"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Martyrs of Gorcum.

They were killed by Calvinists.
Have you ever been accused of being a Calvinist or a Jansenist lately? It is the fashionable, albeit shameful, accusation to make now days - especially as a criticism of Catholics with an old fashioned morality - you know, those papists who long for a proper Mass, advocate pro-life politics, or who reject same-sex marriage legislation and arbitrary hate crimes bills. How the tables are turned today. But I digress...
By 1572, the Netherlands had fallen culturally and politically into Protestant hands, and Catholics of the country became objects of persecution for Lutherans and Calvinists alike. As town after town fell to Protestant control, the Catholic clergy of the area were arrested and often tortured. The goal of this mistreatment was not death, but apostasy.
In June of 1572, the town of Gorcum (modern Gorinchem, 20 miles west of Rotterdam) fell into the hands of Calvinist pirates, and immediately they arrested nine Franciscan priests. Later, two Franciscan lay brothers, three secular priests, and an Augustinian canon were also arrested. Eventually four more priests were added to their number. These included two Norbertines, another secular priest, and John of Cologne, a Dominican friar working outside of Gorcum. After hearing of the arrests of the Franciscans, St. John disguised himself and traveled to Gorcum to console his brother priests with the sacraments. He was eventually caught and imprisoned along with them.
The pirates demanded that these nineteen priests and religious deny the Real Presence and the authority of the Pope. They refused, much to their captors’ distress. Despite a plea for leniency from William of Orange, the Dutch prince and leader of the Protestant Rebellion, the Calvinists of Gorcum transferred their prisoners to nearby Brielle, where they were martyred outside of town in a dilapidated shed. Their bodies were horrifically desecrated both before and after their deaths, out of mockery for their priesthood.
One of the secular priests killed was notorious for his unchastity. When accused of this by his captors, he offered his famous reply, “Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was.” - Source
I like that: “Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was.”
People can call me what they like too.
July 9 is the memorial of the Martyrs of Gorcum. They all chose death rather than renounce their faith in the Blessed Sacrament and Papal supremacy. Imagine that.


  1. The painting in the Vatican Museum made quite an impression on me the first time I went to Rome.

  2. How dare you bring something like that up.

    Why just yesterday I heard somebody on the radio mentioning how severely the Church deserves to be punished for Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the horrible treatment of Galileo.

    But it does make me proud that after 2,000 years, all they ever can come up with are those three events. And they almost always happen to be horribly ignorant as to the details and severity of them.

  3. No one is dying yet but it is open season on the faithful Catholic Canadian this week as many take a stand in the public forum regarding our Prime Minister's pocketing of the Host at a funeral Mass.

    The news hits the fan:

    The story develops:

    A highly respected Calvinist theolog comes out to play:

    And do read the response(s) in the comments of that last post by Canadian Catholic blogger by Vox Cantoris.

    If you read the comments of any of the three above op ed. pieces you will see the hatred, nothing short of that, for Catholics, the abject ignorance of some "Catholics" and the fact that indeed anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in North America.

    Even I, me, quite art going me, got into it in the comments of one blog. I was certainly made to feel like the fool, by fellow Christians and fellow political conservatives. I was even accused of joining those who are using the PM's grievous gaff to detract from the stand he is making at the G8 - what ever. I don't give a whit about this as a political thing. This is a matter of faith and of respect for those whose faith tells them the Host is not a mere thing but a living Person.

  4. Fr. - I didn't know the original was in the Vatican - the image is definitely impressive.

    Ray - at first I thought you were serious with you how dare you. LOL!

    Owen - thanks for the links - I'm glad you got into it - that is one of their tactics, to make us feel the fool. Courage!

  5. Wow, I have never heard of them before this--thanks for posting this. "Fornicator I always was, but heretic I never was." We all struggle with sin--but our Lord is merciful--and we will NEVER deny Him!

  6. Love the quote. To be such a humble and courageous sinner. We take so much for granted.


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