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A young Anabaptist woman is in Antwerp gaol in 1573. Her husband has been executed. She has been reprieved from death only long enough to give birth to a child. In her cell she writes a letter to her daughter, just a few days old, urging the child not to grow up ashamed that both her parents were burnt:

'My dearest child, the true love of God strengthen you in virtue, you who are yet so young, and whom I must leave in this wicked, evil, perverse world.

Oh that it had pleased the Lord that I might have brought you up, but it seems that it is not the Lord's will. Even so it has now gone with your father amd myself. We were so well joined that we would not have forsaken each other for the whole world, and yet we had to leave each other for the Lord's sake. We were permitted to live together for only half a year, after which we were apprehended because we sought the salvation of our souls. Be not ashamed of us; it is the way which the prophets and the apostles went. Your dear father demonstrated with his blood that it is the genuine truth, and I also hope to attest the same with my blood, though flesh and blood must remain on the posts and on the stake, well knowing that we shall meet hereafter.

Hence, my dear Janneken, do not accustom your mouth to filthy talk, nor to ugly lies, and run not in the street as other bad children do, rather take up a book and learn to seek there that which concerns your salvation. And now, Janneken, my dear lamb, who are yet very little and young, I leave you this letter, together with a gold real which I had with me in prison, and this I leave you for a perpetual adieu, and for a testament. Read it, when you have understanding, and keep it as long as you live in remembrance of me and of your father. Be not ashamed to confess our faith, since it is the true evangelical faith, another than which shall never be found.'

Quoted Bamber Gascoigne The Christians, Cape 1977, pages 202-3


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