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Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

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Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  J.C. Marrero on Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:02 pm

I know that this subject has been raised in your wonderful site. But I think that it is a pity that Louis and Marie Antoinette, if not canonized or beatified, have not been recognized by the Church as a holy couple who stayed faithful to their faith until the bitter end. Politically, it may not be feasible. I can imagine the snide comments about Marie Antoinette as a possible saint. The Russian Orthodox Church has a minor category of sainthood called "Passion Bearers" to honor those who went to their death upholding religious principles--such as the last Czar and his family. Too bad that the RCC does not do the same. In any event, France still celebrates its Revolution and it would be tricky for the Church to appear to be reopening wounds.

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:30 pm

What an excellent topic for discussion! I love you I agree with you on all points. Yes, I have been laughed at when I have suggested Marie-Antoinette as a possible subject for beatification. Most people are not aware of the heroic virtue she displayed in the last years of her life and at other times as well. The Church moves slowly in such cases where politics was involved, and is wise to do so. It is not the right time, but that may change someday, in God's time.

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Kindness of Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:11 pm



From a post by Gareth Russell:

http://garethrussellcidevant.blogspot.com/2011/11/kindness-of-marie-antoinette.html

The site Vive la reine (via Tea at Trianon) reports on one eye-witness account of Marie-Antoinette's compassion towards the less-fortunate. Although it's a side of the Queen almost never reported in modern accounts of her, Marie-Antoinette's kindness and empathy was considered to be one of her most dominant (and endearing) features by her close friends and servants. One of Marie-Antoinette's modern biographers writes, "Marie Antoinette further established her public reputation for sweetness and mercy by stopping her carriage for over an hour to aid an injured postilion. She would not continue until she had established the presence of a surgeon. She then insisted on a stretcher for the injured man ... This behaviour was much acclaimed... When a peasant wine-grower was gored by a stag during the royal hunt, [Marie Antoinette] conveyed the unfortunate man in her own coach, while making arrangements for the family he left behind and for his ruined crops. Wide publicity was given to this scene [and]... For once publicity did not lie. The impulse of compassion was genuine enough and was deeply rooted in Marie Antoinette's character. 'She was so happy at doing good and hated to miss an opportunity to do so,' wrote Madame Campan of a much later occasion when some country people addressed to her a petition on the subject of a predatory game-bird, reserved for the King's sport, which was destroying their crops. Marie Antoinette ordered the bird to be destroyed. Six weeks later, when the arrival of a second petition made her aware that her orders had not been carried out, she was upset and angry... [but] Marie Antoinette's insistence on personal involvement in humanitarian exercises - a tradition in which she had been brought up in Vienna - was privately thought to be rather unnecessary at Versailles."

The illustration above shows Marie-Antoinette with the Bellegarde family, after she secured Monsieur de Bellegarde's liberation from jail after he was imprisoned on unjust charges.

"Marie Antoinette reigned not only by her grace, but by her goodness. … She obtained a new hearing in the case of Messieurs de Bellagarde and de Moustiers, who had been pursued by the spite of the Duc d’Aiguillon; and when their innocence had been established, the two prisoners, set at liberty, came with their wives and children to thank their benefactress, she replied modestly that justice alone had been done, and that one should congratulate her only on the greatest happiness arising from her position - that of being able to lay before the king just claims.
As a token of gratitude, Madame de Bellegarde had a picture painted in which she was represented with her husband kneeling before the queen … the queen was greatly touched, and placed the picture in her apartment."
-The Life of Marie Antoinette, Volume 1 by Maxime de la Rocheterie

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Alms-giving of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Nov 22, 2011 5:23 pm

We recall the duties of every Christian to apply themselves more fervently to alms-giving. In pre-revolutionary France it was for the King and the Queen to give an example to everyone else in this regard. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette took this duty seriously and throughout their reign did what they could to help the needy.

At the fireworks celebrating the marriage of the young prince and princess in May 1774, there was a stampede in which many people were killed. Louis and Antoinette gave all of their private spending money for a year to relieve the suffering of the victims and their families. They became very popular with the common people as a result, which was reflected in the adulation with which they were received when the Dauphin took his wife to Paris on her first "official" visit in June 1773. Marie-Antoinette's reputation for sweetness and mercy became even more entrenched in 1774, when as the new Queen she asked that the people be relieved of a tax called "The Queen's belt," customary at the beginning of each reign. "Belts are no longer worn," she said. It was only the onslaught of revolutionary propaganda that would eventually destroy her reputation.

