On July 17, 1794, sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution were guillotined at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation), in Paris.
When the revolution started in 1789, a group of twenty-one discalced Carmelites lived in a monastery in Compiegne France, founded in 1641. The monastery was ordered closed in 1790 by the Revolutionary government, and the nuns were disbanded. Sixteen of the nuns were accused of living in a religious community in 1794. They were arrested on June 22 and imprisoned in a Visitation convent in Compiegne There they openly resumed their religious life.
For a full twenty months before their execution, the sisters came together in an act of consecration “whereby each member of the community would join with the others in offering herself daily to God, soul and body in holocaust to restore peace to France and to her Church.”
The nuns were not just mere victims of the Revolution overcome by circumstances. Each contemplated her martyrdom; each understood her offering. Each sought that “greater love” of giving herself for her fellow man in imitation of the Divine Lamb Who redeemed humanity.
On July 12, 1794, the Carmelites were taken to Paris and five days later were sentenced to death. Before their execution they knelt and chanted the "Veni Creator", as at a profession, after which they all renewed aloud their baptismal and religious vows. They went to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina. They were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X.
The Carmelites were: Marie Claude Brard; Madeleine Brideau, the subprior; Maire Croissy, grandniece of Colbert Marie Dufour; Marie Hanisset; Marie Meunier, a novice; Rose de Neufville Annette Pebras; Anne Piedcourt: Madeleine Lidoine, the prioress; Angelique Roussel; Catherine Soiron and Therese Soiron, both extern sisters, natives of Compiegne and blood sisters: Anne Mary Thouret; Marie Trezelle; and Eliza beth Verolot. The martyrdom of the nuns was immortalized by the composer Francois Poulenc in his famous opera Dialogues des Carmelites.
Excerpted from Catholic Fire