Saint/s of the Day – 2 September – The September Martyrs of the French Revolution, Blessed John du Lau and Companions. They were massacred by a mob on 2 September and 3 September 1792 and Beatified on 17 October 1926 by Pope Pius XI.
A group of 191 Martyrs who died in the French Revolution. They were imprisoned in the Abbey of St-Germain-des-Prés, Hôtel des Carmes in the Rue de Rennes, Prison de la Force and Seminaire de Saint-Firmin in Paris, France by the Legislative Assembly for refusing to take the oath to support the civil constitution of the clergy. This act placed Priests under the control of the state, and had been condemned by the Vatican.
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. 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 30 October 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.
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.
In September “Vigilance Committees” were set up and mobs sent to the make-shift prisons. On 2 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 3 September the same mob went to the Lazarist 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 191 COURAGEOUS and BLESSED MARTYRS ARE: • Ambroise-Augustin Chevreux • Andé Angar • André Grasset de Saint-Sauveur • André-Abel Alricy • Anne-Alexandre-Charles-Marie Lanfant • Antoine-Charles-Octavien du Bouzet • Antoine-Mathieu-Augustin Nogier • Apollinaris of Posat • Armand de Foucauld de Pontbriand • Armand-Anne-Auguste-Antonin-Sicaire Chapt de Rastignac • August-Dénis Nezel • Bernard-François de Cucsac • Bertrand-Antoine de Caupenne • Charles Carnus • Charles-François le Gué • Charles-Jéremie Bérauld du Pérou • Charles-Louis Hurtrel • Charles-Regis-Mathieu de la Calmette de Valfons • Charles-Victor Véret • Claude Bochot • Claude Cayx-Dumas • Claude Chaudet • Claude Colin • Claude Fontaine • Claude Ponse • Claude Rousseau • Claude-Antoine-Raoul Laporte • Claude-François Gagnières des Granges • Claude-Louis Marmotant de Savigny • Claude-Silvain-Raphaël Mayneaud de Bizefranc • Daniel-Louis André Des Pommerayes • Denis-Claude Duval • Éloy Herque du Roule • Étienne-François-Dieudonné de Ravinel • Étienne-Michel Gillet • Eustache Félix • François Balmain • François Dardan • François Dumasrambaud de Calandelle • François Lefranc • François Varheilhe-Duteil • François-César Londiveau • François-Hyacinthe lé Livec de Trésurin • François-Joseph de la Rochefoucald-Maumont • François-Joseph Monnier • François-Joseph Pey • François-Louis Hébert • François-Louis Méallet de Fargues • François-Urbain Salins de Niart • Gabriel Desprez de Roche • Gaspard-Claude Maignien • Georges Girault • Georges-Jérôme Giroust • Gilbert-Jean Fautrel • Gilles-Louis-Symphorien Lanchon • Guillaume-Antoine Delfaut • Henri-August Luzeau de la Mulonnière • Henri-Hippolyte Ermès • Henri-Jean Milet • Jacques de la Lande • Jacques Dufour • Jacques Friteyre-Durvé • Jacques-Alexandre Menuret • Jacques-Augustin Robert de Lézardières • Jacques-étienne-Philippe Hourrier • Jacques-François de Lubersac • Jacques-Gabriel Galais • Jacques-Jean Lemeunier • Jacques-Joseph Le jardinier desLandes • Jacques-Jules Bonnaud • Jacques-Léonor Rabé • Jacques-Louis Schmid • Jean Charton de Millou • Jean Goizet • Jean Lacan • Jean Lemaître • Jean-André Capeau • Jean-Antoine Guilleminet • Jean-Antoine Savine • Jean-Antoine Seconds • Jean-Antoine-Barnabé Séguin • Jean-Antoine-Hyacinthe Boucharenc de Chaumeils • Jean-Antoine-Joseph de Villette • Jean-Baptiste Bottex • Jean-Baptiste Jannin • Jean-Baptiste Nativelle • Jean-Baptiste-Claude Aubert • Jean-Baptiste-Marie Tessier • Jean-Baptiste-Michel Pontus • Jean-Charles Caron • Jean-Charles Legrand • Jean-Charles-Marie Bernard du Cornillet • Jean-François Bonnel de Pradal • Jean-François Bousquet • Jean-François Burté • Jean-François-Marie Benoît-Vourlat • Jean-Henri Gruyer • Jean-Henri-Louis-Michel Samson • Jean-Joseph de Lavèze-Bellay • Jean-Joseph Rateau • Jean-Louis Guyard de Saint-Clair • Jean-Marie du Lau d’Alleman • Jean-Michel Philippot • Jean-Philippe Marchand • Jean-Pierre Bangue • Jean-Pierre Duval • Jean-Pierre Le Laisant • Jean-Pierre Simon • Jean-Robert Quéneau • Jean-Thomas Leroy • Joseph Bécavin • Joseph Falcoz • Joseph-Louis Oviefre • Joseph-Marie Gros • Joseph-Thomas Pazery de Thorame • Jules-Honoré-Cyprien Pazery de Thorame • Julien le Laisant • Julien Poulain Delaunay • Julien-François Hédouin • Laurent • Louis Barreau de La Touche • Louis le Danois • Louis Longuet • Louis Mauduit • Louis-Alexis-Mathias Boubert • Louis-Benjamin Hurtrel • Louis-François Rigot • Louis-François-André Barret • Louis-Jean-Mathieu Lanier • Louis-Joseph François • Louis-Laurent Gaultier • Louis-Remi Benoist • Louis-Remi-Nicolas Benoist • Loup Thomas-Bonnotte • Marc-Louis Royer • Marie-François Mouffle • Martin-François-Alexis Loublier • Mathurin-Nicolas de la Ville Crohain le Bous de Villeneuve • Mathurin-Victoir Deruelle • Michel Leber • Michel-André-Sylvestre Binard • Michel-François de la Gardette • Nicolas Bize • Nicolas Clairet • Nicolas Colin • Nicolas Gaudreau • Nicolas-Claude Roussel • Nicolas-Marie Verron • Olivier Lefebvre • Philibert Fougères • Pierre Bonzé • Pierre Brisquet • Pierre Brisse • Pierre Gauguin • Pierre Landry • Pierre Ploquin • Pierre Saint-James • Pierre-Claude Pottier • Pierre-Florent Leclercq • Pierre-François Hénocq • Pierre-François Pazery de Thorames • Pierre-Jacques de Turmenyes • Pierre-Jacques-Marie Vitalis • Pierre-Jean Garrigues • Pierre-Louis de la Rochefoucauld-Bayers • Pierre-Louis Gervais • Pierre-Louis Joret • Pierre-Louis-Joseph Verrier • Pierre-Michel Guérin • Pierre-Michel Guérin du Rocher • Pierre-Nicolas Psalmon • Pierre-Paul Balzac • Pierre-Robert Regnet • René Nativelle • René-Joseph Urvoy • René-Julien Massey • René-Marie Andrieux • René-Nicolas Poret • Robert le Bis • Robert-François Guérin du Rocher • Saintin Huré • Sébastien Desbrielles • Solomon Leclerq • Thomas-Jean Montsaint • Thomas-Nicolas Dubray • Thomas-René Dubuisson • Urbain Lefebvre • Vincent Abraham • Vincent-Joseph le Rousseau de Rosencoat • Yves-André Guillon de Keranrun • Yves-Jean-Pierre Rey de Kervisic.