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Marseilles Hit by the Plague

Thomas Perrot
In the summer of the year 1720, the city of Marseilles was hit by a plague brought by the great vessel Le Grand Saint-Antoine that had come from Syria. Thus its name came: The Curse of the Grand Saint-Antoine.

The plague started in the people’s district of l'Echelle in Marseilles and spread quickly through the city. As many as a thousand a day fell victim to the scourge. The Parliament, which was mainly composed of Jansenists, had, of course, fled. And there was nothing being done to stay the contagion from spreading.

Mgr. Francois Xavier de Belsunce plague in Marseilles

Msgr. de Belsunce giving the last rites to inhabitants of Marseilles hit by the plague

The Bishop, Msgr. François-Xavier de Belsunce, assembled those of his priests who had been spared. Standing in the avenue which is now called by his name, he solemnly consecrated his Diocese to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At once the plague abated, and gradually disappeared.

Two years later, however, it again showed itself, and threatened to repeat its fierce onslaught. But it was arrested in consequence of the city magistrates binding themselves and their successors for all future ages by a vow to renew publicly every year the solemn act of dedication of the city to the Sacred Heart. This has, up to this present day (1879), proved a protection and a glory to the city of St. Lazarus.

These events were noised throughout the world, and for these reason the Feast of the Sacred Heart was kept, not only as hitherto, in the monasteries of the Visitation Order but in several Dioceses of France.

May the loving Heart of Our Lord bless His first daughter France. Like the Church, she is under terrible trials, and as they are companions in affliction, may they, through the mercy of the Heart of Jesus, be soon united in prosperity and work together again for the happiness of the world.

Mgr. Francois-Xavier de Belsunce monument in Marseilles

A monument to Msgr. Belsunce in Marseilles,
raised in gratitude for his heroic action

Posted June 20, 2020

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