Letters of the Ursuline Martyrs of Valenciennes
On 23 October we celebrate the memory of the Martyrdom of the Blessed Ursulines of Valenciennes, France. In 1794, during the revolutionary terror, eleven Ursulines were imprisoned in Valenciennes, and were guillotined on 17 and 23 October for teaching the Catholic religion.
The website of the Ursulines of the France/Belgium/Spain Province has an interesting article on the spirit-filled letters the martyrs wrote in prison. The commentary on the letters was prepared by Sr Marie-Christine Lorriaux.
A precious testimony which expresses the feelings of our sisters a little before their death and promises us "We will not forget you when we are in possession of our glory". (Sister Scholastica).
The same cry resounds in the five letters we have from our beatified sisters: a cry of joy, of happiness, of wonder at the grace given to them, of receiving the glory of martyrdom. They are assured of "the same happiness" as their sisters who have already gone to the scaffold who "tasted the purest joy... they did not go as people going to torture, they flew there with a joy and a courage that drew admiration from their executioners.
Echoes of the same joy and courage were expressed after the execution of the first Martyrs: "We are ready, all six of us, to give our lives for Jesus Christ ... the blood of Him who died for me will wash away all my offences, the blood that I must shed, united to His, will give me great confidence in His goodness ... I hope that He will share His mercies with me.... Mother Scholastica continues: "We long for the moment when we will be reunited with our Divine Spouse. We have said to him so often: Who will separate me from you, O my God? Will it be the crosses? Will it be persecutions? No, I will always love you, even if it costs me my life, O God. The moment has come to give reality to these prayers; we will prove it to Him and give Him death for death...".