Madame Elizabeth ponders the horrors afflicting France during the Revolution

June 24, 2024

To the Abbé de Lubersac

June 25, 1792

Bishop Jean-Baptiste-Joseph de Lubersac, bishop of Chartres & chaplain to King Louis XVI

This letter will be rather long on its way; but I prefer not to let this opportunity of talking with you pass. I am convinced that you will feel almost as keenly as ourselves the blow that has just been struck us; it is all the more dreadful because it lacerates the heart, and takes away our peace of mind. The future seems an abyss, from which we can only issue by a miracle of Providence. Do we deserve it? At that question I feel my courage fail me. Which of us can expect the answer, “Yes, you deserve it”? All suffer, but alas! none are penitent, none turn their hearts to God. As for me, what reproaches I have to make to myself! Swept along by the whirlwind of misfortune I have not asked of God the grace we need; I have relied on human help; I have been more guilty than others, for who has been as much as I the child of Providence? But it is not enough to recognize our faults; we must repair them. I cannot alone. Monsieur, have the charity to help me. Ask of God, not a change which it may please him to send us when, in his wisdom, he thinks suitable, but let us limit ourselves and ask him only to enlighten and touch all hearts, and especially to speak to two most unhappy beings, who would be more unhappy still if God did not call them to him. Alas! the blood of Jesus Christ flowed for them as much as for the solitary hermit who mourns for trivial faults incessantly. Say to God often, “If thou wilt, thou canst cure them,” and give to him the glory of it. God knows the remedies to be applied.

Madame Élisabeth de France (1764–1794) Painted by Adélaïde Labille-Guiard

I am sorry to write to you in so gloomy a style; but my heart is so dark that it is difficult for me to speak otherwise. Do not think from this that my health suffers; no, I am well; and God has given me grace to keep my gaiety. I earnestly hope that your health may be restored; I wish I could know that it was better; but how can one hope that with your sensibilities? Let us think that there is another life where we shall be amply compensated for the troubles of this one; and let us live in the hope of meeting there once more–but not until after we have the pleasure of seeing each other again in this world; for, in spite of my excessive gloom, I cannot believe that all is hopeless. Adieu, monsieur; pray for me, I beg of you, after having prayed for those others, and send me news of yourself at times; it is a consolation to me.

signature of Madame Elizabeth

The Life and Letters of Madame Elisabeth of France, trans. Katherine Prescott Wormeley (Boston: Hardy, Pratt & Company, 1902), pp. 84-85.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 189 Editorial comment: —

How does the French Revolution justify imprisoning and then executing the sister of King Louis XVI? What did she do to deserve this capital punishment?
Nothing at all. She was killed solely because of what she represented: Aristocracy and nobility.
She was virtuous, charitable, and elevated in her behavior and considerations. She could have saved herself at the beginning of the Revolution, fleeing into exile as many did. However, she knew her brother’s weak and vacillating will and resolved to stay with him. She was determined to help him face the Revolution as best she could, with her moral support and good counsel.
She suffered under the guillotine because she was loyal and good. But her heroism received an eternal reward next to Him who said: “And do not fear them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. ” (Matt. 10:28)


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