Fact of the day: 9th July

On this day in 1572 Nineteen Catholics suffered martyrdom for their beliefs in the Dutch town of Gorkum.

The Martyrs of Gorkum 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) during the 16th century religious wars in the Low Countries by The Calvinists.

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.

All remained firm in their faith. Meanwhile there came a letter from the Prince of Orange, William the Silent, which enjoined all those in authority to leave priests and religious unmolested. On 9 July, they were hanged in a turfshed.

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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 1865.

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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