France was populated with Catholics prior to social and political upheavals in 1787. The agitations reached initial climax in 1789, thus, the expression Revolution of 1789 to denote the end of ancient regime in France.
On October 10, 1789, the properties of the Catholic Church were seized by the National Constituent Assembly as assignats, or security for expropriated lands.
On July 12, 1790, the Civil Constitution was approved, which subordinated the Catholic Church to the French government, which the pope and clergy detested.
The archbishop of Arus, France, refused to uphold the Constitution and was imprisoned.
Martyrs of the Church
Rumors spread that “foreign and royalist armies would attack Paris,” supported by prisoners who would be freed.
On the eve of August 9, 1792, “a Jacobin insurrection overthrew the leadership of Paris Commune, headed by Jerome de Villeneuve who proclaimed a new revolutionary commune, headed by transitional authorities.” (Wikipedia)
The royal family of King Louis XVI fled on August 10, 1792, and a “de facto revolutionary commune” took over the government.
Since the religious were considered state employees, they were required to swear an oath of allegiance to the state. Priests who abide by the order became constitutional jurors, and those who refused were imprisoned, killed or deported.
Monasteries were emptied and transformed into prisons. Religious orders were dissolved.
The initial atrocities started when 24 priests, who were being transported for imprisonment in l’Abbaye in Paris, were attacked by an angry mob. (Webchron)
On September 2, 1792, the angry crowds went to the Carmelite church where priests and religious were imprisoned. All were mandated to take the mandatory oath of loyalty to the government. Refusal meant they were enemies of the state and were “hacked to death as they passed down the stairway.”
They called on Archbishop John du Lau to come out. He came out and said: “I am he whom you seek.”
In a few minutes, they cracked his skull, stabbed him and trampled him to death.
The bishop of Beauvais, who was wounded on the leg, called: “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.”
Bishop François Joseph de la Rochefauld was killed with his brother, Pierre Louis de la Rochefauld, bishop of Saintes. (Nobility org.)
Ambrose Chevreux, the last superior-general of the monastic congregation of Saint Maur, was also executed.
On September 3, the crowd went to the Lazarist Seminary to execute the priests. Of the 90 priests, four were able to escape.
When the revolution ended, 1,500 Catholics had been killed.
On October 17, 1926, Pope Pius XI beatified 191 of them.
Their feast is on September 2.
Santiago is a former regional director of the Department of Education National Capital Region. She is currently a faculty member of Mater Redemptoris Collegium in Calauan, Laguna, and of Mater Redemptoris College in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija.