These Connected Graves in the Netherlands Prove Love Conquers All

Frank Janssen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Frank Janssen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Established in 1785, Het Oude Kerkhof in Roermond, the Netherlands, is one of the oldest municipal cemeteries in the country—and it's home to a pair of graves that use a crafty design to prove love can conquer anything.

As author Loren Rhoads explains in her new book 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, in 1842 a 22-year-old Catholic noblewoman named J.C.P.H. van Aefferden fell in love with a 33-year-old commoner named J.W.C. van Gorkhum, a colonel in the Dutch cavalry who happened to be Protestant. Their marriage was a local scandal, but the pair stayed together for 40 years. Their union only ended with van Gorkhum's death in 1880, and even then, van Aefferden made sure they wouldn't be totally separated.

At the time, plots in Het Oude Kerkhof ("The Old Cemetery" in Dutch) were strictly divided into Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish sections, with borders maintained by thick hedges or brick walls. As a Protestant, van Gorkhum couldn't be buried in the van Aefferden family plot in the Catholic section, where she was supposed to spend eternity.

A photograph of two graves in Roermond, the Netherlands, known as Het graf met de handjes, or “Grave with the little hands.”
Door Janssenfrank Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 3.0

The devoted wife got around the predicament by ordering a unique pair of grave markers—two tall white monuments that stretch above the brick wall separating the Catholic and Protestant sections. From each monument, a white hand (one masculine, the other feminine) reaches out to grasp the other, their fingers locked for eternity.

Colonel van Gorkhum was buried beneath the grave with the masculine hand, at the edge of the Protestant section, and when his wife died eight years later, she was laid to rest beneath the grave with the feminine hand, at the edge of the Catholic section.

A close-up photograph of two graves in Roermond, the Netherlands, known as Het graf met de handjes, or “Grave with the little hands.”
Henk Kosters, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Nearly 130 years later, tourists flock to the graves, which are known locally as Het graf met de handjes, or “Grave with the little hands.” It's a beautiful reminder that when there's a will, love tends to find a way.

Here's How You Can Help Rebuild Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral

 Kitwood, Getty Images
Kitwood, Getty Images

A fire at Paris’s famed Notre-Dame Cathedral raged for nine hours on Monday, drawing the world’s attention to the partial destruction of one of the best-known cultural monuments on the planet. The efforts of more than 400 firefighters managed to preserve much of the 859-year-old structure, but the roof and spire were destroyed.

Financial support for the building has already come pouring in, with billionaire François-Henri Pinault pledging $113 million toward reconstruction and another billionaire, Bernard Arnault, promising $226 million. A total of roughly $1 billion has come in from donations, but a revitalized Notre-Dame is a considerable expense that could cost even more.

For people who would like to assist, donations are being accepted by the nonprofit French Heritage Society for virtually any amount.

Why will expenses run so high? Prior to the fire, Notre-Dame was in dire need of extensive restoration. Buttresses caused instability to major walls, gargoyles were damaged, and cracks had formed in the now-destroyed spire. The cathedral is owned by the French government, which allots roughly 2 million euros (or about $2.26 million) annually to upkeep. Between the existing wear and the fire, it could take years or possibly decades for the work to be completed.

The publicity surrounding Notre-Dame has also motivated people to assist in rebuilding efforts on a smaller scale, and closer to home. Three churches in Louisiana that were recently targeted in allegedly racist arson attacks saw donations climb from $150,000 to over $1 million following the Notre-Dame fire. You can donate to that GoFundMe campaign here.

[h/t CNN]

The Isle of Sark Needs a New Dairy Farmer, But You'll Have to Bring Your Own Cows

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images
Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

If you've ever dreamed of moving to a secluded island to become a farmer, the Isle of Sark is giving you the opportunity. Sark, located in England's Channel Islands, is seeking a dairy farmer to supply milk to the island's population of 500. The only catch is that job candidates must be ready to move there with their own herd of 25 to 35 cows, Atlas Obscura reports.

Sark is a 3-mile long, mile-and-a-half wide island with green pastures, rocky cliffs, and no cars or street lamps. The only way to get there is by boat or one of the ferries that leaves from the nearby Jersey and Guernsey islands.

The last time the island had a dairy farmer was 2017. That year, farmer Christopher Nightingale shut down his business due to issues with costs and land instability. The Isle of Sark held onto feudalism long after the rest of Europe abandoned it, and though the practice technically ended in 2008, it hasn't died completely. Sometimes this works to the community's advantage, like when Nazis invaded in 1940, but it also means that farmers must lease their land for short periods rather than own it.

If you're willing to trade your right to own property for idyllic island living, Sark's dairy farmer gig maybe the perfect fit for you. The island is looking for someone, or a couple, with lots of dairy farming experience, and a herd of Jersey or Guernsey cows, which are native to the Channel Islands. You can reach out to Caragh Couldridge at info@caraghchocolates.com for information on how to apply.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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