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Texto en castellano.
NAPOLEON AND RELIGION
Texte en Français.
« No society can exist without morality. There is no true morality without religion. Thus, only religion can give a firm and durable support to the state. A society without religion is like a ship without a compass »
Napoleon I.
 
Bonaparte the restorer of faiths
Representatives of different religions prostrate themselves before God, thanking the First Consul for having given them free exercise of their beliefs. Popular stamp.
By
Laureate of the French Academy and of the Arts and Letters of France
Chair of the Historical Committee of the
Mexico-France Napoleonic Institute

Mrs. Renée Casin
Translation by Mr. Jonathan House.
Notes and comments by the MFNI, with Madame Casin’s kind approval.
Napoleon took his first communion at Brienne; he retained a particular gratitude for Father Charles Patrault, who had prepared him for this ceremony. While traveling to assume command of the Army of Italy, General Bonaparte considered it a matter of duty to turn aside and shake Patrault’s hand. As First Consul, Bonaparte sent him a pension of a thousand francs together with a letter that read in part: «I have not forgotten that I owe the good fortune I have achieved to your virtuous example and wise lessons. I commend myself to your prayers». Later, he said in an emotional voice: «Brienne is my home. I was happy then».

During the first campaign in Italy in 1796, after passing the Cadibone Pass, Bonaparte halted with his officers at the first village, where a magnificent church stood. To the astonishment of all, he left them and pushed open the gate of the church. For long minutes, he remained alone, meditating in the sacred atmosphere where France was about to bring fire and blood.
The government of the Directory instructed him to « revolutionize » Italy. Yet, upon entering Milan, he summoned the curates of all parishes to reassure them that: «a people without religion is like a ship without a compass!...» The young, 27-year-old general sought only the pacification of souls.

« At the murderous clamours of a liar liberty, the house of God is attacked. The French nation gets covered of an eternal dishonour by the most atrocious crimes [of the French Revolution]. The head of the sweetest of princes [Louis XVI], of his kinsmen, of his friends, rolls from above in the blood. A chasm of innocent blood is opened immense. Angels of Gaul, trembling, do fill it with mountains and hills. Our Savior so pure is dethroned by a filthy flesh. A merciless envy from Hell! Horror! Execration! Devastation!
From the bosom of the Mediterranean, comes out an illustrious captain who raises the salutary Cross and gathers, in his warrior hands, the sheep of the sceptre. » – Prophecy attributed to Saint Caesarius of Arles (c. 470-542), year 540, ed. 1525.

Let us move forward several years, to the day after what is commonly referred to as the «Coup d’état» of 18 and 19 Brumaire, Year VIII (November 9-10, 1799). From his first days in office, the churches, which the Directory had transformed into political meeting houses, were reopened, as were the prisons. He went in person to the famous Prison of Force in Paris to liberate the political prisoners condemned by the defunct Directory…
In Guiana, hundreds of priests were rotting. All these priests returned to France, as did the itinerant émigré priests (sac-au-dos) beyond our frontiers, men who had been washing their laundry in the streams…

Next, the First Consul abolished the famous Civil Constitution of the Clergy that, since 1790-91, required each Catholic priest to swear allegiance to the state to the detriment of loyalty to Rome. The Constitution also required the election of priests and bishops by all citizens, even Protestants and Jews!

The body of Pope Pius VI, who had died at Valence as a prisoner of the Directory and had been interred almost anonymously in the city cemetery there, was transferred with great ceremony to Rome. Bonaparte appealed for union, writing to the leaders of the Vendée: «come to me; my government will be that of youth and spirit». In effect, the entire west of France had been systematically ravaged after the Convention had issued a Decree of Depopulation in 1793. The First Consul’s investigators had listed 500,000 dead, of whom some had been burned alive while locked inside churches such as that of the Lucs commune in the Vendée. General de Gaulle was perfectly correct when he wrote that “Napoleon reassembled France with a TEASPOON».

