Karl Friedrich Stellbrink-Lübeck martyr.

Martyr

Karl Friedrich Stellbrink was one of the 4 Lübeck Martyrs.I could have done a blog on all 4 but the reason why I chose Stelbrink is three fold.

  1. He was the only non Catholic clergy man of the 4.
  2. He was the first to be arrested.
  3. His wife was also victimized.

All four men were executed by beheading on 10 November 1943 less than 3 minutes apart from each other at Hamburg’s Holstenglacis.

The men all opposed the Nazi regime.

martyrs

The four priests spoke publicly against the Nazis – at the start discreetly like distributing pamphlets to friends and congregants. Later they copied and distributed the anti-Nazi sermons of the Catholic Bishop August von Galen.

Stellbrink had joined the Nazi party but he soon realized their warped ideology,and its incompatibility with his Christian teaching.He declined to break off his friendship with his Jewish friends and in 1937 he left the party.

In his sermon on Palm Sunday, March 29,1942 he uttered the following words “In the misery of our home city we hear God’s voice” The previous night the city was bombed by the allied forces,killing more then 300 people. His sermon was interpreted as a divine punishment by God on the Nazi regime.He was arrested just over a week later on April 7, 1942.

On 22 and 23 June 1943 he and the other 3 men were put on trial. They were all sentenced to death. On November 10 ,1943 they were all beheaded within a few minutes of each other.

After his death, Stellbrink’s widow was billed for his court costs, imprisonment, and execution.

Lubeck

There is no doubt that the Christian churches should have done more, but their paralysis was caused by fear, the world had not witnesses such evil before. Although their inaction is in one way understandable it is still no excuse.

However often people forget that on an individual level there were many Christians that helped save the lives of Jews and others, by putting their own lives at risk.

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Martyrs of Gorkum(Gorinchem)

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This story might surprise many for the Netherlands is known as a tolerant and multi cultural society, this wasn’t always the case.

The Martyrs of Gorkum (Dutch: Martelaren van Gorinchem) were a group of 19 Dutch Catholic clerics and friars who were hanged on 9 July 1572 in the town of Brielle (or Den Briel) by militant Dutch Calvinists during the 16th century religious wars in the Low Countries.

As of 1572, Lutheranism and Calvinism had spread through a great part of Europe. In the Netherlands this was followed by a struggle between the two denominations in which Calvinism was victorious. On 1 April of the next year, Calvinist forces and a rebel group called the Watergeuzen (Sea Beggars) conquered Brielle (Den Briel) and later Vlissingen.

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In June, Dordrecht and Gorkum fell, and at the latter the rebels captured nine Franciscans: Nicholas Pieck, guardian of Gorkum; Hieronymus of Weert, vicar; Theodorus van der Eem of Amersfoort; Nicasius Janssen of Heeze; Willehad of Denmark; Godefried of Mervel; Antonius of Weert; Antonius of Hoornaer, and Franciscus de Roye of Brussels. To these were added two lay brothers from the same friary, Petrus of Assche and Cornelius of Wijk bij Duurstede. At almost the same time the Calvinists arrested the parish priest of Gorkum, Leonardus Vechel of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and his assistant.

Also imprisoned were Godefried van Duynsen of Gorkum, a priest in his native city, and Joannes Lenartz of Oisterwijk, a canon regular from a nearby priory and spiritual director for the monastery of Augustinian nuns in Gorkum. To these fifteen were later added four more companions: Joannes van Hoornaer (alias known as John of Cologne), a Dominican of the Cologne province and parish priest not far from Gorkum, who when apprised of the incarceration of the clergy of Gorkum hastened to the city in order to administer the sacraments to them and was seized and imprisoned with the rest; Jacobus Lacops of Oudenaar, a Norbertine, who became a curate in Monster, South Holland; Adrianus Janssen of Hilvarenbeek, a Premonstratensian canon and at one time parish priest in Monster, who was sent to Brielle with Jacobus Lacops. Last was Andreas Wouters of Heynoord.

In prison at Gorkum (from 26 June to 6 July 1572), the first 15 prisoners were transferred to Brielle, arriving there on 8 July.On their way to Dordrecht they were exhibited for money to the curious. The following day, William de la Marck, Lord of Lumey, commander of the Gueux de mer, had them interrogated and ordered a disputation. In the meantime, four others arrived. It was demanded of each that he abandon his belief in the Blessed Sacrament and in papal supremacy. All remained firm in their faith. Meanwhile, a letter arrived from the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, which enjoined all those in authority to leave priests and religious unmolested. But to no avail.On 9 July, they were hanged in a turf shed.

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A shrub bearing 19 white flowers is said to have sprung up at the site of the martyrdom. Many miracles have been attributed to the intercession of the Gorkum martyrs, especially the curing of hernias.The beatification of the martyrs took place on 14 November 1675, and their canonization on 29 June 1867. They were canonised on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, as part of the grand celebrations to mark the 1800th anniversary of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul AD67.

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For many years the place of their martyrdom in Brielle has been the scene of numerous pilgrimages and processions. The reliquary of their remains is now enshrined in the Church of Saint Nicholas, Brussels, Belgium.

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