Massacre at the Monastery

In Paris, the clergy opposed to the Revolution had to severely pay for their opinions, quite specifically during the “September massacres” of 1792. In the first days of September, fear spread throughout Paris. Prussian and Austrian troops were advancing. All anyone talked about was the Brunswick manifesto: the commander of the Austrian forces threatened to destroy the capital if the French did not return Louis XVI to the throne. On September 2nd, people learned the city of Verdun had been taken. Panic then overtook the sans-culottes. “Resistant” priests, thus called because they refused to take an oath to the Constitution, were killed in the Abbaye Prison, or executed after perfunctory hearings. In the former Carmes monastery, which had become a prison, more than one hundred others were massacred. The same scenes were repeated in the Force and Conciergerie prisons, resulting in more than a thousand victims. This is what is called the “September massacres.”

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Remembering revolutionary violence

The Carmes monastery is today part of the Catholic Institute of Paris. The site preserved the memory of the 1792 September massacres. Very early on, the Catholic Church honored victims of the “true faith.” In the crypt, the bones of whom it calls the “blessed martyrs of September 1792,” discovered during excavations conducted at the end of the 19th century, are exhibited in the “Chapel of Martyrs.” The inscriptions that accompany the human remains pay tribute to these priests’ sacrifice who refused to take an oath to the Constitution: “Having preferred death to the violation of God’s holy law, they were massacred.

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