Dominican Family

Today we remember one of the many Dominican saints and his companions – St. John of Cologne.  He was a Dominican serving as a parish priest in Holland in the mid-1500’s and martyred in 1572.  At that time, Holland was engaged in a struggle with Spanish princes.  Anti-Spanish and Protestant soldiers banded together and began to pillage Holland’s seaports.  Rebuffed by Catholic clergy, they turned their brutal attacks toward them.

One band of pirates laid siege on the town of Gorkum.  As reprisal for the town’s resistance, they gathered all the priests, imprisoned and tortured them.  When St. John of Cologne heard of this, he snuck into the town to celebrate the sacraments, bring consolation to the priests, and help in any way he could.  After a few trips, he was caught and discovered to be a priest.  He was then imprisoned and cruelly tortured with the others.

Repeatedly they were asked to deny the Real Presence, and just as repeatedly they refused, which increased the tortures.  Eventually they were taken by ship to another city to be killed in front of a Protestant nobleman, who was noted for his hatred of Catholicism. 

Eleven Franciscans, a Premonstratensian, an Augustinian and four secular priests suffered with John of Cologne the long anguish of protracted martyrdom.  The priests were put on display for the townspeople, were tortured and eventually stripped of their habits and hung in an old barn, with the crowd jeering in the background.

St. John of Cologne and fellow martyrs of Gorkum, pray for us, that we may have the fortitude to stand on the side of truth and persevere in our faith as you have.

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