Back to the beginning

January 12, 2017

So now we have arrived back at the point where we started: the spring of 1800 A.D. when the newly elected Pope Pius VII writes an encyclical that contains this extraordinary and in our day completely unremembered claim:

Therefore, omit no watchfulness, diligence, care, and effort, in order to “guard the deposit” of Christ’s teaching whose destruction has been planned, as you know, by a great conspiracy.

I think that the evidence presented so far on this site covering the in our day either unremembered or misremembered events of the fifty years leading up to Ven. Pius VII’s publication of this claim indicates that the Holy Father was absolutely correct.  Yet questions remain to be answered.  Who was doing this?  How was it organized?  What were its methods?  Are there answers to these questions?

Yes.  There are answers.  Writings were discovered in Bavaria during the middle part of the 1780s, just before the outbreak of the French Revolution, that were the constitutions of a sect of men who sought to bind together the multitude of secret societies which had come into existence by the middle part of the 18th centure toward a common purpose: to make war on the human race.  There intent was to reduce humanity to a state where the Gospel of Jesus Christ had been forgotten and human beings were reduced to the condition of being prostrate and mortally wounded and disappearing from the earth.

We owe the survival of large portions of these writings to a priest, the Abbé Augustin Barruel, who held this sect responsible for the convulsions that overtook his native France in 1789 and was threatening to destroy Europe and published their history in 1797 and 1798 as the revolutionary army coming out France was beginning its march to take Papal Rome.  God willing we will examine these writings and the history of this sect in coming posts.

Please go to Confession and pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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The exile and death of Pope Pius VI and the miracle of 1799

January 4, 2017                                                                                                                                   The Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

At four o’clock in the morning, February 20, 1798, twenty three years and five days after being elected the 250th Pontiff of Rome, Pius VI was escorted out of Rome by the French army.  After decades of maneuvering in the shadows, of mockeries spewed from dark corners, of the seduction of kings and counts and court officials, of the overthrow of governments and the murder of a monarch, the conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ had now laid its hands on the ultimate prize: they had taken possession both of the city of Rome, the mother of the nations they were trying to destroy, and the person of the Successor of Saint Peter, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

But what to do with him?  Would they set up a guillotine on the Vatican Hill and be done with him à la Louis XVI?  Not quite.  Whatever temporal possessions the Papacy might hold at a given point in its history Popes are not primarily earthly kings, but Vicars on earth of the crucified God-Man.  Though by 1798 it had been more than eleven centuries since a Pope had been counted among the glorious company of martyrs history had taught our conspirators that simply killing the man who held the office would be nothing but counterproductive to their interests.  Just ask any of the Caesars who reigned during the quarter millennium between Nero and Maxentius.  So again what would they do?

They seem to have wanted to get rid of the papacy entirely to ‘break the Rock of Peter,’ as someone else would later write; this would be the natural aim of a conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ, would it not?  After all they had worked behind the scenes to seduce the Bourbon kings into suppressing the Jesuits, the great link between the Holy Father and the Catholic peoples, which began to weaken the bonds between the Roman Pontiff and the Catholic peoples.  Then they goaded these same stupid monarchs, God rest their souls, into making war on the Holy See itself, actual armed conflict against their common father.  Thus was severed the last link of filial devotion between the Roman Pontiff and the nations who had remained in communion with him following the disastrous revolt of Protestantism 250 years before.  Then those monarchs, having outlived their usefulness, were disposed of and their courts overthrown or invaded when the conspiracy itself seized control of the French state in 1789.  Now nine years later the armies of that state were in control of Rome itself and the person of Pope Pius VI, but again and for a third time: what would they do with him?

I am not sure that they knew themselves.  They proceeded in kind of an ad hoc manner.  I have not been able to find any records of deliberations within the French government on this matter but they seem to have hit on the idea of first of all keeping Pius VI out of Rome and marching him in public view as their prisoner and thus smashing the last bit of majesty of his public perception.  They marched him north to Siena where he was held for a while and then north toward the Italian French border.

