Today In Fact, 18 August

Father Urbain Grandier was burned at the stake in Loudon on this day in 1634. The good father rather enjoyed sex. He wrote a book against the idea of clerical celibacy but perhaps his downfall was to publicly insult Cardinal Richelieu and write attacks upon that paragon of virtue.

As if it were not enough to vex a powerful, perhaps the most powerful man in France, Father Urbain also seems to have failed to manage the crush that the mother superior of the local convent had on him. Mother Superior Jeanne of the Angels invited the amorous priest to become the Father confessor to her convent, no doubt with a view to consummating her passionate crush. He demurred, which was odd for the lusty cleric but hell hath no fury as a woman scorned and soon the Jeanne was accusing Grandier of using black magic to seduce her. The nuns under her care beagn making similar claims.

It was a farrago. Richelieu pounced and had the Father Urbain tried and tortured. A pact with the devil written in reverse Latin and signed by Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub and Leviathan among others was produced as evidence.

Despite the torture, Grandier refused to admit to witchcraft and was burned alive at the stake.

Unlike father Urbain, St. Fiacre was an Irish missionary who really did not like women much. St Fiacre is most renowned as the patron saint of gardening.

His reputed aversion to women is believed to be the reason he is known as the patron saint of venereal disease sufferers. He was known to heal haemorrhoids, which were called “Saint Fiacre’s illness” in the Middle Ages – maybe due to the story where he sat sorrowfully on a stone and that stone softened.

In some parts of the world today is celebrated as St. Fiacre’s feast-day.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )