He is risen !
N° 208 – April 2020
Director : Frère Bruno Bonnet-Eymard
The Heart of Jesus and the Plague of Marseilles
IN the lives of peoples, and particularly in “sainte et doulce” France, there are meaningful events, the commemoration of which is itself rich in lessons. The plague of Marseilles in 1720, just three centuries ago, is one such case. The connections that can be made with the current coronavirus pandemic speak for themselves, less by its effects, which are not as terrifying – at least not yet! – but rather by the proposed remedies, when the Hand of God strikes a distraught humanity.
Thirty-three years ago, when the Aids epidemic began to rage, our Father confided to us that it was a divine sign, a sign of punishment and even more of mercy: “What is possible – I do not desire it, but I know God and when we count the abominations that are being committed today in our world – is that, in the year 2000, Aids will become a scourge similar to the plague of Marseilles. Perhaps, then, the Pope of that time will read the book that I am going to summarise for you, by Armand Praviel, Belsunce et la peste de Marseille (1936). Perchance it might give him ideas, that he will remember what is said in the Secret of Fatima and that he will do what Our Lady asked for. Maybe all of a sudden they will find some Catholicism in the scourge; that is probably why God is bludgeoning humanity.”
Sister Lucy did not speak otherwise in conversation with Father Fuentes, in December 1957: “Let us remember that Jesus Christ is a very good Son and that He does not permit His most Holy Mother to be offended and despised. We have the patent testimony of several centuries of the Church’s history which shows us, through terrible examples, how Our Lord Jesus Christ has always come to the defence of His Mother’s honour.”
Brother Bruno followed our Father’s advice, beginning to read Armand Praviel’s book to our Community. Let us summarise it here, with the help of the conference given by our Sister Camille of the Child Jesus during the 1998 thematic study Summer Camp of the Phalange that dealt with the 18th century in France. This drama, which was, in our Father’s judgement, “like a general rehearsal of what France should do,” unfolded in five acts.
PRELIMINARIES. HEAVENLY WARNING
We were then under the regency of the Duke of Orleans. This was when Satan “first took possession” of France, after the refusal of King Louis XIV to consecrate himself and his kingdom to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort had foretold “ungodliness reigns supreme.” In fact, when the great King died (1715), power fell into the hands of a coterie manoeuvred by private interests, money and public opinion. Our diplomacy slavishly imitated England’s. The first Masonic Lodge, an instrument of hegemony against the French Monarchy and Catholicism which it defended, was created there in 1717. Immorality was everywhere, even in the field of finance, subjugated by the mystifications of the Scotsman John Law (a swindler who the Regent made his Minister of Finance), who transferred the wealth of France into the hands of unscrupulous agitators. The Kingdom was struggling against an unprecedented crisis: after entertaining the most golden illusions and indulging in wild speculation, one could feel the ground giving way, paper currency was losing all its value.
The port cities were still experiencing a great influx of wealth, as was the case for Marseille. It had become the crossroads of trade for all of Europe and was considered to be one of the most flourishing cities in the Kingdom. In the Phocaean city,1 however, excesses of vanity and debauchery, unworthy of its traditional piety, could also be seen, and it was not the clergy, largely won over to Jansenism, who could effectively combat it.
Nevertheless, the Sacred Heart did not abandon His merciful design for the Kingdom of the fleur-de-lis. He had chosen a confidant in the person of Sister Anne-Madeleine Rémuzat who, at the age of fifteen, entered the “Grandes Maries,” the first monastery of the Visitation in Marseilles. Under the guidance of a remarkable Jesuit, Father P. Milley, she became the worthy emulator of Saint Margaret Mary. In 1717, at the request of Our Lord Himself, she founded the Association of Perpetual Adoration of the Sacred Heart. Bishop de Belsunce, of Marseilles, was the first to enrol under the banner of the Sacred Heart. He came from a Protestant family in the Périgord and when he was twelve years old, he returned with his whole family to the fold of the Catholic Church. He was educated by the Jesuits. King Louis XIV, having noticed his qualities and virtues, entrusted him in 1710 with the prestigious episcopal see of Marseilles. He was a model bishop of the Counter-Reformation, whose only aim was the unity of faith and the holiness of his flock, but from the beginning he was subject to the passionate and combined attacks of the Jansenists, the Gallicians and the parliamentarians. Like a new Chrysostom, he attacked the disorders that were increasing in his diocese due to the Regency, by means of great popular missions. However, in spite of all his efforts, Marseilles did not abandon its frenzy for making money, its licentiousness and moral disorders, nor did the contaminated part of its clergy forsake its rebellion and heresy.
During the Forty Hours’ Devotion of the year 1718, the people of Marseilles received a heavenly warning: the Blessed Sacrament was being exposed in the church of the Franciscans, when suddenly, Our Lord Jesus Christ showed Himself visibly in the Host: “His face was so dazzlingly majestic, His look was both so tender and so severe, that no one could bear to gaze on it.” In the monastery of the Visitation, Sister Anne-Madeleine knew at the same time through supernatural means that Heaven was angry with Marseilles and that this Eucharistic wonder was worked so that the city might be converted. Otherwise, Marseilles would be struck in such a terrible way that the whole world would be terrified by it
The same year, the Grand Admiral of France, Louis de Bourbon, warned Sieur Le Bret, Intendant of Provence, that the plague was lurking around Marseilles, and prescribed severe measures to stop it by imposing a quarantine on all ships coming from the Eastern countries infected by the contagion. Once again, in 1719, Chevalier Nicolas Roze, consul in Modon, Morea, warned the Aldermen of Marseilles that the plague was raging in Greece and a large part of the Turkish Empire, urging them to take all necessary precautions to ward off the dreaded scourge. He, however, was not heeded, nor were the measures prescribed by the Grand Admiral applied. In view of commerce! Business is business!
The carefree and frivolous city did not heed the warnings of Heaven relayed by its vigilant pastor; each one continued in his own way, a life of sin for the majority, indifference to the will of Heaven for the reputed “righteous.”
“A DISEASE THAT SPREADS TERROR”
Two years had not elapsed, after the celestial warning that the punishment struck Marseilles: the plague made its entry into the port on May 25, 1720, in the holds of a trading vessel, “le Grand Saint Antoine.” Captain Chataud, had sailed in from a port in Syria, Saïda, ancient Sidon.
At the ship’s arrival and in the interests of trade, nothing was said about the disease at first, despite the number of deaths that had occurred on board during the crossing. The strict quarantine was shortened and facilities granted for unloading the goods, because of the great Beaucaire Fair that was drawing near and the demands of the ship owners who were impatiently awaiting this cargo of silk and cotton, rumoured to be worth one hundred thousand crowns. The love for money prevailed over the usual health precautions. From June 15 onwards, the pestilential poison began to enter the port through the unloaded goods and the people who had disembarked. Soon several cases of rapid deaths were reported.
Civil and health authorities began by temporising, they spoke of ‘verminous fever,’ of ‘quintan fever.’ To declare a plague epidemic in Marseilles would spread panic, not only in the city but throughout the whole province, with incalculable economic and social consequences. “The day you recognise this scourge without demonstrating that it is evident,” exclaimed an Alderman, “you will be held accountable for the troubles that such a declaration would inevitably cause. You would be signing our city’s death warrant.”
