Tomorow, February 1, is the feast day of the Martyrs of Angers, two Daughters of Charity who were martyred during the French Revolution, on February 1, 1794. The story below comes from the international website of the Daughters of Charity. The image comes from the Vincent de Paul Image Archive at DePaul University.
By September 1792 the hospital Sisters in Angers saw a rise in religious persecution. Following their bishop, numerous priests refused to take the required oath. Driven from their parishes they were quickly arrested. A year later, 400 of them were put in chains and taken through the city of Angers to prison.
In 1793 the members of the Municipal Council went to the hospital to make the Sisters take the oath of Liberty-Equality. Their eloquence was great, stressing the service of the sick. A time for reflection was given to each of them. The community tried to be united. Soon the revolutionaries realized that the Sisters were being influenced by three among them:
Sister Antoinette Taillade, from Cahors, was the superior of the community. At the age of 54 she had been a Daughter of Charity for 34 years. The sisters appreciated her prudent wisdom, great piety and her strength of character.
Sister Marie Ann Vaillot, originally from Fonainebleau, was 59 years old and had been in the Community for 32 years. With competence and precision she was responsible for the finance office.
Sister Odile Baumgarten was born in 1750 in Gondrexange in Lorraine. She entered the Daughters of Charity in 1775. She was in charge of preparing the medications in the pharmacy of the hospital.
Their arrest took place on Sunday, January 19. On January 28 the two Sisters were brought before the revolutionary tribunal. Before the violence of her judges, Sister Marie-Anne could only respond, “do with me as you wish.” Seen as a fanatic and a rebel, the sentence was to be shot. Sister Odile, after having heard the interrogation of her Sister, added, “My conscience does not permit me to take the oath.” Her sentence was the same: to be executed. Sisters Marie Ann Vaillot and Odile Baumgarten were executed on February 1, 1794.
At the hospital the administrators continued to harass the Sisters. Each one made her decision in complete freedom. Ten Sisters took the oath of Liberty-Equality in order to stay and care for the sick. The seventeen others, having refused, were arrested on March 11 and went to prison where they found Sister Antoinette Taillade. Several weeks later, along with other religious, they were taken, more often on foot, toLorientto be deported to Cayenne. For long days they waited. The commander of the arsenal where the Sisters were imprisoned saw the care these women gave to the sick seamen. He refused board them on the awaiting ship. They were able to return to the hospital in Angers around 1804.