Feast Of Christ The King (Last Sunday Of October)

Lex Christianorum: Te Saeculorum Principem

The wicked mob screams out. “We don’t want Christ as King.”

While we, with shouts of joy, hail Thee as the world’s supreme King.

May the rulers of the world publicly honor and extol Thee: May teachers and judges reverence Thee; May the laws express Thine order and the arts reflect Thy beauty.

May kings find renown in the submission and dedication to Thee.

Bring under Thy gentle rule our country and our homes.

Glory be to Thee, Jesus, supreme over All secular authorities:

And glory be to the Father and the loving Spirit through endless ages.

To Thee, Who by right claim rule over all men,  We willing submit ourselves; to be subject to Thy laws Means happiness for a state and its peoples.

Glory be to Thee, Jesus Supreme over all secular authorities; And glory be to the Father and the Loving Spirit through endless ages.

Christ triumphantly unfurls His Glorious banners everywhere; Come nations of the world, and On bended knee acclaim the King of Kings.

How great is the happiness of the country that rightly owns the rule of Christ and Zealously carries out the commands God gave to men.

The plighted word keeps marriage unbroken, the children grow up with virtue intact and Homes where purity is found Abound also in the other virtues of home life.

Beloved King, may the light from Thee that we desire, shine on us in all glory; May the world receive the gift of peace, Be subject to Thee and adore Thee.

Christendom Where Christ Rules As King

On This Feast Of Christ The King, try to take time to read about Christendom.

“In its wider sense this term is used to describe the part of the world which is inhabited by Christians, as Germany in the Middle Ages was the country inhabited by Germans. The word will be taken in this quantitative sense in the article in comparing the extent of Christendom with that of Paganism or of Islam. But there is a narrower sense in which Christendom stands for a polity as well as a religion, for a nation as well as for a people. Christendom in this sense was an ideal which inspired and dignified many centuries of history and which has not yet altogether lost its power over the minds of men.

kingcrownThe foundations of a Christian polity are to be found in the traditions of the Jewish theocracy softened and broadened by Christian cosmopolitanism, in the completeness with which Christian principles were applied to the whole of life, in the aloofness of the Christian communities from the world around them, and in the hierarchical organization of the clergy. The conflict between the new religion and the Roman Empire was due partly to the very thoroughness of the Christian system and it naturally emphasized the distinction between this new society and the old state. Thus when Constantine proclaimed the Peace of the Church he might almost be described as signing a treaty between two powers. From that Peace to the time of the Barbarian inroads into the West, Christendom was all but conterminous with the Roman Empire, and it might be thought that the ideal of a Christian nation was then at least realized. The legal privileges which were granted to the bishops from the first and which tended to increase, the protection given to the churches and the property of the clergy, and the principle admitted by the emperors that questions of faith were to be freely decided by the bishops – all these concessions seemed to show that the empire had become positively as well as negatively Christian. To St. Ambrose and the bishops of the fourth century the destruction of the empire seemed almost incredible except as a phase of the final catastrophe, and the system which prevailed in the delays of Theodosius seemed almost the ideal Christian polity.

Yet there was about it much that fell short of the ideal of Christendom. In many ways, as a contemporary bishop expressed it, “the church was in the empire, not the empire in the church”. The traditions of Roman imperialism were too strong to be easily mitigated. Constantine, though not even a catechumen, in a sense at least, presided over the Council of Nicaea and the “Divinity” of his son Constantius, though formally observing the rule that decisions of faith belonged to the bishops, was able to exert such pressure upon them that at one time not a single strictly orthodox bishop was left in the occupation of his see. The officious interference of a theologian emperor was more dangerous to the Church than the hostility of Julian, his successor. But the wish to dominate in every sphere was not the only relic of pagan Rome. Though the emperor was no longer pontifex maximus and the statue of Victory was removed from the senate house, though Theodosius decreed the final closing of the temples and put an end to pagan public worship, the ancient world was not really converted; it was hardly a catechumen. In philosophy, literature, and art it clung to the old models and reproduced them in a debased form. Pagan civilization had not been Christians of a simpler character and a more spontaneous vigour than the inhabitants of the degenerate empire. The formation of Christendom was to be the work of a new generation of nations, baptized in their infancy and receiving even the message of the ancient world from the lips of Christian teachers.

Christ the King in Glory_stained glassBut it was to be long before the great future hidden in the Barbarian inversions was to become manifest. At their first irruption the influence of the Teutonic tribes was only destructive; the Christian polity seemed to be perishing with the empire. The Church, however, as a spiritual power survived and mitigated even the fury of the Barbarian, for the helpless population of Rome found a refuge in the churches during the sack of the city by Alaric in 410. The distinction between church and empire, which this disaster illustrated, was emphasized by the accusations brought against the patriotism of the Christians and by St. Augustine’s reply in his “De Civitate Dei”. He develops in this encyclopedic treatise the idea of the two kingdoms or societies (city, except in a very metaphorical sense, is too narrow to be an adequate translation of civitas) the Kingdom of God consisting of His friends in this world and the next, whether men or angels, while the earthly kingdom is that of his enemies. These two kingdoms have existed since the fall of the angels but in a more limited sense and in relation to the Christian dispensation, the Church is spoken of as God’s kingdom on earth while the Roman Empire is all but identified with the civitas terrena; not altogether, however, because the civil power, in securing peace for that part of the heavenly kingdom which is on its earthly pilgrimage, receives some kind of Divine sanction. We might, perhaps, have expected, now that the empire was Christian, that St. Augustine would have looked forward to a new civitas terrena reconciled and united to the civitas Dei; but this prophetic vision of the future was prevented, it may be, by the prevalent opinion, that the world was near its end. The “De Civitate”, however, which had a commanding influence in the Middle Ages, helped to form the ideal of Christendom by the development which it gave to the idea of the kingdom of God upon earth, its past history, its dignity, and universality.

christ-the-kingFrom the fifth century till the days of Charles the Great there was no effectual political unity in the West, and the Church had no civil counterpart. But Charles’ dominions extended from the Elbe to the Ebro and from Britany to Belgrade; there was but little of Western Christendom which they did not include. Ireland and the South of Italy were the only parts of it which his power or his influence did not reach. Over the territories actually comprised in his empire he exercised a real control, administrative and legislative, as well as military. But the Carlovingian empire was far more than a mere political federation: it was a period of renewal and reorganisation in nearly every sphere of social life. It was spiritual, perhaps, even more than political. In war conversion went hand in hand with victory; in peace Charles ruled through bishops as effectively as through counts; his active solicitude extended to the reform and education of the clergy, the promotion of learning, the revival of the Benedictine Rule, to the arts, to the liturgy and even the doctrines of the Church. In the West Christendom became a temporal polity and a society as well as a Church, and the empire of Charles, brief though its existence proved to be, remained for many centuries an ideal and therefore a power. Yet the Carlovingian civilization was in most cases a return to late Roman models. Originality is not its characteristic. Charles’ favourite church at Aachen is supported on the columns which he sent for from the ruined temples of Italy. Even in his relations with the Church he would have found the closest precedents for his policy in the attitude of Constantine or even perhaps of Justinian. Great as was his respect for the successor of St. Peter, he claimed for himself a masterful share in the administration of matters ecclesiastical: he could write, even before his coronation as emperor, to Pope Leo III, “My part is to defend the Church by force of arms from external attacks and to secure her internally through the establishment of the Catholic faith, your part is to render us the assistance of prayer”. Still every step forward has usually begun with a return to the past; it is thus that the artist or the statesman learns his craft. If the Carlovingian system had lasted, no doubt much that was new would have been developed, and even under Charles’s successor the spiritual and temporal powers were placed on a more equal and more appropriate footing. But Charles was too great for his age; his work was premature. The political bond was too weak to prevail over tribal loyalty and Teutonic particularism. Disorder and disruption would have broken up Carlovingian civilization even if Northman, Saracen, and Hungarian had not come to plunge Europe once more into anarchy.

During the tenth century the work of moral and political reconstruction was slowly carried on by the Church and feudalism; in the eleventh came that struggle between these two creative factors of the new Europe which saved the Church from absorption into feudalism. This century opened with what was, perhaps, the most hopeful attempt, after Charles the Great, to give the medieval empire a really universal character. The revived empire of Otto I in the middle of the tenth century had been but an imperfect copy of its Carlovingian model. It was much more limited geographically, as it included only Germany, its dependent states to the east, and Italy; it was limited also in its interests, for Otto left to the Church nearly all those spheres of ecclesiastical, educational, literary, and artistic activity for which Charles had done so much. But Otto’s grandson, the boy emperor Otto III, “magnum quoddam et improbabile cogitans”, as a contemporary expressed it, attempted to make the empire less German, less military, more Roman, more universal, and more of a spiritual force. He was in intimate alliance with the Holy See, and with almost startling originality he established in Rome the first German and then the first French pope. He seems to have realized the truth that it was only by leaning on and developing religious aspect of the empire that he could hope at that stage of history to make its influence universal in the West. Europe was so unformed politically that the long reign of a wise and determined emperor backed up by the Church might perhaps have changed its future history, have brought together into one broad and rather indefinite channel the small but already divergent streams of national tendencies, and built up Europe on the basis of a Christian federalism. But Otto mirabile mundi, died at the age of twenty-two, and the dream of a Christian empire faded away. Never again did a successor of his make a serious attempt to throw off his German character and to make the sphere of his rule conterminous with Christendom. Fascinating as is the theory of the Holy Roman Empire, and great as was its influence on history and speculation, it was always something of a sham. It claimed in political matters a sphere of action as wide as that of the popes in things spiritual but, unlike the spiritual, this political plena potestas was never admitted. Even before the War of Investitures and the First Crusade had made so wide a breach in the imperial prestige, an Abbot of Dijon of Italian origin could contrast the still enduring unity of the Church with the disruption of the civil power. The empire is generally held to have reached its zenith in the middle of the eleventh century but that is not the century in which we find the ideal of a united Christendom nearest its realization.

Keys to the Kingdom_LORENZO VENEZIANOPolitical unity in the West was never restored after the fall of the Carlovingian Empire, religious unity lasted till the Reformation, but in the twelfth century we find, in addition, a very large measure of what may compendiously be called “social unity”. Before that time isolation, disorder and the predominance of feudalism had kept men apart; after it the development of national distinctions was to have something of the same effect. The twelfth century is therefore the period in which Christian cosmopolitanism can best be studied. The Church was naturally the chief unifying force, in the darkest days she had preached the gospel to Frank, Saxon, and Gallo-Roman, and her organization had been, at critical moments when the civil power had almost sunk under the flood, the only bond which linked together the populations of the West. The opening century found the Church in the midst of that Hildebrandine movement, in favour of clerical celibacy and against simony, which was necessary to save the spiritual character of the clergy from being obliterated by too close a contact with temporal administration and the material ambition of feudal society. The reform, though its centre was at Rome, was a European movement. Its forerunners had been found in the monasteries of Burgundy and among the students of canon law in the Rhine cities; at the height of the struggle its leaders included Italians, Lorrainers, Frenchmen, and a German monastic revival. When Paschal II showed signs of faltering, the movement was carried on almost in spite of him by the zeal of French reformers. Even Spain, England, and Demnark caught the saving infection, and the eventual settlement between Church and empire was foreshadowed in the concordat, devised probably by a French canonist, which was agreed to by St. Anselm and Henry I. Thus did all the nations which were to be have their share in the victory of Hildebrandine principles, and there was roused throughout the West a revival of the spiritual life. The ideals of the clergy were raised, or rather they acquired strength and confidence to pursue ideals which they had always, though despairingly, acknowledged. This crusade against selfishness, passion, and weakness brought together the clergy of the West, as the attack on more material foes united its peoples, and as a consequence the ecclesiastical body in the twelfth century is a real society almost contemptuous of political or racial frontiers. We find Frenchmen and an Englishman in the chair of St. Peter; an Italian, St. Anselm, at Canterbury; a Savoyard, St. Hugh, at Lincoln; an English John of Salisbury at Chartres: instances such as those could be multiplied almost indefinitely. In medieval Latin this vast society possessed a language suited to the varied wants of the age, and it is as living as any vernacular if we read it in a letter of St. Anselm, a sermon of St. Bernard, a poem of Adam of St. Victor, the “Polycraticus” of John of Salisbury, an assize of Henry II, the desultory chronicle of Ordericus Vitalis or the finished history of William of Tyre. It was a language which might have had a greater literature if the less simple amongst those who wrote had not been continually harking back to classical models.