Massacre of the children of Petit-Luc (Martyrs of Lucs-sur-Boulogne.)
Stained glass window in the Church of Saint Peter of Lucs-sur-Boulogne by Lux Fournier
On August 2, 1793, the Convention had the following decree issued in the Moniteur, the official organ of the state: «Combustible materials of all kinds will be sent to the Vendée to burn the woods, thickets, and bushes. Forests will be razed; rebel hideouts will be destroyed, the crops cut down and the beasts seized. The rebel race shall be exterminated, the Vendée destroyed».
A second decree of November 1, 1793, added that «any city that receives brigands or does not repulse them by all means available shall be punished as a rebel town, and in consequence shall be razed.» By inventing concentration camps for refractory priests (Rochefort), extermination camps for the Vendéens (Noirmoutier), and tanneries for human skins (Pont de Cé), the government of the Convention, by a series of abominable decrees, marked the debut of the first genocide of the modern era. The official and systematic extermination of the Vendéen people prefigured the holocausts of the twentieth century perpetuated by regimes such as German National Socialism, Communism, or in Mexico the drama of the Cristeros. On this subject, even the Jewish historian Israel Eldad has remarked that «the last stone taken from the Bastille served as the first stone of the gas chambers at Auschwitz», These words are justified when one recognizes that, as Gracchus Babeuf remarked, the Vendée was only a «laboratory»; In effect, as Vladimir Volkhoff has demonstrated, the French government planned the extermination of Brittany and the Bretons as early as May 1795. The horror of this crime was triggered by the twelve mobile columns, known as the «Infernals» of General Louis Turreau, who methodically destroyed and exterminated the population of that region in January 1795. The crimes were unspeakable in this «great national cemetery» decreed by Turreau, who, according to his own words, sought to «entirely purge this accursed race from the soil of liberty». The words of General Francois Westermann were equally evocative in his description of the panorama: «The Vendée is no more! Citizens of the Republic, it died under our sword of liberty, with its women and children. I have just buried it in the swamps of Savenay, following the orders you have given me. I crushed the children under the hooves of my horses and massacred women who will not give birth to more brigands. I have no prisoners with which to reproach myself. I exterminated everything . . . the roads are strewn with cadavers. In several locations, there are so many bodies that they form pyramids». During Thermidor, the young General Bonaparte, barely 25 years old, received an order from the Convention to go to the Vendée. After refusing with great courage a directive both dishonorable and contrary to his principles, he was «struck» from the army list by the Committee of Public Safety and threatened by the guillotine for insubordination. After his accession to power, the First Consul was acclaimed by the Vendéen crowd to cries of «Long live the king, long live Bonaparte»(15 Brumaire Year VIII). He dedicated himself to ending this «impious war» by decreeing an amnesty on 7 Nivoise Year VIII (December 28, 1799). He also implemented many measures of appeasement: reconstruction of the region, reduction of tax arrears, distribution of agricultural materials, development of secondary education, and lodging of priests at the expense of the local government.
Tanned skin of a Chouan Exhibited at the Museum of Natural Sciences of Nantes
In 2003, a large demonstration attempted –in vain– to have this piece removed from public display and to obtain from the French government an official recognition of the genocide of Vendéen and Breton Catholics. In effect, this distressing episode darkened the founding myth of the French Republic. The state has never wished to recognize the hecatomb, make an act of repentance, or recompense the damages done to victims of this horrifying holocaust
Ultimately, the Emperor Napoleon indemnified the populations of the Vendée, this «people og giants», by exempting these localities of taxes for fifteen years beginning in 1808. That same year, the Abbot Boursier, curate of Mouchamps, declared: «Like Simeon, having seen the redeemer of Israel, I can die content. I have seen the pacifier of the Vendée».

The negotiations with Rome to sign the CONCORDAT de 1801 of 1801 (1) were long and delicate. What unadulterated joy for the Parisians – after their cathedrals had been «scheduled for demolition» and saved by heroic citizens, just like the marbles of Saint Denis’ basilica – to hear the great bell of Notre Dame toll on April 9, 1802, ringing a solemn TE DEUM in the presence of the First Consul and other high officials of the state. The echoes rang for dozens of kilometers into the surrounding countryside. In the same place where the revolutionaries had worshipped the «godess of Reason» with an Opera singer appearing on the high altar, now Bonaparte called the members of his entourage to order!

The Church definitively renounced its lands, sold as «national property» and, in compensation, the state would pay the clergy. The Vendée was pacified. The peasants of France would remain legitimately grateful to Napoleon. The same accords were signed with the Protestants. As for the First Consul – later the Emperor – and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais, who attended mass every Sunday in the restored chapel of the Tuileries, what about their faith?
– «You do not believe in God!» he would sometimes exclaim, wearily, at the end of a discussion.

Marie-Thérèse Davoux, nicknamed Mademoiselle Maillard (1766-1856)

Conceiving of a lay cult, incarnated by the «godess of Reason», the revolutionaries transformed churches and cathedrals into pagan temples if they did not raze them to the ground. On September 21, 1792, the National Convention officially succeeded the Legislative Assembly. Pierre-Gaspard Chaumette, nicknamed « Anaxagoras » (1763-1794), a violent anti-Christian, was syndic-prosecutor for the revolutionary Commune of Paris. On 20 Brumaire Year II (November 10, 1793), he instituted the «festival of Reason» In Paris, Mademoiselle Maillard, a singer at the Opera, portrayed the Goddess of Reason at Notre Dame for the first time on 20 Brumaire Year II (November 10, 1793). Draped in a blue coat and wearing the red cap of Liberty, she was carried in a chair surrounded by garlands of oak leaves and installed on the high altar of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, a cathedral that had been pillaged, devastated, transformed, and decorated as a «temple of Philosophy». For the occasion, Chaumette pronounced a fiery discourse: «The people have just made a sacrifice to reason in the former metropolitan church; they have just offered another sacrifice in the sanctuary of the law. We have not offered sacrifices to vain images or inanimate idols. No, we have chosen a masterpiece of nature to represent [reason] and this sacred image has inflamed all our hearts. One sole desire, one single cry is heard everywhere. The people have spoken: no more priests, no other gods than those whom nature offers us».