Pius VI was 80 years old by this time and after a quarter century doing the most stressful job on earth in the most troubled of times he was tired.  His captors undoubtedly purposed to portray him to the peoples of Italy as an old beaten down relic of days gone by about to be tossed into the dustbin of history.  The thinking of the French Directory in Paris seemed to be that after this public shaming when Pius VI succumbed to age and infirmity and constant movement the peoples of Italy would be done with the Papacy and with the French army in control of the northern half of Italy the Cardinals would be unable to assemble to elect his successor.  French agitators were crying out in the streets that “Pius VI would be the last Pope!”  The Papacy would disappear and the Catholic Church would fade into oblivion and game, set, and match would then go to the conspiracy, or so they seemed to have thought, but the Almighty God Who made heaven and earth and the seas and all that is in them had other plans as we shall shortly see.

Jacques Crétineau-Joly reports in his 1859 work L’Église Romaine en face de la Révolution that the Directory’s plan was a disaster from the start.  Public reaction in the towns of Italy was precisely the opposite of what the French Directory in Paris expected.  I will give you here a sample of Crétineau-Joly’s description of events (translation mine):

The peoples, whose eyes had long been habituated to crimes and disasters were no longer astonished by any great thing.  However at the sight of this old man who had only the strength to bless and the voice to pardon, the peoples were moved by one of those generous pities that prepare restorations and make the faith.  They saluted the Pope on his voyage and they knelt before him.  From all eyes flowed tears of pity or of veneration.  More than one time the common Father found himself forced to intervene to snatch from death those who escorted him whom the outraged multitude wished to massacre.

Step by step, that is to say from sorrow to sorrow, the victim who is dragged to sacrifice passes through all the ordeals.  And the ordeals produce hope.  Italy, where everything is Catholic, even the sun, bows before this forehead which has been stripped of its crown but on which rests the triple majesty of old age, of woes, and of virtue.

The Directory in Paris threw itself into consternation over this reaction.  They had been telling themselves and the people of Italy that by the good graces of the French government Italy had finally been liberated from an age old tyranny and now before they even had time to gloat here the Italians were bowing before the tyrant again!  They were insulted and one of their members, a lawyer named la Révellière-Lepaux, hit on the idea of bringing the idea of bringing the Holy Father over the Alps into France where the people had by this point been better schooled in the new order the conspiracy wished to impose on the nations of Europe who had once been pleased to call themselves Christendom.  Crétineau-Joly describes the scene as follows (translation mine):

The procession of the Pontiff-prisoner turns into the Alps and into the mountains of Dauphiné.  At the heart of this province, which had given the signal for innovations, there are rude peasants, simple burghers, and working women who the conquest of civil equality must have charmed.  The sky is charged with apostasies, the atmosphere is pregnant with mocking unbelief.  The Revolution applauds itself for kidnapping a Pope, alive or dead, and for showing him to the people as the last vestige of an expiring superstition.

The people took hold of the lesson, but in a contrary sense.  They had been told that they were free; they use that freedom to kneel by the sides of the road.  It had been decreed and legislated to them that there was no God save that which the Nation chose for itself, no more Pope, no more heaven, no more hell.  At the appearance of this poor old man, who can barely lift his hand to bless, the people demand again their God.

His captors are relentless.  They drive Pius VI further north towards Paris, the seat of the Revolution, though only God knows what they planned to do with him once he got there.  No one ever did find out though, because the exile of Pope Pius VI was drawing to its end.  He reached the fortress of Valence, some 50 miles south of Lyon, and the doctors refused to allow his captors to move him any more.  Pope Pius VI died at Valence on August 29, 1799.

Perhaps you are wondering why you never heard this story?  I have wondered that as well.  Perhaps you are wondering why I have not been speaking of this Pope as ‘Saint Pius VI’ or ‘Blessed Pius VI’ or even ‘Venerable Pius VI’?  I have wondered that as well.  Why has Pope Pius VI never been declared a martyr, which the facts seem very clearly to indicate that he was?  I have wondered that as well.

