Beckum, Maria van (d. 1544)

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Burning of Maria and Ursula van Beckum.
Engraving by Jan Luiken in Martyrs Mirror, v. 2, p. 65 of Dutch edition.
Source: Rijksmuseum.

Maria (Mary) van Beckum, one of the best-known martyrs among the Dutch Anabaptists. She was born in Markelo, the daughter of Johan II van Beckum (d. 1526) and Johanna van Wrede (died before 1511). She was the sister of Johan III van Beckum. After their father's brother died, they moved to Nijenhuis in Diepenheim. When their mother died, their father remarried Beatrix van de Hoeve. Maria had joined the followers of David Joris and consequently had to leave her step-mother's house. She found refuge with her brother, the nobleman Johann III van Beckum (Beckum is situated in the Dutch province of Overijssel, not far from Delden) of Gelderland, but in May 1544, at the instigation of Goesen van Raesveldt, the bailiff of Twente, a relative and next in line as the heir of the childless Jan van Beckum, she was arrested. The arrest caused great excitement. Ursula, her brother’s wife, remained loyally at her side and shared her fate. First the two women were taken to Deventer, and examined there frequently; then they were transferred to Twikkel castle near Delden.

Repeated attempts by priests to deflect them from their faith failed. After a half year’s imprisonment the heresy court condemned them both to death. They were burned at the stake on 13 November 1544 at Delden; first Mary, then Ursula. The spectators were deeply moved by their heroic death and their joyful faith. Many wept when the two bade each other farewell. After a prayer revealing her state of mind, Maria, as the chronicle states, went to the stake with indescribable joy.

Their steadfastness made a deep impression. According to legend, the stake to which Mary was bound began to grow green and to blossom, and tradition has it that the Mennonites of Hengelo until well in the 19th century regularly planted a green branch on the site of her execution on the anniversary of her death (13 November). Mary’s faith and suffering were commemorated in several hymns that were widely distributed. Wolkan attributes a total of five songs to her, one of which, "Trauren will ich stehen lassen und singen mit Begier" (43 stanzas), is found in the Ausbund (No. 17) and in Wackernagel, Kirchenlied (V, 792). This moving song appeared—without place or name of the printer —in 1545 under the title, "Ein new Lied von zweien Jungfrawen vom Adell zu Delden drey meil von Deventer verbranth." Rabus put it into his martyr book: Historien . . . der Gottes Zeugen . . . und Märtyrern (Part III, 1559). The song found in the Offer des Heeren is a Dutch translation of this German song, and begins with the words, "Droefheyt wil ick nu laten staen en singen met verblijden, van Mary Beckum hef ick aen, die om Gods woort moest lijden."


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

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.

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

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MLA style

Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Beckum, Maria van (d. 1544)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 18 Jun 2021.,_Maria_van_(d._1544)&oldid=162694.

APA style

Hege, Christian and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Beckum, Maria van (d. 1544). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2021, from,_Maria_van_(d._1544)&oldid=162694.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 260. All rights reserved.

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