John Hus, born in a peasant’s home about 1373, worked his way through school and began teaching theology at the University of Prague. He was exposed to Wycliffe’s writings, and in 1402 when he was appointed preacher at Prague’s influential Bethlehem Chapel his powerful sermons about justification by faith stirred all Bohemia. Church officials grew alarmed by the ferment, and in 1414 Hus was summoned to Constance on charges of heresy. Though promised safe conduct, he was quickly arrested. On June 10, 1415, he wrote to his followers in Bohemia:
Master John Hus, a servant of God in hope, to all the faithful Bohemians who love and will love God, praying that God may grant them to live and die in his grace, and dwell forever in the heavenly joy. Amen. Faithful and beloved of God, lords and ladies, rich and poor! I entreat you and exhort you to love God, to spread abroad his word, and to hear and observe it more willingly. I entreat you to hold fast the truth of God, which I have written and preached to you from the holy Scriptures. …
I write this letter to you in prison, bound with chains and expecting on the morrow the sentence of death, yet fully trusting in God that I shall not swerve from his truth nor swear denial of the errors, whereof I have been charged by false witnesses. What grace God hath shown me, and how he helps me in the midst of strange temptations, you will know when by his mercy we meet in joy in his presence. Of Master Jerome, my beloved friend, I hear nothing except that he too, like myself, is in a noisome prison waiting for death, and that on account of his faith which he showed so earnestly to the Bohemians. …
I entreat this too of you, that ye love one another, defend good men from violent oppression, and give every one an opportunity of hearing the truth. I am writing this with the help of a good angel on Monday night before St. Vitus’s Day.
Twenty-six days later, John Hus died at the stake.
God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven. God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. Be happy and excited! You will have a great reward in heaven. (Matthew 5:10-12a)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). June 10.