Father Henri Planchat and four of his fellow martyrs (four religious of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – Fathers of Picpus), murdered on May 26, 1871 by supporters of the Commune, were recognized as martyrs by the Pope Francis, Thursday, November 25, 2021.
This recognition of martyrdom comes to close the jubilee year of the 150th anniversary of their pious death.
From the newspaper La Croix by Loup Besmond de Senneville (in Rome) – November 25, 2021
Henri Planchat, Religious of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul, as well as Ladislas Radigue, Polycarpe Tuffier, Marcellin Rouchouze and Frezial Tardieu, all four religious of Picpus, were therefore murdered “in hatred of their faith”, judges the Vatican.
“The Apostle of the Suburbs”
All are part of the ten religious executed rue Haxo, in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, on May 26, 1871, after a detention of nearly two months. It was there that the command posts of the fédérés were located, a name which designated the insurgent soldiers of the Paris Commune. They will be murdered and their bodies thrown into a common grave. The insurrection of the Commune will end on May 28, two days later. In 1938, the diocese of Paris will inaugurate in their memory the parish of Notre-Dame-des-Hostages.
Father Henri Planchat was born in 1823 into a wealthy family and, shortly after entering the seminary, chose to work with the poorest in the Parisian district of Grenelle. Nicknamed “the apostle of the suburbs”, his cause for beatification was introduced in 1896, but was curbed in the 20th century before being revived in the 1990s.
“He left everything to live with and like the poor”
“Father Planchat is the image of the priest as Pope Francisspeaks of it. Born into a privileged environment, he left everything to live with and like the poor., explained in June at La Croix the postulator of the cause, Father Yvon Sabourin. «Like Christ, he shed his blood unjustly but without ever condemning his aggressors». At the end of May, a procession celebrating the memory of the assassinated religious had been taken to task, in Paris, provoking a complaint from the diocese.
Ladislas Radigue – born Armand Radigue, also in 1823 –, originally from Normandy, was notably the novice master of the Picpuciens before becoming prior. At the very beginning of the events of the Commune, he asked most of the religious living with him to leave Paris, and remained there with some members of the congregation.
Born Jules Tuffier in 1807, Polycarpe Tuffier was born in Lozère. He was ordained a priest just before the revolution of 1830. Sent near Rouen as chaplain to the deaf and college superior, in 1863 he became prosecutor of the Main House of the Picpuciens.
Marcellin Rouchouze (Jean-Marie) was born in 1810, in Saint-Julien-en-Jarez, in the Loire. He was ordained a priest at the age of 42, after visiting the Curé of Ars. Called in 1865 to the functions of general secretary of his congregation, he was arrested on April 12, 1871.
Born in Lozère in 1814, Father Frézial Tardieu entered the monks of Picpus in 1837. Particularly invested in education, he is described as a humble man loved by his students.
In the process of canonization, the recognition of a person’s martyrdom opens directly to beatification, without requiring a miracle. On the other hand, a miracle will have to be observed so that the five martyrs of the Commune can be considered as saints.
The beatification date of Father Henri Planchat and his companions has not been announced. For several years, it is in the diocese of origin that it is advisable to organize the ceremony of beatification.
Conference given on May 27 by Yvon Sabourin, postulator of the cause of Father Planchat: his story, his life, his apostolate and his martyrdom on May 26, 1871. Venerable George Bellanger https://www.ktotv.com/video/00354779/il-y-a-150-ans-notre-dame-des-otages
Mathieu Henri Planchat, born on November 8, 1823 in La Roche-sur-Yon, shot on May 26, 1871 during the rue Haxo massacre at the end of the Bloody Week of the Paris Commune, was a French Catholic priest who was a member of the Congregation of Religious of Saint Vincent de Paul. His beatification process, which was opened in Paris in 1897, received the approval of the historical consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 22, 20201.