Louis XVI often visited the poor in their homes and villages, distributing alms from his own purse. During the difficult winter of 1776, the King oversaw the distribution of firewood among the peasants. Louis was responsible for many humanitarian reforms. He went incognito to hospitals, prisons, and factories so as to gain first-hand knowledge of the conditions in which the people lived and worked.

The King and Queen were patrons of the Maison Philanthropique, a society founded by Louis XVI which helped the aged, blind and widows. The Queen taught her daughter Madame Royale to wait upon peasant children, to sacrifice her Christmas gifts so as to buy fuel and blankets for the destitute, and to bring baskets of food to the sick. Marie-Antoinette took her children with her on her charitable visits. According to Maxime de la Rocheterie:
Sometimes they went to the Gobelins; and the president of the district coming on one occasion to compliment her, she said, "Monsieur you have many destitute but the moments which we spend in relieving them are very precious to us." Sometimes she went to the free Maternity Society which she had founded, where she had authorized the Sisters to distribute sixteen hundred livres for food and fuel every month and twelve hundred for blankets and clothing, without counting the baby outfits which were given to three hundred mothers. At other times she went to the School of Design also founded by her to which she sent one day twelve hundred livres saved with great effort that the rewards might not be diminished nor the dear scholars suffer through her own distress. Again she placed in the house of Mademoiselle O'Kennedy four daughters of disabled soldiers, orphans, for whom she said, "I made the endowment."
The Queen adopted three poor children to be raised with her own, as well overseeing the upbringing of several needy children, whose education she paid for, while caring for their families. She established a home for unwed mothers, the "Maternity Society," mentioned above. She brought several peasant families to live on her farm at Trianon, building cottages for them. There was food for the hungry distributed every day at Versailles, at the King's command. During the famine of 1787-88, the royal family sold much of their flatware to buy grain for the people, and themselves ate the cheap barley bread in order to be able to give more to the hungry.

Madame de la Tour du Pin, a lady-in-waiting of Marie-Antoinette, recorded in her spirited Memoirs the daily activities at Versailles, including the rumors and the gossip. Her pen does not spare Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, which is why I find the following account to be of interest. Every Sunday, Marie-Antoinette would personally take up a collection for the poor, which the courtiers resented since they preferred to have the money on hand for gambling. The queen supported several impoverished families from her own purse. As Madame de la Tour du Pin describes:
We had to be there before seven, for the Queen entered before the chiming of the clock. Beside her door would be one of the two Curés of Versailles. He would hand her a purse and she would go around to everyone, taking up a collection and saying: "For the poor, if you please." Each lady had her 'écu' of six francs ready in her hand and the men had their 'louis.' The Curé would follow the Queen as she collected this small tax for her poor people, a levy which often totaled as much as much as one hundred 'louis' and never less than fifty. I often heard some of the younger people, including the most spendthrift, complaining inordinately of this almsgiving being forced upon them, yet they would not have thought twice of hazarding a sum one hundred times as large in a game of chance, a sum much larger than that levied by the Queen. (Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin: Laughing and Dancing Our Way to the Precipice, p. 74)
Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette contributed a great deal throughout their reign to the care of orphans and foundlings. They patronized foundling hospitals, which the Queen often visited with her children. Above is a picture of an occasion in February, 1790, after their removal to Paris, when the king, the queen and their children toured such a facility, where the nuns cared for abandoned babies and little children. As is reported by Maxime de la Rocheterie, the young Dauphin, soon to be an orphan himself, was particularly drawn to the foundlings and gave all of his small savings to aid them.

The king and queen did not see helping the poor as anything extraordinary, but as a basic Christian duty. The royal couple's alms-giving stopped only with their incarceration in the Temple in August 1792, for then they had nothing left to give but their lives.

(Sources: Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin, Marguerite Jallut's and Philippe Huisman's Marie-Antoinette, Vincent Cronin's Louis and Antoinette, Antonia Fraser's The Journey, Madame Campan's Memoirs, Mémoires de madame la Duchesse de Tourzel, Maxime de la Rocheterie's The Life of Marie-Antoinette)
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/03/almsgiving-of-louis-xvi-and-marie.html

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Sun Apr 22, 2012 8:14 pm

Author Gareth Russell on the cult of Marie-Antoinette. http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2010/05/historys-slave.html
From Section II - FULL OF GRACE: The Cult of Marie-Antoinette, “the martyr-queen”

Incredible as it may seem, given that the reverse is true for their long-term political fortunes, it is the sanctified image of Marie-Antoinette created by royalist dévots and Catholic populism at the beginning of the nineteenth century that has endured with far greater strength and appeal than the republican-manufactured image of a debauched and cruel adulteress. For some die-hard monarchists, the spectral figure of Marie-Antoinette remains ‘the incarnation of The Cause’ and the politico-religious significance of her death is, for them, undiminished: ‘In Marie-Antoinette lived and perished one of the most gracious martyrs of the Faith ... [she] died for having wanted to remain an obedient daughter of the Church, a preserver, as far as it depended on her, of Christ’s presence in the realm of France and as loyal as she could be to Him as who saved her by the Cross.’ (Ref 2.19, J.M. Charles-Roux, “Marie Antoinette: The Martyred Queen of Christian Europe,” The Royal Stuart Society, 1988, Vol. 6., No. 3., 55 – 62, The Royal Stuart Society and Royalist League, Huntingdon.)

In 1997, American author, Elena Maria Vidal, published a novel based on the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, entitled “Trianon.” The novel in itself is interesting beyond being a work of literature because it preserves a particularly Catholic version of the fall of the monarchy and the personality of Marie-Antoinette in particular. Appearing on Catholic network television in the United States, the novelist criticised the ‘general impression that most people do [have of her], the kind of decadent feather-head who, you know, didn’t really care about the people’ and discussed the machinations of the Comte de Provence and the Duc d’Orléans, which were felt to have been largely responsible for the destruction of Marie-Antoinette’s initial popularity amongst the Parisians. The opening inscription of “Trianon” was a quote from the Marquise de Gouvion Broglie Scolari who, at the height of the royalist cult of Marie-Antoinette, had proclaimed, ‘Never a saint more merited to be ranked in the long list of martyrs than Marie-Antoinette.’

However, it would be wrong to paint “Trianon” as a resurrection of purely Catholic polemicism in a modern commercial guise. It did not attempt to erase, for instance, instances of the Queen’s extravagance or various political mistakes made by the monarchical establishment in the years immediately pre-dating the Revolution. It was, in short, a far more nuanced characterizations than we might expect if we were simply to crudely label Miss Vidal’s work as “Catholic” and attempt to draw a straight line from it back to the explosion of popular veneration associated with Marie-Antoinette in the immediately post-Restoration era. The atmosphere and tone of “Trianon” is thus what we might describe as “emotionally Catholic,” but is neither panegyric nor polemical and this is an important development. As we shall see, the links between “Trianon” and Catholic sentiment about Marie-Antoinette are revelatory and indicative of a wider historiographical trend – for they are strong, but they are not prohibitive or controlling, nor have they negatively affected the tone of the novel and it is this kind of long-term links, persistent yet evolutionary, which characterises the relationships between the earlier and the later cultural manifestations of Marie-Antoinette’s posthumous reputation....
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2010/05/historys-slave.html


Marie-Antoinette receiving final absolution in the Conciergerie.


Her last Holy Communion. http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/10/last-communion-of-marie-antoinette.html


Marie-Antoinette receiving spiritual consolation in prison.

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:08 pm


A prayer of Marie-Antoinette written inside her missal on the morning of her death. "My God, have pity on me! I have no tears left to cry for you my poor children! Farewell, Farewell!

Last Communion:


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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:15 pm

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2007/05/last-letter-of-marie-antoinette.html
The sweetness and innocence of Marie-Antoinette's soul are captured in the lines in which she expresses her steadfast adherence to the Catholic religion and her concern for her friends and family. Note the delicate manner in which she refers to her little son's accusation of incest, wrested from him by his tormentors, showing more concern for Elisabeth's feelings than for her own agony. Although it is known that she had previously received the ministrations of a priest faithful to the Holy See while in prison, in order to protect him she wonders aloud if there are any Catholic priests left in France. Also, in the last sentence she states her refusal to "speak," that is, to confess, to a juring priest, one who had denied the Pope by swearing an oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. Robespierre kept the letter; it never reached Elisabeth.

