The Blessed Martyrs of the Carmelite Convent — 2 September 1792

The Massacre at the Carmelite Convent

Of the 3000 victims of September 1792, 191 martyrs were beatified by Pope Pius XI on 17 October 1926.

They were rounded up and detained in different makeshift prisons in Paris. There was the notorious Prison de la Force and the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés; but, the primary and most important was the convent of the Discalced Carmelite Friars, where Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection once lived and taught the Practice of the Presence of God.

Among the martyrs there were three bishops, 127 diocesan priests, 56 religious and five laity; 86 of the priests and four of the laity belonged to the Diocese of Paris.

At 4:00 in the afternoon of 2 September 1792, an armed mob descended on the monastery, which had served as a prison since 10 August. The massacre began by firing squad, but the impatient, bloodthirsty crowd lost control and began attacking the prisoners with spears (piques) and sabers.

A revolutionary commissioner restored order
Les Septembriseurs
l’illustration Européenne 1871 no.6 page 45
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Some prisoners sought refuge in the monastery chapel, but were apprehended and led back to the monastery garden to certain execution. A revolutionary commissioner arrived, restored order, and within two hours another 115 executions were carried out at the bottom of the stairway that led to the back door of the sacristry.

One Jesuit escaped, Father Saurin, and an injured diocesan priest, Father De La Pannonie. Father Saurin said that the difference between the spiritual calm and serenity of the Carmelite prison and the noise and furor of Revolutionary Paris was like night and day.

Father De La Pannonie wrote, “I never heard one complaint from those whom I saw massacred” on 2 September in the Carmelite cloister garden.

Nous voilà réfugiés dans l’oratoire. Voici les Marseillais ! Nous ne pouvons être mieux qu’au pied de la croix pour faire le sacrifice de nos vies.

We’ve taken refuge in the oratory. Here are the revolutionaries! We can’t be any better off than at the foot of the cross to make the sacrifice of our lives.

Abbé Desprez, martyr
Massacre des Carmes
Massacre in the Carmelite convent
Attributed to Marie-Marc-Antoine Bilcocq (French, 1755-1838)
Oil on panel, ca. 1830
Musée de la Révolution Française
Photo credit: Rama / Wikimedia Commons (Cc-by-sa-2.0-fr)

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