John Milíč

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Ascetic, Bohemian reform preacher; b. Kroměříž, Czechoslovakia, c. 1305; d. Avignon, June 29, 1374. After being educated in Prague, he became registrar at the court of Emperor charles iv (135860) and then an official of the chancery (136062). Under the influence of the Archbishop of Prague, ernest of pardubice, he became a priest and later a canon of Prague. Inspired by the reform spirit on one hand and disgusted by the corruption of the clergy on the other, he renounced all dignities, and from December 1363 he lived in absolute poverty and preached penance.

John inaugurated the devotio moderna in Bohemia with vojtĚch raŇkŮv in an attempt to materialize true reform under the guidance of John of Jenštein, Archbishop of Prague. Each day Milíč preached in Latin for the clergy in St. Nicholas Church and then for the people in St. Egid's; after the death of Conrad of Waldhausen (1369) he preached daily in St. Vitus Cathedral. He was an ardent proponent of daily Communion as an integral part of the reform. Milíč was one of those who urged a vernacular translation of the Bible for the use of the laity. Because of prevailing corruption of morals he awaited the end of the world and predicted an imminent coming of Antichrist. When he thus preached in Rome, in 1367, he was imprisoned by the inquisition as a heretic. There he wrote his Libellus de Anti-Christo in 1368. Pope urban v, to whom he sent his ideas on the urgency of Church reform in a special memorandum, permitted him to return to Prague. There he resumed his preaching, in both German and Czech. He founded a house called Jerusalem for reformed women sinners. In 1373, once again accused of heresy, he went to avignon to justify himself before Pope gregory xi and was allowed to preach to the cardinals. Milíč is characterized as one of the forerunners of the hussites, but he radically opposed reform carried on outside the Church. His Latin works Gratiae Dei and Abortivus are still unpublished.

Bibliography: Vitae sanctorum et aliorum quorundam pietate insignium, ed. j. perwolf, et al., 7 v. (Fontes rerum Bohemicarum 1; Prague 18731932) 401436. h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae, 5 v. in 6 (3d ed., Innsbruck 190313) 2:663. o. odlozilik, Jan Milíčz Kromeríže (Prague 1924). a. hyma, The Christian Renaissance: A History of the "Devotio Moderna" (New York 1925). s. h. thompson, "Learning at the Court of Charles IV, " Speculum, 25 (1950) 120. f. dvornik, The Slavs in European History and Civilization (New Brunswick, N.J. 1962).

[j. papin]