A'singular story.Extraordinary trial of a Priest and a Nun in Paris on a charge of Swindling.
The following remarkable story is told by the Independence Belge: ‘ "A most extraordinary affair, which in many of its details calls to mind the famous prosecution of the Jesuit Girard and Catharine Cadiere, has just come before the Paris Court of Conditional Appeals. The Abbe Bouland, a priest of the dioceses of Versailles, and Mdlle. Adele Chevalier, the lady superior of the Œde la Reparation, appeared at the baron their appeal against a conviction for swindling, pronounced by the Versailles tribunal. From a report represented to his brother judges by Councillor Haton, the following facts appeared. Adele Chevalier pretends that after being given over by the doctors she was miraculously cured of blindness and a cerebrad congestion by the intercession of Our Lady of La Salette. This miracle happened in January, 1856, at Soissons, where at that time she was a postulant in the convent of St. Thomas de Villeneuve. The news rapidly spread through the diocese, and the bishop desired his vicar-general, M. Guyard, the senior member of the cathedral chapter, to investigate the subject. The report of that ecclesiastic is long and circumstantial, and his conclusion is thus worded: 'After having maturely reflected on the circumstances under which Adele Chevalier recovered her eight in the short space of sixteen days, and was cured of a congestion which presented the most alarming symptoms, I do not hesitate to certify my belief in a supernatural intervention of the mother of God. This was not all, The nuns of St. Thomas, happy and proud at the favor vouchsafed to their community in the person of their young postulant, petitioned the bishop for permission to perpetuate the remembrance of it by a religious foundation. The request was speedily complied with, and on May 5. 1859, appeared an ordinance of Mgr. Garsignies, Bishop of and Leon, creating an arch brotherhood of 'Our Reconciling Lady of La ,' in the chapel of the 'declining especially,' said Monseigneur, to 'perpetuate the remembrance of the lous cure effected in the said Soissons Hospital by the intercession of our Redeeming Lady of LaSalette in the person of Adele Chevalier,' &c. From this time forth Adele Chevalier affirms that she has been unceasingly inspired by divine grace; that she is in communication with the Holy Virgin, and receives frequently, through a mysterious voice, revelations from the Mother of God. Moreover, the sixteen confessors which she has had in succession all confirmed her in her belief that she was supernaturally endowed. In 1856 she was sent by the Lady Superior of St. Thomas to the shrine of Our Lady of La Salette, whither she said she was called by supernatural voices. The reverend fathers of LaSalette, who examined her state, were so much struck with it that they applied to the Bishop of Grenoble to have her placed under the direction of the Abbe Bouland, a priest well known for his theological learning. He was a doctor of divinity, the author of several cannonical works, exe superior of a fraternity at Strasburg, and the founder of the religious periodical, the Roster de Marie, in which for three years he had been the principal writer. With such qualifications he was considered as a man especially fitted to appreciate the nature of the mission of the young prophetess. The Abbe Bouland asserts that from the very first day of his becoming acquainted with Adele Chevalier he believed in her supernatural gifts. The indictment, on the contrary, charges that neither of the prisoners really believed anything of the kind, but that they conspired together, with the view of giving free course to their licentious inclinations and cheating credulous people. The Abbe Bouland lost no time in presenting a favorable report to the fathers of La Salette, who sent him on a mission to Rome to obtain the approbation of the miracle by the Pope and the Sacred College. But this was not the only mission confided to the Abbe Bouland on the occasion of his journey to Rome. Another prophetess, one Marie Roche, was placed under his care by the Bishop of Rodez. This young lady announced many terrible events which would shortly astonish Europe. The Pope, she said, was to die a violent death; and the French Emperor, unless he obeyed the orders which she was charged to reveal to him, would perish by the hands of his officers, and be succeeded by Henry V. This Marie Roche was taken to Rome by Abbe Bouland, presented to and examined by the Sacred College, and even admitted to the presence of the Pope to explain her mission. She also went to Paris, in the hope of getting an interview with the Emperor; but this part of her mission broke down, and she had her journey for nothing. Abbe Bouland, on returning to France, after an absence of two years, found out Adele Chevalier again. She meanwhile had not been losing time. She had received a command from the Holy Virgin to found a religious establishment, to be called L' Œuvre de la Reparation des Ames, and after having drawn up the rules under divine dictation, she was proceeding to realize her project by the help of a Canon of Amenia, when she was handed over by the latter to Abbe Bouland. The two then made a journey together to Our Lady of La Salette, to obtain from her a confirmation of the statutes framed by Adele Chevalier, During this excursion their conduct, if witnesses are to be believed, was very far from decent. At length they installed the Œdure de la Reparation at Bellevue, near Paris, in the department of the Seine and Oise. The consent of the Bishop of Versailles, in whose Diocese the place is, was not obtained; but several other prelates countenanced the establishment, which was joined by many adepts, who professed, and to this hour profess, the most profound respect and devotion for its founders. It soon became known that most extraordinary practices were carried on in the bosom of the new community. The Abble Bouland professed to cast out devils, and the modes of treatment which he adopted for this purpose are too filthy to be described. The community, all this while, became a sort of office for theological consultations. Ecclesiastics continually wrote to the Abbe Bouland and sister Adele to ask how they might best obtain the favor of the Virgin, and to submit to them rules for new religious societies. Ladies moving in high life consulted them in 'cases of conscience' of the most astounding character. In the course of time numerous complaints of the immorality of the establishment were made to the Bishop of Versailles. An 'instruction' was commenced against the Abbe Bouland and Sister Adele for outrages on public decency. The details are revolting, but I do not enter into them, for on this head the prosecution was discontinued; but the prisoners were found guilty of swindling by the tribunal of Versailles, and sentenced, the Abbe Bouland to three, and Sister Adele to two years imprisonment. The history of the escroquerie is particularly curious in this respect, that other religious persons were the victims. Among the believers in the supernatural powers of Adele Chevalier was a brother superior of another community, who had put by 20,000f., and applied to her, by letter, to ask in what pious uses he should employ it. A fortnight after the simple friar arrived. Abbe Bouland authorized Adele to enter into conversation with the Virgin on the matter. She went for two minutes into another room, and returned with the report that the Virgin desired the 25,000f, to be given to the Œuvre de la Reparation of which Abbe Bouland was the head. On these conditions the Virgin would give her blessings, otherwise her curses.--The friar felt it necessary to consult his community, and, after a month's deliberation, Abbe Bouland having, in the meantime, written a letter having claim to inspiration, the money was handed over; not, however, unconditionally, but on the understanding that there was to be a mortgage — a condition, the fulfillment of which the Abbe evaded. The Abbe is a little man forty years of age, with an expressive and intelligent countenance, and of a most devout appearance, Adele Chevalier is about twenty-nine; she is not pretty, but has a rather pleasing expression of countenance. She answered the questions put to her with firmness and precision. Both the prisoners declared that if they were on their death-bed, or in the hands of the executioners, they would never cease to declare their invincible belief in the revelations of the Virgin to them. They did not deny the extraordinary practices above alluded to, but said they were in conformity with their faith. As to swindling, they indignantly scorned the imputation. Their counsel endeavored to make out that the prisoners had acted in good faith. Advocate-General Barber maintained the conviction, and denounced the prisoners as swindlers of the worst kind. The court adopting this view, confirmed the sentence of the tribunal of Versailles." ’