|Saint Nicholas Pieck, O.F.M.|
|Religious, priest and martyr|
|Born||29 August 1534
Gorkum, Netherlands, Spanish Empire
|Died||9 July 1572
Brielle, Southern Netherlands, Spanish Empire
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
(Order of Friars Minor)
|Beatified||24 November 1675, Rome, Papal States, by Pope Clement X|
|Canonized||29 June 1867, Rome, Papal States, by Pope Pius IX|
|Major shrine||Brielle, South Holland, Netherlands|
He was born in the town of Gorkum (now Gorinchem), the son of Jan Pieck and Henriea Clavia, devout Catholics. He was sent to college at 's-Hertogenbosch, and as soon as he had completed his classical studies he received the habit of the Friars Minor at the friary in that town. Nicholas was ordained a priest in 1558, devoting himself to the apostolic ministry. He was appointed Guardian of the friary in Gorkum, his native town.
Pieck preached against Calvinism. In particular, he preached the dogma of the Real Presence. In June 1572, the citadel of Gorkum was taken by the Watergeuzen, who retained 19 of the clergy as prisoners although they had promised to let the inhabitants depart from the town without being molested. For reprisals, because of the city's determined defense, they gathered all the members of the clergy in Gorkum into one prison and took out their grievances against the Spanish crown on the priests and religious.
Pieck and eight other Franciscan friars were confined in a dark and foul dungeon where they were tortured. Taking the cord which Pieck wore around his waist and putting it around his neck, they dragged him to the door of the prison and threw the cord across it in order to hang him at once. But as a result of pulling the cord back and forth against its weight, the cord tore, and Father Nicholas fell to the earth unconscious. Pieck's two brothers tried to obtain his release, but the guardian would not leave the others. Other priests were captured, bringing the total to 19.
On July 6 they were thrown half-naked into the hold of a ship and removed to Brielle. Stopping at Dordrecht they were exhibited for money to the curious and arrived at Brielle 13 July. The commander of the Watergeuzen, William II de la Marck, promised them freedom if they would renounce the authority of the pope and belief in the Real Presence. None did. Despite instructions from Prince William the Silent to spare them, and protests from the magistrates of Gorkum, the members of the group were hanged on 9 July 1572 in an old barn at the deserted Ruggen Monastery on the outskirts of Briel. The execution was clumsily handled; it took two hours for some of them to strangle. They became known as the Martyrs of Gorkum.
Nicholas and his companions were beatified by Clement X, 24 November 1675, and canonized by Pius IX, 29 June 1867. For many years the place of their martyrdom in Brielle has been the scene of numerous pilgrimages and processions.
- Heckmann, Ferdinand. "St. Nicholas Pieck." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 29 May 2013
- Habig O.F.M., Marion. The Franciscan Book of Saints, Franciscan Herald Press, 1959
- Schaeffer, Fred. Holiness in Holland, 2001
- Albers, Petrus Henricus. "The Martyrs of Gorkum." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 29 May 2013
- Foley O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Fransican Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7