« הקודםהמשך »
Some days had elapsed since the events of July, 1830. Peaceful monks were engaged in the labours of agriculture, singing the praises of the Lord, sharing what they had with the poor, and incessantly praying for the happiness and prosperity of France. The news of the day never came to interrupt the silence of death to which they had devoted themselves. The monastery of Notre Dame de la Trappe du Mont des Olives, situated near Mühlhausen in Alsace, was an establishment which deserved to be protected. It was not. Still it is our duty to declare, and we have great pleasure in publishing that, so far was the government from sharing the violence of our enemies, that it bestowed, and still continues to bestow, marks of kindness on us, as a peaceable and inoffensive institution. As for the people of the environs, in general eminently pious, they were not content with lavishing upon us the most touching proofs of
interest : they also came forward most zealously to guard our monastery in the night, lest it might be set on fire.
I accuse nobody. I throw myself at the feet of Jesus Christ, and beseech him in his infinite mercy to open the eyes of those who were our persecutors, and to forgive as we forgive them.
Our church was shut up. We were obliged to relinquish our monastic habit, and all the monks who were not Frenchmen received orders to leave France. We, landed proprietors, who had adopted France for our country, who took no concern in public events, who knew nothing about them, and were absolutely ignorant of all that was passing beyond our own walls, obeying the laws, paying our contributions, submissive to the new government as to the old, feeding the poor with the fruit of our labours, were driven from our asylum by persons without right and without authority. The sick, the infirm, all, without exception, were obliged to depart. Order was not yet established.
A monastery of Trappist nuns shared the same fate. Never shall I forget the day and hour when the doors of that monastery were thrown open. I behold its scared inmates issuing from the sanctuary where their hearts had found rest; I see them watering with their tears the soil from which they were so cruelly driven. One young nun was horne on a bier by four sisters : she
expired a few paces from the sacred asylum! Her bed of dust was soon surrounded by a concourse of persons, who came to visit the grave of the young martyr.
To return to the world after being separated from it for sixteen years would have been heart-rending. I asked and obtained permission of my superiors to write to the abbot of St. Urban, to inquire whether he would have the kindness to admit me till happier times into that celebrated abbey of St. Bernard, in the canton of Lucern. That worthy prelate acceded to my request with that charity which characterises him, which gains him all hearts, and which extends far beyond the circuit of his abbey.
I frequently visited our communities scattered among the mountains of Helvetia ; I was even obliged to sojourn for a considerable time at Solothurn and Berne, for the purpose of interesting those cantons in our favour.
At St. Urban I heard of those profanations which have for some time sullied France. My soul was plunged into deep affliction. Often did I prostrate myself before God to implore his grace and forgiveness. Alas! the crosses were thrown down; the sacred emblem of our redemption was dragged in the mud!
I was ill at Solothurn, worse at St. Urban, and very ill indeed at Berne. Seeing that our reunion into a community became a matter of greater difficulty from
day to day, I asked leave of my superiors to make a pilgrimage to Palestine, which they granted. I then applied to Monseigneur d'Angelis, the nuncio of the Holy See in Switzerland, in order to obtain through him the approbation of his Holiness, his blessing, and letters of recommendation from the sacred Propaganda. His Holiness granted me all that I desired with the most touching kindness, and I made preparations for my journey.
The letters here offered to the public were written by a Trappist monk, poor in spirit, poor in human knowledge. He undertook this pilgrimage to the Holy Land merely to pray, to adore, and to do penance.
My work is not destined for that class of people of the world whom such a book as this cannot please, unless charms of style, purity and elegance of language, grace and pomp in the descriptions and delineations, enhance its merit. What interest of this sort could I pretend to excite after writers like Messrs. de Chateaubriand, Michaud, Poujoulat, and de Lamartine, whose names form so fair a portion of the literary glory of France ? My letters are addressed principally to that class of readers, who do not require Truth to be shown to them tricked out with all the ornaments by which she can be embellished. They are addressed more especially to those simple and pious readers whose hearts one is sure to satisfy, when, while reminding them of all that