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Edgeworth de Firmont, Henry Essex


Priest; b. Edgeworthtown, County Longford, Ireland, 1745; d. Mitau (or Yelgava), Latvia, May 22, 1807. He was the son of a Protestant pastor who was converted to Catholicism, and who moved with his family to Toulouse in 1749. After studying there under the Jesuits, Edgeworth made his ecclesiastical studies in Paris, was ordained, and then devoted himself in Paris to the direction of consciences. He became the confessor of Madame Elizabeth, sister of the king. During the french revolution, when King louis xvi chose him to assist at his last hours, Edgeworth went to the Temple prison, conversed at length with the condemned monarch, heard his confession, celebrated Mass for him, distributed Holy Communion to him, and remained with him on the scaffold (1793). Since Edgeworth's courage and priestly activity made him hateful to the revolutionaries, he had to hide in Choisy-le-Roi, Fontainebleau, and Bayeux before taking refuge in England (1796). After visiting the Count of Artois in Edinburgh, he became chaplain to Louis XVIII at Blackenbourg and then at Mitau. His devotion to wounded French prisoners during Napoleon's campaign in Poland led to his own death through a disease contracted while caring for them.

Bibliography: h. e. edgeworth de firmont, Letters from the Abbé Edgeworth to His Friends, ed. t. b. england (London 1818). c. s. edgeworth, Memoirs of the Abbé Edgeworth, Containing His Narrative of the Last Hours of Louis XVI (London 1815). v. m. montagu, The Abbé Edgeworth and His Friends (London 1913). j. herissay, Les Aumôniers de la guillotine (Paris 1954).

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