Claudine Le Vettre
Meenen is a beautiful little town in Fanders, three leagues from Rijssel, on the road to Bruges, built on the edge of the Leye. In this town there lived a God-fearing man, Piersom des Muliers, with his wife Claudene le Vettre, who through the preaching of Leenaert Bouwens, and by reading and studying the word of God, were turned from papal idolatry. Learning of this, Titelmannus, Dean of Ronse, and inquisitor of the faith, came thither with bailiffs, thinking to apprehend the afore said Piersom in his house, But a pious man of the council of Meenen had warned Piersom to flee from the inquisitor, which he did, betaking himself into a certain piece of woods not far from his house. But his wife Claudine being engaged with her four children, tarried a little too long, and had just left the house, with a child in one arm, when the bailiffs entered, who tumultuously asked the children and the neighbors where the husband was; and when they could not learn it they prepared to leave. Perceiving this, one of the neighbors, kindled with an evil and perverse zeal, said: "Men, there goes the wife with a child on her arm." They therefore forthwith caught her, and delivered her into the hands of the aforesaid inquisitor. This happened in the year of 1567, a few months before the Duke of Alva's arrival in the Netherlands. She was taken from Meenen to Ypres, where many lay in prison for the faith that is because they could not understand that there was another Meditator and Saviour than Jesus Christ alone, who was offered up for our sins on the tree of the cross (1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 4:25); and could not believe that God had any pleasure in images of wood and stone, or silver and gold, but believed rather that such worship was prohibited in the word of God (Exodus 20:4; Deuteronomy 4:16). And because they also did not believe that dead men can hear our prayers and help us; but much rather that we are to call upon no one but God alone, who is the discerner of our hearts and thoughts, and knows what we shall pray for, even before we have poured out our prayer; who exclaimed with a loud voice: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," etc.; "to whom all the prophets and apostles point us, and not to one of the departed saints." Matthew 4:10; Revelations 2:13; Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 6:8; Romans 8:26; Matthew 11:28; Acts 10:43; Acts 4:12; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15.
All who held such faith were by Titelmannus declared heretics, and delivered to the secular authorities, to be dealt with according to the decrees, namely, the men to be burnt alive, and the women to be buried alive. This severe death greatly terrified some, so that many apostatized, in order to save their lives. For at one time a large number broke out of prison and escaped, so that Claudine also could have made her escape, but she would not leave her child; so also a pious brother, who remained with her in prison unto the end, and would not leave her, dying with her for the truth, at said place. But Claudine did not apostatize, notwithstanding manifold assaults, continuing one year, but remained steadfast in the faith, refuting, from the Word of God, all that the priests and monks were able to bring forward against her, as appeared from divers letters which she wrote to her husband from prison. Finally, when they could not prevail upon her, they endeavored to move her by her maternal love for her infant, which hitherto had been nourished at it's mother's breast in prison. The child therefore was taken from her and put out to a wet nurse, which was the greatest affliction she suffered during her imprisonment, and on account of which she wept many a tear, constantly praying God for power and strength against such temptation and assault of the flesh, in order that she might not fall, even as many as her fellow believers fell in her presence. God Almighty heard her prayer, for the duke of Alva, having in the meantime entered the country, and commanded to clear all prisons from heretics, she also was crowned with the crown of the godly, without Ypres, A.D. 1568; and with her a brother, who was also burnt for the truth, at said place.
Her husband, Piersom, often said of his aforesaid wife that it was astonishing how well she was versed in the Scriptures. For whenever he could not find a passage, he would ask his wife Claudine, who at once would clearly indicate to him what he sought.
It is understood that the child which was taken from her in prison was from that time on seen no more, without the father or the friends ever knowing what became of it.
Piersom had formerly lived with his wife Claudine, in Bruges, where the same thing had happened to him, namely, that he with his wife escaped from the inquisitor, through the friendly warning of a councilor of the city. However he had to leave behind everything he had, as was also the case at Mennen. But the pious man of Mennen who had warned him, concealed Piersom's books and part of his household goods, and saw that they were again taken to the place where the books belonged. But . . .
to be continued!
Martyrs Mirror, pages 737 and 738