Is Paris worth 6,000 Masses?
|Henri de Navarre, ancestor of Louis XV,|
who said "Paris is worth a Mass".
In 1744 the new king, Louis XV, was dangerously ill and it seems that over 6,000 citizens of Paris spontaneously arranged for Masses to be said at Notre Dame for his speedy restoration. The king made a miraculous recovery. About a decade later, the same thing happened, and this time 600 Mass stipends are recorded in the books of Notre Dame. And the monarch revived again. When the king really was on his death bed, in 1774, only three Masses were said for his health. And the king passed on to his eternal reward.
Now, three possible conclusions could be drawn, I suggest: first, King Louis XV became less popular as time went on, or, secondly, the belief in the Divine Right of Kings (which is of course an erroneous belief, anyway) waned, so that he was less important to people in their spiritual heart of hearts, or lastly that over those three decades the cosmpolitan population of Paris became steadily less religious, so that by 1774 they no longer believed in the miraculous intervention of the Almighty.
It can all happen very quickly, after all. Fifteen years later, the French Revolution triggered a wave of sacrileges: the bodies of saints and kings exhumed and exposed to public ridicule, statues representing the godess of Reason enshrined upon the altars and given public adoration, priests and nuns, murdered, raped and exiled ...
In Ireland, in my lifetime, Sunday attendance at church has fallen from about 90% to 25%. It is a fairly young population, so many of these people have just stopped practising their religion.
"Monks, monks, monks."