« Portrait of Mademoiselle Maillard as the Goddess of Reason »,
Painting by Jean-Francois Garneray (1755 - 1837)
After Napoleon re-established the Catholic faith in 1802, the cult of the philosophers and of the people of Paris, abandoned by its worshippers, disappeared, far from the incense and the acts of devotion that had been lavished upon it. Davoux, weighed down by her conscience and haunted by the spectacle of the guillotine, escaped the French capital to wander as a vagabond in the provinces. Years later, the aged Davoux, toothless, weak, bent, and leaning on a stick, dressed in rags, saw the robe of the curate of the area. She folded her hands and, vowing her head, exclaimed: «May Jesus Christ be praised!». After having received the priest’s benediction, she resumed her way. As on other days, she went to beg a crust of bread from a charitable family, then returned to the solitude of her cottage, a miserable room of four walls topped by a ruined roof. It was said that for a number of years one could see her frequently striking her neck with her hand, as if struck by the fatal blade. Did not Adolphe Thiers remark that the mindless cult of the goddess of Reason was born at the foot of the scaffold? Consumed with dread, crushed by this horrible memory for many long years, she ended her days assisted by Catholic generosity. At the final hour, a priest was on hand to ease her last moments. She died September 30, 1856, at the age of ninety.

On the eve of Napoleon’s coronation, December 1, 1804, M. de Ségur, organizer of the ceremony, transmitted a question from Pope Pius VII: «Will Their Majesties take communion?», and the Emperor responded that : «We do not believe completely… but we believe too much to risk a sacrilege». He thought of his mother Laetitia, and certainly of Father Patrault. A memory of his Brienne crossed his mind: about ten years of age, punished for a stupid act, he knelt in the refectory aisle. He struggles, tearfully, stubborn crying in a nervous crisis: «One kneels only before God, isn’t that so, Mama?!» and he collapses… Father Patrault, who was eating at the teachers’ table, arose, hurried to him, and lifted him up…

They would meet one more time in 1815, at Grenoble, after the return from Elba. In his Memoirs, the valet Saint-Denis – nicknamed Ali in honor of the Mameluke deserter – heard bursts of speech and laughter in a neighboring room. Then, the door opened and two men filled with emotion surged through the door: the Emperor and a priest, Father Patrault... who had traveled from Brienne to see his «student» again.
One might cite innumerable moving anecdotes of this period in the hero’s life!

Walking one evening in the park of Malmaison with his friend Jean-Andoche Junot, Napoleon heard a clock sounding the Angelus. «That moves me», he said to the future duke. Their friendship dated to the siege of Toulon in 1793. Under the inept government of the Directory, the poorest Parisians died of famine and searched through the garbage of the scandalous «nouveaux riches» who had made their fortune by theft and pillage. At that time, Bonaparte and Junot climbed to the heights of the 6th Ward, in the «dumps» on «paydays», carrying money and provisions for the poor…

 
HS Giovanni Angelo Braschi, Pius VI (1717-1799)
Painting by Pompeo Batoni, 1775.
Before Pius was carried off as a prisoner to France by order of the Directory, the revolutionaries «turned to the task of robbing and pillaging Rome at will, without even respecting the private apartment of the Pope. Under the very eyes of Pius VI, who was ill and bedridden, all his vestments were stolen and even his ring was taken from his finger. Not only did they strip the Vatican of money, precious objects, art treasures, paintings, papal vestments, and tapestries, but they went so far as to tear the locks from the doors. Of the art objects they stole, 500 crates were sent to Paris, weighing more than 30,000 quintals [3,000 tons.] In this manner, the pillage surpassed anything the Directory might have authorized, and even the government’s advisors observed that it is neither legal nor politically prudent to push matters to such extremes: everything must have a limit, even the right of conquest». Mgr. Wilmoz Tower, What the Biographers of Napoleon Don’t Say.
General Bonaparte
Painting by Louis Bacler D’Albe
«If he had listened to the suggestions of the Directory, the victor of Rivoli would have gone to Rome to destroy the “roman cult”, the“fanatism”, and “the inquisition”. He had only to give the order to overturn and completely ruin the papal power. He did not give that order. Not only did he not give it, not only did he not involve himself in negotiations, theology, and the affairs of the Church, but he dared to describe himself to the population of believers as “protector of religion” (…)
In the legations of the Holy See, he sought out the Bishop of Immola, Cardinal Chiaramonti who would be Pius VII, the pope of his coronation. He went even farther. By an act of flexible generosity, he refrained from persecuting the emigrant French priests who had taken refuge in the Papal States. The policy that he applied in Italy he seemed to have already intended for France». Jacques de Bainville, Napoleón.

The drive for DECHRISTIANIZATION, initiated by an active Free Masonry and fueled by ENGLISH GOLD, was manifest not only in material destruction and in massacres, but in all domains. The new «revolutionary calendar» replaced the Gregorian calendar. No more saints’ days, no more seven-day weeks, but instead «decades», The Christian Sunday (which represented DIES DOMINICI: day of the Lord) was replaced by the «decadi». Each month had three decades of ten days each, with the remaining fifteen days becoming festivals. The poet Fabre d’Eglantine was assigned to complete this calendar, replacing the «former» saints with the names of fruits and vegetables such as dandelion and artichoke. The months carried poetic, descriptive names such as «Prairial» (Meadow month)… «Floréal» (Floral month)… «Ventôse» (Windy month)… «Pluviose» (Rainy month) etc.

