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St. Nicholas Pieck

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(Also spelled PICK). Friar Minor and martyr, b. at Gorkum, Holland, 29 August, 1534; d. at Briel, Holland, 9 July, 1572. He came of an old and honourable family. His parents, John Pieck and Henriea Clavia, were deeply attached to the Catholic faith, and the former on several occasions distinguished himself by his zeal against the innovations of Calvinism. Nicholas was sent to college at Bois-le-Duc ('S Hertogenbosch), and as soon as he had completed his classical studies he received the habit of the Friars Minor at the convent in that town. After his profession he was sent to the convent at Louvain to follow the course of study at the celebrated university there. Nicholas was ordained priest in 1558 and thenceforth devoted himself to the apostolic ministry. He evangelized the principal towns of Holland and Belgium, combating heresy everywhere, strengthening Catholics in their faith, and distinguishing himself by his singular humility, modesty, charity, and zeal for the honour of God and the salvation of souls. He was of an open disposition, gay and genial, and his whole bearing inspired affection and respect. His superiors, appreciating his fine qualities, appointed him guardian of the convent at Gorkum, his native town.

When this place was threatened by the Calvinists, Nicholas delivered several discourses to his fellow townsmen, forewarning them against the dangerous errors of Calvinism. In particular, he proved by unanswerable arguments the dogma of the Real Presence, showing it to be a marvellous extension of the Incarnation, and he left nothing undone to bring his two brothers back to the true fold. When the citadel of Gorkum was taken by the Watergeuzen, the heretics detained the priests and religious, and confined them in a dark and foul dungeon. (See THE MARTYRS OF GORKUM .) During the first night the Calvinists vented their rage particularly against Nicholas. Tying about his neck the cord which girded his loins, they first suspended him from a beam and then let him fall heavily to the ground. This torture was prolonged till the cord broke, and the martyr, seemingly lifeless, fell to the floor. They then applied a burning torch to his ears, forehead, and chin, and forced open his mouth to burn his tongue and palate, either to find out whether he was still alive or in order to torture him. Meanwhile, the two brothers of Nicholas were busy taking steps to obtain the deliverance of the captives. This was promised them only on condition that the prisoners would renounce the authority of the pope, and, as nothing could make Nicholas and his companions waver in their faith, they were taken to Briel, where they all gained the crown of martyrdom. Nicholas and his companions were beatified by Clement X, 24 November, 1675, and canonized by Pius IX, 29 June, 1867.

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