French Revolution Martyrs
REIGN OF TERROR 11 – JULY 1794 ORANGE
During the reign of Terror at the time of the French Revolution there was fierce anti-catholic persecution. This was especially virulent in the area of Orange in southern France, where 332 people were guillotined in a 6 week period – among them between 9 – 26 July 32 religious sisters of whom 16 were Ursulines.
They were arrested for refusing to take the oath repudiating their catholic faith, and all were condemned to the guillotine. Their ages ranged from 31 to 70. For the previous 2 years they had prepared for this hour – expelled from their convents and living a life of prayer and semi-destitution. And they went to their death with courage and serenity.
Among them, one of them was named Gertrude d’Alauzier, aged 37, and since that date, 10 July 1794, the eldest daughter in the d’Alauzier family has always been named Gertrude. The most recent young girl of this name was lately a pupil at the Ursuline Lycée in Paris.
REIGN OF TERROR 11 – OCTOBER 1794 VALENCIENNES
Valenciennes in Northern France during the Reign of Terror 11 Ursulines were taken from their convent and brought before a military tribunal for illegally teaching the catholic faith. The prioress, Sr Clotilde Paillot, tried to take the entire blame on herself for any illegal actions but the tribunal refused to agree and all were condemned to the guillotine. Sr Marie Erraux was utterly terrified and Sr Clotilde comforted and supported her, promising to stay close beside her.
At these killings the crowd was usually out for entertainment jeering and shouting insults and making a great noise. But as the sisters were led to the guillotine the crowd fell utterly silent and still. Sr Clotilde thanked the soldiers, calling it the most beautiful day of their lives. They were not allowed any religious symbols, but she had hidden a crucifix on her person, and when she reached the guillotine, she threw it out into the crowd.
Two hundred years later, at a service commemorating the bicentenary of their death, the family of Sr Clotilde brought this crucifix to the Ursulines and asked them to keep it in the convent chapel at Valenciennes in memory of the martyred sisters.