Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Louis XVI's Irish Confessor

 Abbé Edgeworth is an important character in the novel Trianon. From Fr. Rutler:
The evening before January 21, 1793, the Abbé fell in tears at the King’s feet. Louis helped him up, made his last confession and then bade farewell to the Queen and their children. The Commune having reluctantly allowed the Abbé to put on vestments, as clerical dress had been forbidden, he said Mass and gave the King his last Communion.  The two stayed together until dawn:
The King, finding himself seated in the carriage, where he could neither speak to me nor be spoken to without witness, kept a profound silence. I presented him with my breviary, the only book I had with me, and he seemed to accept it with pleasure: he appeared anxious that I should point out to him the psalms that were most suited to his situation, and he recited them attentively with me. The gendarmes, without speaking, seemed astonished and confounded at the tranquil piety of their monarch, to whom they doubtless never had before approached so near….
In one of his last gestures, the King placed his hand on Edgeworth’s knee and then told the guard to take care of his priest. Louis appeared shocked when the guards began to bind his hands. Edgeworth told him: “Suffer this outrage, as a last resemblance to that God who is about to be your reward.”  The youngest of the executioners, eighteen years old, held the King’s head high and let some of the blood splatter on the Abbé. He slipped through the crowd: “All eyes were fixed on me, as you may suppose; but as soon as I reached the first line, to my surprise, no resistance was made…. I was not permitted, on this occasion, to wear any exterior marks of a priest. I was absolutely lost in the crowd, and no more noticed than if I had been a simple spectator of a scene which forever will dishonour France.”

The Abbé first took refuge in the Rue du Bac where the Blessed Mother would appear to Catherine Labouré in 1830. After a stay in Bayeux, he crossed to England in 1796 and went to Scotland to see the King’s brother, the comte d’Artois. Prime Minister Pitt offered him a large pension which he accepted, though he declined the presidency of Maynooth seminary and honors from King Louis XVIII. He joined the exiled household of Louis in Blankenberg and moved with them to Mittau in Russia. Louis delegated him to go to St. Petersburg and present the Order of the Holy Spirit to Czar Paul who, moved by the transparent piety of Edgeworth, knelt and begged his blessing. Back in Mittau he contracted typhus from nursing sick French soldiers stranded during the Napoleonic campaign. Risking contagion, the Princess Marie-Therese, daughter of Louis XVI, attended the deathbed of the “beloved and revered invalid, her more than friend, who had left kindred and country for her family.” (Read entire article.)

1 comment:

lara77 said...

Abbe Edgeworth was at the center of such remarkable and tragic history; what faith sustained him and King Louis XVI. The Abbe was correct; that act of the murder of an annointed sovereign was truly a dishonor France has always worn. I am always touched how Princesse Marie Therese was at the Abbe's bedside as he lay dying. How proud His Majesty would have been of his daughter.