“Atheism in legislation, indifference in matters of religion, and the pernicious maxims which go under the name of Liberal Catholicism are the true causes of the destruction of states; they have been the ruin of France. Believe me, the evil I denounce is more terrible than the Revolution, more terrible even than The Commune. I have always condemned Liberal Catholicism, and I will condemn it again forty times over if it be necessary” (Pope Pius IX).
What Is Bastille Day?
Celebrated each year on July 14th, Bastille Day recalls the storming of the Bastille, a medieval fortress and political prison in the center of Paris, that represented the royal authority. While the prison, at the time of its storming on July 14, 1789, had only seven prisoners, its fall is frequently reckoned as the start of the French Revolution. Today it remains a national holiday in France, commemorated with parades, celebrations and fireworks.
The French Revolution was aimed at the destruction of “Altar and Throne.” This was their battle cry. They sought to destroy the Church and bring anarchy to the State. The philosophers of the enlightened led the French Revolution and the essential collapse of Catholicism in what was once regarded the most Catholic nation in the world. Since that time, we have seen mankind exalted, human reason deified, and the faith and piety of many vanish.
In the United States, more than 20 cities conduct annual celebrations of Bastille Day, which feature French food, music, and games. And similar festivities occur in other countries. But a Catholic should not celebrate any of these as the storming of the Bastille and the subsequent French Revolution were anti-Catholic, atheistic attacks on the Faith.
French Revolutionaries Established the Worship of Paganism in Place of Christianity. Sundays Were Abolished. Feast Days Were Outlawed.
While few textbooks mention it, the Paris Commune – in a ceremony in the Cathedral of Notre Dame on November 10, 1793 – instituted a new religion for France intended for the worship of Reason and Liberty. Called the “cult of the goddess of reason,” this man-made and blasphemous attack on the First Commandment took place in Notre Dame. Statues were erected in honor of their false worship and hymns were sung: “Come, Holy Liberty, dwell in this temple; become the Goddess of the French people.” Such a mockery of the True God is beyond expression and is still worthy of acts of reparation!
A new calendar was introduced, Catholic feast days were banned, and man-made secular holidays were forced to take their place. Catholics were also forced to work on Sundays – in fact, the new calendar abolished Sunday altogether and replaced the week with 10 days! Christmas Day was replaced by Isaac Newton’s birthday. And the list of atrocities is longer than can be repeated here.
One year later, the “cult of the Supreme Being,” the deistic anti-Catholic religion, took its place. It would last until 1802 when Napoleon Bonaparte would outlaw both.
French Revolutionaries Murdered Thousands of Catholics
Far beyond the murder of King Louis XVI and his wife, the French revolutionaries’ Reign of Terror saw the murder of thousands of Catholics. Estimates place the number of victims of the Reign of Terror at 20,000 – 40,000. Of those, roughly 6% were clergy and 70% were working class peasants. It is well known that many average, poor Catholics rose up to defend the Faith in the Vendee region and there suffered martyrdom rather than seeing priests murdered, churches burdened, and a new atheistic government imposed. Sister Elvira Garro writes:
“The French Revolution broke out in 1789 in an apparent hostile environment for the Church. The confiscation of Church goods and the expulsion of religious orders rapidly ensued. In 1790, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy condemned by Pius VI, was approved, and converted the French Church into a national and schismatic Church, separate from Rome. The clergy was divided by a sworn oath: priests who swore on the Civil Constitution, thus becoming employees of the State, and ‘refractory priests’ or ‘non-jurors,’ who remained faithful to Rome. The latter group were removed from their duties, and parishes were handed over to ‘jurors’ (priests who took the oath). Those who did not take the oath were threatened with dismissal, deportation, or the guillotine.
“Many priests faithful to Rome were exiled, while others hid in order to clandestinely attend to the flock entrusted to them. Thus, a ‘church of the catacombs’ was born: a barn, a basement, a castle moat, and the woods were all places where Mass was celebrated and sacraments received. The faithful and the priests knew that their life was in danger, but they preferred death to denying Christ and His Church.”
It is well known that the family of St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney at this time refused to attend the Sacraments of priests who agreed to this new Constitution. Born in 1786 to poor peasant parents, St. Jean Vianney was brought up to assist at Holy Masses said in secret by priests who remained faithful to the Church. If the family was discovered, they would have been sentenced to death. But still they persisted and St. Jean Vianney studied the catechism from private tutors before receiving his First Holy Communion in a home with windows covered. These sacrifices would inspire and help deepen his faith. Their opposition is in many respects similar to the objections of faithful Catholics who refuse to accept the errors, ambiguities, and sacrileges commonplace in most modern Catholic churches.
French Revolutionaries Destroyed Many Catholic Churches, Desecrated Altars, and Destroyed the Relics of Saints
Those familiar with French history will know of the desecration of many French churches – including the destruction of relics, icons, paintings, and whole buildings – during the French Revolution. Next to the Pantheon – a church which has been desecrated and to this day still serves as a monument and burial chamber for leading atheistic revolutionaries – is the Church of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. Inside Saint-Étienne-du-Mont are some of the relics of St. Genevieve which were not destroyed.
Even the famous Cathedral of Notre Dame was not immune from the atheistic hate of the French revolutionaries. Completed in 1345 – nearly 200 years after the groundbreaking – Notre Dame is a beacon of hope to those who pray and work for a restoration of Catholicism in France. The cathedral suffered serious damage in the 1790s when – like many French churches – it was desecrated by the French Revolutionaries.
May God help restore France to her former Catholic glory. For this intention, we could pray the private litany to the French Saints.
Pray the Holy Face Devotion on Bastille Day
The following prayers are taken from the prayers of Sister Saint Pierre, Carmelite Nun of Tours, to whom Our Lord gave the messages of devotion to His Holy Face and the work of reparation:
“The future of France depends on the work of reparation [devotion to the Holy Face]. It is always shown to me [Sister Saint Pierre] as the means of salvation which God, in His infinite mercy, has designed for FRANCE” (taken from the Life of Sister Mary St. Pierre, 1884).
Prayer of the seer of the Holy Face, Sister Saint Pierre OCD, with imprimatur:
“Arrest, O Divine Father, the instruments of Thy justice, ready to strike us!
Behold the instruments of the most Sacred Passion of Jesus, red with His Adorable Blood. May this sight change Thy justice to mercy and move Thee to speak peace to France and the world.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee all the glory that our Divine Saviour Jesus has rendered Thee during the thirty years of His hidden and laborious life, and all the merits He has acquired for us from the moment of His Divine Incarnation until His evangelical Life. I make this offering for the honor and glory of Thy Holy Name, in reparation for the indignities offered our Saviour; finally, for the wants of the Holy Church, the salvation of France, and the Work of Reparation.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Holy Face of Jesus for the salvation of poor France. It is the golden coin which alone can cancel her debts.”