Jump to: navigation, search
Burning of Maria and Ursula van Beckum.
Engraving by Jan Luiken in Martyrs Mirror, v. 2, p. 65 of Dutch edition.
Scan provided by Mennonite Library and Archives

Ursula van Beckum, nee van Werdum, an Anabaptist martyr, was the oldest daughter of Ulrich van Werdum, an East Frisian captain, and Armgard van Fikensolt of Oldenburg, and was married to Jan van Beckum, a nobleman of Overijssel. Jan's sister, Mary van Beckum, was received by this couple living at Nyenhues near Deventer or in Beckum (now Bekkum) near Delden, when she had been compelled to flee from her home on account of her adherence to the Anabaptists. In May 1544 Mary was arrested in her brother's house. Ursula accompanied her voluntarily and with her husband's consent to Deventer, where they were frequently cross-examined, and after a half year's imprisonment they were burned at the stake at Delden in the presence of the court, the bailiff Goese van Raesveldt, and an imperial commissar of the court of Gelderland at Arnhem, on 13 November 1544.

Both women faced death resolutely. When the verdict was being carried out on Mary, the priest of Delden tried to spare Ursula the gruesome spectacle, but she said undismayed, "Let me see my sister's end, for I desire to share the glory while she is entering into it." After Mary had been consumed by the flames, the priest tried to induce Ursula to recant, but she steadfastly refused his offer. In mounting the stake she slipped, and said, "I think I am falling." The priest thought she was recanting. "Halt! she wants to fall from her faith," he cried. But Ursula replied, "No, the wood merely slipped; I will not waver in God's Word, but remain steadfast in Christ."

And so, full of the joy of faith, she suffered death in the flames without Jan van Beckum's knowledge. At the end of November he wrote to his brothers-in-law Hicko and Hero van Werdum-Gödens, lamenting that the corpses of the two women were still hanging on the stakes. The execution created great indignation. Ursula's East Frisian relatives, who were not Anabaptists or favorable to them, had Deventer set on fire on 4 December 1546 in revenge. The agents were apprehended and executed. Ursula's brother, Hero van Werdum, was thought to be the instigator. But he could not be convicted, and on 7 July 1551 had the mayor, bailiff, and council of Deventer certify that he had not been mentioned as a participant at the trial of the arsonists.

[edit] Bibliography

Dit Boec wort genoemt: Het Offer des Herren, om het inhout van sommighe opgheofferde kinderen Godts . . . N.p., 1570: 509-516. Available online at: Het Offer des Heeren.

Braght, Thieleman J. van. Het Bloedigh Tooneel of Martelaers Spiegel der Doopsgesinde of Weereloose Christenen, Die om 't getuygenis van Jesus haren Salighmaker geleden hebben ende gedood zijn van Christi tijd of tot desen tijd toe. Den Tweeden Druk. Amsterdam: Hieronymus Sweerts, 1685: Part II, 65 (with illustration).

Braght, Thieleman J. van. The Bloody Theatre or Martyrs' Mirror of the Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only upon Confession of Faith and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus Their Saviour . . . to the Year A.D. 1660. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1951: 467. Available online at:

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1899): 93, 140; (1907): 170-175.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 151.

Hoop Scheffer, Jacob Gijsbert de. Inventaris der Archiefstukken berustende bij de Vereenigde Doopsgezinde Gemeente to Amsterdam, 2 vols. Amsterdam: Uitgegeven en ten geschenke aangeboden door den Kerkeraad dier Gemeente, 1883-1884: v. I, Nos. 282, 291, 305, 322.

Löffler K. Zeitschrift für vaterländische Geschichte und Altertumskunst 71 (1913): Part I, 497-499.

Ritter, F. Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst und vaterländische Altertümer zu Emden 15 (1903): 390-410.

Wolkan, Rudolf. Die Lieder der Wiedertäufer. Berlin, 1903. Reprinted Nieuwkoop : B. De Graaf, 1965: 128.

Author(s) Christian Hege
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

[edit] Cite This Article

MLA style

Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Beckum, Ursula van (d. 1544)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 1 Dec 2015.,_Ursula_van_(d._1544)&oldid=129153.

APA style

Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Beckum, Ursula van (d. 1544). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 December 2015, from,_Ursula_van_(d._1544)&oldid=129153.

Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 260-261. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.

©1996-2015 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.