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Gift from Toronto woman

Canada-made quilt adorns Bolsward's Titus Brandsma Museum

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

TORONTO, Ontario - A Toronto woman has presented the Titus Brandsma Museum in Bolsward with a memorial quilt depicting the Dutch priest who was murdered by the Nazis in Dachau, a German concentration camp. The Dutch Canadian donor, Clara Damsma Mous, knew Brandsma through her brother who studied with Brandsma in the 1930s. The museum was founded to keep the memory alive of Brandsma who in Dachau offered to trade places with a family man who was about to be executed.

Mous who spent two years making the quilt, copied it from a postcard of an Italian painting by Andrea Martini (1917-1996) which hung in Rome's St. Peter's in 1985 when Brandsma was beatified.

The 78-year-old Torontonian who had emigrated from the Frisian village of Jirnsum to Canada in 1948, took her labour of love to the museum herself.

The quilt shows Brandsma, who was the driving force behind the refusal of the Dutch Roman Catholic journalists to acquiesce in the Nazification of the press, holding a quill, also known as a writer's sword, and a palm leaf, a symbol of peace. The multi-coloured quilt which was made of numerous patches, some as small as a square inch, also shows barbed wire. Bright light beams crisscross the quilt behind the priest whose likeness is in dark tones and made of small pieces to represent the cruelty and mistreatments he was subjected to by his captors.

In Brandsma's resistance work, the Oegeklooster (near Bolsward) born priest could rely on the moral support of Utrecht's Archbishop Mgr. Dr. J. De Jong who along with most other Dutch church officials publicly warned against the dangers of Nazi ideology, and repeatedly criticized Nazi decrees from the pulpit. The Nazis never dared to arrest the Ameland-born Archbishop although they once made an attempt. Dozens of priests were rounded up for their anti-Nazi stance. A number of them also died in captivity.

Brandsma was arrested on January 19, 1942, shortly after a tour of Roman Catholic newspapers, and died six months later in camp Dachau. He had served as spiritual advisor to the press since 1935 and had warned against Nazi ideology since the 1930s.