Urbain Grandier

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jan 15, 2008 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

There is a rock shop in the southwest U.S. that features a small museum in the back. The room is a collection of an amateur archaeologist’s personal finds and treasures.

It is just as good as any city museum, even better, in bringing us face-to-face with unrefined history. I appreciate the service the owner/collector provides. We experience history that hasn’t been made pretty. We see it as it was gathered up from the earth, and moved from one place of safe-keeping to another.

I believe these items surface because they have a something they want to tell us.

His cabinet of curiosities offers usual dusty artifacts: bones, fossils, and Clovis points; but it also has human witnesses to history – the murdered – a conquistador’s head still holding an axe blade, a dead Viking chief with a similar wound, a head from a bog body, a shrunken head, a Roman gladiator’s skull, and best of all, but not shown, the preserved body of Fr. Urbain Grandier.

How on earth did a priest who was burned at the stake on August 18, 1634 in Loudun, France wind up in a rock shop in the American southwest? Well, he was sold by a museum that had his body when they closed. How the museum got the body is anybody’s guess.

Even after 350 years the body of Fr. Urbain Grandier can tell us a lot about when lust, sexual frustration, personalities, opportunity and church politics converge.

Fr. Grandier, a good-looking man, had an eye for the ladies. He was also involved in politics, and crossed bitter and scathing words with Cardinal Richelieu, a cunning and powerful prelate. Richelieu waited years to get him, but the opportunity finally presented itself in the form of Jeanne des Anges, an Ursuline superior who became obsessed with the priest after hearing about his sexual exploits. It is unknown why Fr. Grandier declined to become the spiritual director of her convent.

It is claimed that Jeanne, enraged by his rejection, instead invited Canon Mignon, an enemy of Grandier, to become the director. Jeanne then accused Grandier of using black magic to seduce her. The other nuns gradually began to make similar accusations.

Although he was acquited by one eccelsiastical court, Cardinal Richelieu prevailed behind the scenes and Grandier was eventually convicted of socery, heresy and sentenced to be burned alive. Even under extreme torture he never confessed and maintained his innocence.

The curator in the desert museum told me you the mark of Fr. Grandier’s cap on his head could still be seen-the fire was kept low to really tortment him. Also, the customary garrotte to relieve suffering prior to death by fire had been prepared in such a way this mercy could not be shown – he roasted to death slowly.

Fr. Grandier’s body provides a chilling insight into history – and the character of Cardinal Richelieu.

The Ursuline nun who started it all with her sexual frenzy died in 1665 at the age of 60. She maintained her saintliness to the end.

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply