Robert’s post points us to an article called “Compassion for the Enemy.” It includes a small part of the story of Dirk Willems who was burned to death in 1569.
Willems escaped from a palace where he had been imprisoned. The quote below tells what happened after a guard spotted him:
Seeing him escape, a palace guard pursued him as he fled. Dirk crossed the thin ice of a pond, the “Hondegat,” safely. His own weight had been reduced by short prison rations, but the heavier pursuer broke through.
Hearing the guard’s cries for help, Dirk turned back and rescued him. The less-than-grateful guard then seized Dirk and led him back to captivity. This time the authorities threw him into a more secure prison, a small, heavily barred room at the top of a very tall church tower, above the bell, where he was probably locked into the wooden leg stocks that remain in place today. Soon he was led out to be burned to death.
Yes, for Willems, “Love your enemy” was more than an ideal; it was a way of life in Jesus Christ.