Friday, June 16, 2017
LIGHT UPON THE SCAFFOLD: THE PRISON LETTERS OF JACQUES FESCH
Here's how this week's. arts and culture column begins:
Servant of God Jacques Fesch (1930-1957), a murderer who spent three years and eight months in solitary confinement, experienced a profound conversion before his execution by guillotine in a French prison.
“Light Upon the Scaffold: The Prison Letters of Jacques Fesch,” edited by Augustin-Michel Lemonnier and translated by Matthew J. O’Connell, is the title of his collected prison letters.
Jacques’ father, a bank director, was dominating, cynical and virulently atheistic. His mother was weak. Worse, the two neither loved nor respected one another. Thus Jacques had little moral and no religious guidance.
As an adult, Jacques was lazy, a sensualist and a dreamer. He married his wife, Pierrette, already pregnant, in a civil ceremony and soon left her. The murder took place during a botched robbery attempt, part of a plan to buy a boat and sail to Polynesia.
Jacques was arrested and held in solitary confinement at La Santé Prison in Paris. Though he originally spurned the prison chaplain, the two gradually became close. An old, loyal friend was ordained a priest during Jacques’ incarceration and visited frequently. Jacques’ lawyer, Baudet, was an ardent Catholic.
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.