At the beginning of July, however, it was no longer possible to deny the evidence: the terrible illness had spread to a whole district of the city, starting in Escale Street, where every house had its sick people. It was decided to place guards around it and to transport those affected to the Infirmaries. From July 11 to 21, it was thought that the contagion had diminished, and the merchants, fearing an interruption of trade, did all they could to oppose any precautionary measures; the Aldermen even wrote on July 15 to the various ports of Europe reporting that health was good in Marseilles, and that the contagion existed only in the Infirmaries! This was a grievous error for, by not being immediately and exactly informed about the danger, the necessary solutions were not adopted either. The heat of the summer was going to amplify the intensity of the scourge. “Love of money and that fatal blindness which is almost always the prelude to the punishments of divine justice would hand the whole population of Marseilles over to the horrors of the plague," wrote Dom Théophile Bérengier, Bishop de Belsunce’s biographer.
The bishop, on the contrary, was more concerned about caring for his flock. That same July 15, he ordered all his priests to recite at Mass the prayer of Saint Roch, the great protector of Christians against all contagions, and he recommended that they exhort the faithful to do penance for the expiation of their sins, as well as to “complete and perfect submission of mind and heart to the sacred decisions of the Church, the sure and unique means of stopping the arm of a wrathful God.” On July 21, a terrible storm broke out over the city. “The thunderclaps were so violent,” wrote Father Giraud, “that it was believed that they had been like the signal of the plague, God declaring war on His people in this way.” Thus it was, in the last days of a torrid July, the evil spread like wildfire throughout the city. The contagion crossed all barriers, made light of all obstacles, striking without warning, with horrifying symptoms: burning with fever, covered with pustules, the unfortunates victims writhed in pain. Death followed in a matter of days, sometimes hours.
On July 31, a decree of the Parliament of Aix-en-Provence established a cordon sanitaire around Marseille and its territory, isolating the unfortunate region from the rest of Provence and depriving it of the resources necessary for its sustenance. This severe measure was necessary to prevent the departure of two or three thousand vagabonds, already starving, whom the aldermen wanted to expel from the city and whose departure would have caused the pestilential venom to circulate in all the veins of the Kingdom. Marseilles was doomed: the plague-stricken city was abandoned to itself.
As for the bishop, he had not waited for the Parliament’s decree to write to its president who was at the same time the Intendant of Provence: “As for me, I intend to remain with the plague-stricken, to console them, to die, if necessary, of pestilence and hunger. I have just written a pastoral letter to order prayers and fasts, the aldermen having asked me not to make a procession in imitation of Saint Charles [Borromeo]. Dread is great, yet I trust in the mercy of God.”
VAIN MEASURES AND HEROIC DEDICATION
To the disease that seemed to have taken the city in its mortal embrace were added unemployment, poverty, famine, theft and plundering. It was a horrible sight, becoming more hideous as each day passed. Before long, three hundred, four hundred dead a day were counted, then in the warmer summer months eight hundred a day! The hospitals, all very ancient, were totally inadequate: but the city was at the height of a financial crisis and was unable to construct others. In any case, it was too late.
It was certainly not doctors and remedies that the unfortunate city lacked, but since the plague bacillus and its treatment had not yet been discovered, medicine was, Sister Camille writes, “at the same point as when Molière satirised Doctors Purgon and Diafoirus fifty years earlier, with their ‘Purgare, saignare.’ ” Their methods only precipitated death.” A certain Doctor Sicard, who had made the right diagnosis, had the idea, with the help of the public authorities and the enthusiastic collaboration of the population, of carrying out a general disinfection. For three days huge fires of sulphur would be kept blazing. They were intended to destroy the pestilential molecules spread throughout the atmosphere. Already scorching in the heat of August, Marseilles was transformed into a kind of gigantic furnace. The more unbreathable the atmosphere became, the more the good people rejoiced: “Well, if the plague resists that, what would it take!” The fact, however, had to be faced: the illness, far from being halted, was still progressing.
For fear of dying unaided, the sick began to flee from their houses and make for the already overcrowded infirmaries. They were turned away. Then a most incredible sight was seen, which no one and nothing could prevent: the sick organised a lazaret in the streets, a veritable camp of plague victims in the open air: “From one side of the street to the other, the whole space was covered with the sick and the dying stretched out on bedding with no one to help them. The city was now no more than a vast cemetery with nothing to see except bodies piled up in heaps one on top of the other.”
