Milicz Von Kremsier (Kromesize), John
Milicz Von Kremsier (Kromesize), John was one of the most eminent precursors of the Bohemian Reformation. Of his early years little is known. The fact that in his mature years he first engaged in the study of the German language, would indicate that his education must have been acquired elsewhere than in a German university; possibly in Italy or at Paris, or in his own country, Moravia. Commencing his public career as a priest about the year 1350, he soon attracted the notice of the emperor Charles IV, who was also king of Bohemia, and became his secretary. At the same time, as canon of the cathedral at Prague, and archdeacon, he occupied a conspicuous ecclesiastical position. Resigning, however, all his prospects of promotion, notwithstanding the entreaties of the bishop, he chose a lot of poverty and hardship, that he might more fully imitate the example of Christ. For six months he preached to the people at Bishop-teinitz; but fearing lest his position there was too tempting, in a worldly point of view, he returned to Prague, first officiating in the church of St. Nicholas, in the Kleine Seito, and afterwards in that of St. AEgidius, in the old city. At first his hearers were few. Perhaps his Moravian dialect was not attractive. His reproof of sin, and his earnest words, however, soon attracted notice. Multitudes thronged to hear him. He preached daily, and often three, and sometimes five sermons. To be more extensively useful, he applied himself to the study of German, that he might address himself to the Germans of Prague. The evils and corruptions of the times doubtless led him to select his themes of discourse largely from the Apocalypse, and the prophets of the Old Testament, and ere long the coming of Antichrist became the burden of his pulpit discourses. He fixed the date of his coming at A.D. 1365-67, nor did he fear to expose the iniquities which, to his view, seemed to herald it. Priests, bishops, and magistrates, and even the emperor himself, were not spared. It is to the credit of his reputation for sincerity that, notwithstanding the hostility which he provoked in some quarters, he was sustained and befriended by the highest powers in Church and State.
In 1367, on the report that the pope was about to return from Avignon to Rome, Milicz resolved to visit and confer with him. The pope's arrival was delayed; and Milicz, obedient to what he regarded as the voice of the Spirit within him, nailed upon the doors of St. Peter's the sentence which had so long occupied his thoughts — "The Antichrist has come." He zealously warned the people and the clergy to withdraw themselves from iniquity. The inquisitor, encouraged by reports of Milicz's course in Bohemia, ordered his arrest and imprisonment. From his prison he was summoned to preach to an assembly of the clergy, but his full release did not take place till the pope's arrival in Rome in 1368. In free conference with the pope and some of the cardinals who befriended him, he moderated, if he did not modify his views. On his return to Prague, where he succeeded Conrad Waldhauser in the Tein Church, his enthusiastic zeal assumed a new phase. He devoted himself earnestly to the reform of the vicious and abandoned. Scores of prostitutes were recalled to repentance and virtue. The quarters they had occupied, heretofore the scandal of the city, were transformed. Achapel to St. Mary Magdalene was erected there, and buildings were provided for the residence and support of the hundreds, if not thousands, that were recovered to the paths of virtue. Milicz's course made him many enemies. Of the clergy, some were jealous of him, and others hated him for his rebukes. Charges were drawn up against him, and forwarded to the pope at Avignon. It is quite significant that these articles, twelve in number, are almost silent as to any doctrinal errors. The pope, however, was prejudiced against Milicz, and summoned him to his court, to answer in person. Milicz, promptly responded to the summons. He met a kindly reception, and succeeded in vindicating his innocence. But his career was drawing to a close. He was taken sick at Avignon, and died June 29, 1374. At Prague his decease gave occasion for public and general lamentation.
Of the Christian character and devotion of Milicz, Matthias of Janow speaks in terms that might seem extravagant if the actual results of Milicz's labors did not go so far to justify them. Notwithstanding the envy which was felt towards him by some of the clergy, and the hostility which he provoked by his sharp rebuke of prevailing iniquity, he does not seem to have laid himself open to the charge of departing seriously from the accepted doctrines and usages of the Church. Indeed, his zeal took more of a practical than a speculative direction, and in this respect only can he be considered as a precursor who prepared the way for Huss.
Of Milicz's writings, some are still extant in manuscript, and some have been preserved by his friend and admirer, Matthias von Janow (q.v.). His Latin works were, Libellus de Antichristo; Gratia Dei, or sermons on the occasion of Church festivals throughout the year; and Sermones Quadrigesimales. Of his Bohemian works, consisting of sermons and postils, one only has been printed, and, though it found a place in the Prohibitory Index, not a copy of it is now known to exist.
A somewhat detailed account of Milicz is given by Neander in his History of the Church (volume 5). To the other sources of information — besides Balbinus (Miscell. 1, lib. 4:34) and the writings of Matthias of Janow — to which Neander had access, must be added P. Jordan's Die Vorlaufer des Hussitenthums in Bohmen, which presents a concise sketch of Conrad of Waldhausen, Milicz, and Matthias of Janow. This sketch, really drawn up by F. Palacky, the historian of Bohemia, was published at first in Germany, with the name of P. Jordan affixed, since at the time it was doubtful whether the laws of the press in Austria would permit its publication in any of its states. It was republished, however, in 1868, under the name of its real author, F. Palacky; and doubtless furnishes the most trustworthy account extant of the subject of this article. See also Gillett, Life of Huss (see Index in volume 2); Hardwick, Ch. Hist. pages 397, 399; Gieseler, Eccles. Hist. 3:184 sq.; Riddle, Hist. of the Papacy, 2:363; Czerwonka, Gesch. der evagel. Kirche in Bohmnen (Bibf. 1869), volume 1. (E.H.G.)