Blessed Ursuline Martyrs of Orange
During the troubles of the French Revolution, 29 Sisters, expelled from their convents, found refuge in a house at Bollène. During their eighteen months there, they shared their life of prayer and total poverty. Arrested in April 1794 because they refused to swear the oath required by the city officials, an oath their conscience condemned, they were jailed on May 2 at Orange, in the Rectory’s prison, near the Cathedral, where 13 other Sisters were already imprisoned.
They organized themselves in a single community and consecrated the essential part of their time to prayer. Condemned to die by the Popular Commission, then commanding in the actual Chapel of Saint-Louis, they were transferred to the ancient Theater, where they awaited to climb the guillotine erected in Saint Martin’s Court. They all went up to the scaffold joyfully, singing and praying for their persecutors, who admired their courage : " These bougresses are all dying with laughter”! Ten other jailed Sisters were saved by the fall of Robespierre on July 28, and liberated in 1795.
The bodies of the Martyrs were thrown in mass graves in the field of Lapolane (at Gabet), 4 kilometers from the town, on the edge of the Aygues River, and a Chapel was built there in 1832.
The 32 Sisters were beatified by Pope Pius XI, on May 10, 1925.
NB : In Orange, there were 332 executions during six weeks.
Thirty two of them were executed July 9 to 26 (16 Ursulines, 13 Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and 1 Benedictine)
Among the Ursulines,
- on July 9 : Sister Sainte-Mélanie, from Bollène, (Madeleine de Guilhermier, born in Bollène in 1733, 61 years of age ) and Sister Marie-des-Anges, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne de Rocher, born in Bollène in 1755, 39 years of age),
- on July 10, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Bollène, (Gertrude d'Alauzier, born in Bollène in 1757, 37 years of age) and Sister Agnès, from Bollène, (Sylvie de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1750, 44 years of age),
- on July 11, Sister Sainte-Sophie, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marguerite d'Albarède, born in Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols in 1740, 54 years of age), on July e 12, Sister Saint-Bernard, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Jeanne de Romillon, born in Bollène in 1753, 41 years of age),
- on July 13, Sister Saint-François, from Bollène, (Marie-Anne Lambert, born in Pierrelatte in 1742, 52 years of age) and Sister Sainte-Françoise, lay Sister from Carpentras, (Marie-Anne Depeyre, born in Tulette in 1756, 38 years of age),
- on July 15, Sister Saint-Gervais, Superior of the Ursulines of Bollène, (Anastasie de Roquard, born in Bollène in 1749, 45 years if age),
- on July 16, two Lay Sisters from Bollène : Sister Saint-Michel, (MarieAnne Doux, born in in Bollène in 1738, 56 years of age), Sister Saint-André, (Marie Rose Laye, born in Bollène in 1728, 66 years of age ); Sister Madeleine, from Pernes, (Dorothée de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1743, 51 years of age),
- on July 20, Sister Saint-Basile, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Anne Cartier, born in Livron in 1733, 61 years of age),
- on july 26, Sister Catherine, from Pont-Saint-Esprit, (Marie-Madeleine de Justamond, born in Bollène in 1724, 70 years of age),
- Sister Claire, from Bollène (Claire Dubas, born in Laudun in 1727, 67 years of age) and Sister du Cœur-de-Jésus, Superior of the Ursulines of Sisteron (Elisabeth Thérèse Consolin, born in Courthézon in 1736, 58 years of age ).
Lord our God,
You have given to our Blessed Ursuline Martyrs of Orange the strength to overcome the trial of martyrdom :
grant us, through their prayers and their example, to be firm in our faith and fervent in our charity, so that we may share with them the joys of eternity.