Katarzyna Zalasowska was born in Poland around 1460 and raised Roman Catholic. She married Melchior Weigel, a merchant and councilman of Kraków, who died and left Katarzyna a widow.
At the age of 70, Katarzyna (her name often appears Westernized as Katherine Vogel) appeared several times before an episcopal court in Kraków for professing nontrinitarianism, likely influenced by the book De operibus Dei. Published by Martin Borrhaus in 1527, De operibus Dei (which roughly translates as “Concerning God‟s Works”) was the first document to openly question the doctrine of the Trinity in print anywhere in Europe, and predated Servetus's On the Errors of the Trinity by four years.
Katarzyna was imprisoned for 10 years for confessing heresy. She tried to promote her view of the unity of God and opposition to the notion of the Holy Trinity in the biannual debates of the Polish Parliament in 1538-39. Shortly thereafter, the Bishop of Kraków charged her with apostasy (the crime of renouncing one‟s religion and criticizing its assertions) before the Queen, and Katarzyna was sentenced to be burned alive.
A white-haired woman of 80, Katarzyna was led to the center of the Little Market place of Kraków. According to written testimonies, even on the stake she refused to renounce her beliefs, which she confessed loudly until the end. Her last words paraphrased Socrates: “Neither in this life or the next can anything evil befall the soul of one who stands loyal to the truth as one is given to know it.”
When I have a setback, and feel like I've just come in fourth at the Olympics yet again, I imagine walking to the stake. I wonder if I would face that fate with even a fraction of the bravery of Katarzyna Weigel. I hope so.