August 24, 1572, was the date of the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in France. On that day, over 400 years ago, began one of the most horrifying holocausts in history. The glorious Reformation, begun in Germany on October 31, 1517, had spread to France—and was joyfully received. A great change had come over the people as industry and learning began to flourish, and so rapidly did the Truth spread that over a third of the population embraced the Reformed Christian Faith.
However, alarm bells began to ring at the Vatican! France was her eldest daughter and main pillar—the chief source of money and power. . . . King Pepin of the Franks (the father of Charlemagne) had given the Papal States to the Pope almost 1000 years earlier. Almost half the real estate in the country was owned by the clergy.
Meanwhile, back in Paris, the King of France and his Court spent their time drinking, reveling and carousing. The Court spiritual adviser—a Jesuit priest— urged them to massacre the Protestants—as penance for their many sins! To catch the Christians off-guard every token of peace, friendship, and ecumenical good will was offered.
Suddenly—and without warning—the devilish work commenced. Beginning at Paris, the French soldiers and the Roman Catholic clergy fell upon the unarmed people, and blood flowed like a river throughout the entire country. Men, women, and children fell in heaps before the mobs and the bloodthirsty troops. In one week, almost 100,100 Protestants perished. The rivers of France were so filled with corpses that for many months no fish were eaten. In the valley of the Loire, wolves came down from the hills to feel upon the decaying bodies of Frenchmen. The list of massacres was as endless as the list of the dead!
Many were imprisoned—many sent as slaves to row the King's ships—and some were able to escape to other countries. . . . The massacres continued for centuries. The best and brightest people fled to Germany, Switzerland, England, Ireland and eventually America and brought their incomparable manufacturing skills with them. . . . France was ruined. . . . Wars, famine, disease and poverty finally led to the French Revolution—the Guillotine—the Reign of Terror—the fall of the Roman Catholic Monarchy—atheism—communism etc., etc.
When news of the Massacre reached the Vatican there was jubilation! Cannons roared—bells rung—and a special commemorative medal was struck—to honor the occasion! The Pope commissioned Italian artist Vasari to paint a mural of the Massacre—which still hangs in the Vatican!
The descendants of the survivors that reached America were determined that this tragedy should not occur here. Many of them were prominent in the founding of the country. They knew that an armed citizenry in France would have prevented this tragedy from ever happening—and as a result—they gave us the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution. They knew that freedom of religion and an armed citizenry go hand in hand:
Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
The French Protestants were called Huguenots: President George Washington had a Huguenot ancestor, as did at least 5 other Presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John Tyler, James Garfield, and Theodore Roosevelt. A Huguenot refugee named Apollos de Revoire settled in Boston, and had a son who signed his name Paul Revere! Remember his famous midnight ride? Three members of the Continental Congress - Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and Elias Boudinot were Huguenots. Other great names include Francis Marrion, General George Patton, Clair Chennault, Admiral Dewey, Du Ponts, Henry Thoreau, Longfellow etc., etc.