State holiday marks 590th anniversary of death of Jan Hus

It is a state holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), who died on July 6, 1415. Services dedicated to him have been held in Hussite, Czech Evangelical and other Protestant churches around the country, on this the 590th anniversary of his death.

Born in south Bohemia, he studied in Prague before being made parish priest at the city's Bethlehem chapel. He was strongly influenced by the English reformer John Wycliffe, whose writings he translated into Czech. When Wycliffe's teachings were banned by the Church, Hus protested from the pulpit; he was declared a heretic and excommunicated, before being burnt at the stake.

In 1999 the late Pope John Paul II expressed regret for Hus's killing, though he was not rehabilitated.

A service was held at Bethlehem chapel in honour of Jan Hus on Wednesday, attended by the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek. President Vaclav Klaus, meanwhile, was among the congregation at a service in Husinec, south Bohemia, where the reformer was born around 1370.

The large statue of Hus on Prague's Old Town Square is to be lit up at night from today on.

Author: Ian Willoughby