Saint of the Day – 2 September – St Solomon Le Clercq FSC MARTYR and Religious Brother – St Solomon Le Clercq FSC (born Guillaume-Nicolas-Louis) Martyr, Religious Brother of the De La Salle Brothers, Teacher (Born at Boulogne, France 14 November 1745 – Martyred 2 September 1792). Beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and Canonised by Pope Francis on 16 October 2016. Patronage – Persecuted Christians. Attributes – Cassock, Palm.
St Solomon was the son of a wealthy wine merchant. In 1767 he entered the novitiate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, taking the name Solomon. Solomon went into hiding when religious orders were outlawed during the French Revolution. He was martyred, along with nearly 200 hundred others, during the September Massacres of 1792.
In August that year the Legislative Assembly had closed all Catholic schools in Paris and outlawed the wearing of religious habits or vestments in public. On 18 August the Assembly suppressed all Catholic institutions and religious orders. Priests had to swear an oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which had taken over the Church, or leave the country. Some 25,000 priests left.
In the first week of September, between 1,247 and 1,368 people were killed in what became known as the September Massacres. Blessed Solomon was arrested, taken to a Carmelite monastery which the authorities had converted into a prison, and executed on 2 September. He was among nearly 200 Catholics who refused to abandon their faith; they were beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926.
Once the monarchy had been overthrown early in the French Revolution, the next target was the Church. In 1790 the Civil Constitution of the Clergy gave the state complete control over the Church in France. In order to continue to function, priests and religious were forced to take an oath to support the constitution. Most of the Brothers refused and so were forced gradually to abandon their schools and communities. Eventually the Institute was deprived altogether of legal status in France.
Brother Solomon was secretary to Brother Agathon, the Superior General, after having been a teacher, director and bursar. He always showed a great love for people and a great attachment to his work. Having refused to take an oath, he lived alone in Paris in secrecy We still have many of his letters to his family. The last one is dated 15 August 1792. That very day he was arrested and imprisoned in the Carmelite monastery, which had become a prison, together with several bishops and priests. On 2 September, almost all the prisoners were killed by sword in the monastery garden. He was beatified on 17 October 1926, together with 188 of his fellow martyrs. He was the first one of our martyrs and also the first Brother to be beatified.
He has now been Canonised on 16 October last year by Pope Francis. Alleluia!
The miracle that would lead to his eventual sanctification was investigated in the diocese of its origin in Venezuela from 19 January 2011 to 29 September 2011 and was sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for further investigation. The consulting medical board approved the miracle on 3 March 2016 while theologians approved it the following month on 5 April 2016. The C.C.S. approved the miracle on 3 May 2016 and passed it onto Pope Francis who approved for Leclercq’s canonization on 9 May 2016. Normally in the process of canonization, two miracles attributed to the saint are needed – one for beatification, and one for canonization. However, the miracle necessary for beatification in the case of martyrs can be waived, since martyrdom itself is considered a miracle of grace.
The miracle being attributed to the intercession of Blessed Solomon Leclercq, declared by the medical consultant of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints and approved by Pope Francis, is the inexplicable cure of a Venezuelan girl who had been bitten by a venomous snake.
The date of canonization was decided at a gathering of cardinals on 20 June 2016 and the canonisation itself was celebrated in Saint Peter’s Square on 16 October 2016.
The postulator at the time of canonization was Rodolfo Cosimo Meoli.