The Refractory Priests

March 19, 2015


Drowning the priests in the river.

During the French Revolution, refractory priests was the name then given to those who had the courage to refuse taking oaths which their conscience did not justify them in taking. These generous confessors of the faith were nearly all banished, imprisoned, or even cruelly put to death. Four of them were going quietly to Havre to embark for England; a sentinel stopped them, demanding their passports. It was there stated that they were priests, and the oath was immediately proposed to them. “It is for refusing,” said they, “to take that impious and execrable oath that we are now being banished from our country.” The misguided populace then cried out: “They are refractory priests,” and, falling on them, they killed the first two, who were priests of the diocese of Séez. The two others, belonging one to the same diocese, the other to that of Mans, were dragged to the river-side. There they are again summoned to take the oath, but they still reply: “Our conscience forbids it.” They are thrown into the river; they rise to the surface of the water, and the people call out to them: “Swear and you shall be taken out!” “No,” cried the two martyrs, drowning in the river, “no, we cannot, we will not swear!” And when scarcely able to speak, they repeated, “We will not swear.” At the sight of this invincible constancy, the spectators became furious with anger; arming themselves with pitchforks, they applied them to the necks of the generous confessors, plunged them again into the water, and kept them there till they were dead.
Stories From The Catechist by Very Rev. Canon G.E. Howe, Pg. 194 # 467

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 466




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