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They Didn’t Survive

November 15, 2021

Two weeks ago I had a phone call with DC lobbyist, Wayne Valis, a friend of many years and a compatriot in the Conservative Movement. I summarized our accomplishments with the observation that “we survived.”

Wayne, whose avocation is the serious study of history laughed and reminded me of a common query of the French in the 18tth century: “What did you do in the Revolution?” Answer: “I survived.”

During the French Revolution, the American statesman, Gouvernor Morris, was witness to the organized slaughter of aristocrats by roving bans of sans culottes who patrolled the streets of Paris with cutlasses.

That revolution overthrew the French monarchy. Louis XVI was guillotined in the Place de la Révolution on January 21, 1793. His wife, Marie Antoinette, met the same fate nine months later, on October 16, 1793. Their young son, Louis-Charles, died in prison.

And like most revolutions, the French Revolution took out its anger on Catholic priests and nuns. Martyrs to their faith during that Revolution were more than two hundred Benedictine priests including Augustin Ambrose Chevreux, Last Abbot of the Maurists (1728-92); René-Julien Massey, Prior (1732-92); and Louis Barreau de La Touche, Monk (1753-92).

Two Cistercian nuns and one Benedictine nun were beatified (among thirty-two women religious, who were killed in 1794); sixty-four religious known as Martyrs of Rochefort died as did four Trappists and two Benedictine monks.

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