Catharina and Lijsbeth Somerhuys (d. 1571)

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Catharina and Lijsbeth Somerhuys, Anabaptist martyrs, seized by the Spaniards in the Dutch town of Deventer, 11 March 1571, with 10 other Mennonites. These two women, both unmarried, were the daughters of Albert Somerhuys, the registrar of Deventer. They were put in prison in the Noordenbergertoren together with the others and had a very severe and cruel imprisonment. Some of the 12 Mennonites recanted, but only for a short time, and all died for their faith. But Catharina and Lijsbeth never recanted. When the Catholic priest visited them in prison, Catharina disputed frankly with him; the priest tried to demonstrate the truth of the Roman Catholic faith from the Old Testament, but Catharina answered that she preferred the New Testament and showed him from the New Testament that his assertions were dull and unscriptural. Both women were sentenced to death. Leaving the prison they sang the song, "Mijn Godt, waer sal ick henen gaen" (My God, whither shall I go). They were taken to the stakes, but after a short time they were returned to the prison. Ydse Gaukes, who was one of their group, mentions in his first letter (Martyrs Mirror) that Catharina was cruelly tortured together with two other women and two men. She had to wait some  weeks before the hour of their execution struck. On 16 June 1571 both were burned at the stake at the Brink (a market place). Van Braght relates that at the moment of the execution of these six martyrs a miracle occurred: a crashing noise was heard, like thunder, and the spectators were thrown to the earth. Albert Somerhuys, the father of Catharina and Lijsbeth, was arrested soon after the execution and condemned to life imprisonment, but soon he died in prison, obviously by poison administered to him by a Catholic priest.


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: II, 552-554.

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: 885-888. Available online at:

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1919): 29-37.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Catharina and Lijsbeth Somerhuys (d. 1571)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 15 Sep 2019.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1953). Catharina and Lijsbeth Somerhuys (d. 1571). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 September 2019, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 531. All rights reserved.

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