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.