Thursday, February 26, 2009

Madame du Barry: Lessons for Life

Most people are not aware that Madame du Barry, the mistress of Louis XV, was raised in a convent and, in spite of her lifestyle, always considered herself to be a Catholic. This is not to mitigate the very real scandal that the King gave to his people by taking a mistress. In Madame du Barry's case, however, at least she was not actively working against the Church like Madame de Pompadour. It was Madame du Barry who built the chapel at Petit Trianon. She never tried to pretend to be anything other than a fallen woman and did not try to bend or break the laws of the Church in regard to reception of Holy Communion, as other people have done in her situation. Also, when Louis XV was dying, Madame du Barry gave no trouble about leaving the king's side so he could be reconciled with his Savior. Lauren reports, as follows:
The instruction Jeanne received when at the the Couvent de Sainte-Aure proved to have a powerful impact on the girl, and it really shaped the way she lived her life. She developed a profound respect, yes believe it or not, for the church and she made it her business to build private chapels in all the homes she occupied. (After she became the King's favorite of course!)

The first chapel she built was at her hotel at Versailles. She picked out many pieces of art work for it's walls, candles for devotion and ornaments to fill it with. She did the same at St Vrain and the last chapel she built was at Louveciennes.

She also continued to practice the lessons she learned in household management. In fact, when she was at her height of gaiety, and had more money to throw around than imaginable, the mistress of Louis XV treated her household at Versailles as if she were a bourgeois wife!


Enbrethiliel said...


I have to ask, Elena: if she knew she was giving scandal to all the souls in France and that she was not in a state of grace to receive Communion, then how could she bear what she was doing? (I don't mean this in a judgmental way. I really wonder how anyone could bear that kind of spiritual tension.)

elena maria vidal said...

I don't know, my dear, it is not something I understand. I suppose that she was surrounded by so many people giving scandal that hers did not seem as bad. It is similar to how many Catholics today are comfortable with scandal, their own and others. So many good people do not blink an eye about others living together outside of marriage, or about priests leaving the priesthood to get married, or even about the horror of abortion. Ask Nancy Pelosi~ at least Madame du Barry did not think it was her right and privilege to receive Holy Communion no matter what.

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

I have to say, it's refreshing to see someone ask Nancy Pelosi _anything_... In this era of ~~ bowing to all which is Democrat. Thank you.

For my part, though I don't follow any religion, I feel that those who _say_ they do, should do so. Not try to "have it both ways."

Isn't it interesting, how study of the past, can so mesh with viewing the present? Things do go round and round, do they not?

Aunt Amelia

elena maria vidal said...

I agree, Aunt Amelia. We can't have it both ways.

Yes, history repeats itself. Over and over again.

By the way, you have a really beautiful blog. Thanks for stopping by!

tubbs said...

Was Pompadour anti-clerical? If so, then my opinion of her just went up several notches. I had always thought of her as a mere doyenne of fluff (exquisite sense of stlyle, fashion, taste, etc. -a Duchess of Windsor type.)
The dear sweet innocent HolyMotherChurch of France needed a good swift kick in the pants. For every Montfort there was a Tallyrand; for every Compeigne Carmel there was a religious house of much laxity. Episcopal sees and even prime monastic positions (contradictory to their very Rules) were reserved for the younger sons and daughters of the aristos. Ecclesial real estate holdings were phenomenal in size.

The revolution dealt a near- fatal blow to the French Church, and when She came to, her attitude became outrageously (and self-destructively) reactionary. By 1906-07, She had done a rather thorough job of alienating the people. So now the Elder Daughter, for all of her glorious heritage, has empty churches. (and they've been empty since way before VC II).
Amazingly, through merciful Providence, the French Church has still provided stellar saints and spiritual heroes right up to the present day. And in the Arts, (especially music) no one country has given the modern world so much treasure in a christian vein as France has.

elena maria vidal said...

Let us say that La Pompadour was against the Jesuits, partially because a Jesuit had once refused her absolution. She worked to have them expelled from France and was successful. Unfortunately, the Jesuits were some of the only clerics capable of intellectually refuting some of the errors of the Enlightenment. When they had to leave, many of their schools were left to the lax secular clergy. This did not help the cause of the Faith in France especially since it propelled Talleyrand's sort into positions of power. The more devout members of the royal family greatly lamented the influence of La Pompadour which had led to the dispersal of the Jesuits.