Posted by: fvbcdm | July 24, 2014

Feast of Saint Sharbel Makhluf (24 July 2014)

When I was eight years old, Hollywood made the movie “Marie Antoinette” about the tragic queen of France.  Impressionable was I was, it awakened in me a great interest in the French Revolution.  Later I learned that it was not only the king and queen and many of the nobles and aristocracy who were sent to the guillotine by the bloodthirsty revolutionaries, but also many bishops, priests, religious, and devout laity who shed their blood rather than renounce their relationship with Our Divine Lord.

I’d like to tell you today something of the sixteen Carmelite nuns who were martyred during the Reign of Terror, the worse part of the revolution. Their monastery was in Compiegne, a small city north of Paris. They were ordered to leave their convent and give up the practice of their religious life. So they were received into the homes of some generous lay people who sheltered them for about a year. However, their whereabouts and their living of their religious life as best they could in private homes became known to the revolutionary authorities, who arrested them all and sent them to Paris, to the infamous prison called the Conciergerie, from which groups of prisoners were taken daily to the guillotine.  A mock trial was held there, at the bloodthirsty judge accused them of being “fanatics.” One of the Sisters asked what he meant by that word. He replied, “I mean your attachment to childish beliefs and your things and your silly religious practices.” The nun who had asked the question turned to her Sisters in great elation.  She exclaimed, “You see! We are condemned for clinging to our holy religion. We have the happiness to die for God!” They were loaded into a tumbril, the open cart by which the condemned were taken to the guillotine. They sang as they passed through the streets, bumping along over the cobblestones. They continued to sing hymns as they mounted the scaffold one by one and died upon it. Their bodies, clad in their Carmelite habits stained with their blood, were dumped into a large pit in a cemetery nearby along with many other victims of the guillotine. They lie there to this day, a plaque on the cemetery wall telling the story of the nuns who had the happiness to die for God.  Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

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