If one wished to draw up a balance sheet of this period – something attempted by all serious historians – one would be shocked. In the city of Lyon, for example, 12,000 out of 15,000 silk workshops disappeared. When the city did not embraced the «Terror», it was CONDEMNED TO DEATH by the Convention in the decree of October 12, 1793, of terrible memory: - THE CITY OF LYON SHALL BE DESTROYED AND ITS NAME ERASED FROM THE ROLL OF CITIES OF THE REPUBLIC.

Kidnapping of Pope Pius VI by the Revolutionaries (February 20, 1798), followed by Death of Pius VI
Drawings by Joseph-Toussaint Rossignon (1781-1862).
«They forced this pour old man, 81 years of age and gravely ill, to leave Rome and cross the inaccessible Alps, sometimes in a carriage and sometimes on foot, to Valence, France. During the journey [the Revolutionaries] treated him with great severity because they were irritated to see that everywhere he passed, the people ran to see the Pope, salute him, and ask for his blessing. At Valence he was lodged in the citadel, where 32 priests were confined as political prisoners. Although they asked to be presented to the Pope, they were not even allowed to see him. While confined in this fortress, Pius VI died as a prisoner of France on August 22, 1799, at the age of 82. His death was the result of great fatigues and numerous physical and mental sufferings. Even his death did not appease the wrath of his enemies; his few remaining clothes being sold as «national property»; His body was at first left uncovered and then, enclosed in a lead coffin, it was carried into a private house and placed in a basement full of repellant mice that surrounded him, constantly nosing everywhere. Such was his end, in complete misery, a prisoner of his enemies who knew the pope whom even non-Catholics had compared to Titus, whom they called delights of the human genre». Mgr. Wilmoz Tower, What the Biographers of Napoleon Don’t Say.

Demolitions began in Lyon at the same time that massacres became widespread. On the Place des Bratteaux, the condemned who had been crowded into cellars were dragged to the guillotine. The entire place was red and sticky. Elsewhere, some victims were cannonaded. The destruction of entire neighborhoods ensued. This was a terrible vision for Bonaparte upon his return from Egypt, in the midst of general acclaim. The city he saved received him numerous times. In 1815, when he returned from Elba, he received a delirious welcome. His proclamation upon leaving the city ended with the words: «People of Lyon, I love you».

If I may be permitted a digression to clarify matters, it was indeed true that he: «reassembled France with a teaspoon». (3)

The CONCORDAT signed with the Catholic Church and the reformed college of cardinals remained in effect until 1905, when it was abrogated by the laws of Emile Combes, with the drama of inventories and the exile of monastic communities. But that is another story.

There was yet another portion of the population, despised and persecuted until the liberating actions of Napoleon I: the Jews. The subject we are about to consider appears in NO SCHOLARLY TEXTBOOK, yet it deserves to be exposed once and for all (2).

Burial Statue of Pius VI
Sculpture by Antonio Canova in the Basilica of Saint Peter, Rome

On January 30, 1800, 122 days after the death of the pope in the Citadel of Valence, Bonaparte signed the order that permitted his body to be interred in the Cemetery of Saint Catherine, in that city. With the Consulate installed, by a virtuous and meritorious gesture the First Consul reversed the despicable acts of the Directory with regard to Pius VI. He ordered the erection of a monument to the memory of the Holy Father and directed the transport of his remains to Rome, where he was buried in the Basilica of Saint Peter, near the sepulcher of the apostle. There were plans to erect a splendid mausoleum in honor of Pius VI, but the pontiff had long before expressed a wish to be represented on his knees, in an attitude of prayer before the confession of Saint Peter. Antonio Canova faithfully respected this wish in his work, which is characterized at once by magnificence, fidelity, and the sweetness of the subject, «without counting the great accuracy of the resemblance», as Quatremere de Quincy observed. The people of France, wishing to repair the indignities of the past, retained a relic of the sainted prisoner thanks to the mediation of Monsignor Bécherel, Bishop of Valence. In the era of the Consulate, he claimed for his episcopal church the heart and entrails of the papal martyr. At the request of Francois Cacault, the French minister to Rome, his successor Pius VII acceded to this desire. Returned to France, the heart was deposited in the Cathedral of Valence, on the altar of the chapel of the Holy Thorn, until it could be placed in the small mausoleum built to receive it.

Statue of Pope Pius VI by Canova

Instituto Napoleónico México-Francia.

Napoleon’s first contact with the Jews occurred during his first Italian campaign, at Ancone. Upon his entry into the city, he saw among the crowd some people wearing a yellow star on their coats. «What is that?» He asked. «They are the Jews, General» was the reply. He had the stars removed and liberated the Jews from their ghettos in Venice, Verona, Padua, and later Rome. Then, in 1798, the occupation of Malta during the voyage to Egypt gave him the opportunity to permit the Jews of that island to build a synagogue. On Easter Sunday, 1799, before the fortress of Acre, he issued a proclamation recognizing the Jewish right to an independent state.

