By W J Batterby
Can a life of quiet piety prepare one for a violent death?
It did for Brother Solomon, butchered for his faith during the French Revolution. Here is his untold story-and its lessons for us, in our equally vicious world.
What would you do if forced to choose between loyalty to the Church—or death? Tens of thousands of clergy and religious faced precisely that choice during the French Revolution. Many chose martyrdom. Among the least likely (to worldly eyes) was Blessed Nicholas LeClercq—a.k.a. Brother Solomon, the unassuming secretary-general of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. This celebrated retelling of his life—drawn from numerous eyewitness accounts and extensive documentary evidence, including his own letters—shows how heroic sanctity springs not from extraordinary qualities of personality, but from patient cultivation of the virtues. As such, it is a masterly study not only of one man, but of the nature and motives of martyrdom.
Life and Death of a Saint in the Making
- What kind of parents, and home life, prepares a young boy to make the ultimate sacrifice? What did young Nicholas read?
- The gathering storm: how, while Nicholas was growing up in a profoundly religious atmosphere, blatant irreligion championed by the likes of Voltaire was rearing its ugly head
- His "Babylonian exile": how the young Nicholas's stay in Paris, to learn his father's business, awakened him to France's crisis of faith and his call to the religious life
- Joining the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and training boys in religion and techniques of business
- Suddenly placed, at only 28, in charge of the novitiate. How, despite his self-doubts, he mastered the challenge
- Practicing his ascetic discipline to the letter: it would bear fruit in martyrdom
- His rise through the ranks -- and his appointment, on the eve of the Revolution, as secretary to the Superior General
- The attack develops: How the Revolutionaries plotted to tear the Church in France away from the great unity of Catholicism, and reduce it to the status of a government department
- Would it happen today? How all but four of the French bishops openly defied the schismatic Civil Constitution of the Clergy—inspiring a large percentage of priests to follow their example. The Revolutionary government's merciless reaction
- How, although they were not at first required to take the civil oath prescribed for the clergy, the Brothers' refusal to recognize the "juring" clergy was met by the decree of March, 1791, requiring teachers as well as priests to take the oath
- How, since they too now became 'non-jurors,' the Brothers were faced with the closing of their schools, and finally the decree suppressing all religious orders
- August 15, 1792: "Citizen LeClercq," in Paris to arrange the liquidation of his outlawed congregation's properties, is arrested
- The interrogation: "Have you taken the oath?"
- Mass martyrdom: "There was no show of bravery, no brazen exultation; only quiet heroism"
Hardcover, 181 Pages