On Saturday 18 February the liberation of the Hungarian protestant preachers by Michiel de Ruyter in 1676 was commemorated together with ‘500 Years Reformation’ by the descendants, representatives of the de Ruyter Foundation, the Embassy of Hungary and representatives of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
The commemoration ceremony was kicked off by the welcoming words of Frits de Ruyter, chairman of the Foundation in the Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, followed by Péter István Danku, on behalf of the Embassy, giving a keynote speech and laying a wreath at the admiral’s burial vault.
In 1676, political and religious struggles in Europe led to the imprisonment of 26 Hungarian protestant preachers. They were expelled by the Habsburg emperor and put to work in Naples as a galley slave, admiral Michiel de Ruyter was commissioned by the Dutch state to deliver the preachers, who successfully completed his mission.
The grand commemoration of this historic event, together with the celebration of 500 Years Reformation, took place on Saturday 18 February at De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam, where the admiral’s offspring, Frits de Ruyter as the Foundation’s chairman shared his welcoming words with the audience. The program saw inspiring lectures and a speech delivered on behalf of the Embassy by diplomat Péter István Danku in Dutch, who acknowledged the heroic feat of the admiral and pointed out the less known background of the diplomatic and protestant endeavour behind the deliverance of the preachers, with a special focus on the symbolic role of psalm 46 sung simultaneously on the Genevan tunes by the preachers and the crew as a token of European protestant consonance in Church history.
In their lectures Jos Colijn, professor of reformed theology, former research fellow in Hungary, and Jan F. Nuboer, historian and retired mariner underlined the importance of the deliverance resulting in a liberalized protestant Church as well as the anguish and vicissitudes the preachers faced at the galleys.
Representatives then moved over to the tomb for a wreath laying ceremony, subsequently Frits de Ruyter and Péter István Danku stepped forward to twist the “Hungarian key” offered by the Museum of the Reformed Collage of Debrecen for the 500th jubilee of the Reformation in the lock of the thumb.
Source and photo: Embassy of Hungary in the Netherlands