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A gallant French priest

by
08 July 2016

July 7th, 1916.

THE Abbé Lemire, as our readers may remember, being a strong Republican, incurred the displeasure of his ecclesiastical superiors, at the time of the rescission of the Concordat, with the French Church by urging that the Church should loyally accept the new regime of Separation. In 1914 his ecclesiastical faculties were withdrawn, but he remained at Hazebrouck, of which he had been the curé and which he still represents in the Chamber of Deputies. When the war broke out, the Abbé, in his capacity of mayor, organized the defence of the town where, as priest, he was not permitted to say Mass, and by his gallantry and civic spirit exercised immense influence on his fellow-citizens of all shades and varieties of opinion. For his patriotic zeal he has been decorated with the War Cross, and honours have crowded upon him. On the 16th of June, when he made his reappearance in the French Parliament, he was welcomed with the greatest enthusiasm by the whole Chamber. But what must have rejoiced him most was his latest triumph. The Bishop of Lille, Mgr. Charost, desired to reinstate the Abbé in his priestly capacity, but was hampered by the fact that the Germans are in possession of his Cathedral City. The Pope, however, intervened, and persuaded the German authorities to transmit the Bishop’s letters to Rome and thence to the Abbé Lemire. As a result, the venerable priest said his Mass the other day in the little village church of Vallon Capelle, near Hazebrouck. Those who recall the Abbé Lemire’s moving panegyrics over the graves of British soldiers will feel that we have a special interest in his rehabilitation.

 

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