Saint John of Cologne, Dominican Martyr
I couldn’t let this go by since I have always been drawn to this painting. Ripped from CSVF Blog:
Today is the feast of St. John of Cologne, a Dominican martyr of the sixteenth century. His story is a remarkable one.
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, John disguised himself and traveled to Gorcum to console his brother priests with the sacraments. He was eventually caught and imprisoned 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 transferred their prisoners to nearby Brielle, where days later the priests and religious were martyred outside of town in a dilapidated shed. Their bodies were horrifically desecrated both before and after their deaths.
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.”
The nineteen martyrs of Gorcum were beatified by Pope Clement X in 1675, and canonized by Blessed Pius IX in 1865. Their relics are kept in the Franciscan church in Brussels.
For more on the Martyrs of Gorcum, click here.
your holy martyrs, John and his companions,
have shown us a wonderful example of faith and fortitude.
By their witness and example
may we stand fast against the assault of the world
and persevere in confessing the true faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, you Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen.