We had originally planned to journey away from Prague to some Hus sites, but given the problems I wrote about yesterday, we had to retrace our steps.
We started by trying to find Bethlehem Chapel. Our tour guide had given us the impression it was too far away to find in a five-hour tour; in reality, it was only a 10 minute walk from Old Town Square if you know the way.
It is not, however, easy to find. The map was not helpful, the GPS wanted me to walk through walls, and a local’s directions were not helpful. But after walking through a number of narrow, peopleless alleys, we arrived at our destination.
Bethlehem Chapel is the church where Jan Hus preached and pastored. It was built in 1391, a portion of it torn down by the Jesuits in 1786, and it was ultimately restored in 1992. A small part of the pulpit Hus preached from is still there (see pic) and the inside of the church looks much like it did when Hus preached here between 1402 and 1413.
Why all the fuss about Hus? Hus, building on the teaching of John Wycliffe, planted the seeds of the Reformation 100 years before Luther. Hus contended the Bible was the final arbitrator of Truth, and the Catholic Church was subject to it, not above it. He also contended the true Church was made up of true believers in Jesus, not merely members of the Roman Catholic Church. And, Hus spoke out against the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and specifically the practice of selling indulgences.
All these teachings, which we take for granted, were considered heretical by Rome, and because he held to the Truth and refused to recant, Hus was convicted of heresy at the Council of Constance, and on July 6, 1415 he was burned at the stake in Constance, Germany. I wonder if the Reformation would have happened when it did if it was not for Wycliffe and Hus. Who knows, we might still be buying indulgences and relying on the church, rather than Jesus, for our salvation.
After lunch we went to Charles University, where Hus taught as a professor of theology. Charles University was founded in 1348 and is one of the oldest universities in Europe. Its significance for us is that it was at the center of controversy as Hus and others taught there against the errors and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church.
Charles University has a museum in the basement with 15th century books and facsimiles of other important 15th century documents. I continued to browse while the gals headed back to Old Town Square to shop for crystal.
I followed after and spent some time out in the middle of the square watching the tourists, the entertainers, and the locals going this way and that, and in the center of it all, was the enormous statue of Hus.
I wonder what Hus would think now, to see what a central figure he would become in the Reformation and has become in the culture of Prague, even 600 years later.
Jesus’ words came to mind: “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12:26. Until tomorrow. GS.