Sep 2-3: Blessed John du Lau & Companions, (d. 1792) – Martyrs of September…of Paris…of Carmes

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The Benedictines and Carmelites in some places in the USA, and of course in England and France, liturgically remember the September Martyrs, also called the Paris Martyrs; you will also see the memorial listed as “Blessed John du Lau and companions” after the Archbishop of Arles, the highest ranking prelate among the 191 martyrs. The Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey are connected with the Carmelite nuns and retain some of the relics. Historians tells us that about 1500 clergy and religious were killed in 1792. And this act of martyrdom inspired the writing of Georeges Bernanos’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” and the famous opera of Francis Poulenc, by the same name.

The French “virtue” of liberty was not applied to the Church. In fact, quite the opposite. Just a few years after the French Revolution there was a purge of high and low clergy, religious and laity. The killing of the clerics happened because the republican government seized control of the Church, a matter that was (and, remains so today) unacceptable to Catholic ecclesiology. As the state has its duty and responsibility for civic order and leadership, the Church’s mandate is found in sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and not in positive law; in short all things pertaining to the salvation of souls. Matters of state are not the same for the Church and vice versa unless these matters concern the moral law. This, however, was not the reigning ideology. The Republicans passed legislation that rejected the authority of the Church and it wanted the bishops and priests to uphold the new laws giving the state control over the Church. Something similar had with the Oath of Supremacy in England. Clergyman and religious weren’t the only one to offer their lives as a gift to the Lord. the laity lost their lives too, aristocrats and peasant alike. Refusing to take the oath got you the label: “non-jurors.”

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Some of the 191 were killed in cold blood, others were asked a question and depending on how they answered determined if they lived or died. No mental reservation was kept when it came to following the wisdom of the Church or the wisdom of man.

One observer noted that common among those put to death was that all faced death in a happy manner as one who would’ve gone to a wedding. Indeed, the wedding feast the martyrs were going to was the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (see the Book of Revelation).

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,the penalty for refusing to take the oath was deportation. Many priests and religious took the oath but a sizable minority opposed it. The revolutionary leaders’ primary target was the aristocracy, but by 1792, their attention turned to the Church, especially the non-jurors within it. In August, in the name of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, those who had refused the oath were rounded up and imprisoned in Parisian monasteries, emptied for that purpose.

Blessed John du Lau, archbishop of Arles, was born on October 30, 1738 at the Château de la Côte at Biras in the Dordogne, in the diocese of Périgueux, of an aristocratic family which had fed many members into the higher ranks of the clergy. His father was Armand du Lau, seigneur de La Coste and his mother Françoise de Salleton. Refusing to take the oath to the civil constitution, he had been brought to Paris and cast into the prison of the Cannes, formerly a Carmelite monastery, awaiting deportation, as were the rest.

Blessed Pierre-Louis de la Rochefoucauld, Bishop of Saintes and a vigorous antagonist of Jansenism, and his brother, Francois-Joseph de la Rochefoucauld, Bishop of Beauvais, were sons of Jean de La Rochefoucauld, lord of Maumont, Magnac, and other places, knight of the military orders of Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel and St-Lazarre de Jérusalem, and Marguerite des Escots. Both brothers were imprisoned.

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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.

Among the martyrs was Blessed Alexander Lenfant, a Jesuit. Just a few minutes before he died, he had been hearing the confession of a fellow priest. Both were killed moments later. The rioters then went to the Carmelite church which was also being used as a prison.

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 bishop of Beauvais had earlier been wounded in the leg. When summoned, he answered, “I do not refuse to die with the others, but I cannot walk. I beg you to have the kindness to carry me where you wish me to go.” For a moment, his courtesy silenced the assassins. But, when he, too, refused the oath, he was killed like the rest.

On September 3, the same mob went to the Lazarist (Vincentian) seminary. It was also a temporary prison, with ninety priests and religious. Only four escaped death.  According to Nicolas-Edme Restif de la Bretonne, “The number of active killers who took part in the September massacres was only about one hundred and fifty. The rest of Paris looked on in fear or approval, or stayed behind closed shutters.”

Earl Gower, a British diplomat, wrote in his dispatches: “These unfortunate people fell victims to the fury of the enraged populace and were massacred with circumstances of barbarity too shocking to describe. The mob went afterwards to the prison of the Abbaye, and having demanded of the jailors a list of the prisoners they put aside such as were confined only for debt, and pulled to pieces most of the others. The same cruelties were committed during the night and continue this morning in all the other prisons of the town. When they have satiated their vengeance, which is principally directed against the refractory Priests,… it is to be hoped the tumult will subside, but as the multitude are perfectly masters, everything is to be dreaded.”