While the most devoted doctors only ventured into hospitals with a host of precautions and an outfit that would make one laugh were it not for the tragic situation, Bishop de Belsunce took no precautions at all. Everyone in Marseilles carried a stick to keep dangerous animals and people at a distance; the bishop did not. “We saw him,” said one witness, “walking through the streets with piles of dead bodies and infected furniture. He would enter houses where the stench was extreme; there he would reconcile sinners who were often lying in the same bed with people already dead. At the same time he filled the hands of the poor, tormented by famine, with all the money in his possession, depriving himself of the necessities to help them.”
He was not the only one, his example galvanised the zeal of his best priests. Many of those who had not been affected by the canker of Jansenism competed with their bishop and more than one hundred and fifty fell victim to their devotion. We learn from the diary of Goujon, the bishop’s secretary, that on August 18 the bishop thoroughly visited the sinister Escale Street, where the scourge had broken out. He was accompanied by two holy women, the Jourdan sisters, who brought broth to the sick, and by Father Milley, a Jesuit who had made this terrible district his field of action. As this heroic religious spent almost all his time there, without taking any precautions, he fell seriously ill on August 27. He wrote to the bishop this touching letter of apology: “I did not dare to go to the designated place, feeling already as though I am totally infected and obliged not to see you again,” he added: “Your Grandeur has nothing to fear for his personal safety, because God, always good, always merciful, will not afflict the flock in the person of the beloved shepherd, so necessary to his sheep.” A few days later he expired.
Since churches had been closed, it was sometimes in front of their porches, sometimes in a square, that the intrepid bishop celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, distributed communion to those suffering from the plague or administered the Sacraments. On September 3, there occurred a moving scene: “When Bishop de Belsunce went out, the appearance of the city was more pitiful than ever. Half of his people were watching the other half die. In the main street he almost stumbled over a half-naked dying man who was moaning in the brook full of filth. Then Henri de Castelmoron de Born de Gavaudan, trembling with pity, knelt down beside the man: deliberately rejecting all the precautions imposed on His Grandeur, he lifted him up, took in his arms the poor bleeding body, burning with a deadly fever: to this flesh that was already being devoured by rot, he spoke of Heaven. The dying man, reopening his glassy eyes, recognised his bishop, who came to him in the name of Jesus Christ; he whispered his last confession to him. Then, in front of the witnesses of this sublime scene, who shivered with terror and admiration, the pastor consoled the wretched man who, without him, would have perished forsaken, gave him absolution, and received his last breath.” (Praviel, p. 124)
The convicts who were requisitioned to transport the dead in tipcarts only carried out this task under threat of hanging. Bishop de Belsunce himself climbed onto the first of these death carts to encourage them and to recite prayers all along the way. There were other examples of heroic courage, such as that of the Chevalier Nicolas Roze who, with forty men, cleared the Place de la Tourette cluttered with two thousand rotting corpses. The name of the galley squadron leader Charles-Claude Andrault de Langeron, an energetic sailor, should also be mentioned. Sent from Paris, he succeeded in restoring order to the city given over to anarchy. Orphans wandered the streets, destitute and abandoned. The bishop and Chevalier Roze opened several houses to take them in and feed them.
The whole of Christendom prayed and suffered, one in heart with these heroes of charity. On September 14, Pope Clement XI sent a brief of encouragement to Bishop de Belsunce: “Our special affection and paternal tenderness for your city made us feel a deep and just sorrow upon learning from the public news that it is afflicted with the plague. Although we feared that the sins of men, especially our own, had contributed in no small measure to this calamity, since the Lord is accustomed to make use of these kinds of scourges to unquestionably manifest His wrath against the peoples, our afflicted heart was greatly consoled by the thought that this same city is governed by a bishop full of probity, vigilance, piety, and zeal. He will not fail for a single moment to provide all the spiritual and temporal help that may depend on him, exactly to those who are afflicted with this disease but he will also, in these days of wrath, acting as a reconciler, make every effort to divert the divine indignation by his pious and fervent prayers.”
