The September Massacres were a wave of killings in Paris (2–7 September 1792) and other cities in late summer 1792, during the French Revolution.
There is a close relationship between the refusal to swear to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and the September Massacres. The honor of the faithful priests could not be corrupted by the threat of being killed. The revolutionary factions, irritated, had decided to do away with the leaders of that resistance. Between August 11 to 30 of 1792, more than 250 priests were imprisoned in various prisons of Paris – some in Carmel, others in La Force, others in Saint Firmin.
Among the prisoners were three Prelates, the superior general of the Marists, the superior of the Eudists, the general secretary of the Christian Brothers, parish priests, Benedictines, Jesuits, Franciscans, Capuchins, Sulpicians and others. God wanted all the classes of secular and regular clergy to be represented on the coming day of supreme testimony.
These men were not conspirators, they had not betrayed their country. They had simply refused to swear to a Civil Constitution of the Clergy that called for them to accept the principles of the French Revolution. For a priest to sign that Constitution was tantamount to delivering the Church to the State. Their consciences could not permit them to do this. And thus they preferred to die, concurring with the courageous words of the Bishop of Sens: “If God permits us to perish for so beautiful a cause, we should rejoice. This means that we were judged worthy to suffer for Him!”
On the afternoon of September 2, the revolutionary mobs broke into those prisons shouting to the priests: “Take the oath!” When they refused, they massacred them with blows from guns and swords. Most of the bodies were transported to the cemetery of Vaugirard, where large pits had been prepared the day before. Some of the bodies were thrown in a well of the Carmelite Monastery. Later, searches were made, and a large number of skulls and bones were found showing the marks of the blows they had received, as can be verified in the crypt of the Church of Carmel in Paris where they are kept.
The September martyrs were not forgotten after the Terror. In 1798 Pius VI gave them the name “choir of martyrs.” On October 17, 1926, Pope Pius XI beatified 191 of them.
Bio via traditioninaction.org