At any rate the Holy Father was now dead and the French army still controlled the roads of northern and central Italy.  They still seemed in quite a good position to throw a pretty serious wrench into the election of Pius VI’s successor.  But it was not to be.  The revolutionary government in Paris, despite a decade of despoilation and outright theft was now broke, and the winds of Divine Providence now turned sharply against them.

The Revolution in France and its conquest of Rome and assault on Egypt had by this point so alarmed the world that in 1799 almost out of nowhere a heretofore unimaginable alliance between Austria, Russia, England, and Ottoman Turkey (one Catholic, one Orthodox, one Protestant, and one Muslim nation) was formed against it.  On September 30, 1799 English and allied Neapolitan soldiers liberated Rome from French rule, and in consequence of this and numerous other defeats the Directory abandoned Italy.

Meanwhile in France the Directory was rapidly losing support in Paris and on November 9, 1799 was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the famous coup d’état of 18 brumaire.  On December 1, 1799 the last conclave of a century filled with disasters assembled in Venice and on March 14, 1800 it elected Pius VI’s successor Barnaba Niccolò Maria Luigi Cardinal Chiaramonti who took the name Pius VII in honor of his predecessor.

Please go to Confession and pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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The Revolution takes Rome

September 5, 2016

So let’s back up a bit.  A conspiracy was formed, we do not know exactly when but probably sometime in either the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century, to overthrow the Christian order and to erase the Gospel from the memory of the human race.  The spirit of lawlessness, as Saint Paul calls it, has been there since the beginning but something happened in the decades that followed the Thirty Years War that began to focus and organize wickedness in a way unknown to prior ages.

Rather than launching a bold frontal assault on the Church with their seductive but bad ideas as the enemies of old had done they hid in secret places and began to organize themselves.  They hated authority and discipline but had learned to discipline their own personal passions for the sake of inflaming the passions of others and to adopt the virtue of patience and of obedience to unknown superiors in order to achieve their malicious ends.  They wished only to destroy, but first they had to create institutions of their own which were capable of facing up to and annihilating the institutions which had given life to Catholic civilization; i.e. the Catholic Church.  We have chronicled that process on this website.

We have seen these men conspire to seduce the Bourbon kings into forcing the Pope to suppress the Society of Jesus who were the Church’s and the Catholic kings’ best defense against the marauding wave of anarchy that these men intended to unleash on the world.

We have seen their successors seize control of the French state and turn that power towards the ruin of the Catholic Church and of the French monarchy and monarchy in general.  And now they turned their greedy eyes to Rome, to the city and its church who had once upon a time given birth to the very kingdoms they were trying to destroy.

When General Berthier’s army marched on Rome Pope Pius VI knew that it would be useless to resist as there was no chance of success.  In order to prevent the useless spilling of blood he ordered his soldiers to give way to the army of the French Republic.  On February 15, 1798 General Berthier entered Rome without any opposition.  He made a show of being ‘invited’ into the city by a deputation of ‘roman citizens’ bearing an olive crown who were nothing but paid French agents.  He then went to the Capitol and made this proclamation as translated and reported by the London Evening Mail on March 9, 1798:

The Roman people are restored to their rights of Sovereignty by proclaiming their independence, by assuming the Government of Ancient Rome, and by constituting the Roman Republic.  The General in Chief of the French Army in Italy declares, in the name of the French Republic, that he acknowledges the independent Roman Republic, and that it is under the special protection of the French arms.  The General in Chief also acknowledges, in the name of the French Republic, the Provisional Government chosen by the Roman People.  All temporal authorities proceeding from the Pope are therefore suppressed, and shall exercise no functions whatever.  The General in Chief shall make every disposition necessary to secure the independence of the Roman People, and to perfect the organization of their Government, in order that their new laws may be founded on the basis of Liberty and Equality.  He will adopt every measure calculate to improve the happiness of the Romans.  The French General Cervoni is charged with the direction of the Police, and providing for the security of the City of Rome; and also the installation of the new Government. The Roman Republic acknowledged by the French Republic, comprehends all the territory which remained under the temporal authority of the Pope after the Treaty of Campo Formio.

