« PredošláPokračovať »
permission of the archbishop, a small chapel was erected where mass was said and where Milic preached twice daily, once in Bohemian and once in German; for though he had originally spoken his own language only, he later acquired a thorough knowledge of German. The accounts of Milic's "mission," as we may call it, have a very modern character, and are so interesting that I regret being unable to quote from them more extensively.
Milic's foundation soon became too small for the many who begged to be admitted to it. The Emperor Charles, however, whose favour Milic had never lost, came to his aid. It is impossible not to express here admiration for a sovereign who continued to protect a preacher who had offered him what, to the pious mind of Charles, must have appeared the most deadly of insults—one that many a ruler of the fourteenth century would have requited by the most terrible tortures. Charles ordered the buildings on an ill-famed spot at Prague, known as Benatky (Venice), to be destroyed, and presented the ground to Milic. On September 19th, 1372, the foundation-stone of the new buildings was laid. They consisted of a church consecrated to the “ sinning saints Mary Magdalene, Afra, and the Egyptian Mary," a large building occupied by the female penitents, and a smaller one in which Milic and his disciples dwelt. Alluding to a passage in the Revelation, a book that was always in his mind, Milic gave the name of Jerusalem to this new foundation. The new buildings in time, however, again became too small, but aided by pious benefactors Milic was soon able to enlarge them by buying several neighbouring houses. The community soon acquired a somewhat monastic character. Milic enjoined all its members to attend mass daily, to receive communion frequently, and to devote all their time to deeds of penitence. It was frequently stated that the members of the community were distinguished by a peculiar dress, but this is expressly denied by the author of the biography of Milic, which is included in the works of Balbinus.
1 Revelation, chap. xxi. 10–27.
At this period Milic also suffered greatly from the hostility of the parish priests of Prague, who now allied themselves with the mendicant friars, his old enemies. The details of the dispute are not very clear. Here also it may be hoped that further archival research will add to our information. As already mentioned, many priests in Prague were irritated by the example set them by the saintly life of Milic. As a pretext for an attack on him, they used the foundation of “Jerusalem,” which, they said, interfered with their jurisdiction. At a general meeting of the parochial clergy of Prague, it was decided to bring their complaints against Milic before the archiepiscopal vicar; only a few of the poorer priests expressed dissent, but the others said, “You favourers of Milic, go hence.” Both Milic and his opponents appeared at the archiepiscopal court and the priests violently attacked him, saying,
Since thou hast begun to preach we have no peace, but rather constantly much vexation.” Milic answered, “As it was in the beginning is now and for ever. Amen." They then, enraged at his being so different from them, called him a hypocrite and a beghard, and said other vile words.
Formal proceedings against Milic were subsequently taken at archiepiscopal court, John Pecnik, canon of the Vysehrad, who has already been mentioned 2 acting as spokesman for the priests. The proceedings were very protracted, but it is evident that Archbishop Ocko, though he acted with great caution, was in favour of Milic. The priests, therefore, decided to appeal to the pope, and drew up a lengthy document formulating their complaints. They insisted principally on Milic's views concerning Antichrist, though he had long abandoned these views. They also stated that he had encouraged the inmates of " Jerusalem " to receive
* The account of Milic by Matthew of Janov, printed by Höfler, Geschichte der Hussitischen Bewegung, ii. p. 40, from the library of the Bohemian Museum, is very short. I have already quoted Janov's description of the nature of Milic. Of the persecutions he endured Janov only writes: Cum Mylicius carissimus . . : bona opera ... in Praga perfecit, nihil aliud nisi obprobria vituperia et persecutiones continuas ab antichristianis in Praga eadem reportavit.”
