In Veere

This de “Grote Kerk” (the big church) of the Dutch town of Veere, on the island of Walcheren. The town was founded by refugees from the Eastern part of The Netherlands, in 1170. It was damaged by flooding in 1530 but was restored. The church building started in the Middle Ages. The first part was a complete small church, but later became part of the “Grote Kerk.” When one-third of the tower was made, there was no money any more for the rest. The planned big windows were replaced by small ones. The interior was simplified.

Veere and its harbor soon became an important trading town. In 1555 the German emperor Charles V made of Veere a margraviate. In 1564, the Reformation came to Veere by Johannes van Miggrode, who left the Roman-catholic priesthood and became a Reformed minister. In the “Grote Kerk” all statues and crosses were removed without damage to the interior. Almost all the inhabitants of Veere became State-Reformed; the majority still are, but they do no longer wear their traditional costumes, which can still be seen in a local museum. My grandparents still wore them; especially when it was a Sunday.

When the Spanish army of King Philips came, led by the merciless Duke Alva, he wanted to kill minister Miggrode, so in 1567 he fled to England, together with other Reformed people and founded a congregation in Colchester. On May 4, 1572 Veere declared itself a territory of Prince William I of Orange, and Alva did not come. Minister Miggrode came immediately back to Veere. He preached the Reformation in all the towns of the island of Walcheren. Together with a minister Gerobulus he went to the neighboring island of Zuid- Beveland and made the churches Reformed. In 1579 he was secretary (“scriba”) of the Reformed Synod who made a Church Order. In 1774 a pillar in his honor was placed in Veere, so that he would not be forgotten. The interior of the “Grote Kerk” had to be restored. It had especially suffered in the days of the French emperor Napoleon who occupied Walcheren and put a whole battalion of soldiers, with cannons, horses, etc. in the Church. He knew that the British Navy would not fire at the Church, when they came for the liberation of The Netherlands in 1809 (they were on their way to Antwerp, but returned).

Veere had during 200 years a close religious and economic relationship with Scotland; they had a small Church of their own in Veere, for the sailors. The “Grote Kerk” is built on high ground and not inundated, like the rest of the island in 1940, 1944, and 1953; now protected by a high dam. ❖