Pope Pius IX’s Special Blessing for Persecuted Journalist, Louis Veuillot

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Pope Pius IX’s Special Blessing for Persecuted Journalist, Louis Veuillot
Pope Pius IX’s Special Blessing for Persecuted Journalist, Louis Veuillot

Napoleon III signed the order suppressing l’Univers on January 29, 1860. When the police officer arrived with the order, the editorial staff of l’Univers was assembled in the newspaper’s offices. After the order was read, the editors embraced each other. They promised to remain united until the newspaper could be published again. Before they parted, each one signed a letter Louis Veuillot drafted to Pius IX.

“Most Holy Father,

“Prostrating at your feet is the first impulse and greatest consolation of the editors of l’Univers after the blow they have just suffered. Our work no longer exists, but our hearts are inflamed more than ever by the zeal which, thank God, has always animated them. Devoted sons of the Holy Roman Church, we are glad to have fallen while making Your Holiness’ word resound. An encyclical of Pius IX gave life to l’Univers; now, life is taken from it because of an encyclical of Pius IX. May God and Pius IX be blessed! Most Holy Father, our work was entirely yours, and our hearts, endeavors, and ourselves always remain yours.

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“Most Holy Father: We ask indulgence for our past faults, which we did not commit, moved by anger or evil intent. We beg you to bless us for the future so that, if we can get back on our feet, we may do better work and are always inspired by the same good desires. We plan to stay together for as long as possible. If forced to separate, each of us will work alone with a team spirit. If Your Holiness wants to give any of us a particular task, he will obey it as an order from God.

“At the feet of Your Holiness, we remain your very humble, grateful, and forever faithful children.

“Louis Veuillot, Du Lac, Eugène Veuillot, Coquille, Aubineau, Rupert, Chantrel, De La Roche Heron, Count de La Tour, deputy to the Legislative Body, Count de Maumigny, Father Cornet, Barrier, Taconet.”

In the following days, a large crowd of friends and admirers flocked to the editorial office of l’Univers and Louis Veuillot’s home, expressing their sympathy and solidarity. Even the editors of newspapers opposed to him, such as the Journal des Débats, made sure to be represented. All registered their protests against the government’s action. Even outside of France, the reaction to the disappearance of l’Univers was enormous. Many newspapers published expressive comments about it. Veuillot received countless letters applauding his attitude and condemning the Emperor’s policy. It was a universal expression of support.

As a result, desolation reigned in most Catholic circles. Only the liberals kept an impenetrable silence. The great newspaper which interpreted Catholics’ aspirations and brilliantly defended their cause had disappeared. But it had done so gloriously. L’Univers was suppressed because it made public the Pope’s condemnation of the imperial government. Joseph de Maistre’s daughter, Duchess of Montmorency-Laval—the famous Constance of his letters—aptly expressed the opinion of Catholics in a letter to Veuillot.

“You will undoubtedly find in yourselves and your consciences’ testimony a most beautiful reward for the heroic act you have just performed. All ardent Catholics with elevated and sincere hearts need to express their recognition, profound esteem, and admiration to you. The Sovereign Pontiff’s encyclical was a formidable cannon shot that resounded throughout the world, but you were the one who set fire to the wick, and the effect of the explosion is partly your doing.”

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On February 25, the Pope offered his sympathies to the suppressed journalists. More than any other manifestation, Pius IX’s response approving the newspaper’s entire conduct was the great reward of the editors of l’Univers.

“To Our dear sons Louis Veuillot and the other editors of the religious newspaper titled Univers:

“Dear sons, greetings and apostolic blessing;

“We regretfully learned through your letter of the second of this month that your resolution to publish Our Encyclical Letter of January 19, addressed to all bishops of the Catholic universe, has been censored by the government and led to the suppression of your religious newspaper by imperial decree.”

Given today’s wanton and malevolent publications and the vile calumnies of the enemies of this Holy See, this blow has struck you, dear sons, who have long upheld and defended the most beautiful and noble cause of this See and the Church. It is Our duty to particularly praise the ardor with which you have fearlessly striven to refute impudent newspapers, defend Church laws, and fight for the rights of the Holy See and the civil sovereignty that the Roman pontiffs have enjoyed for so many centuries by permission from Divine Providence.

“We strongly desire that you be sure of Our charity toward you. To Us, your pious hearts and the respect and zeal you showed in defense of truth are very welcome testimonies. Receive as a pledge of Our particular love, Our apostolic blessing. We impart it with deep tenderness and all the affection of Our fatherly heart, wishing that it may bring upon all of you and your families, dear sons, the most abundant blessings from Heaven.

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“Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, February 25, 1860, year XIV of Our Pontificate.”

Veuillot decided to go to Rome before dedicating himself to new tasks. He had an audience with Pius IX. As he entered the room, the pontiff exclaimed, “Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice!”

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