Chapter 8: An Account of the Persecutions in Bohemia Under the Papacy (15/15)
He was perfectly resigned to his fate, and a few minutes before his death spoke in this singular manner, “I have received, during the whole course of my life, many favors from God; ought I not therefore cheerfully to take one bitter cup, when He thinks proper to present it? Or rather, ought I not to rejoice that it is his will I should give up a corrupted life for that of immortality!”
Dr. Jessenius, an able student of physic, was accused of having spoken disrespectful words of the emperor, of treason in swearing allegiance to the elector Frederic, and of heresy in being a Protestant. For the first accusation he had his tongue cut out; for the second he was beheaded; and for the third, and last, he was quartered, and the respective parts exposed on poles.
Christopher Chober, as soon as he stepped upon the scaffold said, “I come in the name of God, to die for His glory; I have fought the good fight, and finished my course; so, executioner, do your office.” The executioner obeyed, and he instantly received the crown of martyrdom.
No person ever lived more respected or died more lamented than John Shultis. The only words he spoke, before receiving the fatal stroke, were, “The righteous seem to die in the eyes of fools, but they only go to rest. Lord Jesus! Thou hast promised that those who come to Thee shall not be cast off. Behold, I am come; look on me, pity me, pardon my sins, and receive my soul.”
Maximilian Hostialick was famed for his learning, piety, and humanity.
When he first came on the scaffold, he seemed exceedingly terrified at the approach of death. The officer taking notice of his agitation, Hostialick said, “Ah! sir, now the sins of my youth crowd upon my mind, but I hope God will enlighten me, lest I sleep the sleep of death and lest mine enemies say we have prevailed.” Soon after he said, “I hope my repentance is sincere, and will be accepted, in which case the blood of Christ will wash me from my crimes.” He then told the officer he should repeat the Song of Simeon; at the conclusion of which the executioner might do his duty. He accordingly, said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation;” at which words his head was struck off at one blow.
When John Kutnaur came to the place of execution, a Jesuit said to him, “Embrace the Roman Catholic faith, which alone can save and arm you against the terrors of death.” To which he replied, “Your superstitious faith I abhor, it leads to perdition, and I wish for no other arms against the terrors of death than a good conscience.” The Jesuit turned away, saying, sarcastically, “The Protestants are impenetrable rocks.” “You are mistaken,” said Kutnaur, “it is Christ that is the Rock, and we are firmly fixed upon Him.”
This person not being born independent, but having acquired a fortune by a mechanical employment, was ordered to be hanged. Just before he was turned off, he said, “I die, not for having committed any crime, but for following the dictates of my own conscience, and defending my country and religion.”
Simeon Sussickey was father-in-law to Kutnaur, and like him, was ordered to be executed on a gallows. He went cheerfully to death, and appeared impatient to be executed, saying, “Every moment delays me from entering into the Kingdom of Christ.”
Nathaniel Wodnianskey was hanged for having supported the Protestant cause, and the election of Frederic to the crown of Bohemia. At the gallows, the Jesuits did all in their power to induce him to renounce his faith. Finding their endeavors ineffectual, one of them said, “If you will not adjure your heresy, at least repent of your rebellion?” To which Wodnianskey replied, “You take away our lives under a pretended charge of rebellion; and, not content with that, seek to destroy our souls; glut yourselves with blood, and be satisfied; but tamper not with our consciences.”
Wodnianskey’s own son then approached the gallows, and said to his father, “Sir, if life should be offered to you on condition of apostasy, I entreat you to remember Christ, and reject such pernicious overtures.” To this the father replied, “It is very acceptable, my son, to be exhorted to constancy by you; but suspect me not; rather endeavor to confirm in their faith your brothers, sisters, and children, and teach them to imitate that constancy of which I shall leave them an example.” He had so sooner concluded these words than he was turned off, receiving the crown of martyrdom with great fortitude.
Winceslaus Gisbitzkey, during his whole confinement, had great hopes of life given him, which made his friends fear for the safety of his soul. He, however, continued steadfast in his faith, prayed fervently at the gallows, and met his fate with singular resignation.
Martin Foster was an ancient cripple; the accusations against whom were, being charitable to heretics, and lending money to the elector Frederic. His great wealth, however, seemed to have been his principal crime; and that he might be plundered of his treasures was the occasion of his being ranked in this illustrious list of martyrs.