Blessed Marguerite Rutan, who I recently wrote about, joins the company of four other beatified Daughters of Charity - Sister Marie Madeline Fontaine, Sister Marie Françoise Lanel, Sister Thérèse Madeleine Fantou and Sister Jeanne Gerard - who were also martyrs of the French Revolution. Today is the commemoration of the 217th anniversary of their death and, if it were not Sunday, would be their feast day.
They have a fascinating history which I will only briefly explain here. (If you want to know even more information, famvin hosts an interesting article about it here.) Sister Marie Madeline was the Sister Servant (superior) of the house during the Revolution. The Daughters, which numbered six in the French town of Arras, tried to continue serving the poor while trying to avoid any political elements, including the town administration. This plan was working until a new mayor was instated that attacked the Sisters and their works. He, at first, removed the Sisters from running their hospital and then eventually expelled them from there.
The Daughters, however, continued to serve the poor in other ways and even helped some escape to Belgium. As time passed, two Catholic men who attended meetings of those with revolutionary ideals, tipped off the Sisters saying it would be best if the two youngest Sisters escaped to Belgium. So, the two youngest Sisters disguised themselves and were able to escape to Belgium, where they continued their lives as Daughters of Charity. Then, there were only four left in the house - Sister Marie Madeline, Sister Marie Françoise, Sister Thérèse Madeleine and Sister Jeanne, the four Sisters that would later be beatified.
Soon afterwards, the four Sisters left were arrested for not taking the oath. They were thrown into prison and remained there for four weeks before they were brought before a tribunal. The tribunal found them guilty of having counter-revolutionary material in their house (which had been planted) and were sentenced to remain in prison. Three months later, they were taken in the middle of the night to another town, where they were not known. They were brought in front of another tribunal, where the judge told them they would not be executed if they took the oath. The Sisters, during the tribunal, kept saying the Rosary and they absolutely refused to take the oath and they were sentenced to death by guillotine.
As they were paraded to the town square, which was strangely silent (meanwhile, during other executions, the townspeople applauded), Sister Marie Madeline said to the crowd "Christians, listen to me! We are the final victims. Tomorrow the persecution will be over, the scaffold will be dismantled, and the altars of Jesus will rise glorious once again!” With that, they were executed. (Sister Marie Madeline would turn out to be right, by the way)
They would be beatified in 1920 and forever remembered by me, other Daughters of Charity and the Church for their charity, bravery and faithfulness.