Black Bartholomew’s Day 1: Massacre

Today is St Bartholomew’s Day, an anniversary of twice-grim reckoning. This is the day on which tens of thousands of French Christians were butchered by their government. Gallic protestants, called Huguenots, were first attacked on the night of 23rd-24th of August 1572, beginning with the killing of Admiral de Coligny. White crosses had been daubed on protestants’ doors, and the church bells rang out to initiate the slaughter. Within a few weeks, across France, 20,000-70,000 men, women and children were massacred by city authorities or the mob. The French King sent Coligny’s head to the Pope, and in return, Pope Gregory XIII sent the king a Golden Rose in thanks. The Holy Father then ordered a Te Deum to be sung as a special thanksgiving and had a medal struck showing an angel bearing a cross and sword before which are the murdered Protestants. So savage was the attack, that even Ivan the Terrible, Tsar of Russia, objected to its barbarity. As I researched the event, I confess to weeping.

A few evangelical Christians survived the immediate blood-lust, including Sir Francis Walsingham, the English Ambassador, in his house on the quai des Barnadins. Along with his wife and four-year-old daughter, he sheltered as many fleeing Protestants as he could, both French and English, but some were dragged out by royal troops and hanged. French fear of war with England probably saved the ambassador and his immediate family. The latter were smuggled out, despite a baying mob surrounding his house, crying for their deaths.  

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Revelation 6

Image by Deborah K from Pixabay