Faithful Unto Death: Different Countries, Different Ideologies, Same Devotion
At first glance it might seem that the two following people had nothing in common. One was a man and one was woman. He was French and she was Belgian. One met their match at the gallows and one perished in the roiling waters. But their stories had eerie similarities . . .
His name was Anne de Bourg. (Yes, Anne was a man). Like many eminent Protestants of the 16th century, he may have believed that his position of authority excluded him from the chopping block or from an equally gory fate. Yet that proved not to be the case. Perhaps he was imprisoned because he had tried to hide his Huguenot tendencies. Perhaps it was because he was dangerously outspoken against those who initiated persecution, while he attempted to protect the persecuted.
At any rate, Anne du Bourg, who had previously been an influential figure, faced a hanging. Friends and followers begged for his release. They were unheard. But du Bourg had his say. Before the end, he gave a rousing short farewell that spoke of his love for the gospel. As an observer noted, “His one speech did more harm to the Catholic Church than a hundred ministers could have done.” Thus was Anne du Bourg slain on the 23rd of December, 1559. After death by hanging, he was burned, obliterating his earthly body. But none could touch his soul.
Her name was Cornelia van Rommerswael, but she was known as Neelken Jacobs. Her status as a newly-delivered mother did not protect her. She had already lost her husband, Adriaen Pan, who died a martyr just ten days before her. Neelken and Adriaen had been relatively unbothered in their former home of Flanders, it seems, but for some reason they made the decision to settle in Antwerp. This proved to be deadly. At first all must have seemed well . . . a beloved child was expected and would soon be delivered. But that child, when delivered, would come to know neither its father nor its mother. Neelken was martyred for her Anabaptist beliefs on the 28th of June 1559, drowned at Antwerp. This was a cruel punishment mostly reserved for Anabaptists.
So what do Anne du Bourg and Neelken Jacobs have in common? Faith. Their tenets were very different . . . had they met in person, there would have been a myriad of arguments, no doubt. Yet they both clung to faiths set in place by the Reformation. They both loved their Savior enough to die for Him. They both placed higher priority on remaining faithful to God and to conscience than on their very lives, even though both had so much to live for.
They had so much more in common than they would have ever realized.
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved