Their sole “crime” was having sheltered a priest

September 1, 2011

The right column contains a secret compartment.

Notwithstanding the danger with which the least kindness shown to any royalist or Catholic was attended, there were not a few of the inhabitants of Nantes who braved the fury of the terrorists, and concealed in their houses both priests and insurgents. A touching story is told of the devotion of two young ladies to an abbé who had been denounced by an old schoolfellow, one of the most active of the Jacobin party. The republican had professed a great friendship for the priest till the revolution broke out, when the latter refused to take the constitutional oath, and was compelled to fly. He took refuge in Nantes, at the house of two ladies, who hid him in a secret chamber, the very existence of which was unknown to any but themselves. The republican had, however, some suspicion that they were acquainted with his place of concealment; and by professing a great anxiety to save his friend, he practiced on their inexperience, and obtained from them an acknowledgment of the truth. Unable to believe in such treachery, the poor women revealed the secret of the unknown chamber; they opened the door, and showed the monster his prey. With a yell of triumph he pounced upon the priest, and dragged him forth to the tribunal; and the ladies, broken-hearted at having betrayed their guest, suffered with him the next day on the same scaffold.

The blood recoils at this treacherous conduct towards a friend; but in those days the dearest ties, not of friendship only, but of blood, were forgotten.

 

George J. Hill, The Story of the War in La Vendée and the Little Chouannerie (New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co. n.d.), pp. 133-134.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 105

 

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  • What kind of a regime is it that punishes sheltering a priest with the death penalty ? North Korea ? Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge ? This story happens in neither. It takes place in France, during the Terror phase of the 1789 Revolution that toppled the monarchic form of government France had enjoyed for 1,300 years.

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