The first thing I want to note is this: there it is again!  liberty and equality but fraternity is absolutely nowhere to be found.  This is extremely important and God willing I will show why in a later post.

So the Pope, Pius VI, is stripped of all of his political power, power which he never sought but was entrusted to him as a duty and a duty that weighed him down all the days of his long reign.  He had been on the papal throne for exactly twenty three years the day that temporal power was stripped form him.  At the time he was the longest serving Pope since Saint Peter.  He was old now and his body weak and he had fallen into the hands of his enemies.

But what would they do with him?  Would they erect a guillotine in Saint Peter’s Square and be done with him like Louis XVI?  Not quite.  The Papacy is very old, we forget how old the Papacy is.  I wonder how many tourists visiting the ancient and dilapidated ruins of the Colosseum in Rome after seeing the Holy Father give his Angelus address and blessing the crowd on a Sunday or Holy Day realize that there was actually already a Pope in Rome before Vespasian even conceived of the idea to build that same Colosseum with the spoils and slaves he gained in the war that crushed the Jewish revolt in Palestine?  That is how old the Papacy is and it has seen a thing or two in its time.  Popes had had their heads cut off before and it had done nothing but, after an initial shock, strengthen the Faith.  They weren’t interested in making a martyr but in destroying the Papacy itself.  So what to do?

First they went to Pius VI and told him that he didn’t rule anything anymore and was to be stripped of his titles and coat of arms.  He was told that he was now a citizen of the so called Roman Republic.  They offered him the cocarde (a kind of ribbon warn by revolutionaries to signify their devotion to the republican form of government) of the new Roman Republic and told to wear it.  Jacques Crétineau-Joly gives us his response (translation mine):

I know no other uniform for myself than that with which the Church has honored me.  You have all power over my body, but my soul is beyond your reach.  I have no need of a pension.  A club instead of a stick and a rough habit suffices for one who is to expire under hatred and over ashes.  I worship the hand of the Almighty who strikes the shepherd and the flock.  You can destroy the houses of the living and the tombs of the dead, but Religion is eternal.  She will exist after you as she existed before you, and her reign will perpetuate until the end of time.

Well said your Holiness, well said.  And Pope Pius VI would live these words out.  We should all recall this attitude whenever we are confronted with the antichrists who multiply with such fervor during our own time, especially if we happen to be alive when the last one shows up.

But what would the revolution do?  They expected this refusal of course.  At four o’clock in the morning on February 20, 1798 Pope Pius VI was marched into exile.

Please go to Confession and say three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

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A convenient pretext: the death of General Duphot

August 24, 2016                                                                                                                                     The Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

As the autumn of 1797 progressed the revolutionary movement that had taken over France continued to fan the flames of revolt in the Papal States through its own agents and the diplomatic missions of the French Republic.  Jacques Crétineau-Joly reports that on October 10, 1797 the French Directory in Paris sent the following instructions to Joseph Bonaparte, brother of the future First Consul and Emperor of France, its ambassador to the Court of Rome (translation mine):

You have two things to do: 1) To prevent the king of Naples from coming to Rome; 2) to help to encourage the good dispositions of those who would think that it is time that the reign of the Popes came to an end; in one word to encourage the fervor that the people of Rome seem to take toward liberty.

The first instruction is obvious.  No foreign help for the Pope to help stabilize the situation.  Given the dire position of the temporal authority of the Pope in 1797 rumors were flying that he would give his temporal authority to the King of Naples in order to better retain his personal liberty.  The second instruction was to foment a revolutionary and chaotic mood in the city of Rome.  This seems rather commonplace, even prosaic, to us who live in the twenty first century.  We merely have to look back to the Comintern, to the Nazi campaign of intimidation prior to its conquest of certain countries, to all of the shenanigans of the Cold War, and even very recently to 2011 to what was called by the curious name the ‘Arab Spring’ to see embassies and other diplomatic missions used either as quiet or rather open bases for the subversion and overthrow of foreign governments.  In the eighteenth century and even into the nineteenth though this tactic was a shock.  Crétineau-Joly expresses a good deal of surprise that men who had been of such a “sacred character” as an ambassador would allow themselves to be turned into “agents of riots.”