The spirit of Catholicity in the Church was guarded and prompted by the ever increasing power of the popes. The days when the Holy See had had to be rescued by the emperors from the petty and passionate Roman nobility must have seemed far off, and the most definite result of the War of Investitures was a second liberation, the conquest of the complete independence of papal elections. Never was the papal power in Europe so great as in the years between the end of that war in 1122 and the great disaster of the Second Crusade. Besides being the guardian of the Faith, the papacy was fast becoming the central court of Christendom. For close on two centuries, from Nicholas I to Leo IX in the middle of the eleventh century, the plenary powers of the pope had been but exceptionally exercised north of the Alps though they had been acknowledged in principle, but in this most legal of centuries the exercise of papal jurisdiction becomes habitual. The curia was treated as a court of first instance as well as a court of appeal. Hardly any subject was too small or too local to be referred to Rome: the pope, for instance, decided whether or not the Duke of Larraine might have a castle within four miles of Toul. Papal legates might be met on all the highways of Christendom, papal courts sat in every land. Canon law grew fast, and the “Decretum” of Gratian, about the middle of the century, though it was not an authoritative collection, provided legates and judges with an admirable synthesis of papal pronouncements. St. Bernard was much troubled at the amount of legal business which poured in upon the pope; it must, he considered, interfere with the more spiritual duties of his high office. But the movement was irresistible; the papacy had become de facto the centre of a vast Christian nation. The empire was, as we have seen, out of court. It was in the papacy that Christendon, a temporal as well as a spiritual society, found its head in temporal and spiritual things alike.

CuoreVandea2_thumbAfter the faith and the hierarchy of the Church the monastic orders have usually formed the strongest bond of Catholic union, and in the twelfth century the monastic spirit was full of life. In the previous epoch the Cluniac Benedictines had played an essential part in the work of reconstruction; but life was now more complicated, and monasticism took many forms. The contemplative spirit of the old hermits inspired the Carthusian foundation of St. Bruno, “the only ancient order which has never been reformed and never required reforming”, the increased demand for parish work led to the revival of regular canons, and in part to the foundation of the Premonstratensians, the Crusades produced the military orders, while in the Cistercians the new spiritual fervour with its ascetical and mystical tendencies found appropriate expression. Seldom has a new order spread with such rapidity throughout Europe as these white Benedictines, and St. Bernard, their great representative is the most marvellous instance of the power of a single man, without official position, over all classes and different nations. The settlement of a disputed papal election practically depended on his verdict, he appeased the feuds of German noble families and reconciled Italian cities, he led one emperor to the South of Italy and sent another on a crusade of the East; more wonderful still, single-handed he pursued the Roman people to forsake the antipope. Though not the originator, he was the motive power of the Second Crusade, and his eloquence seemed as persuasive in the Rhine cities as in Burgundy, and as successful in saving the Jews from the fanaticism of the crusaders as in rousing the crusading spirit.

Besides the Church and its many activities, there were other forces at work, other expressions of the energy of youthful Christendom which must at least be enumerated. The twelfth-century renaissance was a rapid development of what may be called Franco-Norman civilization. France, if the name is given a comprehensive meaning, had conquered England and South Italy, had brought about the crusades, and had helped the papacy to victory over the empire. It was in France that the new monastic movements took their rise, and the intellectual movement as well. The University of Paris was the university of Christendom, and the problems stated by the Breton Abelard excited the curiosity and the enthusiasm of young men from every country. French was spoken nearly as widely as Latin, and the medieval epic, the romances of the Arthurian legend, and the lyrics of the troubadours, the three most characteristic forms of medieval vernacular literature all were developed amongst men who spoke one of the dialects of French. Politically the Franco-Norman world was divided between Plantagenet, Capetian, and the princes of the South, and the personality of Frederick Barbarossa gave a splendour to German politics, but intellectually and socially French civilization dominated Europe. It was however, a supremacy which lay in the rapidity and logical thoroughness with which she expressed ideas common to the whole West. The development of Gothic architecture in England was almost parallel to the French, the epic and the Arthurian legend found a congenial soil in Germany, and the lyrical poetry of Italy was almost a younger sister to that of Provence. The same spirit seemed to be abroad from Scotland to Palermo, and the Christians of the West must have felt that they were indeed citizens of a great city.

KnightFor this sense of a common Christendom was not confined to the clergy or the knightly and baronial classes. The peasantry and the town-population had much improved their economic and legal positions since the beginning of the eleventh century, they had also profited by the education of action and experience. In the movement for the Truce of God, in the Hildebrandine reform, in the Crusades, in all these struggles of a crowded age, the holy people of God had taken a prominent part; all had increased their self-confidence, all had drawn them closer to the clergy and to one another. Though the aim of the Hildebrandine reform was to preserve the distinctive features of the priestly life, it had not formed the clergy into a caste. Gregory VII had appealed to the laity, and the reformers found among the people allies most enthusiastic at times indeed fanatical and cruel. The Crusades, too, had consecrated the devotion of the poor pilgrims as well as knightly valour. At one moment, when the leaders had forgotten the Holy City for the sake of Syrian castles, it was the zeal of the poor that alone saved the fortunes of the expedition. On the other movements of the time clergy and people were often united, and municipal liberties, at least in their earlier stages, found a support in the Church. Alexander III, the greatest pope of the century, was allied with the Lombard republics in their struggle with Frederick Barbarossa, the greatest of its emperors. It is at least probable that since the early ages of the Church, clergy and laity have never been so united as in this century. Few medieval saints have excited so much universal and popular enthusiasm as St. Thomas of Canterbury, a martyr for the rights of the Church and the clergy, and the pilgrims who thronged to Canterbury from all parts of Christendom are perhaps the best evidence of the union between people and clergy, and between the different nations of the West.

The pontificate of Innocent III, which began before the close of the twelfth century, was the climax of this period of Christian cosmopolitanism. It illustrates both the splendour of the ideal and the increasing difficulty of realizing it. Few popes have had nobler aims than Innocent, few have been more favoured by nature and circumstance or have been apparently more successful. He was enabled to put at the head of a national movement in Italy, to govern Rome, where his predecessors had been weakest, to compel the King of France to respect the rights of marriage and the King of England those of the Church, to help in the success of two papalist candidates to the empire, and to see a crusade sail for the East. These are but some of the successes of his reign, yet it is impossible to study the fortunes of his pontificate without observing that nearly every one of his victories is marked by the signs of ultimate failure. Of the two emperors whom he helped to the throne, the first repudiated all his engagements and declared open war upon him in Italy, the second was that Frederick II who was to be the most thoroughgoing foe of the papacy. The homage which Innocent won from King John contributed in a later generation to embitter the relations between England and the Holy See. In his Italian policy, disinterested as it was, can be traced the first beginnings of future evils; the political power he had acquired led to the first case of nepotism and to the first appeal to a French noble for help in the South of Italy. He lost control over both the religious campaigns which he set in motion, for he endeavoured unsuccessfully to protect Raymond of Toulouse from the Albigensian crusaders and to prevent the Venetians diverting the Fourth Crusade from Jerusalem to Constantinople.

KnightsThat so great a pope should meet with failures so signal was significant of the change coming over Europe. The control over temporal and even ecclesiastical matters was slipping away from the head of Christendom, though the great personality of Innocent and the successful war waged by his successors against the empire might disguise the fact from contemporaries. In the fourteenth century the national wars, the great Schism, the unimpeded progress of the Turks, these were all witnesses to the divisions of Christendom. For a moment, at the time of the Council of Constance in 1414, there seemed to be a rally; the Christian society appeared to be drawing together again in order to put an end to the schism and to reform the Church; but as a matter of fact that council was the first of European congresses, a meeting of national delegates rather than a parliament of Christendom. The history of this change from the Christendom of the twelfth century to the nations of the Reformation epoch, is the history of the later Middle Ages. It is possible, however, to disentangle some of the elements of this complicated process of disintegration.

To the modern student, who is wise after the event, it is clear by the eleventh century that the Europe of the future is not going to be built up politically as an empire and that the ultimate development of some form of national state is assured. The Church, though she might have preserved a large measure ot social unity and linked the nations together, could never have formed a permanent, universal state, for Christianity is not, like Islam, a political system. Politically, there seems but two alternatives; empire or nations. Indeed the roots of nationality can be traced deep down in geographical and racial differences and in the varing degrees in which the Teutonic invaders of the Roman Empire coalesced with its old inhabitants. In the twelfth century, though the sense of a common Christianity is the predominant characteristic of the age, the development of national distinctions proceeded apace. Germany was long to regret the glories of the reign of Frederick Barbarossa, yet even his power failed to level the Alps politically and to overcome the still hardly conscious nationalism of the Lombard cities. The social and intellectual influence which France had exerted in the middle of the century began under Philip Augustus to take a political form; while in England conquerors and conquered were fast amalgamating, and a national feeling, fostered by insular position, had grown up, though it was concealed for the moment by the extent of the Angevin Empire and the foreign interests of Henry II and Richard I. This empire broke into pieces under John, and, after an interval of weakness and hesitation, England appears in the reign of Edward I as the country where nationality had most rapidly developed. Elsewhere, too, the process continued. The personality of St. Louis gave to the French monarchy a halo comparable to the spiritual character which was to cling for so many centuries to the Holy Roman Empire. The fall of the Hohenstauffen decided finally what had long threatened, that Germany was to be not a State, but at any rate a nation severed from Italy, and that Italy itself was to live its own turbulent city life so fruitful in war, in tyranny, in saints, and in works of art.

KnightMeanwhile the new monarchies of the West became self-conscious through their lawyers. Secular law in the twelfth century had given its support to the civil power, but it had been overshadowed, on the whole, by the great development of canon law. Towards the close of the thirteenth it had its revenge as the ally of the national sovereigns. Edward I was both one of the most legal and one of the most powerful of English kings, yet in his case legal absolutism was mitigated by customary law. In France the enigmatic figure of Philip the Fair was half-concealed by his legist ministers, men who combined a radical anti-clericalism, ready to go any lengths, with the most frank acknowledgment of the absolute power of the sovereign. It is an instance of the irony of history that Edward and Philip should be the contemporaries of Boniface VIII, the boldest assertor of papal supremacy. The probable explanation is that the recent victory over the empire misled the papalist writers and perhaps the popes themselves. The disappearance of the Hohenstauffen seemed to leave the papacy an undisputed supremacy in the Christian world. It had been the practice to speak of the spiritual and temporal powers in terms of pope and emperor, and it was long before it was realized, at least on the papal side, that the civil power, defeated as emperor, had returned to the attack with more aggressive vigour as the Monarchy and the State. The papal-imperial controversy continued, though with increasing unreality, when the pope was at Avignon, and the emperor was Louis of Bavaria, and little effort was made to adapt to the new conditions the older theory of the co-ordinate powers of Church and State, both of immediate Divine origin but differing in dignity.

The struggle between Boniface and Philip culminated in the outrage of Anagni, where Nogaret, the French lawyer, struck the aged pope. It was a brutal act, disgraceful only to the perpetrator. Unfortunately, it was followed by the migration, a few years later, of the papal court to the prison-palace of Avignon. This premature development of French absolutism was followed by years of war and anarchy; but from her misfortunes France rose up a consolidated monarchy. In England, aristocratic misrule and some forty years of intermittent civil war produced the same result. In Spain, and even in the German and Scandinavian principalities and kingdoms, different causes tended in the same direction. Thus grew up those monarchies, powerful at home jealous of foreign interference, which contributed so much to the Reformation.

