Some symbols – even when they exist as partial remains of an old church in the Dutch city of Leiden – may be considered by some as having no special value and just as it appears – an old ruin. To others it is a heritage, a place where ancestors walked, worshiped, shaped our lives and our ideals. This symbol is the Vrouwekerk! It was in 2000 when the precious and historic area of our forefathers was jeopardized and the cry “Save the Vrouwekerk” was heard. It was proposed that the Vrouwekerk be demolished and a shopping area and parking garage be built. Also in jeopardy were other old 16thcentury buildings in the area and St. Catherine’s hospital where Myles Standish was said to have recuperated after being injured during the Siege of Ostend.
One might ask why an old moss covered wall or a few old buildings hold so much significance. We might answer that it is our one connecting cord to Leiden and as past PA Mayflower Society governor Stacy B.C. Wood, Jr., FPS has said “without Leiden there would not be Plymouth.” Leiden was the refuge for so many people who suffered religious persecution and we are reminded that it was the people of Leiden who sheltered the Pilgrims with their kindness and hospitality. The Vrouwekerk represents a hope, their hope, to worship Almighty God as they desired.
It is disappointing that the Vrouwekerk has been allowed to regress to the present state of disrepair but at least we do have something that is still tangible – a moss eaten wall which still stands in memory of our loved ancestry.
Jeremy Bangs has now proposed that we erect a bronze plaque honoring our Huguenot and Pilgrim ancestors. This plaque is to be erected on the site of the present remains of the Vrouwekerk during the Commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims migration to Leiden in 1609.
We, descendants of our Pilgrim and Huguenot ancestors are eternally grateful for our Leiden friends for their support, their unbiased religious beliefs and for being there as the benefactors of our ancestors.
Your financial support in this matter is important. Checks should be made payable to “GSMD” with the memo line marked “Vrouwekerk plaque,” and sent to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants-Vrouwekerk, which is acting as the fund’s central collection and transfer site, at PO Box 3297, Plymouth, MA 02361-3297.
Muriel C. Cushing, Historian, SMD-FL
George DeLano, President, Delano Kindred, Inc.
Stacy B. C. Wood, Jr., Co-founder, Pilgrim Henry Samson Kindred