So events proceeded and a state of permanent riot evolved in Rome throughout the next months.  On December 28, 1797 another of these manufactured riots occurred and the pretext arrived with the death of a twenty-eight year old French General Léonard-Mathurin Duphot.  A letter penned by Joseph Bonaparte to the French Foreign Minister published in Bell’s Weekly Messenger in London on January 21, 1798 describes a scene where a mob was fleeing Papal fusiliers and burst into the French embassy for protection.  Duphot supposedly charged the bayonets of the Papal soldiers with a drawn sword and fell protecting the mob.  That is not what happened.

Here I will use the description of events given by Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, a minister of Pius VI who would later go on to be a famous diplomat in the coming decades, in his memoir (translation mine):

This young man, an ardent and great republican, attempted to provoke a revolt in Rome to overthrow the pontifical government.  Around five hundred people had gathered under the windows of the French ambassador (who was named Joseph and was brother to General Bonaparte) crying: Liberty, long live the French Republic, down with the Pope!  Duphot didn’t hesitate to come down to put himself at their head and lead them to assault the closest post of soldiers: that of Ponte-Sisto.

IMG_1836

Picture of the Tiber River and Saint Peter’s Basilica taken from the Ponte-Sisto by me in May, 2013

The soldiers there at first held back; but seeing themselves insulted and attacked and not finding safety they advanced against the mob.  They did not give way, the soldiers felt themselves in an unfortunate position; one of them got off a shot.  Fate, or rather Providence in its hidden designs, wanted this sole shot to reach General Duphot in the middle of this multitude, placed in front, and struck him dead.  The frightened people disbanded, and the body was buried the following day.

And just in case you think that Cardinal Consalvi’s report was biased, here is the report on the incident that Joseph Bonaparte’s successor as French ambassador to the Holy See, François Cacault, wrote to then First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte in May, 1801 (translation mine):

You know, as well as I, the details of this deplorable event.  No one in Rome gave an order to shoot and kill anyone:  the general was foolish, let’s cut to the chase: he was guilty.

But it didn’t matter.  The French government declared that the general was murdered, assassinated, and that war was on.  Even today on the extremely rare occasions when this event is spoken of in historical circles it is referred to as the “murder of General Duphot”; even the current very short French Wikipedia article on General Duphot states that he died assassiné le 28 décembre 1797 à Rome.  But he wasn’t murdered.  He was leading an assault on armed soldiers of the legitimate government of a place who merely tried to protect themselves and was killed in the process.  This man provoked his own death.  He was not assassinated .  But like I said it didn’t matter.  They had their pretext and war was on.

Joseph Bonaparte left Rome the next day despite being offered every protection by the Papal government.  He arrived back in Paris on January 24 according to the London Morning Post And Gazeteer of February 1, 1798.  On January 22 the French Council of the Five Hundred took the oath of hatred to Royalty in commemoration of the anniversary of the guillotining of King Louis XVI, and General Berthier’s army in Italy marched on Rome to unseat the Pope.

Please go to Confession and pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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Prelude to the assault on Rome

August 9, 2016                                                                                                                                     The Memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (née Edith Stein)

Now on to the greatest unremembered story of the last 500 years.  What the revolutionary government that had taken over France tried to do to Rome and to the Pope and their miraculous restoration has been almost completely wiped from the memory of the West and from Catholics in particular.  Using Jacques Crétineau-Joly’s 1859 work L’Église Romaine en face de la Révolution and whatever other more contemporary sources I can find we will tell that story.