The Pope did not stop there; he sent two thousand ship loads of wheat from his Papal States. The galleys were boarded by the barbarian pirates, but when they learned that the wheat was destined for the plague-stricken people of Marseilles, they let them pass.
“STOP! THE HEART OF JÉSUS IS HERE!”
At the end of the summer 1720, it was plain that no human remedy had any power to deal with the heavenly chastisement. In three months, the population of the town was halved, with forty thousand dead. “In less than eight days,” wrote a contemporary, “there will be fifteen thousand putrefying corpses on the streets, and it will be absolutely necessary to leave the town and abandon it perhaps ever to the putrefaction, poison and infection in which it is sunk.”
At the heart of the town, however, like veritable Noah’s Arks, the two monasteries of the Visitation passed through the deluge without a single sister perishing under the disease. “The protection whereby our most honoured Mother preserved us from the plague”, a Visitandine proclaimed, “were many prayers, novenas, processions and acts of virtue. We blessed the air every day with a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin, and we took water in which the relics of our holy Founder had been placed.”
Finally, Heaven spoke. On October 17, 1720, for the thirteen anniversary of Marguerite-Marie’s dies natalis, the saint of Paray, the Sacred Heart made known to His confidant of “Grandes Maries” that “ there was more mercy than justice in His design to afflict this city with contagion; that He wanted to purge the Church of Marseilles of the errors with which it was infected, by opening it to His adorable Heart as the source of all truth [He only helps those whose faith is pure, He only saves a people subject to the truth. This was also the thought of the holy bishop]; that He demanded a solemn feast on the day chosen by Himself [...] to honour His Sacred Heart; that in the meanwhile He was to be paid the honour He demanded, that each member of the faithful should dedicate himself, through a prayer of the bishop’s choice, to honouring, in accordance with God’s design, the adorable Heart of His Son; that through this means, they would be delivered from the contagion, and finally all those who would practise this devotion would only be left unaided when this Sacred Heart was lacking in power.”
The message was sent to Bishop de Belsunce who immediately answered all the demands of the Sacred Heart. He did so eagerly and to the letter. On October 22, he established by ordinance the feast of the Sacred Heart in his diocese, and on November 1, feast of All Saints, he wanted to consecrate it to the Divine Heart. To this end, he had an altar erected at the entrance to the Cours Transversal at the Canebière. He was seen walking barefoot towards it, a rope round his neck,2 holding the cross in his arms, accompanied by twelve priests. Taking no heed of the danger, men came out of the houses. Women, holding children by the hand, ran to him, shouting, “Mercy!” He, however, showed them the altar. When he reached the first steps, a real crowd surrounded him and threw themselves on their knees. In spite of the emotion that bathed his face with tears, the bishop succeeded in pronouncing aloud the consecration of himself and his diocesan people to the Heart of the adorable Saviour, then he celebrated Mass in His honour and personally distributed Communion.
Neither the Governor nor the Aldermen took part in the ceremony of reparation and consecration. Moreover, Bishop de Belsunce had not asked their consent for the procession. “It is unnecessary for me, and in such a matter I am answerable to no one,” wrote the bishop to a friend. “If the Aldermen had attended, I believe they would have done their duty and edified the people. In any case, we did the procession. It seems to me that the contagion is diminishing and I hope that the Heart of Jesus will have been touched by the tears of the pastor and his flock gathered around him to appease His wrath.”
