On July 6, 1415, John Hus, the greatest preacher of his generation, was sentenced to death at the stake. He taught the Bible, and he believed that people should be allowed to read the Bible in their own language. He was condemned for three reasons; he taught that every believer is part of the church, that the Bible is the sole authority, and that Jesus Christ alone is the head of His church.
The executioners undressed Hus and tied his hands behind his back with ropes, and his neck with a chain, to a stake around which wood and straw had been piled up so that it covered him to the neck. Still, at the last moment Hus was told he could save his life with a recantation, but he declined with the words, “In the truth of the gospel which I have written, taught, and preached I will die today with gladness." Bible manuscripts were used as kindling for the fires.
With an uplifted voice Hus sang, “Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon us, Christ, thou Son of the living God, have mercy upon me, thou who art born of Mary the Virgin . . .” and when he began to sing the third time, the wind blew the flame into his face and thus praying within himself and moving his lips and head, he died. His ashes were diligently gathered by his followers, and cast into the nearby Rhine River.
The flames lit on that summer day in 1415 would pale in comparison to the fire of reformation sparked by John Hus’s life. His influence eventually shaped the views of the great reformer Martin Luther, and almost 100 years after Hus was martyred, Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg.