joined together as “heresiarchs” or “archheretics.” As for Huss’ own feeling, he not only referred to Jerome in general terms of intimacy, but in two letters written within a few weeks of his death, June 10 and 27, 1415, he called Jerome now his “dear companion” (socius cams) and “dear brother” (frater carus).

In the proceedings of the Council of Constance, the trial and condemnation of the two Bohemians constituted more than an episode. The heresy of which Bohemia had become infamed gave to that land a singular notoriety throughout Western Christendom. Its eradication was one of the three chief acts that the most impos...

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