From that day on, the bishop distributed throughout the city safeguard scapulars, pieces of white woollen cloth on which was represented, sewn in red, the image of the Heart of Jesus. Encircling the Heart these words: “Stop! The Heart of Jesus is here!” could be read. Bishop de Belsunce did not content himself with only the ceremony on All Saints’ Day: on November 15, he climbed the stairs to the gallery of the bell tower of Notre-Dame des Accoules church, which overlooks the old port. There, “in the gaze of this multitude, which he had made one in heart and soul, Belsunce prostrated himself before the supreme majesty, recollected himself for a few moments with a touching unction and an admirable fervour that moved all those present; then, rising in the name of the Church, in his august capacity as mediator between Heaven and earth, and with all the most imposing forms of religion, he purified, exorcised, sanctified the whole city, territory and diocese with a general blessing. This was given first with a relic of the true Cross, with which Clement XI had presented the bishop of Marseille, and then with the Blessed Sacrament that he showed successively to the four parts of the city and the countryside, with all bells pealing and the cannons of the galley La Réale firing a salute. »
This and other acts of piety, which the bishop did not fear to reiterate, such as a procession around the ramparts on December 31 while chanting the Miserere, always in spiritual union with his dear Visitandine Sisters, appeased Heaven, for the plague then lost much of its virulence, and many of the plague victim regained health. The atmosphere seemed more limpid, purer, and sounds clearer. The plague died down, defeated by the supernatural counteroffensive. Above all, however, the people of Marseilles had learned again from their bishop to pray, to turn their eyes and their hearts towards Heaven.
RELAPSE. THE ESSENTIAL LESSON
The year 1721 was spent in thanksgiving for the deliverance of the city and the healing of the young king, the future Louis XV. The first feast of the Sacred Heart in Marseilles on June 20 has never been equalled. The bishop increased the number of missions to establish among his people the pure and charitable morality that would be “the best way to prevent the return of calamities.” He did not miss an opportunity to renew the Amende Honorable and the Act of Consecration to the Divine Heart, with which he wanted to associate “the Good Mother,” Notre-Dame de la Garde, as well as Saint Michael, protector of France: “Our groans and cries were heard by Him, His Heart was touched by our ills; He said to the exterminating angel: ‘That suffices, hold back your hand,’ and the harsh plague that had afflicted us for so long, has completely ceased.”
Heaven, however, was not entirely satisfied: the Aldermen, some of whom were won over to the sceptical or corrupt ideas of the Regency, had not taken part in the consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Even worse: arguing that there was a risk of causing a new outbreak of the contagion, they were opposed to the re-opening of the churches as Bishop de Belsunce had demanded. They hid behind the decision of the Regent: “His Royal Highness believes that if churches were opened to whitewash them exhalations might emerge capable of causing a new outbreak of the disease. For this reason, he desires, on the contrary, that they (the churches) be sealed as firmly as possible with no re-opening permitted until a full year has elapsed.” It was obviously the least Christian of solutions, Satan’s revenge.
The proof that he had not yet been defeated is that the end of the scourge was accompanied by a great licentiousness of mores. A sacrilege was even committed in a church in the city: a ciborium was stolen, hosts were desecrated. Consequently, on May 1, 1722, the plague reappeared in Marseilles, and again there was panic. “The body of the town will only be converted when the soul is won,” our Father, Georges de Nantes, explained. “Now the soul of Marseilles were the aldermen, the dominant upper class who did not take part in the consecration ceremony. Thus there was a new outbreak of the plague. It would not withdraw definitively until the aldermen had set the example and committed the town publicly to the Sacred Heart.”
Bishop de Belsunce understood this and hastened to address a monition to the Aldermen. The respect that he showed towards civil authorities did not prevent him from speaking to them firmly and directly: “The precautions, Gentlemen, that you and the Governor have taken to stop the progress of the cause of our justified alarm, are worthy of the zeal and of the wisdom of the true Fathers of the Homeland; but you know, Gentlemen, your cares, your pains and your works will all be of no avail if God Himself disdains to bless them. I therefore exhort you this day to begin with an act of religion capable of disarming the avenging arm which again seems to be raised against us one again.”