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:20 pm

The hallmark of a Christian is charity involves the ability to forgive. Whatever faults and flaws Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette may have had, there can be no doubt that they bore wrongs patiently and forgave their enemies in a Christ-like manner. As Louis XVI stated in his Last Will and Testament, written on Christmas Day, 1792, less than a month before he was killed:
I pardon with all my heart those who made themselves my enemies, without my having given them any cause, and I pray God to pardon them, as well as those who, through false or misunderstood zeal, did me much harm.
The king did not want to be avenged.
I exhort my son, should he have the misfortune of becoming king, to remember he owes himself wholly to the happiness of his fellow citizens; that he should forget all hates and all grudges, particularly those connected with the misfortunes and sorrows which I am experiencing....
Marie-Antoinette's forgiveness has an especially supernatural aura. When the queen wrote her last letter to her sister-in-law, she was hours away from death. She had been put through the ordeal of a humiliating trial, designed to break her will. Her little son had been dragged from her arms and tormented into accusing his own mother of unnatural crimes. That Marie-Antoinette was able to forgive the monsters who had tried to destroy her by corrupting her little boy surely required a special grace from God. Here are her words:
I beg pardon of all whom I know, and especially of you, my sister, for all the vexations which, without intending it, I may have caused you. I pardon all my enemies the evils that they have done me.
Not only does the queen forgive but she asks forgiveness. Humility and compunction drown any bitterness or recriminations, although certainly in her agony she experienced the full range of emotions. Christian love overcomes hatred; only someone who sincerely believed in and loved Jesus Christ could make that leap from hellish circumstances to the heights of courage, love, and martyrdom

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Chapelle expiatoire

Post  princess garnet on Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:56 pm

Elena,
I was in Paris during a group tour of France last month; we were in the city for the first 2 1/2 days. I found the Chapelle expiatoire while looking for St-Augustin Church. The signage threw me off when I got off the Metro! I did get to the church though.
When I entered through the gate on rue Pasquier, there were young kids playing in the park. Unfortunately the Chapelle was closed that day (*sigh*) but I did take a few photos of the entrance.

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:12 pm

The chapel was closed when I visited, too. I was desolate! Sad

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:18 am

I LOVE this picture of her helping the peasants. I found it on Anna's site.

http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/post/34077303136
This is from a letter of Mercy to the Empress:
On October 16th, Mme la Dauphine was following the King at the hunt in an open carriage when there occurred a very untoward event. The stag, closely pursued by the dogs, jumped into an enclosed garden which its owner was then working. The animal, who could see no exit, became enraged … and gored [the man] twice, once in the thigh, the other in the body, leaving him mortally wounded.

The wretched man’s wife … seized with despair, ran toward a group of hunters she could see in the distance. It was the King and his suite. She shouted for help, announcing her husband’s accident and, at that moment, fell down in a faint. The King ordered that she be taken care of and, having given marks of compassion and kindness, rode on…

Mme la Dauphine, who had returned, got out of her carriage, ran toward the woman, and held out some perfume to her nose, which made her come out of her faint. Mme la Dauphine gave her all the money she had with her, but what was even more admirable was the kind and consoling way in which HRH talked to the poor woman. Finally, Mme l’Archiduchesse, who was touched, shed tears and, at that moment, caused more than a hundred spectators to do the same…

Then, having called for her carriage, Mme la Dauphine gave orders that the peasant woman be taken in it back to her cottage which was in a neighboring hamlet.* Her Royal Highness waited right there for her carriage to return; she asked about the care of the wounded man … I cannot describe to Your Majesty the greatness or intensity of the sensation caused by the event, not only among the courtiers, but even more among the people of Fontainebleau….

The public in Paris [seems very moved;] whenever Mme la Dauphine’s name comes up, it evokes a universal cry of joy and admiration.

This event happened on October 16, 1773, twenty years to the day before Marie-Antoinette's execution.

