500th Anniversary of the Papal Bull

Yesterday, June 15, 2020, was the 500th anniversary of the date on the papal bull issued to excommunicate Luther. From the “What Does This Mean?” blog created by CTSFW librarian Rev. Bob Smith:

“In January of 1520, the Pope convened a commission to condemn Luther’s teachings. In the meantime, the Pope intensified his previous efforts to achieve a resolution. Pressure on Luther’s immediate supervisor, Johann von Staupitz, finally responded to the pressure by resigning in May. In order to assist in the effort, Johann Eck came to Rome to pressure the commission into issuing a Bull against Luther. The result was a document cataloging 41 ‘errors’ of Luther and threatening to excommunicate him if he did not retract them.

“A Papal bull is a proclamation called that because of the lead seal used to certify such as official. (Latin for the seal is Bulla.) This document is known as the Bull Exsurge Domine (“Arise O Lord”) for the opening words of the work. It was dated June 15, 1520 and proclaimed on 24 July, when it was posted on the door of St. Peter’s Basillica. It would not go into effect until it was published in Saxony and delivered to Luther personally. (Much like a legal summons is today in the United States.) This did not happen until October of 1520.”

To read more about the history leading up to this significant date, click here.

This painting is actually of Jan Hus (John Huss) before the Council of Constance, by Václav Brožík; “Mistr Jan Hus před Kostnickým koncilem” 1883. John Huss was a predecessor to the reformation, excommunicated for preaching against indulgences and burned at the stake in 1415 under the charge of heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church.