17 July 2011

Moving God, Moving History



No one jeered and hooted at the nuns as they went to the place of execution. Rather, an eerie silence surrounded the cortege as the nuns continued their song. Naught was heard but the “austere chant of high solemn joy” of those who, after some twenty months of consecrating themselves each day for this hour, God’s mercy allowed them to make this final act of holocaust. Each nun knelt before the prioress, renewed her vows, kissed a tiny terracotta statuette of Madonna and Child, and then mounted the scaffold high.

Ten days after their deaths, Robespierre fell and the Reign of Terror effectively ended.... Something in the very foundation of the edifice of the French Revolution was shaken by the nuns’ defiant and joyful gesture. The eerie silence around the scaffold presaged the regime’s fall from power.

Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne, pray for us
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