Compiègne, Martyrs of

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A group of 16 beatified discalced Carmelite nuns who were martyred (July 17, 1794) during the french revolution (feast, July 17). The Carmelite community at Compiègne in northern France, established in 1641, had 21 members in 1789. On Aug. 4, 1790, government officials took an inventory of the community's goods. After all the nuns subscribed to the oath of Liberté-Egalité (August 9), they departed the convent and dispersed through the town in four groups. During the next four years they dressed in secular attire, but each group continued the former regular manner of religious life. The local Jacobins then accused them of violating the law by living as a religious community and imprisoned all but five of them in the Visitation Convent (June 22, 1794). In prison the nuns retracted their oaths and practiced in common their usual religious exercises until July 12, when they were placed on two hay carts and sent under guard to Paris to be detained in the Conciergerie. While awaiting trial, they recited together nightly the Divine Office and composed religious couplets and sang them to the air of the Marseillaise. At the brief trial (July 17), held without witnesses, they were sentenced to death as counterrevolutionists and religious fanatics for living as religious under obedience to a superior. Immediately after the trial they went to the guillotine chanting the Miserere, Salve Regina, and Te Deum. Each nun in turn obtained her superior's blessing before mounting the scaffold chanting the Psalm Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes.

The 16 martyrs were: Mother Thérèse of St. Augustin, the prioress (Marie Lidoine, b. 1752), and Sisters St. Louis (Marie Madeleine Brideau, b. 1752), Jesus Crucified (Marie Piedcourt, b. 1715), Charlotte of the Resurrection (Anne Thouret, b. 1715), Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception (Marie Brard, b. 1736), Henrietta of Jesus (Marie de Croissy, b. 1745), Thérèse of the Heart of Mary (Marie Hanisset, b. 1742), Thérèse of St. Ignatius (Marie Trézelle, b. 1743), Julie of Jesus (Rose de Neufville, b. 1741), Marie Henrietta of Providence (Annette Pebras, b. 1760), Marie of the Holy Spirit (Angélique Roussel, b. 1742), St. Martha (Marie Dufour, b.1741), St. Francis (Elisabeth Vérolot, b. 1764), Constance, a novice (Marie Meunier, b. 1765), and the two extern sisters, Catherine Soiron (b. 1742) and Thérèse Soiron (b. 1748). All were beatified May 27, 1906.

Bibliography: Acta Sanctae Sedis 40 (1907) 457465. v. pierre, Les Seize carmélites de Compiègne (Paris 1905). g. de grandmaison, Les Bienheureuses carmélites de Compiègne (Paris 1906). h. leclercq, Les Martyrs, 15 v. (Paris 190227) v.12 La Révolution 17941797 (1913). j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bienheureaux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes, ed. by the Benedictines of Paris, 12 v. (Paris 193556) 7:399405. m. andrÉ, La Véridique histoire des carmélites de Compiègne (Paris 1962).

[m. lawlor]