Already before they had murdered the French king the revolutionary government of France was at work trying to unseat Pope Pius VI, first from his political and ultimately from his spiritual throne.  Think of what you are about to read as a foreshadowing of all the havoc that the Comintern and the Communist Party wreaked on the world following its formation a few decades later and especially after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 since the same group or groups working in the shadows have been fueling all of this.

Crétineau-Joly reports that on the 13th of January, 1793 the first attempt was made to foment insurrection in Rome.  Two French citizens, Flotte and Bassville, secretaries to the French legation in the Kingdom of Naples, tried to provoke the people of Rome to an uprising against the Pope.  The crowd they had gathered however turned on them and Bassville fell mortally wounded and repenting he confessed the whole hairbrained plot before he expired.  The time was not right yet.

The chaos of the French Convention had subsided and something called the Directory took over the French government.  This was a chaotic oligarchy who could rightly be called the world’s first atheistic government as they made it a priority to enforce that calendar we discussed a few posts ago in order to rid the world of Sunday.  A then little known officer named Napoleon Bonaparte was chosen to command the armies that were to invade Italy in 1796.  The ultimate target of this invasion was to be the Holy See.  The Pope was going to be dethroned and the Bride of Christ was to wither headless on the vine, or so they thought.

Bonaparte’s forces were victorious time and again and he neared Rome and was even at its gates.  The Directory back in Paris was egging him on demanding in public that Pius VI retract all of the Bulls he had written against the French Civil Constitution of the Clergy.  This was amusing and hypocritical since the French government had long ago imposed unbelief as the religion of France and had done away with any institutional church in France, constitutional or otherwise.  But it served a PR purpose as we might say today.

Bonaparte on the other hand for whatever reason had no interest in sacking Rome or deposing the Pope.  It would be hard to call the French general an ardent Catholic but he did not possess anything like the implacable hatred for the Church that the conspirators back in Paris had.  He signed a treaty with the Holy See, the treaty of Tolentino, that impoverished the Papal States but left the Holy Father free to do as he wished within the city.

The Directory was outraged, but what could they do?  He was their most successful general just having come off a series of smashing victories so they could not just cut off his head and be done with him.  So instead they promoted him and sent him off to invade Egypt while they waited for an opportunity to resume the war against the Holy Father.

Crétineau-Joly reports that all through 1797 the French republican commissaires were whipping up the army in Italy to an anti-religious frenzy to fan the flames of their desire to despoil Rome.  Note again the similarity between the French word commissaire and the later Soviet term commissar and note the similarity of their functions.  It is not an accident that these things keep reappearing.

French republican agents were all over Rome scrawling graffiti and singing songs.  The bloody anthem the Carmagnole from 1793 in Paris was sung in the streets of the center of what had been Christendom.  Crétineau-Joly gives us this interesting tidbit of some of the grafitti in Italian here:

Non abbiamo patienza,                            We will not be patient
Non vogliamo piu eminenza,                 We don’t want any more eminences
Non vogliamo Santita,                              We don’t want Holiness
Ma egualianza e liberia                             But equality and liberty

There they are again: equality and liberty but NO FRATERNITY!  This is important and you will, God willing, see why in a later post.  This theme has been echoed for 250 long years:  We don’t want (H)oliness, we just want what we want even if it will destroy us.  Or as the late Jim Morrison, God rest his soul,  would sing in 1968:

We want the world and we want it now!

Words have a history, they don’t just come out of thin air.  The Directory was laying the groundwork and waiting for a pretext.  And that pretext would come.

Please go to Confession and pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

 

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To annihilate the Holy See

August 2, 2016                                                                                                                                       The Memorial of Saint Eusebis of Vercelli

So the conspiracy to destroy the teaching of Jesus Christ that had been midwifed by the Masonic lodges and the mischief of Voltaire had now seized control of the French state.  They had destroyed monarchy in that country and had murdered the French king.  They had despoiled the Church in France and done their best to drive religion and even the memory of Sunday from the people of that unfortunate land.  But France was only one country and they had far bigger goals.

