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A worthy encore:
Ave Maria Meditations
July 17th,Martyrs of Compiegne: “Song from the Scaffold”

Blessed Teresa of Sf. Augustine and Companions (1794)

Blessed Teresa and fifteen other Carmelite nuns were guillotined during the “Reign of Terror” of the French Revolution. Two years earlier they had made an Act of Consecration by which they offered themselves as a holocaust to bring peace to the Church and the country.

When they were arrested Sister Henriette exclaimed, “Let us rejoice in the joy of the Lord, that we shall die for our Holy Religion.” As each Sister ascended the guillotine, her companions sang the Veni Creator Spiritus. The normally noisy crowd was strangely silent, and a witness remarked, “They looked as if they were going to their wedding.” Within ten days of their death, the Reign of Terror ended.

Veni, Creator Spiritus

1. Veni, creator Spiritus
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia,
quae tu creasti pectora.

2. Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas
et spiritalis unctio.

3. Tu septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae
tu rite promissum Patris
sermone ditans guttura.

4. Accende lumen sensibus,
infunde amorem cordibus,
infirma nostri corporis,
virtute firmans perpeti.

5. Hostem repellas longius
pacemque dones protinus;
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

6. Per te sciamus da Patrem
noscamus atque Filium,
te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

7. Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.

V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur:
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.

Deus qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere, et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate eiusdem Spiritus Sancti Deus. Per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(This is a famous Catholic Gregorian chant hymn, actually the Vespers hymn for the feast of Pentecost. This is not to be confused with another of the Church’s beautiful chants, Veni Sancte Spiritus, which is the Sequence of Pentecost.)

The sixteen Carmelites guillotined on July 17, 1794, had explicitly consecrated their lives to Christ in order to end the Reign of Terror that surrounded them. Somewhere between six months and two years before their death, they recited a daily prayer in which they offered themselves as martyrs in order to save the lives of their country-men. These were not melodramatic women fulfilling a dream of heroism. This was a Christian community who prayerfully and painstaking­ly discerned and verified a vocation to martyrdom. History itself has verified this vocation for, ten days after their martyrdom, Robespierre himself was guillotined and the Reign of Terror ended shortly thereafter.

On the day of their martyrdom the prioress, Mother Teresa of Saint Augustine, stood at the foot of the scaf­fold. Before climbing the steps, each sister interrupted her singing of Laudate Dominum to ask Mother Teresa, “Permission to die, Mother?” Mother Teresa responded to each, “Go, my daughter!” In front of a violent power, the sisters made it clear who had true authority over their life and death: Jesus Christ, who himself said, “No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of my own free will.”



Laudate dominum
Omnes gentes
Laudate eum
Omnes, omnes populi
Quoninam confirmata est
Super nos misere cordia ejus
Et veritus, veritus Domini
Manet, manet in aeternum
Amen, amen


In June 1794 the anti-Catholic regime of the French Revolution arrested the Carmelite nuns of Compiegne for continuing to observe their religious life despite a government ban on religious orders. Subsequently they were deported to Paris for trial. Other nuns imprisoned with them observed their departure: “We saw them embrace each other before they set off, and they took an affectionate leave of us by the motion of their hands and other friendly gestures.”

When during their trial the Carmelites were falsely accused of harboring arms, the prioress held up a crucifix and answered, “Here are the only arms that we have ever had in our house.” Sentenced to the guillotine for being adherents of what the government characterized as the “fanatical and royalist cult” of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the sixteen nuns sang on the way to the place of execution the Latin hymns Salve Regina and Te Deum and chanted the Laudate Dominum (Ps 117) while mounting the scaffold.


Salve Regina,
Mater Misericordiae
Vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve
Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
In hac lacrimarum valle
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte
Et Iesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui
Nobis post hoc exsilium ostende
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis, Virgo Maria


Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli, tibi Caeli et universae Potestates:
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus: Sanctus: Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus:
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus:
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia:
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium:
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus. (Kneel)
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni,
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum Sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum Domine,
et benedic haereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies, benedicamus te.
Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum,
et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare Domine die isto,
sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua Domine super nos,
quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te Domine speravi:
on confundar in aeternum.

(This is the Catholic Church’s most famous hymn of thanksgiving. It is similar in meaning to the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, only it is much more elaborate and solemn. That is, it is more explicit, going into more detail. t is very powerful and moving, especially when the organist knows which chords and instruments to utilize.)

Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Author Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Our Lady found this unworthy lukewarm person and obtained for her the grace to enter the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. May this person spend all eternity in showing her gratitude.

More posts by Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

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