His efforts in France were far from easy. Like the Abbot Gregory before the Legislative Assembly in 1791, in the fact of a stubborn opposition Bonaparte had to confront some very anti-Semitic adversaries. Marshal Francois Christophe Kellermann and Francois-René de Chateaubriand were enraged. The Emperor freed the Jews by a decree of 1806 and then convoked the GRAND SANHEDRIN of 1807 and again on July 26, 1808, the latter meeting in the Hotel de Ville of Paris – 111 representatives from all of France and northern Italy. For this, Napoleon had the distressing surprise of having Tsar Alexander describe him as «el Antichrist and ennemy of God»! (3)
And the Holy Synod of Moscow declared: «In order to destroy the basis of the churches of Christianity, the Emperor of the French has invited to his capital all the Jewish synagogues. His project is to create a new Hebrew Sanhedrin, the same infamous tribunal that condemned the Lord Jesus to the cross».

The Grand Sanhedrin, which met from February 9 to March 9, 1807

In 2008, we are still staggered by such an attitude, we who are legitimately imbued with the ideas of liberty and equality for all men. The Emperor of the French professed such ideas naturally. At the Hôtel de Ville, he declared: «my sole desire is to make the Jews of France into useful citizens, to reconcile their beliefs with their duty as Frenchmen, and to eliminate the reproaches that have been brought against them. I wish that all men living in France might be equal and might benefit from all our laws».

Yet, he was acutely aware of his role as pacifier and reconciler of a society unbalanced by a bloody decade, a society with which he had to compromise temporarily to appease dangerous currents. On March 17, 1808, having finally achieved an alliance with the Russian tsar – we see how complex everything was for him – Napoleon agreed to publish a decree that limited the liberties accorded to the Jews. This was deeply troubling to his conscience. Thus when, on April 11, 1808, he received a Jewish delegation from the provinces to present the remonstrances of their fellow citizens, he reversed himself. Without annulling the March 17 decree, he relaxed its restrictions first in thirteen departments and eventually in the entire Empire. In 1811, the situation returned to normal, and the Jews could again enter any line of work.

The Imperial Almanac for 1811 mentioned that the Jewish religion was one of the three official religions of France. Following his heartfelt beliefs, he later commented on Saint Helena, to his physician Barry O’Meara: «I wished to liberate the Jews to make them into complete citizens. They were to benefit from the same advantages as the Catholics and Protestants. I insisted that they be treated as BROTHERS, because we are all the heirs of Judaism».

Yet, entangled in an interminable war that the Europe of the Ancien Regime, led by Britain, conducted against the new France through seven successive coalitions, the Emperor of the French surrounded his state with a protective glacis, which he modernized…
Thus the French people of 2008, having never been taught this, do not realize that in Europe, «all the Jews saw Napoleon as their Messiah». It was an enemy of the French, the Austrian minister Klemens von Metternich, who made this observation. Everywhere, the Jews built bonfires with the gates and barriers that had enclosed their former «ghettos». Yet, in 1815, the ghettos and yellow stars reappeared!

There is no more appropriate way to end these revealing lines than by extracts from the «Prayer of the Children of Israel, Citizens of France and of Italy» composed for the Emperor Napoleon the Great in the month of Mar-Cheshvan, 5667 (Year 1807).

We are so happy and our life has improved so much since You placed Napoleon the Great on the thrones of France and Italy. No other man is so worthy of ruling nor merits so many honors and recognitions; he leads the peoples with a benevolent authority and all the goodness of his heart.
When the kings of the earth engaged him in battle, You, O God, were prodigal in Your benefits to him — You protected him, You helped him to overcome his enemies. They asked for mercy and he, in his generosity, granted it to them.
Today the kings are again in league to violate their treaties and replace peace with the blood of war. Armies have assembled to combat the Emperor; here our enemies advance while our master with his powerful army is prepared to repel aggression.
O Lord, Master of grandeur, force, power, and beauty, we implore You to hold Yourself close to him. Help him, support him, protect him, and save him from all evil. Say to him “I am your Savior” and give him Your light and Your truth to guide him.
Please, thwart the plots of his enemies. Let the decisions of the Emperor reveal Your splendor. Reinforce and strengthen his legions and his allies, so that all his movements might be crowned with intelligence and success.
Give him victory and oblige his enemies to bow down before him and ask peace from him. This peace he will grant them because he seeks only peace between all nations.
God of mercy, Master of peace, implant peaceful sentiments in the hearts of the kings of earth for the greater good of all humanity. Do not permit the sword to come among us, spilling the blood of our brothers. Make all nations live in eternal peace and prosperity.
Amen.