Henri Planchat was born into a very pious family, whose father was a magistrate. He was then posted to Chartres, Lille and then appointed President of the Court of Oran in Algeria. Despite the distance from his family, the young Henri continued his studies from 1837 at the Stanislas College in Paris where he remained for three years, then continued them at the Abbé Poiloup College in Vaugirard, then a peripheral district outside of Paris. He studied law, as his father wanted, but barely had his lawyer’s degree in his pocket when he entered the seminary of Issy-les-Moulineaux.
During his theological studies, he participated in one of the Conferences of the Societies of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul chaired by Jean-Léon Le Prevost. This is how he got to know the Institute of the Brothers of St-Vincent de Paul, founded by Le Prevost in 1845, and discovered his vocation. He then took care of the poor, of the parish library and collaborated in the patronage of the Brothers of Saint Vincent de Paul. He was ordained a priest on December 21, 1850. He presented himself three days later before Jean-Léon Le Prevost to be welcomed as the first priest within the new congregation of the which until then had only brothers.
From then on, he devoted himself to the working populations of Grenelle and Vaugirard who were far from the Church and often showed themselves hostile to priests. But his charisma, simple and humble, allows him to conquer the hearts of the families of this working environment. His overflowing zeal, however, brings him to the limits of his health. Having devoted himself for several years already, and even more in his first year of ministry, exhausted, he must leave to rest in Italy for a few months. Back in April 1853, with the Brothers of his Institute, he continued his apostolate under the patronage of Notre-Dame de Grâces in the formation of boys while continuing to visit the sick and assist the poor. The success of his pastoral action, however, provoked the susceptibility of the parish priest of Grenelle. To calm things down, his superior, Mr. Le Prevost, sent him to Arras for two years to assist Abbé Halluin, who ran an orphanage with apprenticeship workshops.
by Victor Dugast
The priest of the people, or the life of Henri Planchat
by Maurice Maignen
Letters of Father Henri Planchat
Sketch of the life of Father Henri Planchat
by Maurice Maignen
Back in Paris in 1863, he was appointed as chaplain to the Patronage Sainte-Anne, of which the Brothers of St-Vincent de Paul had assumed the direction, in March 1862, at the request of M. Decaux, new president of the Conferences of Paris and intimate friend of M. Le Prevost. This Work, founded and sponsored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, then brought together nearly 300 children and young people, but was unable to take off. Confined to the ground floor of a modest house, at 81, rue de la Roquette, it had neither sufficient premises, nor above all a chapel. Faced with the situation, he understood that he had to act. So he insisted that the Patronage Sainte-Anne be transferred to its permanent residence, a month later, on the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Thanks to its ability to touch the hearts of generous benefactors, new premises were set up in rue des Bois: games rooms, gymnasium, workshops for the training of apprentices and, above all, a large chapel for the pastoral action undertaken by Father Planchat. .
As in Grenelle, it criss-crosses the entire Charonne district. If his primary goal is to make contact with the families of his patrons, whose perseverance cannot be assured without the help of their parents, he discovers, in addition, the immense distress which reigns in many homes responsible for children, reduced to extreme poverty, deprived of all religious help. However, he actively pursues, with the confreres of his community, the organization of the Patronage Ste-Anne, recoiling from no effort to make it this welcoming and beneficial “House of Works” for all. Nearly five hundred boys and apprentices trained there. Father Planchat is concerned with their Christian formation by allowing them to receive the sacraments of confession and first communion.
His action is not limited to children and adolescents, this apostle, who is sometimes nicknamed the “hunter of souls”, wants to allow those who are excluded from religious practice to be able to participate in the sacraments. He regularizes marriages, celebrates hundreds of them, without neglecting to have something for them to joyfully celebrate this great day: clothes, food… He promotes frequent communion – something that was not common at the time – for this he prepares communion adults. Known and loved in this suburb, he helps the poor by neglecting no one. Of all the foreigners living in the district, the Italian workers were the most numerous, left to themselves “like sheep without a shepherd.” Thanks to his long stay of rest in Italy, Father Planchat knew their language and their mentality well enough to approach them easily, discuss their affairs with them and place the treasures of his charity at their disposal. He therefore sowed his invitations, according to his hikes in the surrounding alleys, inviting the most Christians to a holy propaganda among their acquaintances.