Their goal was to erase the memory of the Gospel from the mind of man across the earth.  And the best and quickest way to kill religion is to strike at its heart: the See of Peter.  Crétineau-Joly reports some fascinating correspondence where an associate of William Pitt, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, describes an interview he had recently had with the Prime Minister to Cardinal Bernis, a confidante of Pope Pius VI in May, 1794.  You may remember Cardinal Bernis from our discussion of the Suppression of the Jesuits a quarter of a century before.  He was at that time Louis XV of France’s ambassador to the court of Rome in the days of Clement XIV and was a leading player in the plot to suppress the Society of Jesus.  Perhaps he had learned some wisdom in the intervening years.

This correspondence describes the private thinking of Pitt during the dark years of the Convention in France.  The monarchies of Europe were petrified at the anarchy that was taking place in France which had heretofore been looked at as one of the great stable powers of Europe.  And they knew that the revolution was not just about France but rather had its tentacles stretched throughout Europe and was waiting to strike.  And the Holy See and the person of the Pope was the primary target, but the kings were failing in their hour of trial for reasons that we have outlined in many previous posts.  So William Pitt issued through his intermediary this prophetic warning to the Holy See in May, 1794 (translation mine):

The court of Rome is doubtless not ignorant of the fate the Convention has in store for it.  One day or another the Vatican will fall victim to our revolutionaries, and then what will become of the Pope?  I worry little for the Papacy, knowing quite well that it will survive; but the Holy Father is approaching old age; the troubles that overwhelm him can have a deplorable influence on his health.  The holy city occupied or taken by force and the Pope dead, where would the conclave meet?

This idea was doubtless not far from the minds of the revolutionaries in Paris either as later events would show.  They were determined to conquer Rome but in 1794 they couldn’t.  The great Catholic uprising in the Vendée was in that moment occupying the bulk of their military attention.  In addition there was general chaos in Paris where anarchy was prevailing in Robespierre’s government and the streets were running with blood from the guillotine lopping off the heads of everyone who was suspect of being suspect.

William Pitt offered the British Fleet as protection in this case, that they would transport the College of Cardinals to a safe British dependency such as the Balearic Isles in the West Mediterranean where the Conclave could be held.  This is an astounding development and one which the Revolution could not have anticipated.  The official and virulent anti-Catholicism of Great Britain had been a prime influence on the thinking of Voltaire and Pombal in their early days and it was still illegal to be a Catholic in the United Kingdom in 1794.  And here is the prime minister of Great Britain offering to be the Pope’s protector?!!  The French Revolution ended up killing the official anti-Catholicism of Great Britain that had existed since the days of Elizabeth I because if there was anyone the revolution hated as much as the Holy See it was the British government.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  After the fall of Napoleon that government, who had been the greatest persecutor of the Catholic Church prior to the Masonic uprising of the 18th century, once again readmitted Catholics to public life for the first time since the 16th century.  So it would seem that, strangely enough, we have Voltaire and Robespierre to thank for Cardinal Newman and Father Faber.  The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways…

In the meantime Cardinal Bernis responded for the Holy Father on June 10, 1794 (translation mine):

The most Holy Father appreciates with great wisdom all the dangers with which he is surrounded; he knows them and has foreseen them for a long time…

Mr. Pitt had the good will to offer him, in case of need, a safe exile under the protection of the British flag.  His Holiness declares that he would accept with happiness this honorable exile and that the Sacred College would follow him with full confidence.  But the Pope believes that he cannot and must not leave the tombs of the holy Apostles save under duress; his irrevocable resolution is to await, at the foot of his crucifix, the enemy coming in the name of the Revolution.

And they would come indeed.

Please go to Confession and pray three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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A meditation on the notion of a republic

July 19, 2016

And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled.  This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria.  And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn (Luke 2:1-7).

The birth of Our Lord as narrated by Saint Luke above arrived at a very interesting moment in human history.  The incredibly expansionist but extremely chaotic Roman Republic had finally dissolved itself when Octavian emerged as victor over Mark Antony in the bloody civil war that closed a third of a century before the Incarnation.  Octavian took the name of Augustus and while he kept the superficial forms of the Republic he established order under his one man rule and that of his successors, and republican government disappeared from the earth.