385px-JacquesdeMolayWhile in the political sphere nations were drawing apart, in the social sphere the Church was losing much of her influence on the thoughts of men. Some of this loss was perhaps inevitable. New interests were springing up on every side with the growth of wealth, of education, and of the complexity of life new professions, other than that of arms, were being opened to the educated laity. Religion could hardly expect to keep the hold she had exercised on the outward lives of Christians. Meanwhile the improvement of secular law would in time render unnecessary and invidious many of the clerical privileges which had been so essential in a simpler age. Thus as European society developed, the clergy, the most cosmopolitan element of it, would necessarily lose some of the commanding influence they had exercised in the ages when they represented civilization as well as religion. But other causes were at work. The high religious enthusiasm of the earlier twelfth century was not maintained at the same level either in clergy or people. And indeed even that Christian age had had its dark side. Passion, the fierce passionate character of a primitive people, was not yet subdued. What had been won by the Hildebrandine movement had to be preserved. No moral victory is final: no generation can afford to disarm. The very success of the Church brought its dangers, and increased power tended to ambition and worldliness. The faults and the wealth of the clergy must have contributed something, it would be difficult to say how much to the darkest feature of the age, the heresy which even in St. Bernard’s time lurked in secret nearly everywhere. This evil spread like a plague through Southern France and Italy, and kept appearing sporadically north of the Alps. It seemed to threaten Christian morals and Christian faith alike. So acute did the danger become in France that it almost justified the violences of the Albigensian Crusade but the Church of the thirteenth century had nobler weapons than those of De Montfort or the Inquisition: the Friars and Scholastic movement attacked heresy, morally and intellectually, and routed it. Henceforth, however, till the sixteenth; century, no great religious or monastic movement, common to Christendom, was provoked by the many moral and intellectual causes which led to the decline and fall of the medieval system and finally to the Reformation itself.

The history of the papacy cannot be separated from that of the Church. The great popes of the past had had a share which can hardly be over-estimated in binding together Christian society and raising its moral level; it is not surprising that the diminished influence of the papacy is among the causes of the disintegration of Christendom. It is difficult not to trace the decadence to the struggle with Frederick II. Before that struggle, in the days of Innocent III, the difficulties of the papacy were due to its agents, its subjects, to the very greatness of the task it had undertaken, not to the character or aims of the popes themselves. But from Gregory IX a different spirit seemed to prevail. The popes were engaged in a hand-to-land conflict with a power which aimed at establishing a strong monarchy in Italy which threatened to stifle Roman and papal freedom the contest was not being waged with an imperious but distant German: it was Italian, territorial and bitter. The spiritual ruler seemed almost merged in the sovereign of Rome and the feudal lord of Sicily. Money was necessary, and in order to obtain it funds had to be raised in other, and especially, transalpine lands, and by means which aroused much discontent and which affected the credit of Rome as the central court of Christendom. The conception of canon law, of a system of courts Christian and a sacred jurisdiction over-riding political frontiers, is a magnificent one, and the debt which European law owes to the canonists is admitted by the modern masters of legal history. It was a system, however, which had many rivals, and it required the support of a high moral prestige. Unfortunately, the machinery was, from the first, defective, there was no organization at Rome capable of dealing with the press of legal business, and even in the twelfth century complaints of venality and delay were frequent and bitter. Litigants are not easily satisfied, nor has the law often been at once impartial cheap, and speedy in any country yet it can hardly be denied that in the thirteenth century; the Roman courts suffered from very serious abuses.

knights_templar_battle_wearyIt is unnecessary to follow the fortunes of the papacy after the thirteenth century; the lesson of the French influence, of the schism, of the Italianization of the fifteenth-century popes, is but too clear. Though the essential rights of the Holy See were but seldom denied in those years, it was clear, when the crisis came, and when the papal supremacy had to bear the first attack, that that devotion which makes martyrs and the enthusiasm which inspires righteous rebellion were sadly lacking. It would seem, then that the growth of national divisions, the increased secularism of everyday life, the diminished influence of the Church and the papacy, that all these interdependent influences had broken up the social unity of Christendom at least two centuries before the Reformation, yet it must never be forgotten that religious unity remained. As long as Christendom was Catholic it was a reality, a visible society with one head and one hierarchy. Though for the moment centrifugal tendencies were in the ascendant, the future was full of possibilities. A great religious movement, a revival of the Christian spirit, the reform which should have come when the Reformation came, any such appeal to the common faith and to Catholic loyalty might have brought the Christian nations together again, have put some check upon their internal absolutism and external combativeness and have removed from the Christian name the reproach of mutual antagonism.

Such speculation is, however, as idle as it is fascinating, instead of the reform, of the renewal of the spiritual life of the Church round the old principles of Christian faith and unity, there came the Reformation, and Christian society was broken up beyond the hope of at least proximate reunion. But it was long before this fact was realized even by the Reformers and indeed it must have been more difficult for a subject of Henry VIII to convince himself that the Latin Church was really being torn asunder than for us to conceive the full meaning and all the consequences of a united Christendom. Much of the weakness of ordinary men in the earlier years of the Reformation, much of their attitude towards the papacy, can be explained by their blindness to what was happening. They thought, no doubt, that all would come right in the end. So dangerous is it, particularly in times of revolution, to trust to anything but principle.

mass-purgatory-496504066_88d304cb82The effect of the Reformation was to separate from the Church all the Scandinavian, most of the Teutonic, and a few of the Latin-speaking populations of Europe but the spirit of division once established worked further mischief, and the antagonism between Lutheran and Calvinist was almost as bitter as that between Catholic and Protestant. At the begining, however, of the seventeenth century, Christendom was weary of religious war and persecution, and for a moment it almost seemed as if the breach were to be closed. The deaths of Philip II and Elizabeth, the conversion and the tolerant policy of Henry IV of France, the accession of the House of Stuart to the English throne, the pacification between and Spain and the Dutch, all these events pointed to the same direction. A like tendency is apparent in the theological speculation of the time: the learning and judgment of Hooker, the first beginning of the High Church movement, the spread of Arminianism in Holland, these were all signs that in the Protestant Churches, thought, study, and piety had begun to moderate the fires of controversy, while in the monumental works of Suarez and the other Spanish doctors, the Catholic theology seems to be resuming that stately, comprehensive view of its problems which is so impressive in the great Scholastics. It is not surprising that this moment, when the cause of reconciliation seemed in the ascendant, was marked by a scheme of Christian political union. Much importance was at one time attributed to the grand dessein of Henry IV. Recent historians are inclined to assign most of the design to Henry’s Protestant minister, Sully, the king’s share in the plan was probably but small. A coalition war against Austria was first to secure Europe against the domination of the Hapsburgs but an era of peace was to follow. The different Christian States, whether Catholic or Protestant were to preserve their independence, to practise toleration, to be united in a “Christian Republic” under the presidency of the pope, and to find an outlet for their energies in the recovery of the East. These dreams of Christian reunion soon melted away. Religious divisions were too deep-seated to permit the reconstruction of a Christian polity, and the cure for international ills has been sought in other directions. The international law of the seventeenth century jurists was based upon national law, not upon Christian fellowship, the balance of power of the eighteenth century on the elementary instinct of self-defence, and the nationalism of the nineteenth on racial or linguistic distinctions. It has never occurred to anyone to take seriously the mystic terminology with which in the Holy Alliance Alexander I of Russia clothed his policy of conservative intervention. The Greek insurrection and the Eastern questions generally restored the word Christian to the vocabulary of the European chanceries, but it has come in recent times to express our common civilization rather than a religion which so many Europeans now no longer possess.”  1914 Catholic Encyclopedia

Christ The King Or Machiavelli’s “Prince” Of This World

As traditional Catholics, we believe in Jesus Christ the King as the temporal ruler over this world as well as in heaven.  We believe in Christendom where all countries are subjected to God’s rules, in the Church, the state and the family.  All authority comes from above, God and is given to the Church and her visible leaders.  They rule over kings and queens who govern over states.  The elders of families rule over their children.

christ-the-kingChrist the King is the God of Love, Truth, Life, Mercy and Justice.  He proved His love by laying down his life on the Cross to save us.  He never went around murdering or deceiving people.  He was poor and humble.  His laws are for our good.  We can chose Him to be our King to rule over us or we can choose a worldly politician to rule over us.

Christ the King in Glory_stained glassIn opposition to Jesus’ Kingdom, is the political world of the pagan Republics where either the ruler has been elected by popularity, (and work through parliaments) or a dictator who has taken over power by force.

Many people wrongly believe that the downfall of Christendom and all other evil that we find in politics, began with the French Revolution.  The fact is that rebellion has been with us ever since satan’s rebellion at the beginning of creation.  Then he spread his “rebellious spirit” to Eve and Adam.

But a very important revolution against God also began with the new “Spirit of the Renaissance” when powerful people began looking back to the pagan cultures, religions, philosophers and political systems.  The devil incited these people to rebel against the order of Catholicism on which society was directed at that time.  It was far from perfect, but at least God was recognized and there was such a thing as right and wrong.

A very important person in the “Renaissance Revolution” was Nicolò Machiavelli.  Because of his distortion of truth and evil designs the name for the devil in the Anglo-Saxon world came to be known as “Old Nick“.

Machiavelli1He was born in Florence Italy on 3 May, 1469 and died 22 June, 1527.   His most important work is called “Il Principe”, which in Italian means the prince.  He wrote if for his friends the Medici family.

There are many bad people who have had great influence in the world.  But there are seven UN worthy of mention.

  1. Machiavelli and his immoral “morality” and glorification of absolutism.
  2. Kant who taught that all truth is subjective.
  3. Nietzsche self proclaimed Anti Christ, who’s philosophy was to excite rebellion and coined the saying “God is Dead”.
  4. Freud, father of the sexual revolution by attributing most human behavior to sexual desire.
  5. Darwin, who put accident and adaptation, (not God) as the force behind all creation.
  6. Marx who promised the masses paradise here by liberation from the wealthy and religion by violent revolution.
  7. Sarte who despaired of any meaning to life, so professed absurdity.  Ideas From Article By Peter Kreeft On Machiavelli.

Machiavelli’s hero was Cesare Borgia.  He was an illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI who made him “Il Principe”, prince over land taken from the Vatican State.  He was ruthless, cruel and deceitful.  He did well only because of the power his dad had as Pope.

300px-Cesare_Borgia,_Duke_of_ValentinoisBut he too died and this was written on his grave.

“Here lies in a little earth

he who everyone feared

he who peace and war

held in his hand.

Oh, you who go in search

of worthy things to praise,

if you would praise the worthiest

then your path stops here

and you do not need to go any farther.”

Machiavelli is the typical Italian Renaissance man.  His life, thoughts and behavior were based on classical paganism.  He taught that a politician has to do what ever he has to do: killing, lying, cheating and deceiving, in order to get power and territory.  He also admired the cruelty of Hannibal.Hannibals-Zug-über-die-Alpen-215-v-Chr-Stich-Motte-640x450

 “A prince must keep clear of crime not only when it is hurtful to his interests but when it is useless. He should try to win the love of his subjects, by simulating virtue if he does not possess it; he ought to encourage trade so that his people, busied in getting rich, may have no time for politics; he ought to show concern for religion, because it is a potent means for keeping his people submissive and obedient.”  1914 Catholic Encyclopedia

Because of his advocacy of removal of Catholic morals from politics, his book was put on the Index in 1559.

Machiavelli-crashworks“Machiavelli did not disguise his dislike for Christianity which by exalting humility, meekness, and patience had, he said, weakened the social and patriotic instincts of mankind. Hence, he mocked at Savonarola though he was the saviour of democracy, and he had a special dislike for the Holy See as a temporal power, as he saw in it the greatest obstacle to Italian unity; to use his own expression, it was too weak to control the whole peninsula, but too strong to allow of any other state bringing about unity.”

