On this day: Regicide

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day in 1793, in the place de la Révolution, today's place de la Concorde, the National Convention of France guillotined King Louis XVI.

Henry Essex Edgeworth de Firmont, the priest who said Mass for the king on the morning of his execution, heard his confession, gave him a last blessing, and accompanied him to the scaffold, described the event in Memoirs of the Abbé Edgeworth; Containing His Narrative of the Last Hours of Louis XVI, edited by C. S. Edgeworth. (Start on page 54.)

The king's body was placed in a pit of quicklime at the old Church of the Madeleine. In 1816, King Louis XVIII, brother to Louis XVI, had what was left of the bodies of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI removed from the original site and taken to Saint-Denis.

Click here for a New York Times article by Peter Steinfels from 1989 about a Mass in Manhattan for the repose of the souls of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

Dozens of memorial Masses are said each year in France on this day for King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette. Click here for a London Times article by Bess Twiston Davies from 2010 about the Mass she attended at the "Chapelle Expiatoire, the neo-classical temple built above the original grave of Louis XVI".

Click here to see the funerary monument of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette in the Basilica of Saint-Denis.

Click here to see engravings of the French Revolution by Hippolyte de la Charlerie, including Louis XVI At Prayer Before His Execution, The Royal Family's Last Farewell, and The Execution of Louis XVI.

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