Jan Hus

The Moravian Church, or Unitas Fratrum, is one of the oldest Reformational religious community. More than a century before the theses of Martin Luther were attached to the Wittenberg church door, the first signs of resistance against the then powerful Roman Catholic church were noticeable in Bohemia. Jan Hus, a simple farmer's son, who had been ordained as a priest after his graduation from Prague University rose against the authority from Rome. The direct cause was the trade in so-called indulgences offering an opportunity to every sinner to secure a place in heaven. The true reasons behind the protests of Hus were, of course, a more profound nature. In those days, the Pope's temporal powers were not ignored. The money raised by the indulgences was used for warfare and personal enrichment of the ecclesiastical authorities. Jan Hus was convinced that God and God alone could forgive our sins. He also preached in his vernacular, the Czech language, and this was a thorn in the flesh of the Latin speaking Church of Rome. A reaction of the church was bound to follow. In 1410, Hus was placed under a 'ban' forbidding him to preach, something he ignored. The number of followers steadily grew to some thousands, particularly among tradesmen and students. However, they could not prevent Hus from being accused of heresy and being burnt at the stake in 1415. Actually, Hus was the first martyr of the Moravian Church, and many were to follow.

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