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Victoire Conen de St. Luc, Religious of La Retraite

Executed at Paris on 19 th July 1794

for having painted and distributed badges of the Sacred Heart

In 1789, at the start of the French revolution, Victoire de St. Luc was a member of the La Retraite Community in Quimper, Brittany. She had joined the Community in 1780, attracted by their life of prayer and their work of retreats for women. For nine years she had been happy sharing life with the ‘demoiselles’, as they were called, instructing, guiding and serving the hundreds of women, French and Breton, of all social classes who came for the eight day Retreats in the house built for that purpose. To help them appreciate the love of God for them, Victoire also painted small badges of the Heart of Christ.

This life was to come to an end. In 1791, the demoiselles refused to sign the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, by which priests and bishops were to be designated and commissioned by the State rather than the Church. Following this refusal the Community was evicted and their property confiscated. Some members went into hiding, Victoire returned to her family home in Bot, not far from Quimper, where her parents were themselves under threat of eviction and arrest.

In October 1793 M. & Mme de St. Luc, Victoire and her sister, Euphrasie, were arrested and imprisoned in Carhaix. The charge against her parents was corresponding with their two sons who had fled to Britain, an ‘anti-revolutionary act.’

The charge against Victoire concerned her badges of the Sacred Heart. In February 1794 she was moved to Quimper to face charges of being involved in a plot to overthrow the revolutionary government.

Victoire protested her innocence. The difficulty for her was that one of her badges had been found in the possession of a naval officer who was involved in such a plot and with it was a letter mentioning Victoire. Despite her protests that her badges were solely religious in intent she was sentenced to travel to Paris for trial. She accepted this with great courage but was dismayed when some days before departure her parents arrived in Quimper –they, too were to be tried in Paris.

After a journey of three weeks they arrived in Paris on April 28th and were imprisoned in the Conciergerie, where they were to spend nearly three months in circumstances which offered no natural help to peace of mind or prayer.

On 18th July they were tried and condemned to death as associated in the conspiracy of the Laroque brothers. ‘It was the daughter St. Luc who sent the rallying badge, the heart of Jesus to one of the brothers.’ On July 19th Victoire and her parents were executed. Victoire was just thirty-three years old. It had long been her wish to die a martyr ‘at the same age as Our Lord’.