Grave Connects Two Lovers and Their Differing Beliefs

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In the kitsch little town of Roermond in the Netherlands lays the grave of two lovers still holding onto their love in spirit, 130 years later. Traditionally, people in this southern part of Holland would be buried in their family plots corresponding to the religion they followed. These two lovers, Colonel J.W.C. van Gorcum and Jonkvrouwe J.C.P.H. van Aefferden, were both Christians, yet one was catholic and one was protestant. After being married for forty two years, the Colonel died in 1880 and was buried in the protestant plot of the town. A wall separated the catholic and protestant burial grounds.


When Lady Van Aefferden passed away eight years later in 1888, she opted not to be buried in her noble family plot, but instead to be laid as close to her husband as possible. Both of their graves face each other and are joined by hands above the wall. Today the unique graves are called Het graf met de handjes, which translates to “Grave with the little hands.” One cannot help but wonder about the couple and the statement they choose to make in their day. Their symbolic gravestones caused quite the stir in the community of Roermond and if it weren’t for the Colonels good reputation and his wives noble background, their chosen resting places may not have been honored. In what seems like a Romeo & Juliet story, the Colonel and his wife have let everyone know eternally that love triumphs over all, including religion.

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(Images: Shawn Saleme)

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