The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise» (Proverbs 11:30).
Jerome of Prague was born in 1365. Thanks to his high degree of lucidity, eloquence, and enlightenment, he was a great student at the University of Prague (in the current Czech Republic), where he was considerably influenced by John Hus. At the end of his bachelor’s degree in 1398, he continued his academic preparation in Oxford (England), where he adopted the theological postures of the English reformer John Wycliffe. The arrest of John Hus motivated Jerome to go to the aid of his faithful teacher and went to Constance (Germany) without any kind of safe-conduct. Upon arriving in the city, he realized that he could do nothing for his great friend and tried to flee but was arrested and thrown into a dungeon. There he learned that Hus had died at the stake. Jerome spent a year in prison, chained, subjected to bread and water, and suffering torture and terrible anguish.
The martyrdom of Hus raised great indignation throughout Bohemia and persuaded the authorities to convince Jerome to recant his words against Rome. Ill, discouraged, and malnourished, he agreed to submit to the council: he pledged to adhere to the Catholic faith and condemn the doctrines of Hus and Wycliffe. However, despite his pitiful physical state, he repented of his moment of weakness and resolved not to deny Jesus again in order to get rid of a brief period of suffering. He demanded that he be given a chance to defend himself.
Jerome got the chance to defend himself. And so, after a year in the dungeon without being able to read or see the light, he directed a speech full of clarity to his critics: » ‘You condemned Wycliffe and John Huss, not for having shaken the doctrine of the church, but simply because they branded with reprobation the scandals proceeding from the clergy—their pomp, their pride, and all the vices of the prelates and priests. The things which they have affirmed, and which are irrefutable, I also think and declare, like them’ «—The Great Controversy, ch. 6, p. 113.
On May 30, 1416, in Constance, he was led to the same place where Hus had given his life. He went to his torment with singing, with his face illuminated and full of joy and peace. Before the executioner ignited the fire, he said: » ‘Come forward boldly; apply the fire before my face. Had I been afraid, I should not be here’ » —Ibid., p. 114.
There died this servant of God, but his fruits remain. He persevered to death and will receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). Let us follow his example of perseverance today.