Friday 26 August 2016

Jacques Retouret and comapnions, 26th August.

Jacques Retouret was born into a merchant family in the city of Limoges; Jacques received a good education and was great reader. At the age of fifteen he joined the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance and after a novitiate he went on to study and was ordained a priest.   Jacques was as a popular preacher and although he felt called to be an active preacher around the local area  his health forced him to limit his mission work.

In 1790  the French Revolutionary authorities passed a law requiring all priests to swear allegiance to the civil constitution, which would effectively remove them from the authority of, and allegiance to, Rome. Many refused, and in 1791 the government began deporting them to French Guyana. Eight hundred and twenty seven  priests and religious, among them, following his arrest at the Carmelite house in Limoges, was Jacques Retouret O. Carm. were imprisoned on hulks (old ships no longer sea-worthy and used for storage, jails, hospitals, etc.) at Rochefort, France to await exile, most on the Deux-AssociĆ©s and the Washington which had previously been used to house slaves or prisoners. Because the British Navy was blockading the port of Rochefort the prisoner were left on the hulks; they were basically ignored and left to death die with little food and water, very poor sanitation, and no medical help. Five hundred and forty two of them died before those still alive were released in February 1795. Many of the survivors wrote about their experiences and about those who died and though these documents it has been possible to positively identify sixty four of these Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort; among them Jacques Retouret, Priest and Martyr.  Jacques, along with sixty three others, was beatified  by Pope John Paul II on 1st October 1995.  There memorial is 26th August.

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