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Dirk Willems

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Dirk Willems saves his pursuer

Dirk Willems (?? – 16 May 1569) was a martyred Anabaptist who is most famous for, after his escape from prison, turning around to rescue his pursuer, who had fallen through thin ice while chasing him.


Willems was born in Asperen, Netherlands, and was rebaptized as a young man, thus rejecting the infant baptism practiced at that time by both Catholics and established Protestants in the Netherlands. This action, plus his continued devotion to his new faith and the rebaptism of several other people in his home, led to his condemnation by the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. After his harrowing escape and recapture upon turning back to save the life of his pursuer, he was burned at the stake near his hometown on 16 May 1569.

Today, he is one of the most celebrated martyrs among Anabaptists, which includes Mennonites, Brethren, and Amish, becoming part of their history[1]. A historical drama based on his life, Dirk's Exodus, was written in 1990 by James C. Juhnke.

See also


  1. Unruh, Mark (September 2002). "A Story of Faith and the Flag: A Study of Mennonite Fantasy Rhetoric". Mennonite Life. Bethel College. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 

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