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:17 pm

Here are some reflections on Marie-Antoinette's death and heroic Christian virtue from a catholic scholar at Oxford:
http://onceiwasacleverboy.blogspot.com/2013/10/queen-marie-antoinette.html
For a variety of reasons she became an easy target for anti-Austrian, anti-Court propagandists,a nd for scurrilous gossip an specualtion of the wildest and worst kind. The Queen's final years, and certainly the last thirteen months from September 1792, were a living nightmare, and her fate, and that of her husband and son, a lasting reproach to those who caused it and to those who defend the French Revolution.

Whatever her shortcoming and failings - and such as they were they were by no means untypical of her age, culture and context, and most of them appear to have been youthful indiscretions as a teenage Dauphine in the highly sensitive and gossip ridden world of Versailles - she was also a dutiful Queen, wife and mother. As the Ancien Regime unravelled after 1789 she, like the King and virtually everybody else, was unable to pick with any confidence a way through the shifting political waves - as their world fell about them the King and Queen were left increasingly vulnerable and defenceless to the onslaught - as Edmund Burke witnessed to his horror

The excellent blog Tea at Trianon concentrates of the life of the Queen and seeks to inform, as well as to correct the calumnies that have been persisted about her. I think the alleged remark about those asking for bread "Let them eat cake" is less often quoted these days - it was a line attributed, but then itself was probably fictional, to Queen Marie-Therese, the wife of King Louis XIV, more than a century before Queen Marie-Antoinette's time.

I believe the London Oratory has a tradition or custom of celebrating a Requiem Mass for the Queen on this day, and a definite cult of remembrance at least has flourished since the Bourbon Restoration, and the time of her and the King's reburial at St Denis.

The cult has led to memorabilia, books - good, bad and indifferent - films and myths; her terrible fate has become part of the conciousness of the western world.

I have visited the Chapelle Ardente in the Conciergerie in Paris on the site of the cell where she spent her last days which was created by King Louis XVIII, and also seen the striking mosaic in the apse of Sacré Cœur where together with King Louis XVI and King Louis XVII she is to be seen at prayer in the presence of Christ.

Of that more specific religious cult Nancy Mitford recounts the story of how with a companion she visited a house or collection devoted to the Queen's memory. When the visitors appeared a little critical of the Queen the curator responded forcefully that "La Reine etre une Sainte!" The Hon Nancy was wryly amused, but the King and Queen do deserve serious cosideration as Christian victims, rather as (part at least) of the Russian Orthodox Church have designated Emperor Nicholas Ii and his family as 'Passion bearers'

One of the more remarkable artifacts of the memorial cult was to be seen here in Oriel where a more than life-size terracotta bust of the Queen graced the rooms of a a now retired History Fellow, where it sat in the perpetually unlit hearth (there being no where else to place so large and grand an object) - undergraduates would surely get the message as to the attitude of their tutor to revolution.
Here is a wonderful quote from FB Burnett's A Little Princess http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2013/10/this-is-why-i-love-marie-antoinette.html :

(Via Tiny-Librarian.)
It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it. There was Marie Antoinette when she was in prison and her throne was gone and she had only a black gown on, and her hair was white, and they insulted her and called her Widow Capet. She was a great deal more like a queen then than when she was so gay and everything was so grand. I like her best then. Those howling mobs of people did not frighten her. She was stronger than they were, even when they cut her head off.

A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett




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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Fri Jan 24, 2014 9:19 pm

A mass for Louis on the anniversary of his death.
http://vivelareine.tumblr.com/post/74427638959

Requiem pour Sa Majesté le roi Louis XVI & la famille royale de France.
Pendant la communion des fidèles.
21 janvier 2013. Crédit photographique : Gonzague B. – Saint-Eugène - Sainte-Cécile (Paris IX).


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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:57 pm

There is still popular acclamation of the martyr king.
http://www.outandaboutinparis.com/2014/01/to-our-martyred-king-louis-xvi.html

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Re: Recognition by the Church of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette

Post  Elena on Sun Jan 26, 2014 5:06 pm

Here is another picture of Marie-Antoinette giving alms.
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2012/06/merciful-dauphine.html



And here is Marie-Antoinette putting a wounded peasant in her coach.
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2013/08/act-of-kindness.html



The Dauphine Marie-Antoinette consoles the wife and children of a peasant who was wounded by a deer (1773). The artist is Jean-Michel Moreau the Younger. This was seen as extraordinary act of condescension of the part of the future Queen of France, although I have no doubt that from her point  of view it was the only decent thing to do.

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