* See p. 15
communion very frequently. This was undoubtedly true, and we meet with this complaint very often in the records of the Hussite movement. The document also gave a distorted account of the preaching of Milic, and endeavoured, probably on the trumped-up evidence of some women who had run away from “ Jerusalem,” to attack his moral character. This document was entrusted to one Master Klenkot, who was to carry it to Avignon. Early in the year 1374, Archbishop Ocko received a bull from Pope Gregory XI. declaring that he had been informed that Milic had spread certain heretical and schismatic doctrines in Bohemia, and that he was surprised at the negligence of the archbishop and the other bishops; the pope ordered that the matter should be investigated and proceedings taken against Milic according to the ecclesiastical regulations, and, if necessary, with the aid of the secular arm. This message deeply afflicted the archbishop, and it was Milic himself who comforted him, saying that by the help of God he would prove that he had only spoken the truth. Though Ocko still believed in the innocence of Milic, the papal bull forced him to order a new investigation of the accusations. Milic, however, preferred to appeal to the pope, and having obtained financial aid from some of his friends, he started for Avignon in March 1374. The Papal see was very suspicious of heresies at that moment when the whole Catholic world was in a disturbed state, and the dignitaries of Avignon appear to have to a certain extent believed the accusations of Klenkot. Matters changed with the arrival of Milic, and the more worthy among the churchmen did not fail to perceive the saintliness of the man. Milic again found a friend in his former protector the Cardinal of Albano. The accuser Klenkot was called on to substantiate his accusations against Milic, but entirely failed to do so. When he fell ill, shortly afterwards, Milic offered prayers for his recovery, and this truly Christ-like act contributed to convincing the prelates of the saintliness of the Bohemian preacher. Milic was declared to be entirely innocent, was authorised to preach before the assembled cardinals, and was invited to dine with the Cardinal of Albano after the sermon. The triumph of his
good cause, not the honours bestowed on him, we are told, gave him great joy.
But Milic's earthly career was now drawing to an end, and he was soon to enjoy that peace which he had so nobly earned. The privations and persecutions which he had endured had entirely exhausted him. He fell dangerously ill, and died at Avignon, probably at the end of the year 1374. The author of the biography of Milic, gives a touching account of his last hours. He left a letter addressed to the Cardinal of Albano, who burst into tears when he received it, saying that Milic deserved to be canonised. In Prague a reactionary movement had meanwhile broken out, and several of Milic's disciples were imprisoned. The “ Jerusalem foundation also was suppressed in the year of the death of its founder; but that the results of the labours of the saintly man should not entirely perish, the emperor decreed that the foundation of " the worthy Milic of good memory, our pious and beloved one "—to quote the words of Charles should be given over to Cistercian monks. To satisfy the rancour of the enemies of Milic, it was, however, decreed that the foundation should in future bear the name of St. Bernard. These measures did not alienate from Milic the affection of the people of Prague, who continued to venerate him as a saint.
Before ending this brief account of the career of Milic, it is necessary to point out that he never incurred the reproach of expressing heretical views. His statement that Antichrist would shortly appear was an attack, not against the popes whom indeed Milic revered, but against the Emperor Charles who wisely overlooked this temporary aberration in consideration of the great merits of the saintly man. The question of frequent communion was, at the time of Milic, only just beginning to become a subject of controversy. The careers of Waldhauser and Milic, however, prove that at that period in Bohemia every priest who lauded poverty and denounced simony and immorality incurred the almost diabolical hatred of the more vicious and luxurious among
1 This biography is printed with the works of Balbinus, a learned Bohemian Jesuit of the 17th century, who, however, is not the author of the biography.
the higher members of the Bohemian Church-and this quite independently of dogmatical controversies. We shall meet with this hatred again when dealing with Hus, and it has not been sufficiently noted by writers who, though thoroughly versed in theology, did not devote much time to the study of Bohemian history. The literary work of Milic appears to have been considerable, but only a few Latin writings of inconsiderable size-to which I have already alluded—have been preserved and printed, while none of his Bohemian works, which are said to have been numerous, have escaped destruction.
The next of the little band of Bohemian church-reformers whom I shall mention was Thomas of Stitny (b. 1331; d. 1401). He differed in many respects from the others. He never obtained or sought ecclesiastical offices, nor even took holy orders. Though one of the earliest students of the University of Prague, he afterwards retired to his ancestral home, where he spent the greatest part of his life. There is, however, no doubt that he frequently returned to Prague, as his writings contain allusions to his personal relations with Waldhauser, Milic, Ranco, and Janov. In contrast to the other reformers--to whom only a few writings in the national language are attributed, sometimes on doubtful evidence-Stitny wrote in Bohemian only. He appears to have generally led a retired life, nor do his writings seem to have attracted much attention at the time. The learned masters of the university strongly disproved of the use of the national language for the purpose of philosophical or theological controversy, and indeed thought it unseemly that laymen, who had taken no degree, should express their opinion on such matters. It might, therefore, appear that the writings of Stitny were devoid of importance; yet nothing is less true. The ideas and theories developed by Stitny penetrated widely among the nobility and the smaller landowners of Bohemia, men who afterwards took so prominent a part in the Hussite wars. Stitny's works also bear witness to the high degree of culture which Bohemia had already reached, as well to the great interest
For Stitny see my History of Bohemian Literature, and edition, pp. 63–79.