Valenciennes, Martyrs of

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A group of 11 beatified Ursuline sisters martyred during the french revolution. After the Ursuline convent in Valenciennes, northern France, was suppressed (September 1792), the community moved to the Ursuline house in Mons, Belgium, where it dwelt under Mother Clotilde Joseph de St. Borgia Poillot as superior. When the Austrian army occupied Valenciennes (1793), the sisters returned there and carried on their educational work, even after the Revolutionary forces recaptured the city (1794). Citizen Lacoste's commission discovered them in September and charged them with violating the law that decreed the death penalty for returned émigrés. Five sisters went on trial (Oct. 17, 1794), admitted their purpose in coming back to their homeland was to resume teaching the Catholic faith, and were sent to the guillotine the same day singing the Psalm Miserere. They were Mother Marie Natalie Joseph de St. Louis Vanot, Laurentine Joseph Reine de St. Stanislas Prin, Ursula Joseph de St. Bernardine Bourla, Louise Joseph de St. Francois Ducrez, Augustine Joseph du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus Dejardin. Six days later the superior, Mother Clotilde, suffered the same fate, with five companions: Scholastique Joseph de St. Jacques Leroux and her natural sister Anne Josephine Leroux, until recently a Poor Clare; two former Bridgettines Lievina Lecroix and Anne Marie Erraux; and the lay sister Cordule Joseph de St. Dominique Barré, who climbed into the tumbril carrying the others to execution in the market place after the commissioners overlooked her. The six went to death chanting the Ambrosian hymn and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. Together with the martyrs of arras they were beatified on June 13, 1920.

Feast: Oct. 17.

Bibliography: j. loridan, Les Bienheureuses Ursulines de Valenciennes (2d ed. Paris 1920). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:141142. j. l. baudot and l. chaussin, Vies des saints et des bienheueux selon l'ordre du calendrier avec l'historique des fêtes, ed. by The Benedictines of Paris, 12 v. (Paris 193556) 10:574582.

[m. lawlor]