05 April 2011

Martyred French Priest to be Canonized

The Vatican is set to declare the sainthood of Normandy priest Peter Adrian Toulorge of the Premonstratensian Regular Canons, guillotined during the French Revolution.
The night before his death he went to confession and, while all the other inmates slept, he wrote three deeply touching letters – to his brother, to a friend, and to an unknown woman – to which he added, “I wish you God’s blessing. October 12, 1793, the evening before my marytrdom.”

In the morning – it was a Sunday – he rose with good courage, ate breakfast as usual, prayed his breviary, before he asked one of his fellow prisoners to fix his hair and cut his beard. In the end he asked his confreres to sing Vespers with him. At the beginning of Compline, during the second to the last verse of the hymn GRATES PERACTO JAM DIE he closed his breviary and cried out full of joy,

“My dear friends, let us stop here, for I will soon be gratefully singing the end of this hymn in heaven… My dear brothers, I will not forget you; I ask God to watch over you. I am praying for all my benefactors, friends, and even my enemies.”

His confreres knelt down and asked for his blessing during which a heavenly joy shown from his face. According to an eyewitness, the guillotine was placed in front of the house of the mayor of Coutances. The crowd was speechless with emotion as they beheld this young priest who went to his death filled with such inner peace. Just before the execution Fr. Peter-Adrian said: “My God, I place my life in Your hands! I pray for the restoration and preservation of Your Holy Church. Forgive my enemies.” After the execution the hangman grabbed the bloody head by the hair and held it up to show the people. It was 4:30. His body was taken to the cemetery of St. Peter in a cart.