Blessed John Du Lau and the September Martyrs
Feast Day: September 2
Born: (early 1700) :: Died: (in 1792)
Blessed John was the archbishop of Arles, in France. We celebrate his feast and the feast of 191 of his companions today because they died as heroes during the French Revolution.
The new law of 1790 said that the government had the power to take over the Catholic Church in France and that the Pope was not the head of the Church any longer. The people were being forced to sign their agreement of the law and make a promise.
If they did not, they were punished and put in prison. Two years later, the punishment became more serious and people were put to death if they did not sign the agreement.
Many brave bishops, priests, religious and lay people would not sign the oath supporting the French constitution. They knew they would be betraying God and his Church. It was a sad time for the people of France.
On September 2, 1792, a crowd of many hundred people began making trouble and broke into a monastery which was now a prison for priests and religious. They asked the priests to sign the oath but the priest refused and they were killed on the spot.
Among the martyrs was Blessed Alexander Lenfant, a Jesuit priest who a few minutes before he died, had been hearing the confession of another priest. Both were killed moments later.
The rioters then went to the Carmelite church which was also being used as a prison. Blessed John, archbishop of Arles, was praying in the chapel when they called for him. He came out and said "I am the man you are looking for." They immediately killed him and all the other bishops and priests who refused to take the oath.
On September 3, the same crowd went to the Lazarist seminary. It was also a temporary prison, with ninety priests and religious. Only four were able to escape.
By the time the terrible Revolution had ended, 1,500 Catholics had been killed. Many were bishops, priests and religious.
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