Le Louroux-Béconnais, France
Next to a large crucifix in the nave of the church of St Aubin, in this village about 15 miles north-west of Angers, a notice records that here on 27 February 1791, the parish priest, Noél Pinot, refused to take the ‘hérétique et schismatique’ oath to support the state, which would have been an act of apostasy.
Some non-juring priests escaped from France (many to England); others were interned in chains and died on prison ships at Rochefort, while yet more were massacred in cities such as Paris and Lyon.
Noél Pinot went underground, ministering to his flock in secret. Betrayed to the civil authorities, he was arrested while saying Mass at a remote farm on the night of 8 February 1794. The story is told in the stained glass up in the choir windows.
Noél Pinot appeared before a revolutionary tribunal in Angers and was sent to the guillotine on the Place du Ralliement, still wearing his Mass vestments, at 3p.m. on 21 February.
Mounting the steps to the scaffold, he began to recite Psalm 43, just like any priest starting Mass, Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat iuventutem meam, as he made his way to the heavenly altar.
˜The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church (Tertullian).
Marche au supplice, the fourth movement of Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz, while re-reading the story of NoÃ«l Pinot.
Lord, please give us priests. Give us holy priests.