1914 Catholic Encyclopedia


We are free to choose between following this world’s prince or Christ the King.  We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to know what a great King Jesus is and to whole heartedly follow and obey him.

St. Chrysanthus And St. Daria Oct. 25

chrysanthos dariaSts. Chrysanthus and Daria were Roman martyrs, buried on the Via Salaria Nova, and whose tombs, according to the testimony of the itinerary guides to the tombs of the Roman martyrs, were publicly venerated (De Rossi, “Roma Sotterranea”, I, 176). A church erected over the tomb was situated near that of St. Saturninus, which was built over the catacomb of Thraso (coemeterium Thrasonis ad S. Saturnium). Their tomb was in fact in a disused sandpit (arenaria) near this catacomb. The two martyrs were revered in Rome in the fourth century, as the appearance of their names in the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” proves.

Chrysanthus and Daria_Martyrdom_iconThe existing Acts of these Martyrs are without historical value; they did not originate until the fifth century, and are compiled in two texts–a longer one, written originally in Greek, but afterwards translated into Latin, and a shorter one in Latin. The historical notices of Chrysanthus and Daria in the so-called historical martyrologies of the West, as in the Greek synaxaria, go back to the legend which makes Chrysanthus the son of the noble Polemius of Alexandria. He came to Rome with his father and was converted by the presbyter Carpophorus. Everything was done to make him apostatize. Daria, a beautiful and very intelligent Vestal, entered into relations with him, but she herself was won over to the Christian Faith by Chrysanthus, and both concluded a virginal matrimonial union. Many Romans and Roman ladies were converted by these, among them the Tribune Claudius, his wife Hilaria and two sons Maurus and Jason, all of whom, with the exception of the mother, suffered martyrdom. Chrysanthus and Daria were themselves condemned to death, led to a sandpit in the Via Salaria, and there stoned to death.

Chrysanthus and Daria_man illumThis legend is evidently connected with a number of Roman martyrs, whose tombs were venerated in the catacombs of the Via Salaria, near those of Chrysanthus and Daria. The story, apart from the assured fact of their martyrdom and the veneration of their tombs, has, perhaps, some historical value, in assigning the date to the reign of the Emperor Numerianus (283-84). As this ruler was never in Rome, some historians believe (for instance, Allard; see below) that the name is Valerianus, and transfer the martyrdom to the persecution under this emperor. But perhaps the name of Numerianus ought to be adhered to, and the origin of this indication is to be found in the legend of an Oriental martyr having the same name. There is another martyrdom closely connected with the tomb of the two saints, which is related at the end of the Acts of these martyrs. After the death of the Chrysantus and Daria, when many of the faithful of Rome were assembled at their tomb to celebrate the anniversary of their death, they were surprised by the persecutors, who filled in with stones and earth the subterranean crypt where the Christians were assembled, so that all perished. Later, when the tomb of Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria was looked for and found, the bones of these martyrs, and even the liturgical silver vessels, which they used for the celebration of the Eucharist, were also discovered. Everything was left as it was found, and a wall was erected so that no one could enter the place. Only through a window-opening in the wall could be seen the tomb of Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria, as well as the bones of the Christians killed in the tomb. This tomb, like so many others, was embellished by Pope Damasus, who had poems in praise of the martyrs engraved on marble and placed there. Gregory of Tours describes this sanctuary in an interesting chapter of his “De gloria martyrum”, I, xxxviii (P. L., LXXI, 739). During the invasions of the Goths the sanctuary was desecrated, but later it was restored, as a metrical inscription composed at that time and falsely attributed to Pope Damasus asserts. In the ninth century the remains of Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria were brought to Prum and were thence transferred to Munstereifel in Rhenish Prussia, where they are still greatly venerated. The feast of these saints stands in the Roman Martyrology on the 25th of October, on which day, also, it appears in some martyrologies dating from the seventh century. In the “Martyrologium Hieronymianum” the martyrs were mentioned on 12 August and 29 November; according to some manuscripts, on other days also.

The Word Humble Comes From Latin Word “Humus” Earth From Which God Made Us

The world humble comes from the Latin word “humus” or earth.  God created us from dust, and to dust we will return some day, (and that day may be today). So we need to always ask God to help us stay humble.   Jesus was meek and humble of heart.  Mary was the most humble “Slave of the Lord”.  The devil is full of pride.

Cat-No-309-The-Emperor-Shortly-After-Death-PhotographPsalm 102 says it so well.

“As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear him:  For he knoweth our frame. He remembereth that we are dust: Man’ s days are as grass, as the flower of the field so shall he flourish.   For the spirit shall pass in him, and he shall not be: and he shall know his place no more.”

childmaryMary reiterates this well in her Magnificat:

“He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.”  Luke 1:51-52

BlessedVirginMaryLet us always stay humble, prayerful and faithful.  We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to live our lives on the firm Rock of God’s divine truth.  Modernist and progressives build their lives on the every changing human perspective of what truth is.  Some day God will cast them down from their shaky thrones and lift up those who have been faithful to the Bible and the 2000 years of Catholic Teaching.

St. Raphael Archangel Oct. 24

St. Raphael Archangel

Raphael_Refusing Tobias' Gift_BILIVERT, GiovanniThe name of this archangel (Raphael = “God has healed”) does not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the Septuagint only in the Book of Tobias. Here he first appears disguised in human form as the travelling companion of the younger Tobias, calling himself “Azarias the son of the great Ananias”. The story of the adventurous journey during which the protective influence of the angel is shown in many ways including the binding “in the desert of upper Egypt” of the demon who had previously slain seven husbands of Sara, daughter of Raguel, is picturesquely related in Tobit 5-11, to which the reader is referred. After the return and the healing of the blindness of the elder Tobias, Azarias makes himself known as “the angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord” (Tob., xii, 15. Cf. Apoc., viii, 2). Of these seven “archangels” which appear in the angelology of post-Exilic Judaism, only three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, are mentioned in the canonical Scriptures. The others, according to the Book of Enoch (cf. xxi) are Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jerahmeel, while from other apocryphal sources we get the variant names Izidkiel, Hanael, and Kepharel instead of the last three in the other list.

Regarding the functions attributed to Raphael we have little more than his declaration to Tobias (Tobit 12) that when the latter was occupied in his works of mercy and charity, he (Raphael) offered his prayer to the Lord, that he was sent by the Lord to heal him of his blindness and to deliver Sara, his son’s wife, from the devil. The Jewish category of the archangels is recognized in the New Testament (I Thess., iv, 15; Jude, 9), but only Gabriel and Michael are mentioned by name. Many commentators, however, identify Raphael with the “angel of the Lord” mentioned in John 5. This conjecture is base both on the significance of the name and on the healing role attributed to Raphael in the Book of Tobias. The Church assigns the feast of St. Raphael to 24 October. The hymns of the Office recall the healing power of the archangel and his victory over the demon. The lessons of the first Nocturn and the Antiphons of the entire Office are taken from the Book of Tobias, and the lessons of the second and third Nocturns from the works of St. Augustine, viz. for the second Nocturn a sermon on Tobias (sermon I on the fifteenth Sunday), and for the third, a homily on the opening verse of John, v. The Epistle of the Mass is taken from the twelfth chapter of Tobias, and the Gospel from John 5:1-4, referring to the pool called Probatica, where the multitude of the infirm lay awaiting the moving of the water, for “an angel of the Lord descended at certain times into the pond; and the water was moved.And he that went down first into the pond after the motion of the water was made whole of whatsoever infirmity he lay under”. Thus the conjecture of the commentators referred to above is confirmed by the official Liturgy of the Church.

“Deferred Gratification” Heaven “Deterred Suffering” Hell

Deferred Gratification or Delayed Gratification means that someone has the will power to put off obtaining a thing or pleasure now for a greater thing or pleasure later on.  A good example would be someone who has the discipline and waits the time to save up his money until he has enough to pay cash for a car.   In this act of Deferred Gratification, he was able to buy a car without having to make costly monthly payments which also entail paying interest.

Martires de ParrasCristero Martyrs Of Mexico Who Gave Up Their Lives For Eternal Life In Heaven

The person who gives into his passions and impulses, (instant gratification) quickly buys a car that he will have to be making large payments on each month.   This is seen all the time, when people use their credit card to buy things now and work and pay for them later with up to 25% interest.

On the spiritual level, the saints would offer up their carnal passions to become consecrated virgins to God.  They offer up sexual pleasures in this life for the sake of the Kingdom Of God.  They offer up something good for some thing greater and permanent in eternity.  The sexual pleasures of this life are passing, the heavenly pleasures are for ever.

The Apostles and saints would give up royalty, family, homes, money to become poor and receive their riches in heaven.  The martyrs would go so far as to give up their very lives to be with God for all eternity.

Most people today, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, want all of their pleasures here and now.  They give in to their passions for pornography, sex before marriage, immodest dressing, sugar, bad music, gambling, unnecessary shopping and laziness, for pleasure right now.  They really do not worry or care about the eternal consequences of their sins.

E004_SoulsInHell0Most of these people have heard that these sinful actions will definitely have ramification after death.  They still do not care.

All sinful actions, that have been deeply repented of and confessed, will still have to be paid for in purgatory, (unless you have done a plenary indulgence right before you die).  All sinful actions, that have not been confessed, will be punished for all eternity in hell.

We see this happen with those who sell their souls to the devil and join the illuminati.  They are promised pleasure, love, sex, money and fame for the short space of this life, (instant gratification), and put off paying their debt to the devil for selling their souls to him, which is to be damned and tortured for eternity.  I will call this “deferred suffering“.  Pleasure now (sin), Pay later, (flames of hell).

E060_Hell4God is just.  God is love.  He gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save us from hell.  He gave us the rules that are for our good.  He wants us with Him for all eternity in the pleasure of heaven, (which are beyond understanding).  If we ask God for the grace to give up sinful pleasure by accessing the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, by a life of self sacrifice, by a life of prayer, we will be given the help to avoid payment later on.

The reality of this is that a holy life, lived to love and please God and obey His laws, is peaceful and pleasurable right now, here and now.  But the eternal pleasure stored up for us in heaven are beyond what any mind can imagine.

teresa-of-jesusSpending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or in silent prayer, is the beginning of the peaceful pleasure obtained in this life from God.  St. Theresa of Avila said that “all the way to heaven is heaven”.  I would add, “all the way to hell is hell”.  People engaged in sinful activities have their own drama and hidden anguishes.

Let us be willing to deny ourselves and follow Jesus by way of the Cross, so as to share with Him His resurrection for all eternity in heaven.

St. Anthony Marie Claret


St. Antony María Claret, was born at Sallent in Spain, of pious and respectable parents. As a youth he practiced the weaver’s trade, but later became priest. After some time in the parochial ministry, he went to Rome, hoping that the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith would send him to the foreign missions. 098_PreacherAntonioClaretBut God disposed otherwise, and he returned to Spain, where he traveled throughout Catalonia and the Canary Islands as an apostolic missionary. Besides writing many worthwhile books, he founded the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Having been appointed archbishop of Santiago in Cuba, he was conspicuous for the virtues of a zealous shepherd. He restored the seminary, promoted the teaching and the discipline of the clergy, started projects for social welfare, and founded the teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate for the Christian education of girls. St Antonio Maria ClaretAt length having been summoned to Madrid, to become confessor to the Queen of Spain and her adviser in the most serious affairs of the Church, he gave an outstanding example of austerity and of all virtues. At the Vatican Council he strenuously defended the infallibility of the Pope. Anthony Mary Claret_photoHe was responsible for a remarkable spread of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and her Rosary. Finally he died in exile at Fontfroide in France in the year 1870. Renowned for his miracles, he was beatified by Pope Pius XI and canonized by Pius XII.  1960 Roman Breviary

“As archbishop of Santiago Cuba, the seminary was reorganized, clerical discipline strengthened, and over nine thousand marriages validated within the first two years. He erected a hospital and numerous schools. Three times he made a visitation of the entire diocese, giving local missions incessantly. Naturally his zeal stirred up the enmity and calumnies of the irreligious, as had happened previously in Spain. Fifteen attempts were made on his life, and at Holguin his cheek was laid open from ear to chin by a would-be assassin’s knife.” Catholic Encyclopedia

I will expel the Devil that hovers over this audience.” and after saying the words of exorcism, there would be lightning and strange noises.

