Saints This Month –
The Martyrs of September,
Blessed John du Lau and Companions
In 1790, the revolutionary government of France enacted a law denying Papal authority over the Church in France. The French clergy were required to swear an oath to uphold this law and submit to the Republic. As with the Henrician Oath of Supremacy in 16th century England, many priests and religious took the oath but a sizable minority opposed it. The revolutionary leaders’ primary target was the aristocracy but by 1792, as the leadership became more radical, their attention turned to the Church, especially the non-jurors within it.
In August, in the name of Liberté, égalité & fraternité, those who had refused the oath were rounded up and imprisoned in Parisian monasteries (after the monks had been kicked out). In September “Vigilance Committees” were set up and mobs sent to the make-shift prisons. On 2nd September a season of bloodshed and slaughter began. The inmates were cut-down in cold blood.
All of the prisoners, even the old and disabled, were put to the sword.
The executions at the old Carmelite monastery in Paris were recorded.The band of murderers arrived and they called out, “The Archbishop of Arles!” Archbishop John du Lau of Arles was praying in the chapel. When summoned, he came out and 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 ordered to take the oath. All refused; so, as they passed down the stairway, they were hacked to pieces by the murderers.
This purge continued for most of the year. By the end of September over 200 clergy had been killed and by the end of 1792 the total was 1500. One-hundred and ninety-one September martyrs were beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926. Their heroism in the defence of the Papacy and the Faith is remembered long after the names of their blood-thirsty executioners had been forgotten. The long list of those beatified can be viewed here.
POSTED BY MARK DAVOREN AT 6:00 PM