Jerome of Prague in the Stocks
Jerome's enemies suspected his sincerity, and required of him that he should publicly deny, in the strongest terms, all the heresies of which he had been accuses. He was brought before the council for this purpose, when, to the astonishment of all, he took back all he had confessed to, and asked permission to plead his won cause This was refused, and he was accused of being a derider of the papal dignity, an oppressor of the pope, an enemy to the cardinals, and a later of the Christian religion. To these charges Jerome answered with amazing eloquence and strength of argument; but for all this he was sent back to his prison.
Once again Jerome was brought before the council, and once more his appeals for justice rang out with such persuasive force as should have meted the hardest of hearts; but is was of no avail, cruelty and intolerance won the day, and he received the same sentence that had been pronounced upon his martyred friend and fellow-countryman, John Huss. For two days his execution was delayed, it being supposed he would recant. The cardinal of Florence used his utmost endeavors to bring him over; but all was in vain--Jerome had resolved to confirm his doctrine with his blood.
On his way to the place of burning he appeared of cheerful countenance, and on arriving there, knelt down and prayed. He then approached the stake with calmness, and when the executioner went behind him to set fire tot he fagots, he cried, "Come here, and kindle it before my eyes; for had I been afraid of it, I had not been here."
We are told that Jerome was a man of "goodly presence" and in the full vigor of life at the time of his burning. Until the last, when he was hidden from men's sight by flame and smoke, he appeared to them unshaken in spirit, and of a good courage.
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