Asking Pardon For Scandal

March 31, 2022

Germain P. de la Martiniere, 1697 – 1783. Surgeon to Louis XV of France. Creative Commons CC by NC

When the priest, went out, the king [Louis XV of France] declared that he should receive the sacrament on the following day; but when his physician, La Martinière observed that he would better do so at once, he determined to receive it on that very day. At seven o’clock Cardinal de la Roche-Aymon appeared, bringing the viaticum. The troops were under arms; in obedience to the formal prohibition of their grandfather, the dauphin and his brothers only followed the Holy Sacrament as far as the foot of the staircase. Mesdames accompanied It to the bedchamber, where the princes of the blood and the ministers were assembled.

Cardinal Charles Antoine, Count of La Roche-Aymon.

As soon as he saw the grand almoner, the invalid felt revive within him all the faith which forty years of disorderly living had not been able to extinguish; he threw off the bedclothes, uncovered himself, and tried to kneel down, joining his hands together so fervently that it brought tears to all eyes. When they tried to stop him, he cried, “When the good God honours a miserable sinner like me by coming to Him the least that I can do is to receive Him with respect.”

Portrait of Louis XV of France by Maurice-Quentin de La Tour

After he had received Communion, he made a sign to the grand almoner, who, turning to the assembled courtiers, said, “Messieurs, the king commands me to say, being unable to speak himself, that he repents of his sins, and that if he has scandalized his people he is sorry for it; that he is firmly resolved to return to the paths of his youth and to employ the remainder of his life in the defence of religion.” When the grand almoner spoke of the remorse which the king felt for the scandals of his life, “Monsieur le cardinal,” interrupted the dying man, turning himself painfully on his pillow,⸺ “Monsieur le cardinal, repeat those words; repeat them.”  With this expression of repentance, which was late but genuine, and in the exercise of an edifying and sincere piety, ended that royal existence, so culpable before God and man.

The Life of Marie Antoinette, Volumes 1-2 by Maxime de La Rocheterie. Pages 93 & 94.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 822


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