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Love Each Other And Wish The Truth To Everyone - Jan Hus Prague
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© Christine Till - CT-Graphics
Right in the middle of Prague's Old Town Square stands the religious reformer Jan Hus (John Huss) - 1372 - 1415. Surrounded by warriors for his cause, he stands confidently tall in a sculpture erected to mark the 500th anniversary of his death in 1415. Hus is one of the most important personalities in Czech history, and his monument is a symbol of the Czech resistance against any oppressor. July 6th is observed as a national holiday in the Czech Republic as "Jan Hus Day."
Master Jan Hus, the dean of the Charles University in Prague, publicly condemned the indulgence and corruption of the catholic church and the Vatican. In 1410, when the popularity of Hus gained strength, the pope excommunicated him for his ideas, but Jan continued preaching. He had many followers in Prague, that's why the pope finally interdicted the whole city of Prague in 1414, and invited Hus to the Council in Constance where he was asked to renounce his ideas. Hus refused, and - despite a letter of safe conduct from the emperor - was imprisoned and sentenced to death by a Catholic tribunal. On July 6th 1415, he was burned alive at the stake for heretical crimes against the church, for fighting against Vatican rules and his reformist ideas. At his death he predicted the coming of a great religious reformer in 100 years ... 102 years later, Martin Luther was born.
People in all of the Czech Kingdom were outraged by Jan's death and considered it an attack on their nation. They destroyed monasteries and churches and started a rebellion called the 'Hussite Wars' - a Protestant movement against the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Martin V called on the catholics in other countries to wage war against the Hussites, starting a long fight and brutal between protestant Hussites and catholic crusaders. The Hussites, determined fighters and willing to die for their cause, defeated them all. The Hussite rebellion ended because the Hussite movement splintered into several groups. The church just sat back and watched the rebels kill each other. Although it ultimately failed, the Hussite movement is of permanent historical significance. It was the first substantial attack upon the two bulwarks of medieval society, feudalism and the Roman Catholic Church.
Throughout history the people of Bohemia were constantly under oppressive regimes. Jan Hus became their symbol of dissidence and their symbol of strength against oppression. His opposition to church control by the Vatican gave strength to those who opposed control of Czech lands by the Habsburgs in the 19th century, and Hus became a symbol of anti-Habsburg rule. On July 6th 1915, the 500th anniversary of Jan Hus's death, the Jan Hus monument was unofficially revealed. At this time Prague was under Austrian rule. The Habsburgs refused to officially inaugurate the monument, and all festive activities were forbidden. As an act of protest the locals covered the Art Nouveau-style monument with flowers.
During World War I, the memorial became a symbol of anti-Russian rule. And a couple of decades later when Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule, sitting at the feet of the Jan Hus memorial became the people's way of quietly expressing their opinion and opposition against the Communist rule.
The inscriptions on the Jan Hus Monument were added after the independent republic Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918. One reads: "Love each other and wish the truth to everyone" (Jan Hus's words). I recommend a moment of reflection at this impressive statuary.
May 3rd, 2012
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