July 6 is Jan Hus Day, a national holiday in the Czech Republic. Read below to discover the significance and legacy of Jan Hus in the Czech Republic.
Who was Jan Hus?
Jan Hus was a 14th century Czech theologian and reformer. Hus was born in rural Bohemia. He moved to Prague at a young age to study and become a Catholic priest. Hus was a well-known priest and academic in Prague, serving as rector at Charles University. Jan Hus is credited with being one of the early church reformers. He translated religious works into Czech and distributed them to the people. He condemned the church for moral failures and political involvement, including the sale of forgiveness through indulgences.
Condemnation and Death
Jan Hus’ criticisms of the Church were a large threat. In 1415, Hus was invited to attend a church council in Constance, Germany. He agreed to attend with hopes to address his reforms and better the Church, especially since he was promised safety for his journey and at the conference. However, shortly after his arrival in Constance, Hus was imprisoned and accused of heresy.
Hus was placed on trial and asked to recant. When he refused, he was sentenced to death. Jan Hus was killed in Constance on July 6, 1415. He was burned at the stake.
Hus’ legacy did not die with him, but rather his death helped spread his ideas. His followers in Bohemia were outraged by his death. It only furthered their cause against the Church and toward reform. His followers adopted the name “Hussites” after him. Jan Hus became a model for other reformers, most notably Martin Luther.
A monument was erected to honor Hus in Old Town Square in Prague. July 6 was selected as the public holiday because it was the date of Jan Hus’ execution. While there are no widespread traditions or customs used to celebrate this holiday, the Czech people use the day to remember Hus and his teachings. Hus has become more than a religious figure, but also a strong figure of Czech identity. The ideas and teachings of Jan Hus were influential in both Prague and around the world, and he is remembered for his courage and dedication.