March 17

Jacob Dirks and his two adult sons, Andrew and Jan, became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ through the work of Anabaptist ministers. Mrs. Dirks and the other children remained Roman Catholics. When Jacob heard that an arrest warrant had been written against him, he fled from Utrecht to the larger city of Antwerp, hoping to spare his wife any further grief. But the magistrates took possession of most of the family possessions and she later died in poverty.

The authorities eventually discovered Jacob and two of his sons, one whom was by this time engaged to be married. They were condemned to death. On this day (March 17) in 1568 the three were paraded through the city before the eyes of thousands, including the bride-to-be and some of the younger children of the family. One son ran up to his father and threw himself around his neck, weeping in sorrow, but he was torn away, thrown to the ground and trampled by the crowd.

At the place of execution, Jacob asked, “How is it with you, my dear sons?” They answered, “All is well, dear father.” At that point the executioner mercifully strangled the men before lighting the fagots to burn their bodies.

Those hating the truth in Holland during the sixteenth century had no respect for age or sex. It is said that thousands of Anabaptists were martyred in various ways – many in the same fashion as Jacob Dirks and his sons.