Everywhere he went he stood up to liberalism.  The masons and other enemies would spread lies about him and tried to kill him.

When he was recalled by the Queen Isabella II to Spain, St. Anthony cursed the island of Cuba because the people there rejected God and would not reform.  It too soon became independent from Spain.  Then it became a tourist spot for the United States with evil entrainment.  Eventually the Communist finalized the curse.

098_IsabellaIIQueen Isabella II went along with much of the liberalism of her time.  St. Anthony influenced her to be a better Catholic.  The masons retaliated and had her exiled.  They then rushed to make Spain a Republic.  But it didn’t work and eventually Spain returned to a monarchy.

The French Revolution Persecuted, Exiled, Executed Traditional Catholic Priests And Nuns

I just spent an hour reading and highlighting this summary of the French Revolution from the Catholic Encyclopedia.  I want to encourage all of you to take the time to read the whole article.

French-Revolution“The last thirty years have given us a new version of the history of the French Revolution, the most diverse and hostile schools having contributed to it. The philosopher, Taine, drew attention to the affinity between the revolutionary and what he calls the classic spirit, that is, the spirit of abstraction which gave rise to Cartesianism and produced certain masterpieces of French literature. Moreover he admirably demonstrated the mechanism of the local revolutionary committees and showed how a daring Jacobin minority was able to enforce its will as that of “the people”. Following up this line of research M. Augustin Cochin has quite recently studied the mechanism of the sociétés de pensée in which the revolutionary doctrine was developed and in which were formed men quite prepared to put this doctrine into execution.

The influence of freemasonry in the French Revolution proclaimed by Louis Blanc and by freemasonry itself is proved by the researches of M. Cochin. Sorel has brought out the connection between the diplomacy of the Revolution and that of the old regime. His works prove that the Revolution did not mark a break in the continuity of the foreign policy of France. The radically inclined historical school, founded and led by M. Aulard, has published numerous useful documents as well as the review, “La Révolution Française”. Two years since, a schism occured in this school, M. Mathiez undertaking opposition to M. Aulard the defence of Robespierre, in consequence of which he founded a new review “Les Annales Révolutionaires”. The “Société d’histoire contemporaine”, founded under Catholic auspices, has published a series of texts bearing on revolutionary history. Lastly the works of Abbé Sicard have revealed in the clergy who remained faithful to Rome various tendencies, some legitimist, others more favourable to the new political forms, a new side of the history of the French clergy being thus developed.

Such are the most recent additions to the history of the French Revolution. This article, however, will emphasize more especially the relations between the Revolution and the Church (see ).


The starting point of the French Revolution was the convocation of the States General by Louis XVI. They comprised three orders, nobility, clergy, and the third estate, the last named being permitted to have as many members as the two other orders together. The electoral regulation of 24 January, 1789, assured the parochial clergy a large majority in the meetings of the bailliages which were to elect clerical representatives to the States General. While chapters were to send to these meetings only a single delegate for ten canons, and each convent only one of its members, all the curés were permitted to vote. The number of the “order” of clergy at the States General exceeded 300, among whom were 44 prelates, 208 curés, 50 canons and commendatory abbots, and some monks. The clergy advocated almost as forcibly as did the Third Estate the establishment of a constitutional government based on the separation of the powers, the periodical convocation of the States General, their supremacy in financial matters, the responsibility of ministers, and the regular guarantee of individual liberty. Thus the true and great reforms tending to the establishment of liberty were advocated by the clergy on the eve of the Revolution. When the Estates assembled 5 May, 1789, the Third Estate demanded that the verification of powers should be made in common by the three orders, the object being that the Estates should form but one assembly in which the distinction between the “orders” should disappear and where every member was to have a vote. Scarcely a fourth of the clergy advocated this reform, but from the opening of the Estates it was evident that the desired individual voting which would give the members of the Third Estate, the advocates of reform, an effectual preponderance.

EstatesgeneralAs early as 23 May, 1789, the curés at the house of the Archbishop of Bordeaux were of the opinion that the power of the deputies should be verified in the general assembly of the Estates, and when on 17 June the members of the Third Estate proclaimed themselves the “National Assembly”, the majority of the clergy decided (19 June) to join them. As the higher clergy and the nobility still held out, the king caused the hall where the meetings of the Third Estate were held to be closed (20 June), whereupon the deputies, with their president, Bailly, repaired to the Jeu de Paume and an oath was taken not to disband till they had provided France with a constitution. After Mirabeau’s thundering speech (23 June) addressed to the Marquis de Dreux-Brézé, master-of-ceremonies to Louis XVI, the king himself (27 June) invited the nobility to join the Third Estate. Louis XVI’s dismissal of the reforming minister, Necker, and the concentration of the royal army about Paris, brought about the insurrection of 14 July, and the capture of the Bastille. M. Funck-Brentano has destroyed the legends which rapidly arose in connection with the celebrated fortress. There was no rising en masse of the people of Paris, and the number of the besiegers was but a thousand at most; only seven prisoners were found at the Bastille, four of whom were forgers, one a young man guilty of monstrous crimes and who for the sake of his family was kept at the Bastille that he might escape the death penalty, and two insane prisoners. But in the public opinion the Bastille symbolized royal absolutism and the capture of this fortress was regarded as the overthrow of the whole regime, and foreign nations attached great importance to the event. Louis XVI yielded before this agitation; Necker was recalled; Bailly became Mayor of Paris; Lafayette, commander of the national militia; the tri-colour was adopted, and Louis XVI consented to recognize the title of “National Constituent Assembly”. Te Deums and processions celebrated the taking of the Bastille; in the pulpits the Abbé Fauchet preached the harmony of religion and liberty. As a result of the establishment of the “vote by order” the political privileges of the clergy may be considered to have ceased to exist.

French-Revolution1During the night of 4 August, 1789, at the instance of the Vicomte de Noailles, the Assembly voted with extraordinary enthusiasm the abolition of all privileges and feudal rights and the equality of all Frenchmen. A blow was thereby struck at the wealth of the clergy, but the churchmen were the first to give an example of sacrifice. Plurality of benefices and annates was abolished and the redemption of tithes was agreed upon, but two days later, the higher clergy becoming uneasy, demanded another discussion of the vote which had carried the redemption. The result was the abolition, pure and simple, of tithes without redemption. In the course of the discussion Buzot declared that the property of the clergy belonged to the nation. Louis XVI’s conscience began to be alarmed. He temporized for five weeks, then merely published the decrees as general principles, reserving the right to approve or reject the measures which the Assembly would take to enforce them.


Before giving France a constitution the Assembly judged it necessary to draw up a “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, which should form a preamble to the Constitution. Camus’s suggestion that to the declaration of the rights of man should be added a declaration of his duties, was rejected. The Declaration of Rights mentions in its preamble that it is made in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, but out of three of the articles proposed by the clergy, guaranteeing the respect due to religion and public worship, two were rejected after speeches by the Protestant, Rabaut Saint-Etienne, and Mirabeau, and the only article relating to religion was worded as follows: “No one shall be disturbed for his opinions, even religious, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.” In fact it was the wish of the Assembly that Catholicism should cease to be the religion of the State and that liberty of worship should be established. It subsequently declared Protestants eligible to all offices (24 Dec., 1789), restored to their possessions and status as Frenchmen the heirs of Protestant refugees (10 July and 9 Dec., 1790), and took measures in favour of the Jews (28 January, 26 July, 16 Aug., 1790). But it soon became evident in the discussions relating to the Civil Constitution of the clergy that the Assembly desired that the Catholic Church, to which the majority of the French people belonged, should be subject to the State and really organized by the State.

760px-FrenchChurchOathConcordatThe rumours that Louis XVI sought to fly to Metz and place himself under the protection of the army of Bouillé in order to organize a counter-revolutionary movement and his refusal to promulgate the Declaration of the Rights of Man, brought about an uprising in Paris. The mob set out to Versailles, and amid insults brought back the king and queen to Paris (6 Oct., 1789). Thenceforth the Assembly sat at Paris, first at the archiepiscopal residence, then at the Tuileries. At this moment the idea of taking possession of the goods of the clergy in order to meet financial exigencies began to appear in a number of journals and pamphlets. The plan of confiscating this property, which had been suggested as early as 8 August by the Marquis de Lacoste, was resumed (24 Sept.) by the economist, Dupont de Nemours, and on 10 October was supported in the name of the Committee of Finances in a report which caused scandal by Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, who under the old regime had been one of the two “general agents” charged with defending the financial interests of the French clergy. On 12 October Mirabeau requested the Assembly to decree (1) that the ownership of the church property belonged to the nation that it might provide for the support of the priests; (2) that the salary of each curé should not be less than 1200 livres. The plan was discussed from 13 October to 2 November. It was opposed the Abbé de Montesquieu, and the Abbé Maury, who contended that the clergy being a moral person could be an owner, disputed the estimates placed upon placed upon the wealth of the clergy, and suggested that their possessions should simply serve as a guarantee for a loan of 400,000,000 livres to the nation. The advocates of confiscation maintained that the clergy no longer existed as an order, that the property was like an escheated succession, and that the State had a right to claim it, that moreover the Royal Government had never expressly recognized the clergy as a proprietor, that in 1749 Louis XV had forbidden the clergy to receive anything without the authority of the State, and that he had confiscated the property of the Society of Jesus. Malouet took an intermediate stand and demanded that the State should confiscate only superfluous ecclesiastical possessions, but that the parochial clergy should be endowed with land. Finally, on 2 November, 1789, the Assembly decided that the possessions of the clergy be “placed at the disposal” of the nation. The results of this vote were not long in following. The first was Treilhard’s motion (17 December), demanding in the name of the ecclesiastical committee of the Assembly, the closing of useless convents, and decreeing that the State should permit the religious to release themselves from their monastic vows.

The discussion of this project began in February, 1790, after the Assembly by the creation of assemblies of departments, districts, and commons, had proceeded to the administrative reorganization of France. The discussion was again very violent. On 13 February, 1790, the Assembly, swayed by the more radical suggestions of Barnave and Thouret, decreed as a “constitutional article” that not only should the law no longer recognize monastic vows, but that religious orders and congregations were and should remain suppressed in France, and that no others should be established in the future. After having planned a partial suppression of monastic orders the Assembly voted for their total suppression. The proposal of Cazalès (17 February) calling for the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, and the rightful efforts, made by the higher clergy to prevent Catholics from purchasing the confiscated goods of the Church provoked reprisals. On 17 March, 1790, the Assembly decided that the 400,000,000 livres worth of alienated ecclesiastical properties should be sold to municipalities which in turn should sell them to private buyers. On 14 April it decided that the maintenance of Catholic worship should be provided for without recourse to the revenues of former ecclesiastical property and that a sufficient sum, fixed at more than 133,000,000 livres for the first year, should be entered in the budget for the allowances to be made to the clergy; on 17 April the decree was passed dealing with the assignats, the papers issued by the Government paying interest at 5 per cent, and which were to be accepted as money in payment for the ecclesial property, thenceforth called national property; finally, on 9 July, it was decreed that all this property should be put up for sale.