When the 1870 war broke out, he joined the patriotic and charitable movement, aroused by the war, in favor of the wounded evacuated to the capital and the soldiers in charge of its defence. Requested by Mr. Decaux, president of the Society of St-Vincent de Paul, he set up an ambulance in his Work. From mid-September, in fact, the district of Charonne had been invaded by mobile battalions. Installed in makeshift barracks, where they could hardly stay except at night, they most often wandered between exercises, exposed to all the dangers of the street. The idleness of these men who, no doubt, would soon return to the fire, moved Father Planchat’s heart. So he resolved to make contact with their leaders, in order to obtain authorization to visit their troops every day and to place at their disposal the house, garden, gymnasium and chapel of Sainte-Anne. A new work had just been born: the Patronage des Mobiles.
This apostolate with the mobiles did not please the leaders of the National Guard. One day, we read in his diary, 200 armed national guards arrived at Ste-Anne with their captain who wanted to know what the mobiles were doing in our chapel. “Pray, sing, hear a lecture, instead of haunting the wrong places”. To this the captain replied: “If these sermons please the leaders of the mobiles, they do not please us.” Father Planchat was neither shaken by the formal notice nor by the attitude of the captain. The outcome of this new attack on Sainte-Anne was rather unexpected. From now on, until the first days of the Commune, our apostle will continue his ministry in the district of Charonne, without being otherwise disturbed.
Although Henri Planchat was a stranger to political struggles, on the very day of the beginning of the insurrection of the Commune in Paris, March 18, a band of insurgents invaded the Sainte-Anne patronage under the pretext of seizing weapons there. They searched the house from top to bottom, but found no weapons. Totally invested in his pastoral ministry to the poor and preoccupied with the good of the children and adults whom he was preparing for the Easter feasts, Father Planchat did not even think of taking the prudent measures that seemed necessary, or at least of moderate the ardor of his zeal.
On Maundy Thursday, April 6, a group of federated entered Sainte-Anne, a commissioner, revolver in hand, notified him of his arrest. He was taken to the 20th century town hall where he was interrogated. On Good Friday, he was notified of his transfer to the Prefecture of Police. It is there that Father Planchat will remain, strictly alone, until Easter Thursday, April 13. On Thursday, April 13, with other religious prisoners who joined him, they were transferred to Mazas prison. Twenty-five ecclesiastics, including Father Planchat and the four Fathers of Picpus. For thirty-nine days, they will live the same life there as they led at the Prefecture Depot, and under identical conditions. None of them will have the consolation of celebrating Holy Mass. From the depths of his prison he will write several letters which once again reveal to us his delicate kindness, at the same time as his constant concern for the spiritual good of souls.17
On Friday May 26, the Capital saw dramatic hours. The fight becomes more intense between the Versaillese who have won almost all the districts and the federated who fall back on the last bastions and barricades. At the beginning of the afternoon, Father Planchat, with nine other ecclesiastics and about forty civilians were extracted from the prison by Colonel Émile Gois and were led from the prison of La Grande Roquette, through the streets of Belleville, to Villa Vincennes at 85 rue Haxo. Along the way voices in the crowd greeted them with curses and cries of death. At six o’clock, when the prisoners arrived on Haxo Street, the crowd had gathered in the alley and beat their victims, pushing them and dragging them to the low wall of the vacant lot.
Suddenly, a revolver shot gave the signal for the massacre. A disorderly firefight immediately broke out. This slaughter lasted nearly half an hour. Thus died, on May 26, 1871, in the forty-eighth year of his age, Father Mathieu-Henri Planchat, priest of the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul, a model of perfect humility.