10 June 2022

22 Prairial of Year II ...

 ... was the date (=June 10 1794) of the passing of the Law of 22 Prairial, which initiated ... or, if you prefer, heightened ... the Terror. Under it, hundreds were judicially murdered, among whom we especially remember quarumque suffragia petimus, the Carmelite Sisters of Compiegne, guillotined on the 17th of July (their feast day in the Carmelite Calendar, directly after the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel).

During that year of blood, the French revolutionary armies made their second attack on Belgium. Five days after the Dutch and Anglo-Hannoverian armies had evacuated Antwerp, the English Carmelite nuns in that city (together with the Augustinians of Bruges) sailed from Rotterdam on Sunday June 29, the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul, reaching England on the 12th of July, eventually settling in the old Recusant House at Lanherne in Cornwall. (I wonder how long it was before they heard of the martyrdoms of July 17.) Today, a group of young nuns, refugees from the brutally oppressed Franciscans of the Immaculate, have rediscovered the Carmelite charism in that same place.

The Law of 22 Prairial was repealed on August 1; but the baleful influence of the Enlightenment was really only just beginning its career of cultural poison ... which is as lethal, in both senses, now as ever it was.

Perhaps, in this age of fashionable Apologies for past History, the heirs of the Enlightenment Revolutions, led or represented by their North American and European and British Aeschrophants, might themselves care to Apologise for their murderous inheritance. However that may be, I cannot help feeling that today, 22 Prairial, is a suitable day for us to remember the millions whom the Enlightenment has driven to guillotines or death camps or to death by famine or to the slaughter of the abortion clinics. 

This, surely, is the last Apostasy of these, the Last Days ... the dogma that man can remake himself, free from the Kingship of Christ.

Long live Christ the King! Marana tha!


Albertus said...

Thankyou, Father, for this essay on the Martyred Sisters of Compiegne, martyrs indeed of the Enlightenment as well as of the Frevnch Revolution, the forerunner of the even bloodier Bolshevik Revolution. I have several times seen Poulenc's moving opera "Les Dialogues des Carmelites". The Wikipedia article about the Carmelites of Compiegne is quite good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martyrs_of_Compi%C3%A8gne

Cus said...

Dear Father,
Imagine an old woman on a crowded bus/tram somewhere in Eastern Middle Europe reading your post, sometimes giggling or nearly crying (=old glory of the Church and England). I wonder what people think I am reading... It is like being in a better, more normal world. God bless and keep you long so we may remain sane in this surreal world.

Irenaeus said...


John Vasc said...

One of the principal cruelties enacted during a religious persecution is the lack of freedom to worship together with others, i.e. the prohibition on liturgical gatherings.
Sometimes the 'authorities' claim to allow such worship conditionally, but put pressure on parish priests not to publicise the place and time. The aim of such intimidation is eveident: to prevent the committed and the curious from attending, so the congregation will eventually dwindle into nothing. I believe Robespierre had much the same bright idea, as did Stalin and Mao.

On a totally unrelated subject, some London Catholics may appreciate the news - which they will not find even on the LMS website - that Holy Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite can be freely attended in St Patrick's Church in Soho Square on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm (generally sung). It is very beautiful.

I await the tumbril.

Stephen Barber said...

The martyrdom of the Carmelite sisters was movingly dramatised in Poulenc's opera Dialogues des Carmelites.

John Vasc said...

Stephen, Yes indeed, one of the most hair-raisingly moving moments in the whole of opera, though alas ruined in the last ROH Covent Garden production a few years ago by having several sisters who should have been offstage on the scaffold instead actually appearing on the empty stage, where they tumbled balletically to the floor and rolled around, like children playing Cowboys and Indians.
You can always tell a modern opera producer...though he/she will never be listening to what you tell them.

Venite Adoremus said...

The story of holy sisters and martyrs of Compiegne was also beautifully told in 2 movies, both titled "Dialogues des Carmelites"; the first from 1960, in black and white, by Bruckberger and Agostini, and the second from 1984 by Pierre Cardinal. Both can be easily found on YouTube. The 1960 version has English subtitles. The 1984 movie (which in my opinion is far superior in its artistic quality) only has Polish subtitles, and while auto-translate just about does the trick, it doesn't do justice to the poetic language used in the script. I've been thinking of translating it for a while now - perhaps now is the time.