490px-Le_serment_de_La_Fayette_a_la_fete_de_la_Federation_14_July_1790_French_School_18th_centuryOn 6 February, 1790, the Assembly charged its ecclesiastical committee, appointed 20 Aug., 1789, and composed of fifteen members to prepare the reorganization of the clergy. Fifteen new members were added to the committee on 7 February. The “constituents” were disciples of the eighteenth century philosophes who subordinated religion to the State; moreover, to understand their standpoint it is well to bear in mind that many of them were jurists imbued with Gallican and Josephist ideas. Finally Taine has proved that in many respects their religious policy merely followed in the footsteps of the old regime, but while the old regime protected the Catholic Church and made it the church exclusive, recognized, the constituents planned to enslave it after having stripped it of its privileges. Furthermore they did not take into account that there are mixed matters that can only be regulated after an agreement with ecclesiastical authority. They were especially incensed against the clergy after the consistorial address in which Pius VI (22 March, 1790) reproved some of the measures already taken by the Constituent Assembly, and by the news received from the West and South where the just dissatisfaction of Catholic consciences had provoked disturbances; in particular the election of the Protestant Rabaut Saint-Etienne to the presidency of the National Assembly brought about commotions at Toulouse and Nimes. Under the influence of these disturbances the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was developed. On 29 May, 1790, it was laid before the Assembly. Bonal, Bishop of Clermont, and some members of the Right requested that the project should be submitted to a national council or to the pope. But the Assembly proceeded; it discussed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy from 1 June to 12 July, 1790, on which date it was passed.

This Constitution comprised four titles.

Title I, Ecclesiastical Offices: Diocesan boundaries were to agree with those of departments, 57 episcopal sees being thus suppressed. The title of archbishop was abolished; out of 83 remaining bishoprics 10 were called metropolitan bishoprics and given jurisdiction over the neighbouring dioceses. No section of French territory should recognize the authority of a bishop living abroad, or of his delegates, and this, adds the Constitution, “without prejudice to the unity of faith and the communion which shall be maintained with the head of the Universal Church”. Canonries, prebends, and priories were abolished. There should no longer be any sacerdotal posts especially devoted to fulfilling the conditions of Mass foundations. All appeals to Rome were forbidden.

Title II, Appointment to Benefice: Bishops should be appointed by the Electoral Assembly of the department; they should be invested and consecrated by the metropolitan and take an oath of fidelity to the nation, the King, the Law, and the Constitution; they should not seek any confirmation from the pope. Parish priests should be elected by the electoral assemblies of the districts. Thus all citizens, even Protestants, Jews, and nominal Catholics, might name titulars to ecclesiastical offices, and the first obligation of priests and bishops was to take an oath of fidelity to the Constitution which denied to the Holy See any effective power over the Church.

Title III, Salary of ministers of Religion: The Constitution fixed the salary of the Bishop of Paris at 51,000 livres (about $10,200), that of bishops of towns whose population exceeded 50,000 souls at 20,000 livres (about $4000), that of other bishops at 12,000 livres (about $2400), that of curés at a sum ranging from 6000 (about $1200) to 1200 livres (about $240). For the lower clergy this was a betterment of their material condition, especially as the real value of these sums was two and one-half times the present amount.

Title IV, dealing with residence, made very severe conditions regarding the absences of bishops and priests.

At the festival of the Federation (14 July, 1790) Talleyrand and three hundred priests officiating at the altar of the nation erected on the Champs-de-Mars wore the tri-colored girdle above their priestly vestments and besought the blessing of God on the Revolution. Deputations were present from the towns of France, and there was inaugurated a sort of cult, of the Fatherland, the remote origin of all the “Revolutionary cults”. On 10 July, 1790, in a confidential Brief to Louis XVI, Pius VI expressed the alarm with which the project under discussion filled him. He commissioned two ecclesiastics who were ministers of Louis XVI, Champion de Cicé and Lefranc de Pompignan, to urge the king not to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. On 28 July, in a letter to the pope, Louis XVI replied that he would be compelled, “with death in his soul”, to promulgate the Constitution, that he would reserve the right to broach as soon as possible the matter of some concession, but that if he refused, his life and the lives of his family would be endangered.

The pope replied (17 August) that he still held the same opinion of the Constitution, but that he would make no public declaration on the subject until he consulted with the Sacred College. On 24 August the king promulgated the Constitution, for which he was blamed by the pope in a confidential Brief on 22 September. M. Mathiez claims to have proved that the hesitancy of Pius VI was due to temporal rather than to spiritual considerations, to his serious fears about the affairs of Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin, where certain popular parties were clamoring for French troops, but the truth is that Pius VI, who had made known his opinion of the Constitution to two French prelates, was awaiting some manifestation on the part of the French episcopate. Indeed the bishops spoke before the pope had spoken publicly. At the end of October, 1790, they published an “Exposition des principes sur la constitution civile du clergé“, compiled by Boisgelin, Archbishop of Aix in which they rejected the Constitution and called upon the faithful to do the same. This publication marks the beginning of a violent conflict between the episcopate an the Constitution. On 27 November, 1790, after a speech by Mirabeau, a decree stipulated that all bishops and priests should within a week, under penalty of losing their offices, take the oath to the Constitution, that all who refused and who nevertheless continued to discharge their priestly functions should be prosecuted as disturbers of the public peace. The king, who was much disturbed by this decree, eventually sanctioned it (26 December, 1790) in order to avoid a rising.

Hitherto a large section of the lesser clergy had shown a certain amount of sympathy for the Revolution, but when it was seen that the episcopal members of the Assembly refused to take the oath, thus sacrificing their sees, a number of the priests followed this disinterested example. It may be said that from the end of 1790 the higher clergy and the truly orthodox elements of the lower clergy were united against the revolutionary measures. Thenceforth there were two classes, the non-juring or refractory priests, who were faithful to Rome and refused the oath, and the jurors, sworn, or Constitutional priests, who had consented to take the oath. M. de la Gorce has recently sought to estimate the exact proportion of the priests who took the oath. Out of 125 bishops there were only four, Talleyrand of Autun, Brienne of Sens, Jarente of Orleans, and Lafond de Savine, of Viviers; three coadjutors or bishops in partibus, Gobel, Coadjutor Bishop of Bâle; Martial de Brienne, Coadjutor of Sens; and Dubourg-Miraudet, Bishop of Babylon. In the important towns most of the priests refused to take the oath. Statistics for the small boroughs and the country are more difficult to obtain. The national archives preserve the complete dockets of 42 departments which were sent to the Constituent Assembly by the civil authorities. This shows that in these 42 departments, of 23,093 priests called upon to swear, 13,118 took the oath. There would be therefore out of 100 priests, 56 to 57 jurors against 43 to 44 non-jurors. M. de la Gorce gives serious reasons for contesting these statistics, which were compiled by zealous bureaucrats anxious to please the central administrators. He asserts on the other hand that the schism had little hold in fifteen departments and concludes that in 1791 the number of priests faithful to Rome was 52 to 55 out of 100; this is a small enough majority, but one which M. de la Gorce considers authentic.

On 5 February, 1791, the Constituent Assembly forbade every non-juring priest to preach in public. In March the elections to provide for the vacant episcopal sees and parishes took place. Disorder grew in the Church of France; young and ambitious priests, better known for their political than for their religious zeal, were candidates, and in many places owing to the opposition of good Catholics those elected had much difficulty in taking possession of their churches. At this juncture, seeing the Constitutional Church thus setup in France against the legitimate Church, Pius VI wrote two letters, one to the bishops and one to Louis XVI, to inquire if there remained any means to prevent schism; and finally, on 13 April, 1791, he issued a solemn condemnation of the Civil Constitution in a solemn Brief to the clergy and the people. On 2 May, 1791, the annexation of the Comtat Venaissin and the city of Avignon by the French troops marked the rupture of diplomatic relations between France and the Holy See. From May, 1791, there was no longer an ambassador from France at Rome or a nuncio at Paris. The Brief of Pius VI encouraged the resistance of the Catholics. The Masses celebrated by non-juring priests attracted crowds of the faithful. Then mobs gathered and beat and outraged nuns and other pious women. On 7 May, 1791, the Assembly decided that the non-juring priests as prêtres habitués might continue to say Mass in parochial churches or conduct their services in other churches on condition that they would respect the laws and not stir up revolt against the Civil Constitution. The Constitutional priests became more and more unpopular with good Catholics; Sciout’s works go to show that the “departmental directories” had to spend their time in organizing regular police expeditions to protect the Constitutional priests against the opposition of good Catholics, or to prosecute the non-juring priests who heroically persisted in remaining at their posts. Finally on 9 June, 1791, the Assembly forbade the publication of all Bulls or Decrees of the Court of Rome, at least until they had been submitted to the legislative body and their publication authorized. Thus Revolutionary France not only broke with Rome, but wished to place a barrier between Rome and the Catholics of France.

QueenMarie-AntoinetteRevolutionaryTribunal-1024x769The king’s tormenting conscience was the chief reason for his attempted flight (20-21 June, 1791). Before fleeing he had addressed to the Assembly a declaration of his dissatisfaction with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, and once more protested against the moral violence which had compelled him to accept such a document. Halted at Varennes, Louis XVI was brought back on 25 June, and was suspended from his functions till the completion of the Constitution, to which he took the oath 13 Sept., 1791. On 30 Sept., 1791, the Constituent Assembly dissolved, to make way for the Legislative Assembly, in which none of the members &f the Constituent Assembly could sit. The Constituent Assembly had passed 2500 laws and reorganized the whole French administration. Its chief error from a social standpoint, which Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu calls a capital one, was to pass the Chapelier Decree (15 June, 1791), which forbade working people to band together and form associations “for their so-called common interest”. Led astray by their spirit of individualism and their hatred for certain abuses of the old corporations, the Constituents did not understand that the world of labour should be organized. They were responsible for the economic anarchy which reigned during the nineteenth century, and the present syndicate movement as well as the efforts of the social Catholics in conformity with the Encyclical “Rerum novarum” marks a deep and decisive reaction against the work of the Constituent Assembly.


When the Constituent Assembly disbanded (30 Sept., 1791), France all was aflame concerning the religious question. More than half the French people did not want the new Church, the factitious creation of the law; the old the Church was ruined, demolished, hunted down, and the general amnesty decreed by the Constituent Assembly before disbanding could do nothing towards restoring peace in the country where that Assembly’s bungling work had unsettled the consciences of individuals. The parties in the Legislative Assembly were soon irreconcilable. The Feuillants, on the Right, saw no salvation save in the Constitution; the Girondins on the Left, and the Montagnards on the Extreme Left, made ready for the Republic. There were men who, like the poet André Chénier, dreamed of a complete Separation of Church and State. “The priests”, he wrote in a letter to the “Moniteur” (22 October, 1791), “will not trouble the Estates when no one is concerned about them, and they will always trouble them while anyone is concerned about them as at present.” But the majority of the members of the Legislative Assembly had sat in the departmental or district assemblies; they had fought against the non-juring priests and brought violent passions and a hostile spirit to the Legislative Assembly. A report from Gensonné and Gallois to the Legislative Assembly (9 October, 1791) on the condition of the provinces of the West denounced the non-juring priests as exciting the populace to rebellion and called for measures against them. It accused them of complicity with the émigrés bishops. At Avignon the Revolutionary Lécuyer, having been slain in a church, some citizens reputed to be partisans of the pope were thrown into the ancient papal castle and strangled (16-17 Oct., 1791). Calvados was also the scene of serious disturbances.

