Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spelling expert becomes religious leader and hero

Born in 1372, [Jan] Hus launched his career modestly enough, as an expert in spelling. Short and plump, he developed into a popular preacher and, in 1409, was named rector of Charles University. The Czech motto, "Truth shall prevail," derives from Hus's refusal to accept fully the authority of the Church. . . .

In 1415, when Catholic leaders assembled in the German city of Constance, the fate of Jan Hus was on their agenda. . . . When confronted by his accusers, he refused to recant, prompting the Church delegates to condemn him. The prisoner was stripped of his vestments, shorn of his hair, crowned with a paper hat bearing three images of the devil, and burned at the stake. Not wanting to leave relics, his executioners took care to incinerate every part of his body and all articles of clothing. This scheme to erase memory, however, had precisely the opposite effect.
Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937 – 1948 (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), pp. 33, 35-36.

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