Nothing New Under the Sun: The Martyrs of Gorkum



The Martyrs of Gorkum, Cesare Fracassini

The Martyrs of Gorkum, Cesare Fracassini


In the happy, pre-Referendum days of yore, during a little local difficulty called the  European Wars of Religion (1524 – 1648), a group of Catholic clerics from the Dutch town of Gorukum were hanged in the town of Brielle by Calvinist forces on 9 July 1572 .  After suffering much privation and humiliation at the hands of their captors, the clerics were hanged for refusing to abjure their belief in the Blessed Sacrament and in the supremacy of the Pope. They were murdered despite an order being issued to protect priests and religious  by William of Orange (not that one – this William was also known as William the Silent and was ‘our’ William of Orange’s greatgrandfather).

Here are the nineteen martyrs ( courtesy of wikipedia):

  1. Leonard van Veghel (born 1527), spokesman, secular priest, and since 1566 pastor of Gorkum
  2. Peter of Assche (born 1530), Franciscan lay brother
  3. Andrew Wouters (born 1542), secular priest, pastor of Heinenoord in the Hoeksche Waard
  4. Nicasius of Heeze (born 1522), Franciscan friar, theologian and priest
  5. Jerome of Weert (born 1522), Franciscan friar, priest, pastor in Gorcum
  6. Anthony of Hoornaar, Franciscan friar and priest
  7. Godfried van Duynen (born 1502), secular priest, former pastor in northern France
  8. Willehad of Denmark (born 1482), Franciscan friar and priest
  9. James Lacobs (born 1541), Norbertine canon
  10. Francis of Roye (born 1549), Franciscan friar and priest
  11. John of Cologne, Dominican friar, pastor in Hoornaar near Gorkum
  12. Anthony of Weert (born 1523), Franciscan friar and priest
  13. Theodore of der Eem (born c. 1499–1502), Franciscan friar and priest, chaplain to a community of Franciscan Tertiary Sisters in Gorkum
  14. Cornelius of Wijk bij Duurstede (born 1548), Franciscan lay brother
  15. Adrian van Hilvarenbeek (born 1528), Norbertine canon and pastor in Monster, South Holland
  16. Godfried of Mervel, Vicar of Melveren, Sint-Truiden (born 1512), Franciscan priest, vicar of the friary in Gorkum
  17. Jan of Oisterwijk (born 1504), canon regular, a chaplain for the Beguinage in Gorkum
  18. Nicholas Poppel (born 1532), secular priest, chaplain in Gorkum
  19. Nicholas Pieck (born 1534), Franciscan friar, priest and theologian, Guardian of the friary in Gorkum, his native city

And there were miracles…..

“God made known the death of the martyrs to Matthias Thoran, a pious citizen of Gorcum. This man was in the habit of rising every night to pray for the welfare of the state. While thus engaged on the morning of July 9, he beheld in vision this blessed band of martyrs, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads and resplendent with glory. When the day dawned he informed the other citizens. A similar favor was vouchsafed to another citizen of Gorcum, so that the martyrdom of these holy men was known long before the messenger arrived with the news of their death. Heaven bore witness to their sanctity by numerous miracles. On the place of their torture there sprang up later a most beautiful shrub, bearing nineteen of the fairest white flowers.” []


The moral of this story? Sectarianism, war, brutality, cruelty, violence and murderousness have always been with us – and are unlikely to disappear from the human heart anytime soon.  I believe I read something somewhere about Original Sin…. and/or something about ‘the primitive brain’….


 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be;
and that which is done is that which shall be done:
and there is no new thing under the sun

 Ecclesiastes 1:9 Authorized (King James) Version 

This entry was posted in Art, Faith, History, Martyrs, Old Testament, War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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