Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Vow of Louis XVI

Here is an English translation of the Vow of Louis XVI made in the Tuileries palace in the spring of 1791:
Well dost Thou see, O my God, the great sadness that oppresses my heart, the grief that wounds it and the depth of the abyss into which I have been cast. I am assailed by countless evils from all sides. To the oppression of my soul, the horrible tragedies that have befallen me and my family add up to those that cover the whole extension of the realm. The clamoring of all the misfortunate and the moans of our oppressed religion reaches my ears, and an inner voice suggests to me that perhaps Thy justice holds me accountable for all these calamities for not having restrained, during the days of my power, their main causes, which are the people’s licentiousness and the spirit of irreligion, and for supplied heresy, now triumphant, its weapons by favoring it by laws that gave it redoubled strength and enough boldness to dare anything.
O Jesus-Christ! Divine Redeemer of all our iniquities, today I come to find relief for my soul in Thy Adorable Heart. I call to my aid the tender Heart of Mary, my august protectress and Mother, and the assistance of Saint Louis, my advocate and the most illustrious of my ancestors. Open Thyself, adorable Heart, through the most pure hands of my powerful intercessors, receive benignantly the vows of which confidence inspires me and that I offer Thee as the frank expression of my sentiments. If, as a consequence of Divine goodness, I were to recover my liberty, my crown and royal power, I solemnly promise:

1. To revoke at once all the laws that will be indicated to me by the Pope, or a Council, or by four of the more learned and virtuous bishops of my realm, as contrary to the purity and the integrity of the Faith, and contrary to the discipline and the special jurisdiction of the Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; and especially to revoke the Civil Constitution of the Clergy.

2. To take, within a year, all the necessary measures to establish, with the approval of the Pope and the episcopate of my realm, and in accordance with canonical standards, a solemn feast in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to be celebrated forevermore throughout all France on the first Friday immediately after the eight days following the Feast of Corpus Christi and to be always followed by a general procession. This feast will be celebrated in reparation for the outrages and desecrations perpetrated in our holy temples by schismatics, heretics and the bad Christians in these times of so great turmoil.

3. To go in person on a Sunday or a holy day within three months of the day of my deliverance to the Church of Notre Dame of Paris, or to any other principal church in the place where I will be at that time, to pronounce a solemn act of consecration of my person, my family and my realm to the Sacred Heart of Jesus next to the main altar after the Offertory of the Mass and through the hands of the priest, promising to give to all my vassals an example of the worship and the devotion due that adorable Heart.
4. To erect and adorn within a year of my release and at my own expense, in the church that I will choose, a chapel or an altar to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which will stand as a lasting monument of my recognition and limitless confidence in the infinite merits and inexhaustible treasures of grace that this Divine Heart contains. 

5. Finally, to renew every year, wherever I might be on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the act of consecration stated in the third point and to participate in the general procession that will take place right after that day’s Mass.

 Now I cannot pronounce this pact except in secret, but I would sign it with my own blood if necessary; and the most beautiful day of my life will be when I will be able to proclaim it aloud in the Temple.

  O Adorable Heart of my Savior, may I neglect my right hand and my own being if I were to ignore Thy benefits these my promises, if I were to cease to love Thee and place all my trust and comfort in Thee! Amen.”
Louis XVI, King of France

 (Read more,)
 The original French version is HERE. In the spring of 1791, after signing the Civil Constitution of the Clergy a few months earlier, King Louis XVI fell ill at the Tuileries, where the royal family were living under house arrest. His illness was undoubtedly the result of the stress of the upheavals which he had tried to prevent, as well as the fact that his conscience was troubling him about signing the Catholic Church in France over to the revolutionary government, severing the ties with Rome. Louis had signed it under duress but deeply regretted his decision immediately.

According to biographer Bernard Fay, Louis made the Vow under the guidance of his non-juring confessor, a Eudist priest Fr. Hebert. In the 1600's a Visitation nun, Saint Margaret Mary, had claimed that Jesus had requested that the King of France consecrate France to His Sacred Heart. The consecration had never been performed. So, with the help of Fr. Hebert, Louis drafted the following Vow, which he sealed in the walls of his apartments.

The Vow was not found until the palace had been partially burned by the Commune and was being torn down in 1871. It was discovered still sealed in the wall of the king's room. Louis was a locksmith and was fascinated with construction, so building a hiding place for his papers would not have been beyond him. He was known for his penchant for secrecy and his hiding of private papers from prying eyes. The fact that the Vow was not discovered until the 1870's demolishes the claim of some that it was merely a product of pious forgery during the 1814-1830 Restoration. The methodical legality of the document is typical of Louis XVI, who as an amateur cartographer was characterized by his precision and attention to detail.


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