Sacrifice is a central part of Catholicism. We offer personal struggles for various petitions. We fast and sacrifice things such as social media. Most importantly, every day we offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In the midst of the French Revolution and Reign of Terror, a group of sixteen Carmelites offered their very lives as a sacrifice to bring peace to France. These women displayed an amazing amount of selflessness and faith in the Lord as they entrusted themselves to His mercy.
1. Their Carmel was closed in early 1792 in the midst of the French Revolution
Contemplative religious communities were required by new French law to disband. However, the Compiegne Carmelites continued to practice their contemplative life while in hiding.
2. They prayed to be captured
The Prioress, Mother Teresa, proposed to her sisters that they offer themselves to God, that He may use their sacrifice to bring peace to the Church and the state. On June 22, 1974, heightened government surveillance revealed the 16 Carmelites who were still practicing. They were imprisoned and forced to relinquish their religious habits.
3. They were accused of hiding arms
In response, the Prioress presented a crucifix and said, “Here are the only arms we have ever had in our house”. They were also accused of honoring the old monarchy. Finally, they were accused of fanaticism, which brought the Carmelites joy because they were being accused of being devoted to the Lord.
4. They were martyred the day after the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
They were able to celebrate the feast of Our Lady while in prison.
5. They died in their habits
The same day that the Carmelites had been allowed to wash their lay clothes was the day that they were transferred to Paris for their execution. Because their lay clothes were soaking wet, they wore their religious habits out of prison.
6. They sang on their way to the guillotine
As they walked through Paris on their way to death, they sang hymns such as “Miserere”, Salve Regina, Te Deum, and “Veni Creator Spiritus”. They continued to chant “Laudate Dominum omnes gentes” until the last sister, the Prioress, was guillotined.
7. They renewed their vows moments before death
One sister, Sister Constance, made her final vows at this time. After renewing their vows, they each kissed a statue of Mary and climbed the scaffolding. They each pardoned their executioners before they were killed.
8. The Reign of Terror ended ten days after their death
It seems that God truly did accept the sacrifice of these sisters, as historians date the end of the reign of terror a mere ten days after the deaths of these sisters.