Wouldn’t it be appropriate for French people to question the sectarian and erroneous history of France they have been taught in school?
All the synagogues prayed for him. Here is the conclusion, in the Vaucluse, of the «Canticle» composed by Moses Milliaud, «Deputy of the Department of the Vaucluse to the Assembly of French citizens professing the belief of Moses» (Paris: The Imperial Press, 1806) (4):

Napoleon! The Lord anointed you to bandage the wounds of those whose hearts are broken. All my fears are calmed. He who had performed prodigies greater than those of Cyrus will also perform miracles of goodness for us. The remnants of the house of Judea may put out deep roots and cover themselves with abundant fruit.
Oh! Would that the Almighty, terrible in his deeds, might give me a tongue that could do justice to celebrating your praises in the songs that will be passed down to future centuries, as the oracle of Isaiah has immortalized the name of Cyrus!
Yet, today I am forced to express my wishes in another language and to express my ideas in a foreign tongue. No seraphim have touched my lips nor purified them with a burning coal. How, then, can I make myself heard, when since my youth I have never been skilled in writing nor have I been taught by learned instructors?
When I was in my native land, four years ago, by the choice of the nation you, O Napoleon, were elected to govern for the duration of your life. When the joyous cries that announced this happy news reached my ears, my soul went into transports. Enthusiasm seized me, and I began to sing of the great actions of the hero that had spread his name throughout the world. How can I remain silent today, in the bosom of the city where Your Majesty resides, when I take such pleasure in your presence?
What more can I add to express the emotions that fill me?
There has never been a man like you in the history of the world. May all your enterprises be crowned by the greatest success!
May Heaven, granting my prayers, give you long live and may the children of Israel, subject to your laws, be inundated in a river of peace!

They had been nothing, scattered to all nations of the world, NOT EVEN HAVING A CIVIL STATUS, decimated by bloody pogroms in many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, and suddenly they were free citizens!

Instituto Napoleónico México-Francia.

Let us cross the years and the oceans. We are on Saint Helena, the «little island», as the schoolboy of Brienne had written in his geography notebook at the end of a chapter on the British Empire – an island that held to ransom all the foreign warships cruising on all the oceans of the world. Doctor O’Meara, cited above, converted by the natural goodness and the luminous intelligence of his illustrious patient, was the first to issue two thick volumes of « Memoirs » on Napoleon’s captivity. An Irish officer of the Royal Navy, he was sent home by the governor, Hudson Lowe, at the order of Henry, Lord Bathurst, the colonial minister. Describing the living conditions of the French at Longwood – tarpaper roofs leaking during the tropical rains, an invasion of enormous rats, etc (5) – O’Meara’s two volumes of Memoirs opened the eyes of the world. His recall in 1818 had a precedent in the case of Doctor Warden, who treated Napoleon on board HMS «Northumberland», and who was returned to London immediately and demoted.
There was also a third case of Dr. John Stokoe, a physician on board one of the warships cruising around the island, who was called in as an emergency measure when the Emperor had a crisis of acute hepatitis. (6) Sent home and demoted, he also had to return to London... and moved to the War Office!

During his interviews with O’Meara, the Emperor said one day (May 6, 1816): «After God, you owe your duty to your country, your sovereign, and then your fellow men», which brings us to the heart of the subject.

The evenings were long at Longwood. The sentinels, guarding the entrance to the garden, kept close guard on the walls of the house, going to bed only at sunrise. An English officer was also in a room, two steps from the Emperor, and had to report to the governor every day…

Napoleon, an insatiable reader, commented on those readings for his friends. One evening, he took up the Bible. Let us turn the narration over to him:

– «I believe that I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ was not a man». And another evening:
– «It is true that Jesus Christ presents a series of mysteries to our faith, without giving any reason except: I am God. Yet, once you accept the divine character of Christ, Christianity presents itself with the precision and clarity of algebra… Supported by the Bible, the Evangelist is enlightened and his dogmas follow like the carefully-forged links of a chain. The world is an enigma. Yet, if you accept the divinity of Jesus Christ, you will have an admirable solution to the history of man. The Evangelist has a secret virtue that acts on the understanding and charms the heart. This is not a book, it is a living being, an action, a power that invades all and opposes its extension»… (1821).

The Pinnacle of Liberty
Satirical caricature by James Gillray, 1793
This famous English image belongs to the series «The zenith of French glory». In this perspective view, the famous cartoonist denounced the excesses committed by the revolutionaries under the banner of Liberty and Equality, as well as the murder of «religion, justice, loyalty…»....”
Later, in 1799, the worker who closed the casket of Pius VI exclaimed: «the last pope is dead»; «the papacy is finished and the Catholic Church is ended». Yet, the English Catholics sang in their churches: «Thrones and crowns may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane, But Peter firm and alert steering the rudder, The centuries will always look at». While it was true that Pius VI was dead, the pope was not dead.

In reading these lines, these words pronounced so close to his death, I thought of Blaise Pascal. These words reflected those Napoleon spoke to the Count de Segur on the even of his coronation: «The superiority of reason gives faith».

The day after the death of his childhood friend, Franceschi Cipriani, at Longwood, he appealed to the Anglican pastor of Jamestown in 1818: «Where is his soul? The Emperor asked himself. Perhaps it has gone to Rome to see his wife and child, before undertaking the long and final journey».