Marie-Antoinette_au_Tribunal_révolutionnaire_by_Alphonse_FrançoisThe Legislative Assembly, instead of repairing the tremendous errors of the Constituent Assembly, took up the question of the non-juring priests. On 29 November, on the proposal of François de Neufchâteau, it decided that if within eight days they did not take the civil oath they should be deprived of all salary, that they should be place under the surveillance of the authorities, that if troubles arose where they resided they should be sent away, that they should be imprisoned for a year if they persisted in remaining and for two years if they were convicted of having provoked disobedience to the king. Finally it forbade non-juring priests the legal exercise of worship. It also requested from the departmental directories lists of the jurors and non-jurors, that it might, as it said, “stamp out the rebellion which disguises itself under the pretended dissidence in the exercise of the Catholic religion“. Thus its decree ended in a threat. But this decree was the object of a sharp conflict between Louis XVI and the Assembly. On 9 Dec., 1791, the king made his veto known officially. Parties began to form. On one side were the king and the Catholics faithful to Rome, on the other the Assembly and the priests who had taken the oath. The legislative power was on one side, the executive on the other. In March, 1792, the Assembly accused the ministers of Louis XVI; the king replaced them by a Girondin ministry headed by Dumouriez, with Roland, Servan, and Clavière among its members. They had a double policy: abroad, war with Austria, and at home, measures against the non-juring priests. Louis XVI, surrounded by dangers, was also accused of duplicity; his secret negotiations with foreign courts made it possible for his enemies to say that he had already conspired against France.

A papal Brief of 19 March, 1792, renewed the condemnation of the Civil Constitution and visited with major excommunication all juring priests who after sixty days should not have retracted, and all Catholics who remained faithful to these priests. The Assembly replied by the Decree of 27 May, 1792, declaring that all non-juring priests might be deported by the directory of their department at the request of twenty citizens, and if they should return after expulsion they would be liable to ten years of imprisonment. Louis vetoed this decree. Thus arose a struggle not only between Louis XVI and the Assembly, but between the king and his ministry. On 3 June 1792, the Assembly decreed the formation of a camp near Paris of 20,600 volunteers to guard the king. At the ministerial council Roland read an insulting letter to King Louis, in which he called upon him to sanction the decrees of November and May against the non-juring priests. He was dismissed, whereupon the populace of Paris arose and invaded the Tuileries (20 June, 1792). and for several hours the king and his family were the objects of all manner of outrages. After the public manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick in the name of the powers in coalition against France (25 July, 1792) and the Assembly’s declaration of “Fatherland in danger” there came petitions for the deposition of the king, who was accused of being in communication with foreign rulers. On 10 August, Santerre, Westermann, and Fournier l’Américain at the head of the national guard attacked the Tuileries defended by 800 Swiss. Louis refused to defend himself, and with his family sought refuge in the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly passed a decree which suspended the king’s powers, drew up a plan of education for the dauphin, and convoked a national convention. Louis XVI was imprisoned in the Temple by order of the insurrectionary Commune of Paris.

Madness spread through France caused by the threatened danger from without; arrests of non-juring priests multiplied. In an effort to make them give way. The Assembly decided (15 August) that the oath should consist only of the promise to uphold with all one’s might liberty, equality, and the execution of the law, or to die at one’s post”. But the non-juring priests remained firm and refused even this second oath. On 26 August the Assembly decreed that within fifteen days they should be expelled from the kingdom, that those who remained or returned to France should be deported to Guiana, or should be liable to ten years imprisonment. It then extended this threat to the priests, who, having no publicly recognized priestly duties, had hitherto been dispensed from the oath, declaring that they also might be expelled if they were convicted of having provoked disturbances. This was the signal for a real civil war. The peasants armed in La Vendée, Deux Sèvres, Loire Inférieure, Maine and Loire, Ile and Vilaine. This news and that of the invasion of Champagne by the Prussian army caused hidden influences to arouse the Parisian populaces hence the September massacres. In the prisons of La Force, the Conciergerie, and the Abbaye Saint Germain, at least 1500 Women, priests and soldiers fell under the axe or the club. The celebrated tribune, Danton, cannot be entirely acquitted of complicity in these massacres. The Legislative Assembly terminated its career by two measures against the Church: it deprived priests of the right to register births etc., and authorize divorce. Laicizing the civil state was not in the minds of the Constituents, but was the result of the blocking of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. The Legislative Assembly was induced to enact it because the Catholics faithful to Rome would not have recourse to Constitutional priests for registering of births, baptisms, and deaths.


The opening of the National Convention (21 Sept., 1792) took place the day following Dumouriez’s victory at Valmy over the Prussian troops. The constitutional bishop, Grégoire, proclaimed the republic at the first session; he was surrounded in the assembly by fifteen constitutional bishops and twenty-eight constitutional priests. But the time was at hand when the constitutional clergy in turn was to be under suspicion, the majority of the Convention being hostile to Christianity itself. As early as 16 November, 1792, Cambon demanded that the salaries of the priests be suppressed and that thenceforth no religion be subsidized by the State, but the motion was rejected for the time being. Henceforth the Convention enacted all manner of arbitrary political measures: it undertook the trial of Louis XVI, and on 2 January, 1799, “hurled a kings head at Europe“.

louis-executionBut from a religious standpoint it was more timid; it feared to disturb the people of Savoy and Belgium, which its armies were annexing to France. From 10 to 15 March, 1793, formidable insurrections broke out in La Vendée, Anjou, and a part of Brittany. At the same time Dumouriez, having been defeated at Neerwinden, sought to turn his army against the Convention, and he himself went over to the Austrians. The Convention took fright; it instituted a Revolutionary Tribunal on 9 March and on 6 April the Committee of Public Safety, formidable powers, was established.

ExecutionIncreasingly severe measures were taken chiefly against the non-juring clergy. On 18 Feb., 1793, the Convention voted a prize one hundred livres to whomsoever should denounce a priest liable to deportation and who remained in France despite the law. On 1 March the émigrés were sentenced to perpetual banishment and their property confiscated. On 18 March it was decreed that any émigré or deported priest arrested on French soil should be executed within twenty-four hours. On 23 April it was enacted that all ecclesiastics, priests or monks, who had not taken the oath prescribed by the Decree of 15 August, 1792, should be transported to Guiana; even the priests who had taken the oath should be treated likewise if six citizens should denounce them for lack of citizenship. But despite all these measures the non-juring priests remained faithful to Rome. The pope had maintained in France an official internuncio, the Abbé de Salamon, who kept himself in hiding and performed his duties at the risk of his life, gave information concerning current events, and transmitted orders. The proconsuls of the Convention, Fréron and Barras at Marseilles and Toulon, Tallien at Bordeaux, Carrier at Nantes, perpetuated abominable massacres. In Paris the Revolutionary Tribunal, carrying out the proposals of the public accuser, Foquier-Tinville, inaugurated the Reign of Terror. The proscription of the Girondins by the Montagnards (2 June, 1793), marked a progress in demagogy. The assassination of the bloodthirsty in demagogue Marat, by Charlotte Corday 913 July 1793) gave rise to extravagant manifestations in honour of Marat. But the provinces did not follow this policy. News came of insurrections in Caen, Marseilles, Lyons, and Toulon; and at the same time the Spaniards were in Roussillon, the Piedmontese in Savoy, the Austrians in Valenciennes, and the Vendeans defeated Kleber at Torfou (Sept., 1793). The crazed Convention decreed a rising en masse; the heroic resistance of Valenciennes and Mainz gave Carnot time to organize new armies. At the same time the Convention passed the Law of Suspects. (17 Sept., 1793), which authorized the imprisonment of almost anyone and as a consequence of which 30,000 were imprisoned. Informing became a trade in France. Queen Marie Antoinette was beheaded 16 October, 1793. Exécution_de_Marie_Antoinette_le_16_octobre_1793Fourteen Carmelites who were executed 17 July, 1794, were declared Venerable by Leo XIII in 1902.

CarmelitesCompeigne1From a religious point of view a new feature arose at this period – the constitutional clergy, accused of sympathy with the Girondins, came to be suspected almost as much as the non-juring priests. Numerous conflicts arose between the constitutional priests and the civil authorities with regard to the decree of the Convention which did not permit the priests to ask those intending to marry if they were baptized, had been to confession, or were divorced. The constitutional bishops would not submit to the Convention when it required them to give apostate priests the nuptial blessing. Despite the example of the constitutional bishop, Thomas Lindet, a member of the Convention, who won the applause of the Assembly by his marriage, despite the scandal given by Gobel, Bishop of Paris, in appointing a married priest to a post in Paris the majority of constitutional bishops remained hostile to the marriage of priests. The conflict between them and the Convention became notorious when, on 19 July, 1793, a decree of the Convention decided that the bishops who directly or indirectly offered any obstacle to the marriage of priests should be deported and replaced. In October the Convention declared that the constitutional priests themselves should be deported if they were found wanting in citizenship. The measures taken by the Convention to substitute the Revolutionary calendar for the old Christian calendar, and the decrees ordering the municipalities to seize and melt down the bells and treasures of the churches, proved that certain currents prevailed tending to the dechristianization of France. On the one hand the rest of décadi, every tenth day, replaced the Sunday rest; on the other the Convention commissioned Leonard Bourdon (19 Sept., 1793) to compile a collection of the heroic actions of Republicans to replace the lives of the saints in the schools. The “missionary representatives”, sent to the provinces, closed churches, hunted down citizens suspected of religious practices, endeavoured to constrain priests to marry, and threatened with deportation for lack of citizenship priests who refused to abandon their posts. Persecution of all religious ideas began. At the request of the Paris Commune, Gobel, Bishop of Paris, and thirteen of his vicars resigned at the bar of the Convention (7 November) and their example was followed by several constitutional bishops.

257_CarmelitesThe Montagnards who considered worship necessary replaced the Catholic Sunday Mass by the civil mass of décadi. Having failed to reform and nationalize Catholicism they endeavoured to form a sort of civil cult, a development of the worship of the fatherland which had been inaugurated at the feast of the Federation. The Church of Notre-Dame-de-Paris became a temple of Reason, and the feast of Reason was celebrated on 10 November. The Goddesses of Reason and Liberty were not always the daughters of low people; they frequently came of the middle classes. Recent research has thrown new light on the history of these cults. M. Aulard was the first to recognize that the idea of honouring the fatherland, which had its origin in the festival of the Federation in 1790 gave rise to successive cults. Going deeper M. Mathiez developed the theory that confronted by the blocking of the Civil Constitution, the Conventionals, who had witnessed in the successive feasts of the Federation the power of formulas on the minds of the masses, wanted to create a real culte de la patrie, a sanction of faith in the fatherland. On 23 November, 1793, Chaumette passed a law alienating all churches in the capital. This example was followed in the provinces, where all city churches and a number of those in the country were closed to Catholic worship. The Convention offered a prize for the abjuration of priests by passing a decree which assured a pension to Priests who abjured, and the most painful day of that sad period was 20 November, 1793, when men, women, and children dressed in Priestly garments taken from the Church of St. Germain des Prés marched through the hall of the Convention. Laloi, who presided, congratulated them, saying they had “wiped out eighteen centuries of error”. Despite the part played by Chaumette and the Commune of Paris in the work of violent dechristianization, M. Mathiez has proved that it is not correct to lay on the Commune and the Exagérés, they were called, the entire responsibility, and that a Moderate, an Indulgent, namely Thuriot, the friend of Danton, was one of the most violent instigators. It is thus clear why Robespierre who desired a reaction against these excesses, should attack both Exagérés and Indulgents.