The massacres 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. Long after the names of their blood-thirsty executioners have been forgotten, their heroism in the defense of the Papacy and the Faith will be remembered:

Blessed Jean-Marie du Lau d’Alleman, Archbishop of Arles
Blessed Ambroise-Augustin Chevreux
Blessed Andé Angar
Blessed André Grasset de Saint-Sauveur
Blessed André-Abel Alricy
Blessed Anne-Alexandre-Charles-Marie Lanfant
Blessed Antoine-Charles-Octavien du Bouzet
Blessed Antoine-Mathieu-Augustin Nogier
Blessed Apollinaris of Posat
Blessed Armand de Foucauld de Pontbriand
Blessed Armand-Anne-Auguste-Antonin-Sicaire Chapt de Rastignac
Blessed August-Dénis Nezel
Blessed Bernard-François de Cucsac
Blessed Bertrand-Antoine de Caupenne
Blessed Charles Carnus
Blessed Charles-François le Gué
Blessed Charles-Jéremie Bérauld du Pérou
Blessed Charles-Louis Hurtrel
Blessed Charles-Regis-Mathieu de la Calmette de Valfons (Count of Valfons)
Blessed Charles-Victor Véret
Blessed Claude Bochot
Blessed Claude Cayx-Dumas
Blessed Claude Chaudet
Blessed Claude Colin
Blessed Claude Fontaine
Blessed Claude Ponse
Blessed Claude Rousseau
Blessed Claude-Antoine-Raoul Laporte
Blessed Claude-François Gagnières des Granges
Blessed Apollinaris of Posat
Blessed Claude-Louis Marmotant de Savigny
Blessed Claude-Silvain-Raphaël Mayneaud de Bizefranc
Blessed Daniel-Louis André Des Pommerayes
Blessed Denis-Claude Duval
Blessed Éloy Herque du Roule
Blessed Étienne-François-Dieudonné de Ravinel
Blessed Étienne-Michel Gillet
Blessed Eustache Félix
Blessed François Balmain
Blessed François Dardan
Blessed François Dumasrambaud de Calandelle
Blessed François Lefranc
Blessed François Varheilhe-Duteil
Blessed François-César Londiveau
Blessed François-Hyacinthe lé Livec de Trésurin
Blessed François-Joseph de la Rochefoucald-Maumont, Bishop of Beauvais
Blessed François-Joseph Monnier
Blessed François-Joseph Pey
Blessed François-Louis Hébert
Blessed François-Louis Méallet de Fargues
Blessed François-Urbain Salins de Niart
Blessed Gabriel Desprez de Roche
Blessed Gaspard-Claude Maignien
Blessed Georges Girault
Blessed Georges-Jérôme Giroust
Blessed Gilbert-Jean Fautrel
Blessed Gilles-Louis-Symphorien Lanchon
Blessed Guillaume-Antoine Delfaut
Blessed Guillaume-Nicolas-Louis Leclerq (Salomon), a lay Brother
Blessed Henri-August Luzeau de la Mulonnière
Blessed Henri-Hippolyte Ermès
Blessed Henri-Jean Milet
Blessed Jacques de la Lande
Blessed Jacques Dufour
Blessed Jacques Friteyre-Durvé
Blessed Jacques-Alexandre Menuret
Blessed Jacques-Augustin Robert de Lézardières
Blessed Jacques-Étienne-Philippe Hourrier
Blessed Jacques-François de Lubersac
Blessed Jacques-Gabriel Galais
Blessed Jacques-Jean Lemeunier
Blessed Jacques-Joseph Le jardinier desLandes
Blessed Jacques-Jules Bonnaud
Blessed Jacques-Léonor Rabé
Blessed Jacques-Louis Schmid
Blessed Jean Charton de Millou
Blessed Jean Goizet
Blessed Jean Lacan
Blessed Jean Lemaître
Blessed Jean-André Capeau
Blessed Jean-Antoine Guilleminet
Blessed Jean-Antoine Savine
Blessed Jean-Antoine Seconds
Blessed Jean-Antoine-Barnabé Séguin
Blessed Jean-Antoine-Hyacinthe Boucharenc de Chaumeils
Blessed Jean-Antoine-Joseph de Villette
Blessed Jean-Baptiste Bottex
Blessed Jean-Baptiste Jannin
Blessed Jean-Baptiste Nativelle
Blessed Jean-Baptiste-Claude Aubert
Blessed Jean-Baptiste-Marie Tessier
Blessed Jean-Baptiste-Michel Pontus
Blessed Jean-Charles Caron
Blessed Jean-Charles Legrand
Blessed Jean-Charles-Marie Bernard du Cornillet
