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French Revolution martyr set for canonisation after miracle approved

Guillotine souvenirs (AP)

Pope Francis has authorised a miracle by Blessed Solomon Leclercq, a martyr killed in the French Revolution, clearing the way for him to become a saint.

The Pope received in private audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In the course of the audience he authorised the Congregation to promulgate two decrees regarding miracles.

Blessed Solomon Leclercq (born Guillaume-Nicolas-Louis), of the De La Salle Brothers, was born in 1745, the son of a wealthy wine merchant. In 1767 he entered the novitiate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, taking the name Solomon. Blessed Solomon went into hiding when religious orders were outlawed during the French Revolution. He was martyred, along with nearly 200 hundred others, during the September Massacres of 1792.

In August that year the Legislative Assembly had closed all Catholic schools in Paris and outlawed the wearing of religious habits or vestments in public. On August 18 the Assembly suppressed all Catholic institutions and religious orders. Priests had to swear an oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, which had taken over the Church, or leave the country. Some 25,000 priests left.

In the first week of September, between 1,247 and 1,368 people were killed in what became known as the September Massacres. Blessed Solomon was arrested, taken to a Carmelite monastery which the authorities had converted into a prison, and executed on September 2. He was among nearly 200 Catholics who refused to abandon their faith; they were beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926.

The recognition of a miracle received through the intercession of Blessed Solomon paves the way for his canonisation as a saint.

In the same audience Pope Francis also authorised a miracle by Blessed Ludovico Pavoni, the Italian priest who founded the Sons of Mary Immaculate, now commonly known as the Pavonians. Fr Rafael Almansa Riano of Bogota, Colombia (1840-1927) was recognised as having lived a life of heroic virtue; he will now be known as Venerable.