Author Topic: Dutch "Godspenning"  (Read 5288 times)

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Dutch "Godspenning"
« on: April 22, 2007, 10:46:30 AM »
I'd appreciate any thoughts that anyone might have about the item illustrated below - my wife's cousin showed it to us when we visited during the week and had some fanciful story about its origins that just didn't stack up at all.  No problems with reading the legends, but its purpose and origin are still something of a mystery.  I see the numbers 1, 9 and 58 at the 9, 3 and 6 o'clock positions, and some examples I found on eBay etc. via web searches gave the date as '1958', though that looks a little late to me, given the lettering style, etc.  It's about 39.5 mm from tip to tip across the points.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Dutch "Godspenning"
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2007, 02:35:44 PM »
This medal was sold in the catholic south of the Netherlands and Flemish Belgium in the 1960's for 1 gulden or the equivalent in Belgian francs (about 2/6 or $0.40 in the sixties) from door to door in order to collect money for an organisation called "Oost priesterhulp" (assistance for priests in the East). Although they are said to exist with other dates, I have only seen 1958.

Oost priesterhulp was established in 1953 by Werenfried van Straaten (nicknamed Spekpater, the bacon priest), a Norbertine priest in order to help defend catholicism in Germany against communism. In the first year, the organization sent 100 volunteers, all students of Flemish Jesuit schools to M?nster in Germany. They constructed housing for displaced persons from East Germany, East Prussia, Silezia and Sudetenland still living in steel-plate barracks and disaffected bunkers. It also created a class of "back pack priests", travelling around and giving moral support to fugitives. The cost of the organisation were financed by a huge begging campaign, of which the medal is a part.

The medal is thick with religious symbolism. The star shape refers to the sky (heaven). In the points of the star on the obverse are single letters, together forming the word GODSPENNING (god's medal). There is a cross (religion) made of barbed wire (imprisonment) and the text WIE U VERVOLGT VERVOLGT MIJ - whoever persecutes you persecutes me.

In the points of the star on the reverse are 10 small dots and a large dot below, together forming a rosary with 10 hail Maries (ave Maria) and one "our father" (pater noster). Three texts and symbols stand for morning, afternoon and evening. On top is a cock and the text HEER WAT WILT U DAT IK DOEN ZAL - Lord, what would you like me to do. In the middle is a sun and GOD RED ONS UIT DE NOOD! GEEF VREDE AAN DE WERELD - God save us from peril! Give peace to the world. At the bottom is a moon and HEER BLIJF BIJ MIJ - HET WORDT NACHT - Lord stay with me - night is falling.

The organisation still exists, but it has changed its name to Internationale Bouworde - IBO (international construction order). It works in developing countries. Its Dutch language web site is here. Some of the information above came from this site.

« Last Edit: April 22, 2007, 02:40:24 PM by Figleaf »
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


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Re: Dutch "Godspenning"
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2007, 09:09:27 PM »
Thanks, Peter, I shall pass that information on.  This particular one must have been sold very early on, as the relatives in question emigrated from the Netherlands to NZ in 1960.