03 September 2011

The September Martyrs

On September 2-3, 1792, in Paris, France, priests who had refused the oath to the Civil Constitution (which would have required them to renounce allegiance to the Church) were massacred wholesale. The first of the killings took place in a Carmelite Monastery, then used as a prison.

Jesuit priest Bd. Alexander Lenfant heard the confession of a fellow priest, then went to his death moments later as the horde descended on the clergy.
The mob called out, “Archbishop of Arles!” Archbishop John du Lau of Arles (Jean-Marie du Lau d’Alleman) was praying in the chapel. When summoned, he came out and he said, “I am he whom you seek.” Thereupon, they cracked his skull, stabbed him and trampled him underfoot. Then the leader set up a “tribunal” before which the imprisoned were herded and commanded to take the oath. All refused; so, as they passed down the stairway, they were hacked to pieces by the murderers.
The next day the mob took its bloodlust to the Lazarist seminary, where 90 clergy awaited execution; only four survived.

Most of Paris, cowed into fear, did nothing to stop the small number of murderers, who continued their rampage through the end of the year, killing as many as 1500 priests and religious. Pope Pius XI beatified 191 among these martyrs.

Fountain of Elias has a post on this subject.