Blessed Jean-François Bonnel de Pradal
Blessed Jean-François Bousquet
Blessed Jean-François Burté
Blessed Jean-François-Marie Benoît-Vourlat
Blessed Jean-Henri Gruyer
Blessed Jean-Henri-Louis-Michel Samson
Blessed Jean-Joseph de Lavèze-Bellay
Blessed Jean-Joseph Rateau
Blessed Jean-Louis Guyard de Saint-Clair
Blessed Jean-Michel Philippot
Blessed Jean-Philippe Marchand
Blessed Jean-Pierre Bangue
Blessed Jean-Pierre Duval
Blessed Jean-Pierre Le Laisant
Blessed Jean-Pierre Simon
Blessed Jean-Robert Quéneau
Blessed Jean-Thomas Leroy
Blessed Joseph Bécavin
Blessed Joseph Falcoz
Blessed Joseph-Louis Oviefre
Blessed Joseph-Marie Gros
Blessed Joseph-Thomas Pazery de Thorame
Blessed Jules-Honoré-Cyprien Pazery de Thorame
Blessed Julien le Laisant
Blessed Julien Poulain Delaunay
Blessed Julien-François Hédouin
Blessed Laurent
Blessed Louis Barreau de La Touche
Blessed Louis le Danois
Blessed Louis Longuet
Blessed Louis Mauduit
Blessed Louis-Alexis-Mathias Boubert
Blessed Louis-Benjamin Hurtrel
Blessed Louis-François Rigot
Blessed Louis-François-André Barret
Blessed Louis-Jean-Mathieu Lanier
Blessed Louis-Joseph François
Blessed Louis-Laurent Gaultier
Blessed Louis-Remi Benoist
Blessed Louis-Remi-Nicolas Benoist
>Blessed Loup Thomas-Bonnotte
Blessed Marc-Louis Royer
Blessed Marie-François Mouffle
Blessed Martin-François-Alexis Loublier
Blessed Mathurin-Nicolas de la VilleCrohain le Bous de Villeneuve
Blessed Mathurin-Victoir Deruelle
Blessed Michel Leber
Blessed Michel-André-Sylvestre Binard
Blessed Michel-François de laGardette
Blessed Nicolas Bize
Blessed Nicolas Clairet
Blessed Nicolas Colin
Blessed Nicolas Gaudreau
Blessed Nicolas-Claude Roussel
Blessed Nicolas-Marie Verron
Blessed Olivier Lefebvre
Blessed Philibert Fougères
Blessed Pierre Bonzé
Blessed Pierre Brisquet
Blessed Pierre Brisse
Blessed Pierre Gauguin
Blessed Pierre Landry
Blessed Pierre Ploquin
Blessed Pierre Saint-James
Blessed Pierre-Claude Pottier
Blessed Pierre-Florent Leclercq
Blessed Pierre-François Hénocq
Blessed Pierre-François Pazery de Thorames
Blessed Pierre-Jacques de Turmenyes
Blessed Pierre-Jacques-Marie Vitalis
Blessed Pierre-Jean Garrigues
Blessed Pierre-Louis de la Rochefoucauld-Bayers, Bishop of Saintes
Blessed Pierre-Louis Gervais
Blessed Pierre-Louis Joret
Blessed Pierre-Louis-Joseph Verrier
Blessed Pierre-Michel Guérin
Blessed Pierre-Michel Guérin du Rocher
Blessed Pierre-Nicolas Psalmon
Blessed Pierre-Paul Balzac
Blessed Pierre-Robert Regnet
Blessed René Nativelle
Blessed René-Joseph Urvoy
Blessed René-Julien Massey
Blessed René-Marie Andrieux
Blessed René-Nicolas Poret
Blessed Robert le Bis
Blessed Robert-François Guérin du Rocher
Blessed Saintin Huré
Blessed Sébastien Desbrielles
Blessed Thomas-Jean Montsaint
Blessed Thomas-Nicolas Dubray
Blessed Thomas-René Dubuisson
Blessed Urbain Lefebvre
Blessed Vincent Abraham
Blessed Vincent-Joseph le Rousseau de Rosencoat
Blessed Yves-André Guillon de Keranrun
Blessed Yves-Jean-Pierre Rey de Kervisic

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-The Massacre at the Abbaye Prison near St. Germain des Pres, engraved by Reinier Vinkeles and Daniel Vrydag

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-The Massacre of the Priests in September 1792 by H. de la Charlerie

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All you Holy Martyrs of God, pray for us!
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us!

Love,
Matthew

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