“You no doubt remember that on All Saints Day of the year 1720, I consecrated this city and this diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the inexhaustible source of all graces and every mercy, and that, from that same day on, our ills diminished perceptibly, continually and without relapse; but you, the Aldermen, should remember that you were unable to appear to enter into this consecration nor take part in any of the holy ceremonies that were later performed in honour of Jesus Christ, our Liberator... To make reparation for that (your absence), I believe it is my duty, Gentlemen, to propose that you very make shortly, but without ceremony, a permanent vow to the Divine Heart of our Saviour.”
There followed the practical details of the vow. This time, the Aldermen responded with conviction to the call of their bishop:
“It has been unanimously resolved that we, the aldermen, will take a firm, permanent and irrevocable vow in the hands of his lordship the Bishop, whereby we commit ourselves and our successors as aldermen in perpetuity to go every year on the day fixed for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to hear holy Mass in the church of the first monastery of the Visitation, called of the Great Marys, there to receive communion and to offer in reparation for the crimes committed in this city a candle of white wax weighing four pounds, decorated with this city’s coat of arms, to burn on that day before the Blessed Sacrament, and to attend that same evening a general procession of thanksgiving, which we pray and request his lordship the Bishop also to establish in perpetuity.”
The ceremony took place on June 4, 1722, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, amidst a great throng of people. That same day, the plague diminished so perceptibly that one could not help but call it a miracle. This time the deliverance was definitive: the plague never reappeared in Marseilles. Bishop Belsunce recognised it in his pastoral letter of September 21, 1722:
“People, whom the God of vengeance has twice struck in His indignation, but whom, in His mercy, has also twice delivered, and in a perceptible manner, cease now to fear and rejoice, because the adorable Heart of Jesus, to Whom you have solemnly vowed yourself, has declared Himself and has done great things in your favour. May the memory of these prodigies be forever engraved in your minds and hearts! Tell them often to your children, have your children tell them to theirs and those to the next generation, and may the memory of them pass on to the centuries to come! Announce your deliverance and publish it to the ends of the world, publish the glory of your Deliverer among the nations and His wonders among all the peoples to whom trade will henceforth lead you.”
Refusing the advantageous offers of being made a cardinal, married as he was to his diocese, Bishop de Belsunce always remained faithful to the “city of the Sacred Heart.” Like Sister Anne-Madeleine, he would have liked that the Pope extend the establishment of the feast of the Sacred Heart to the whole Church. He multiplied petitions to this effect, but he would have to wait another thirty-five years for Rome’s approval. Nevertheless, the miracle of the deliverance of Marseilles by the Sacred Heart, from the time the town obeyed Him entirely, had immense repercussions throughout the kingdom and Christendom. It contributed to spread its worship and devotion, making known to the well-disposed souls this lovable secret, this divine Will, throughout the whole eighteenth century and until the Revolution.
The application that can be made to our bleak present day is related to another Will of Heaven, just as benevolent, gentle and binding, which is but one with first. Saint Jacinta reminded her cousin about it exactly a century ago: “Tell everyone that God grants us His graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that it is from Her that people are to ask for them; that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated together with His.”
Brother Thomas of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Marseilles (originally called Massalia) is referred to as the Phocaean city because it was founded in 600 b.c. by colonists from Phocaea, an ancient Ionian Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia (modern-day Foça in Turkey).
Amende honorable was originally a form of honorary satisfaction, a mode of punishment, customary in the Church in France as late as the seventeenth century. It was performed at the bidding of the ecclesiastical judge, and within the precinct of his court, though at one time it could be enforced at the church door or in some other public place. It was ordinarily inflicted only on condemned criminals, who appeared stripped to the shirt, barefoot and bareheaded, with candle in hand, and a rope round his neck held by the public executioner. On his knees, the offender begged pardon of God, the king, and of justice. It is now used to denote a satisfactory apology or reparation.