FORT WORTH—During the Radical Reformation Tour that Southwestern Seminary will host in May, participants will visit significance places such as the site of several drownings in Zurich, a farmhouse in the Emmental Valley that still has the secret compartment built into the barn that was used to hide an Anabaptist family that was facing persecution, and many other areas associated with the lives of courageous Anabaptist women and men.
Women enrolled in the class on Women of the Radical Reformation will learn about some of these Anabaptist women:
- Weynken Claes, when asked why she did not just keep quiet about her beliefs, she said “I cannot remain silent about it.” She was executed in 1527.
- Elizabeth of Leeuwarden learned Latin in a convent and studied the Vulgate and became a respected teacher before her execution by drowning in 1549. In the transcript of her trial, she steadily replied to the examiners with confidence and with Scripture. After her first hearing, they sent her to the torture room where screws were put on her thumbs and two forefingers till blood spurted from her nails. Then they were going to apply screws to her shins, but she objected for modesty’s sake because no man had ever touched her bare body.
- Lijsken Dircks and her husband were imprisoned in separate prisons in Antwerp, and they wrote letters encouraging one another before they were tortured and executed in 1551. Lijsken’s correspondence reveals a feistiness of spirit and deep understanding of Scripture. She remarked to her husband that she told her captors that “they were ever learning and never able to come to a right knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Her captors told her to focus on her sewing and not to trouble herself with the Scriptures, demonstrating a notion that women did not need to have an understanding of their faith.
- In one account a woman named Grietgen was stopped by authorities and admitted that her children were not baptized. The authority warned her that “if you want to talk this way, you shall be burnt,” and she replied, “I know it.”
- In 1533, Christini Haring was let out of prison to deliver her baby and then willingly returned to prison, knowing that certain death was before her.
- Anneken Jans was arrested for singing a hymn.
- Ursel van Essen was racked and beaten—many of these women were cruelly tortured before their execution.
- Anneken van den Hove was buried alive for her convictions.
- Annelein of Freiburg wrote hymns; she was drowned and then burned in 1529.
- Margarette Pruess, daughter of a Strasbourg printer, helped publish Anabaptist works.
- Anna Maler and her sister Ursula were drowned in 1529, yet they displayed courage: “Thus, though women, they were manful and valiant in God, so that many were amazed at their steadfastness, that thus in life and death they testified to the divine truth.”