Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Martyrs of Rochefort

Another very recent feast today, these Carmelites were among a group of 64 martyrs of the French revolution beatified in 1995. I could find very little on the web concerning them, hardly more than the bare mention of their existence.

This is from the "introduction" to the feast of the three Discalced Carmelites among the prisoners:

Fr. Jean Baptiste Duverneuil (born 1737 at Limoges) in religous life Fr.
Leonard, Fr. Michel Louis Brulard (born 1758 at Chartres), Fr. Jacques
Gagnot (born 1753 at Frolois) in religious life Fr. Hubert of St. Claude,
were among a group of 64 Martyrs, beatified October 1, 1995, victims of the French Revolution who came from 14 French dioceses and from various
religious Orders.

In their loyalty to God, the Church and the Pope, they refused to take the
oath of the Civil Constitution for the Clergy imposed by the Constituent
Assembly of the Revolution. As a result they were imprisoned, massed like
animals, on a slave-trader anchored in Rochefort Bay awaiting in vain to be deported into slavery. During 1794, the first two Carmelites died on board ship: Fr. Jean Baptiste on July 1, and Fr. Michel Louis on July 25, and both were buried on the island of Aix.
After plague broke out on the ship, those remaining disembarked on the
island of Madame where Fr. Jacques died and was buried on September 10. Noted for their loving ministry to their fellow prisoners and their patience in
accepting every type of outrage, privation and cruelty not to mention the vicissitudes of weather, hunger and sickness, our three Discalced Carmelite priest martyrs and their companions in martyrdom gave unsurpassable Christian witness to their faith and love.



This is from the proper second reading for their feast day in the Office of Readings:


From Resolutions Drawn Up by the Priests Imprisoned
on the Ship Les Deux Associes


They bore in silence the cross that was placed on them.
They will never give themselves up to useless worries about being
set free. Instead they will make every effort to profit from the
time of their detention by meditating on their past years, by making
holy resolutions for the future so that they can find, in the
captivity of their bodies, freedom for their souls. …

If God permits them to recover totally or in part this liberty that
nature longs for, they will avoid giving themselves up to an
immoderate joy when they receive the news. By keeping their souls
tranquil, they will show they support without murmur the cross
placed on them, and that they are disposed to bear it even longer
with courage and as true Christians who never let themselves be
beaten by adversity.

If there is question of receiving back their personal effects, they
will show no eagerness in asking for them; rather, they will make
the declaration that may be required of them with modesty and strict
truth. They will receive without lament what is given to them,
accustoming themselves, as is their duty, to despise the things of
the earth and to be content with little after the example of the
apostles.

They are not to satisfy curious people they might come across; they
will not reply to superficial questions about what happened to them;
they will let people glimpse that they have patiently supported
their sufferings, without descending into detail, and without
showing any resentment against those who have authored and been
instrumental in their suffering. ...

They will sentence themselves to the severest and most absolute
silence about the faults of their brothers and the weaknesses into
which they happened to fall due to their unfortunate situation,
their bad health, and the length of their punishment. They will
preserve the same charity toward those whose religious opinion is
different from their own. They will avoid all bitter feeling or
animosity, being content to feel sorry for them interiorly and
making the effort to stay on the way of truth by their gentleness
and moderation. They will not show grief over the loss of their goods, no haste to recover them, no resentment against those who possess them. …

From now on they will form but one heart and one soul, without
showing distinction of persons, and without leaving any of their
brothers out, under any pretext. They will never get mixed up in the
new politics, being content to pray for the welfare of their country
and prepare themselves for a new life, if God permits them to return
to their homes. There they will become subjects of edification and
models of virtue for the people by their detachment from the world,
their assiduousness in prayer, and their love for recollection and
piety.

Responsory
R/. God and His angels look down upon us; Christ, too,
looks on as we do battle in the contest of faith. * What
great dignity and glory are ours, what happiness to struggle
in the presence of God, and to be crowned by Christ our judge.
V/.Let us be armed with great determination and, pure in heart,
sound in faith, and full of courage, be prepared to face the
combat. * What great dignity and glory are ours, what happiness
to struggle in the presence of God, and to be crowned by Christ
our judge.