St. John of Cologne
Also known as St. John of Gorcum
July 9

Mountain Valley
 

More is known about the death of John of Cologne than is known about the rest of his life but it is his death that celebrates who he was a Dominican saint.

John was born in the sixteenth century in Cologne, Germany and he died in 1572. At an early age he entered the Dominican Order and after his ordination he was sent to the village of Hoonaer, Holland where he ministered as a parish priest for twenty years.

These twenty years were a time of great political and religious turmoil. Holland and Belgium resented the power of Catholic Spain in their predominately Protestant country and the attempt of Charles V of Spain to introduce the inquisition to root out the heretics fueled that resentment. Violence erupted as the Spanish tried to invade the country. Hostility against the Catholics made them fear for their lives. Many including eighteen priests and religious sought safety in a fortress known as the Citadel in the city of Gorcum but they soon became hostages.

John traveled in disguise to Gorcum to offer his support. On one occasion when he was baptizing an infant he was captured and sent to the Citadel to be imprisoned with the others now in the hands of the Calvinists. What the Calvinists could not tolerate was the Catholic belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and in the primacy of the Pope.

Whatever suffering they endured could not break their spirit. John, who also became known as John of Gorcum, and 18 other parish priests and religious were hanged on the night of July 9, 1572.

As we remember these martyrs we might ask ourselves this question: Is there anything I believe so deeply that I would be willing to die for it? John of Gorcum and his companions invite us to ponder this question.

Irene Garvey, OP