Indeed a reactionary movement was soon evident. As early as 21 November, 1793, Robespierre complained of the “madmen who could only revive fanaticism”. On 5 December he caused the Convention to adopt the text of a manifesto to the nations of Europe in which the members declared that they sought to protect the liberty of all creeds; on 7 December, he supported the motion of the committee of public safety which reported the bad effect in the provinces of the intolerant violence of the missionary representatives, and which forbade in the future all threats or violence contrary to liberty of worship. These decrees were the cause of warfare between Robespierre and enthusiasts such as Hébert and Clootz. At first Robespierre sent his enemies to the scaffold; Hébert and Clootz were beheaded in March, 1704, Chaumette and Bishop Gobel in April. But in this same month of April Robespierre sent to the scaffold the Moderates, Desmoulins and Danton, who wanted to stop the Terror, and became the master of France with his lieutenants Couthon and Saint-Just. M. Aulard regards Robespierre as having been hostile to the dechristianization for religious and political motives; he explains that Robespierre shared the admiration for Christ felt by Rousseau’s Vicar Savoyard and that he feared the evil effect on the powers of Europe of the Convention’s anti-religious policy. M. Mathiez on the other hand considers that Robespierre did not condemn the dechristianization in principle; that he knew the common hostility to the Committee of Public Safety of Moderates such as Thuriot and enthusiasts like Hébert; and that on the information of Basire and Chabot he suspected both parties of having furthered the fanatical measures of dechristianization only to discredit the Convention abroad and thus more easily to plot with the powers hostile to France. Robespierre‘s true intentions are still an historical problem. On 6 April, 1794, he commissioned Couthon to propose in the name of the Committee of Public Safety that a feast be instituted in honour of the Supreme Being, and on 7 May Robespierre himself outlined in a long speech the plan of the new religion. He explained that from the religious and Republican standpoint the idea of a Supreme Being was advantageous to the State, that religion should dispense with a priesthood, and that priests were to religion what charlatans were to medicine, and that the true priest of the Supreme Being was Nature. The Convention desired to have this speech translated into all languages and adopted a decree of which the first article was: “The French people recognize the existence of a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul”. The same decree states that freedom of worship is maintained but adds that in the case of disturbances caused by the exercise of a religion those who “excite them by fanatical preaching or by counter Revolutionary innovations”, shall be punished according to the rigour of the law. Thus the condition of the Catholic Church remained equally precarious and the first festival of the Supreme Being was celebrated throughout France on 8 June, 1794, with aggressive splendour. Whereas the Exagérés wished simply to destroy Catholicism, and in the temples of Reason political rather than moral doctrines were taught. Robespierre desired that the civic religion should have a moral code which he based on the two dogmas of God and the immortality of the soul. He was of the opinion that the idea of God had a social value, that public morality depended on it and that Catholics would more readily support the republic under the auspices of a Supreme Being.

frenchroyalists_sacredheartThe victories of the Republican armies, especially that of Fleurus (July, 1794), reassured the patriots of the Convention; those of Cholet, Mans, and Savenay, marked the checking of the Vendean insurrection. Lyons and Toulon were recaptured, Alsace was delivered, and the victory of Fleurus (26 June, 1794) gave Belgium to France. While danger from abroad was decreasing, Robespierre made the mistake of putting to vote in June the terrible law of 22 Prairial, which still further shortened the summary procedure of the Revolutionary tribunal and allowed sentence to be passed almost without trial even on the members of the Convention. The Convention took fright and the next day struck out this last clause. Montagnards like Tallien, Billaud-Varenne, and Collot d’Herbois, threatened by Robespierre, joined with such Moderates as Boissy d’Anglas and Durand Maillane to bring about the coup d’état of 9 Thermidor (27 July, 1794). Robespierre and his partisans were executed, and the Thermidorian reaction began. The Commune of paris was suppressed, the Jacobin Club closed, the Revolutionary tribunal disappeared after having sent to the scaffold the public accuser Fouquier-tinville and the Terrorist, Carrier, the author of the noyades (drownings) of Nantes. The death of Robespierre was the signal for a change of policy which proved of advantage to the Church; many imprisoned priests were released and many émigrépriests returned. Not a single law hostile to Catholicism was repealed, but the application of them was greatly relaxed. The religious policy of the Convention became indecisive and changeable. On 21 December 1794, a speech of the constitutional bishop, Grégoire, claiming effective liberty of worship, aroused violent murmurings in the Convention, but was applauded by the people; and when in Feb., 1795, the generals and commissaries of the Convention in their negotiations with the Vendeans promised them the restoration of their religious liberties, the Convention returned to the idea supported by Grégoire, and at the suggestion of the Protestant, Boissy d’Anglas, it passed the Law of 3 Ventôse (21 Feb., 1795), which marked the enfranchisement of the Catholic Church. This law enacted that the republic should pay salaries to the ministers of no religion, and that no churches should be reopened, but it declared that the exercise of religion should not be disturbed, and prescribed penalties for disturbers. Immediately the constitutional bishops issued an Encyclical for the Establishment of Catholic worship, but their credit was shaken. The confidence of the faithful was given instead to the non-juring priests who were returning by degrees. These priests were soon so numerous that in April, 1795, the Convention ordered them to depart within the month under pain of death. This was a fresh outbreak of anti-Catholicism. With the fluctuation which thenceforth characterized it the Convention soon made a counter-movement. On 20 May, 1795, the assembly hall was invaded by the mob and the deputy Féraud assassinated. These violences of the Extremists gave some influence to the Moderates, and 30 May, at the suggestion of the Catholic, Lanjuinais, the Convention decreed that (Law of 11 Prairial) the churches not confiscated should be place at the disposal of citizens for the exercise of their religion, but that every priest who wished to officiate in these churches should previously take an oath of submission to the laws; those who refused might legally hold services in private houses. This oath of submission to the laws was much less serious than the oaths formerly prescribed by the Revolutionary authorities, and the Abbé Sicard has shown how Emery, Superior General of St. Sulpice, Bausset, Bishop of Alais and other ecclesiastics were inclined to a policy of pacification and to think that such an oath might be taken.

While it seemed to be favouring a more tolerant policy the Convention met with diplomatic successes, the reward of the military victories: the treaties of Paris with Tuscany, of the Hague with the Batavian Republic, of Basle with Spain, gave to France as boundaries the Alps, the Rhine, and the Meuse. But the policy of religious pacification was not lasting. Certain periods of the history of the Convention justify M. Champion’s theory that certain religious measures taken by the Revolutionists were forced upon them by circumstances. The descent of the émigrés on the Breton coasts, to be checked by Hoche at Quiberon, aroused fresh attacks on the priests. On 6 Sept., 1795 (Law of 20 Fructidor), the Convention exacted the oath of submission to the laws even of priests who officiated in private houses. The Royalist insurrection of 13 Vendémiaire, put down by Bonaparte, provoked a very severe decree against deported priests who should be found on French territory; they were to be sentenced to perpetual banishment. Thus at the time when the Convention was disbanding, churches were separated from the State. In theory worship was free; the Law of 29 Sept., 1795 (7 Vendémiaire), on the religious policy, though still far from satisfactory to the clergy, was nevertheless an improvement on the laws of the Terror, but anarchy and the spirit of persecution still disturbed the whole country. Nevertheless France owes to the Convention a number of lasting creations: the Ledger of the Public Debt, the Ecole Polytechnique, the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, the Bureau of Longitudes, the Institute of France, and the adoption of the decimal system of weights and measures. The vast projects drawn up with regard to primary, secondary and higher education had almost no results.

CuoreVandea2_thumbTHE DIRECTORY

In virtue of the so-called “Constitution of the year III”, promulgated by the Convention 23 Sept., 1795, a Directory of five members (27 Oct., 1795) became the executive, and the Councils of Five Hundred and of the Ancients, the legislative power. At this time the public treasuries were empty, which was one reason why the people came by degrees to feel the necessity of a strong restorative power. The Directors Carnot, Barras, Letourneur, Rewbell, La Reveillière-Lépeaux were averse to Christianity, and in the separation of Church and State saw only a means of annihilating the Church. They wished that even the Constitutional episcopate, though they could not deny its attachment to the new regime, should become extinct by degrees, and when the constitutional bishops died they sought to prevent the election of successors, and multiplied measures against the non-juring priests. The Decree of 16 April, 1796, which made death the penalty for, provoking any attempt to overthrow the Republican government was a threat held perpetually over the heads of the non-juring priests. That the Directors really wished to throw difficulties in the way of all kinds of religion, despite theoretical declarations affirming liberty of worship is proved by the Law of 11 April, 1796, which forbade the use of bells and all sorts of public convocation for the exercise of religion, under penalty of a year in prison, and, in case of a second offense of deportation. The Directory having ascertained that despite police interference some non-juring bishops were officiating publicly in Paris, and that before the end of 1796 more than thirty churches or oratories had been opened to non-juring priests in Paris, laid before the Five Hundred a plan which, after twenty days, allowed the expulsion from French soil, without admission to the oath prescribed by the Law of Vendémiaire, all priests who had not taken the Constitutional Oath prescribed in 1790, or the Oath of Liberty and Equality prescribed in 1792; those who after such time should be found in France would be put to death. But amid the discussions to which this project gave rise, the revolutionary Socialist conspiracy of Babeuf was discovered, which showed that danger lay on the Left; and on 5 Aug., 1796, the dreadful project which had only been passed with much difficulty by the Five Hundred was rejected by the Ancients.

The Directory began to feel that its policy of religious persecution was no longer followed by the Councils. It learned also that Bonaparte, who in Italy led the armies of the Directory from victory to victory, displayed consideration for the pope. Furthermore, the electors themselves showed that they desired a change of policy. The elections of 20 may, 1797, caused the majority of Councils to pass from the Left to the Right. Pichegru became president of the Five Hundred, a Royalist, Barthélemy, became one of the Five Directors. Violent discussions which took place from 26 June to 18 July, in which Royer-Collard distinguished himself, brought to the vote the proposal of the deputy Dubruel for the abolition of all laws against non-juring priests passed since 1791. The Directors, alarmed by what they considered a reactionary movement, commissioned General Augereau to effect the coup d’état of 18 Fructidor (4 Sept., 1797); the elections of 49 departments were quashed, two Directors, Carnot and Barthélemy, proscribed, 53 deputies deported, and laws against the émigré and non-juring priests restored to their vigour. Organized hunting for these priests took place throughout France; the Directory cast hundreds of them on the unhealthy shore of Sinnamary, Guiana, where they died. At the same time the Directory commissioned Berthier to make the attack on the Papal States and the pope, from which Bonaparte had refrained. The Roman Republic was proclaimed in 1798 and Pius VI was taken prisoner to Valence. An especially odious persecution was renewed in France against the ancient Christian customs; it was known as the décadaire persecution. Officials and municipalities were called upon to overwhelm with vexations the partisans of Sunday and to restore the observance of décadi. The rest of that day became compulsory not only for administrations and schools, but also for business and industry. Marriages could only be celebrated on décadi at the chief town of each canton.

executionAnother religious venture of this period was that of Theophilanthropists, who wished to create a spiritualist church without dogmas, miracles, priesthood or sacraments, a sort of vague religiosity, similar to the “ethical societies of the United States.” Contrary to what has been asserted for one hundred years, M. Mathiez has proved that Theophilanthropism was not founded by the director La Réveillière-Lépeaux. It was the private initiative of a former Girondin, the librarian Chemin Dupontés, which gave rise to this cult; Valentine Hauy, instructor of the blind and former Terrorist, and the physiocrat, Dupont de Nemours, collaborated with him. During its early existence, the new Church was persecuted by agents of Cochon, Minister of Police, who was the tool of Camot, and it was only for a short time, after the coup d’état of 18 Fructidor, that the the Theophanthropists benefited by the protection of La Réveillière. In proportion to the efforts of the Directory for the culte décadaire, the Theophilanthropists suffered and were persecuted; in Paris, they were sometimes treated even worse than the Catholics, Catholic priests being at times permitted to occupy the buildings connected with certain churches while the Theophilanthropists were driven out. On a curious memoir written after 18 Fructidor entitled “Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la Revolution et des principes qui doivent fonder la Républic en France”, the famous Madame de Stael, who was a Protestant, declared herself against Theophilanthropy; like many Protestants, she hoped that Protestantism would become the State religion of the Republic. Through its clumsy and odious religious policy the Directory exposed itself to serious difficulties. Disturbed by the anti-religious innovations, the Belgian provinces revolted; 6000 Belgian priests were proscribed. Brttany, Anjou. and Maine again revolted, winning over Normandy. Abroad the prestige of the French armies was upheld by were upheld by Bonaparte in Egypt, but they were hated on the Continent, and in 1799 were compelled to evacuate most of Italy. Bonaparte’s return and the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire (10 November 1799) were necessary to strengthen the glory of the French armies and to restore peace to the country and to consciences.”