In Rome his mother, Laetitia, and his uncle, Cardinal Joseph Fesch, were disturbed. Letters were are and always opened by the British cabinet. Shamefully misled by an emissary of Metternich, they believed that Napoleon was no longer on Saint Helena, that he had been delivered. Pope Pius VII knew the truth, and his message to the Congress of Vienna showed both his heart and his lucidity:

– «Napoleon is unhappy, very unhappy; we have forgotten his offenses (7) THE CHURCH MUST NEVER FORGET HIS SERVICES. He accomplished for his see that which no one else, in his position, would have had the courage to attempt. We must not be ungrateful to him. To know that this unfortunate man is suffering for us is already almost a torture from the moment when he asked for a priest to reconcile him with God. We would not, we could not, we should not participate in anything of the evil that he endures. On the contrary, we desire to the very bottom of our heart that his condition be alleviated and that his life should be made easier. Let us ask this favor of the Prince Regent of Great Britain».

No response, obviously.

Pope Pius VII, by August Garneray

What a deception when a small group debarked on Saint Helena in 1818!

Doctor Francesco Antommachi was not really a qualified physician, being only a dissector of the Academy of Medicine in Florence. Of the two priests, simply and good, the Abbots Vignali and Buonavita, the latter, weakened and crippled, had to re-embark for Europe. When the Abbot Vignali said his first Sunday mass at Longwood, the Emperor had a moment of joy: «We have again become Christians», he said.

Between the departure of O’Meara in 1818 and the arrival of Antommachi in 1819, he had been without a physician. He had to call on Major Archibald Arnott when his physical sufferings became intolerable. He complained bitterly of his treatment by the British government. Yet Majors Arnott, Harrison, and Reade, who followed the state of his health until 1821 and sent their required reports to the governor, dared write: «Doctor Arnott thinks that the General’s malady is not serious». And Harrison wrote to Sir George Bingham: «I begin to believe that this entire story of his illness is simple play-acting». Britain had no limits in its shame.

To whom should he turn if not to God?
During the final months, he followed the mass from his camp bed; the door to the adjoining room was opened and the two Bertand children, in liturgical vestments, served the altar.

Brith of the King of Rome (Napoleon II)
Romantic lithograph.
« Make him a good Frenchman and a good Christian: you can’t have one without the other », said the Emperor Napoleon to his son’s governess, Madame de Montesquiou.

He was forbidden any correspondence with his wife and son. His nights were populated with dreams in which he attempted to take them into his arms and they escaped and vanished…
When he awoke, it was to the sounds of steps and orders of the sentinels and the scuttling of rats between the boards of the walls. Sometimes, when he tried to rise, he fell, rolling on the ground moaning, crying of physical and psychological pain…

– « France gave me the imperial crown, and Italy the iron crown. England gave me the most precious crown of all, that of the Savior — a crown of thorns ».

Then there is his testament, written while seated on his camp bed with a board on his knees:

– «I die in the Catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion, the same in which I was born more than fifty years ago. I desire that my ashes remain on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of the French people whom I have loved so much…»

In this document, he remembered everyone, even the most humble servants; the document is now a treasure of the National Archives. He entrusted it to the Abbot Vignali under the seal of the confessional. On May 5, 1821, at 5:49 p.m., he rendered his great soul to God. The handkerchief that wiped away his two final tears would be conserved in his family and then at the Invalides. On the death register of the Anglican Church of Jamestown, between the names of two slaves, either Black of Chinese, one may read:

« General Buonaparte: May 5, 1821 »

Under a nameless stone, his body was found intact in 1840. Longwood again became a dilapidated farm.

When the news of his death reached London in July, the liberals—the well-known “Whigs”—urged the public to wear mourning for the hero. This movement was led by Lord and Lady Holland, who had attempted to help him so often. They invited the admirers of the hero to wear black watered crepe, knotted around the arm. Those who did so were legion. In Parliament, Lord Holland pummeled his adversaries: - «Fear that his fate will be compared to that of Joan of Arc».
Is this known?

The 15th of December 1840, at Les Invalides, Abp. Affre, a future victim of the 1848 barricades, says the «Office of the martyrs» in front of his coffin.
Is this known?

In Washington, D.C., a stone coming from the tomb of Saint Helena was sealed into the base of the monument to the Union.
Is this known?

In Alise-Sainte-Reine, near Dijon—the Alesia of ancient times—there stands a statue to the hero of the Gauls, Vercingetorix (8). In its base are boxes of earth from Rouen, Verdun, and Saint Helena.
Is this known?

Let us conclude with two remarkable quotations that are almost unknown in France?

George Gordon BYRON: « I, a foreigner to France, a compatriot of Napoleon’s tormenters, I wished to scatter flowers on his tomb to conceal the opprobrium of my country ».

Abp. Denis-Auguste Affre (1793-1848)
Archbishop of Paris

And above all Ludwig van BEETHOVEN, who confided to his friend Peters (in the Conversation Notebooks): “He [Napoleon] had the sense of art and of science; he DETESTED SUPERSTITION. He was the protector of RIGHTS and LAWS. I could not otherwise have supported him. PRESENTLY, I THINK OTHERWISE».
This is key testimony of which the authors of scholarly textbooks in France are completely ignorant.
Is this known?

