Elisabeth's Manly Courage: Testimonials and Songs of Martyred Anabaptist Women in the Low Countries

By Hermina Joldersma; Louis Grijp | Go to book overview

MAYKEN BOOSERS
(burned September 18, 1564, in Doornik)

In addition, a letter to her Parents:1

From the depths of my heart do I greet you, my cherished father and my dearly beloved mother, and all those who are within your house. You will be pleased to hear that I am healthy and constant in spirit, the Lord be eternally praised - and I hope through God's goodness that the same is true for you. Further, I thank you heartily for your friendly greetings written to me, which brought me great joy, hearing how you were and of your good affections. In as a token of remembrance I want to write you something of my imprisonment.

First, the Commissar asked me how old I was when I was baptized. I said: “About 23 or 24.” They asked why I had had that done. I said, [Mk 16:16] because God had commanded it. They asked whether I didn't know that I had been baptized already. I said: “I don't know anything about that, and besides, God did not command that.” They asked whether I had neither godfather nor godmother. I said: “It could be, maybe they've died.” Then they said that they would send some Learned men to me. I said: “You ought to be wise enough to speak with me”; but they insisted on sending someone more Learned. Then they sent the Parish Priest of the Church of Our Lady; he arrived and asked why I had not been in his Church for such a long time, and said that he had no knowledge of me. I replied that I had been keeping myself quietly at home. They asked where my Church

____________________
1
Het Offer begins with Mayken's brief confession (not included here), in which she tells also of her shame at being undressed by her torturers, and how she undresses herself; in one letter to “the Brethren” (also not included) Mayken reports of moving her inquisitors to tears, a detail included in the song (stanza 14). Excerpts from the letters have been chosen to reveal Mayken's warm love and concern for her family as well as her steadfast and clearly articulated faith; compared to some of the others, Mayken describes her experiences briefly and almost dispassionately, with relatively little directly reported dialogue, indicating that she was indeed “whiling away her time,” as she says, before she would die for her faith as she longed to do. There is a minor discrepancy in the report of her date of death: according to Het Offer it was September 18, while a letter from Mayken's grandson, Jan de Booser, talks of September 10 (Cramer, Het Offer, 411).

-171-

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