On the whole the people of the Mediterranean were extremely pleased. Order returned to the world.  Trade flourished and stable communication links and political unity were established from Syria to Spain and from the deserts of Egypt to the borders of Scotland for the first and at present last time in human history.  The incredibly diverse regions of this wide area were no longer to be used as props and supply bases for the armies of feuding Roman republican politicians and had a chance to get to know each other and begin to build the highways by which the Catholic Church would spread.

It was all truly providential and this order established by one man rule that had supplanted the earlier times of chaos and anarchy was a great boon to civilization.  While it would eventually all fall apart as everything made by man must, this idea of a unity of peoples under a common head provided an indispensable foundation in the world for the reception of the Catholic Church.

Even after the collapse of the Empire this form of government would remain throughout the former realm.  The idea of all political and spiritual life culminating in one person was reflective of the order of Heaven revealed by Jesus Christ and preached by the Catholic Church.  And the notion of God as Father was also supposed to be reflected, though usually quite imperfectly, and in some sad cases not at all, in the behavior of kings as this new thing called Christendom was being built.

Christendom was broken apart by the Great Western Schism and the resulting advance of Protestantism a thousand years later and as unbelief advanced over the succeeding centuries the notion of being ruled by a king began to be challenged.  This was all part of the effort to separate man from God.  If the order of Heaven was reflected in stable one man rule with all the pomp and ceremony of monarchy then that had to be done away with.  And what would replace it?

These innovators looked back to the chaos of the Roman Republic and sought to foist it first on the people of France and then the rest of the world.  In the decades prior to the declaration of the French Republic in 1792 the groundwork was laid by people like Jean-Jacques Rousseau crying out that Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains! and Edward Gibbon writing his immense work whose constant underlying theme was that somehow it was the one man rule instituted by Augustus that was the cause of Rome’s decline and fall a half millennium later.  This work, coinciding as it did with the Masonic inspired republican revolt against the British crown in North America, helped to further the fantasy that a return to republican or democratic form of government would bring back Plato and Aristotle and Cato and Cicero from the grave and the world could dispense with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, and return to the supposed glories of pagan Greece and Rome.

Well after two centuries now the planet is dominated by democratic republican forms of government.  Where is the golden age that we were promised?  Where are our new Platos and Aristotles?  Nowhere to be found.  It was a fraud from the beginning.  Republics are nothing but chaotic and self destructive oligarchies who defraud their peoples into thinking that just because they slide a piece of paper into a ballot box every few years they somehow rule something.

Republics create factionalism within their societies that exacerbates social passions, breaks internal unity, and eventually tears the society apart.  And remember that factionalism and rebellion were for all of human history considered the worst things that could be visited on a society, but now they are considered virtues.  This form of government only seems long lived when those destructive forces can be channeled outward into expansion as was the case with the Roman Republic or the American Republic, or the European republican empires of the 19th and early twentieth centuries.  And this comes at a cost of being in a more or less constant state of warfare for many lifetimes with all the social disasters that come with that.

While this expansion can be prodigious, as was the case with Rome, the United States, and the global European empires who sought to delineate and carve up for themselves every square inch of the globe, it doesn’t last forever.  And when it ceases all of those destructive forces which had channeled that expansion fall back inward and the result is catastrophic.  Look at the horrible civil wars at the end of the Roman Republic that were finally put an end to by the grace of God preparing the way for the Catholic Church channeled through Octavian, or the horrors that Republican Europe endured during the first half of the twentieth century, or the nightmare that is only now just starting to come to fruition in the United States.

Modern Republicanism was only designed to confuse people and remove the reflection of Heaven on earth that had existed, imperfectly it is true but it was still there, under monarchical form of government.  In short it was instituted not to liberate, but to destroy our societies.

Please go to Confession and say three Hail Marys in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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