In 1951, at the sanctuary of Saint Anne, in Jerusalem, the 130th anniversary of the Emperor’s death was commemorated in the presence of the french clergymen and the representatives of the oriental rites.
Is this known?

And each Sunday, up to 2008 (9) and forever, the High Mass of Notre Dame in Paris ends, to the sound of great organs, with a prayer for «the Emperor Napoleon I.»
Is this known?

Finally, let me allow the Emperor to speak for himself. In the course of conversations and evening readings at Longwood, talking with his last loyal followers and sometimes with Bible in hand, someone asked him: «What was the happiest day of your life?».
And he, without hesitation, instead of citing his marriage, his coronation, the battle of Austerlitz, or the birth of his son, replied: «the day of my First Communion» (10).
Is this known?

The loop is closed. We rejoin the unique years of history, at the start of this paper. What a discovery for our good Frenchmen who have been so disgracefully misled!

Renée Casin.

The Chapel of Brienne

NOTES:

1) Among the provisions of the Concordat of 1801 was the nomination of bishops—the artisans of reconciliation and national pacification—by the state; the Pope would confer
spiritual investiture. The dioceses were reorganized to align with the organization of the departments of France.
2) [To complement this subject at greater length,] I refer you to the small study that I published in the periodical Chrétiens Magazine (No. 177), which prompted numerous readers to comment indignantly “No one ever told us this at school!”
3) In regard to the labels such as “the Antichrist,” “The Beast of the Apocalypse, and “the Corsican Devil,” names so frequently thrown at Napoleon, the Emperor’s actions in favor of the Jewish people arousing a true offensive in the international press. A good example of this can be found in an article in the journal L’Ambigu: “Will he [Napoleon} have the effrontery to present himself as the Messiah for whom they [the Jews] have waited so long? Only time will tell. We can see that this Antichrist is fighting against the eternal decrees of the Divinity; this would be the last act of his diabolical existence.” The rancor that the Spanish clergy held against Napoleon is well known, but it was in Russia that the reactions were the most filled with hatred and violence, even before 1812. The Sanhedrin had not yet even convened with the Holy Synod of Moscow sent a circular to all the Orthodox churches in the Russian Empire: “In order to destroy the basis of the churches of Christianity, the Emperor of the French has invited to his capital all the Jewish synagogues. His project is to create a new Hebrew Sanhedrin, the same infamous tribunal that condemned the Lord Jesus to the cross. And now he dares to contemplate reuniting all the Jews whom the anger of God dispersed across the fact of the earth. He will hurl them [the Jews] to destroy the Church of Christ, for, with an indescribable audacity that surpasses his other crimes, they will proclaim the Messiah in the person of Napoleon.”
4) Document furnished by Mr. Ben Weider, honorary colonel in the Canadian army, who has founded branches of the International Napoleonic Society in 35 nations of the world.
5) Rats chewed Marshal Bertrand’s hand while he slept. Six or seven were killed each day.
6) On board the Conqueror, 112 out of 600 were affected.
7) In 1809, threatened by the British navy at Rome, General Radet, without orders from Napoleon, transported Pius VII from the Vatican. The Emperor moved the pope first to Savona and then to Fontainebleau. There, the pope eventually disavowed the opposition of several cardinals and the signature of the Concordat of 1813. Napoleon did not allow him to return to Rome until 1814. Pius VII had refused to participate in the Continental Blockade plan. Yet, in 1807, the Royal Navy had bombarded Copenhagen, causing 500 deaths at a time when Denmark was neutral.
8) Visible at a distance from the French high speed train (T.G.V.).
9) Year in which this article was written.
10) Napoleon’s First Communion took place on May 14, 1783, at Brienne, and the service was conducted by Abbot Geoffroi. His Conversation followed on May 15 before the Archbishop of Paris, M. Antoine-Eléonore-Léon de Juigné. This occasion gave rise to a memorable episode that deserves to be retold here. Not understanding the little Napoleon when he pronounced his name in Italian (“Napoleone”), the archbishop had him repeat the name several times. Eventually the child replied, somewhat irritated, “Monsieur, there are more saints than there are days in the year, and mine is not in the calendar.” The First Consul undoubtedly was recalling this event when, as his promised Pope Pius VII to re-establish the Catholic faith and the Gregorian calendar in France, he asked his Holiness to include Saint Napoleon in the liturgy. Pius VII effectively instituted the day of Saint Napoleon on August 15, the Emperor’s birthday as well as the day of the Assumption of the Virgin. On this subject, it was well known that the Emperor Napoleon often practiced a Mediterranean custom to protect himself from bad luck; he would make the sign of the cross twice before undertaking great things. Several witnesses noted having seen Napoleon make this sign before beginning a battle. What is less often known (and said) is that an icon of the Virgin Mary accompanied Napoleon every night when he went to sleep, placed behind his bedstead. One of these Marial images was once displayed to the public in the Chapel of Charity on the island of Elba.

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