03/11/2013

As many will know, I am lately very involved with the history of my family. Currently it is only the family from my fathers side, but I hope this will change soon. And it is good to be in contact with my family again. Lots of nice folks and thanks to them I know now a lot more about my family through the stories and photo’s they share. This article is about something I learned from my nephew Peter.

My grandmother died on 22th March 1963, not even a month before I was born (I was born on 17th April 1963). So I never knew my grandmother. I have seen lately many pictures of her. On the picture below she is together with my grandfather and my mother…

Peter told me that in 1963, when my grandmother died, there was in Amsterdam a shortage on places to bury people. So my grandmother was not buried in Amsterdam, but in Diemen. Diemen is a town close to Amsterdam.
But I learned something else from him. It is 50 year ago when my grandmother passed away. And normally after such a long time a grave will be cleared. Although I really never thought about it, that would be what I expected to have happened to the grave of my grandmother. It is a little bit different!
Yes, the grave is not there anymore. but the headstone is still there…

And although I have seen pictures of this headstone, I wanted to go there myself.

Peter gave me detailed information on the location of the headstone (Google Earth is a very handy tool). So yesterday Marion, who felt luckily after a good night sleep better again, and I went to Diemen to visit the graveyard where my grandmothers headstone was located. It is on the graveyard belonging a Catholic church called “Schuilkerk De Hoop” (or to be more precise, de “Sint Petrus Banden”-church). Later more about this church.

We needed a little time to locate the headstone, we were looking in the wrong direction along the wall of the church where the headstones of cleared graves where located. But when I turned around I saw the headstone right away. Anyway, it was nice to see this headstone. After all it the one of the few direct links I have to my grandmother, apart from pictures and stories.

It is weird that this headstone is still there after all this time. But I am happy about it.

But there is more. Something Peter already told me and my nephew Paul added pictures to it…
My grandfather passed away in 1971 and he was buried in Amsterdam. His grave was after a certain time also cleared. But the headstone of his grave was moved to Diemen to be placed at the headstone of my grandmother. A beautiful gesture in my opinion. Sadly when the graveyard was renovated the headstone of my grandfather had to be removed.

When looking at the pictures, it shows that the years left their mark on the headstone of my grandmother. Logical of course, nature has its ways…

Anyway it feels good to have been there. And thanks to my family I have also now my grandmothers mortuary card, obituary and her family card of the Amsterdam City Archive. And lots of pictures of course. Specially the wedding-picture of my grandparents I like.

But being there at that church, another interest I have waked up. I love old historical buildings. And even being an convinced atheist, I like (old) churches that have a history.
The name of the church (or rather the building next to the church) “Schuilkerk” showed there was something about that place. My dictionary translates “Schuilkerk” to clandestine church, which seems to be a way better translation as the “hidden church” of Google Translate (I always have a distrust towards Google Translate).

Well, here is the story (short version though). After the reformation in the 16 century it was not possible for Catholics to openly profess their religion. Therefore they met in buildings that were not recognisable as churches, so called “Schuilkerken”.
The first “Schuilkerk” of Diemen was located at the Overdiemen-street. But later in 1786 a new “Schuilkerk” was created with the optimistic name “De Hoop” (The Hope).

In 1798 the ban on the Catholic religion was lifted. In 1910 “De Hoop” became to small and was the current “Sint Petrus Banden”-church built. There is one thing I have never seen before on a church and that is the way the clock is built as a billboard against the tower (see picture below).
The graveyard with my grandmothers headstone is located behind this church.

Well, apart visiting the graveyard with my grandmothers headstone, I learned something about Dutch history again. I like that.


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