+ Sts. Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes +
Today is (or should be) the feast day of Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes, Augustinian monks who were burned at the stake on July 1, 1523 for teaching that faith alone justifies. Esch and Voes were the very first martyrs of the Reformation, and their deaths inspired Martin Luther to write his very first hymn.
More on the martyrdom of Esch and Voes can be found here, here, here, here and here.
Here is the version of Luther's hymn most often sung in English.
In an age of doctrinal indifference and superficial, emotionalized religion, the deaths of Esch and Voes provide a much-needed witness to our day. May the fire they lit in Brussels almost five hundred years ago never die out. Maybe in view of the events of this past week, the anniversary is more important this year than most.
Precious to the Lord is the death of His saints.