Gerle Christophe-antoine

Gerle Christophe-Antoine, a French religious enthusiast, was born A.D. 1740, in Auvergne, and died about 1805. When quite a young man he entered the order of Carthusian monks, and soon afterwards was made prior of Pont-Sainte-Marie. In 1789 he was chosen deputy to the Estates General by the clergy of Rom, and was one of the first representatives of the clergy who supported the policy of the Tiers Etat. In the famous Tennis-Court session of the National Assembly: (Seance du Jeu de Paume) he exhibited so much earnestness and patriotic fervor that David assigned him a conspicuous place in his painting (Serment du Jeu de Paume) (Tennis-Court Oath) representing the most imposing scene in that meeting. Having become a member of the Constitutional Assembly, Gerle proposed, December 12, 1789, that all monks who wished to do so might be allowed to retire to the monasteries of their order and live according to their particular rules, provided they conformed to the general laws, and, April 12, 1790, urged in vain the issuing a proclamation declaring the Roman Catholic faith to be the only one accepted by the French nation. In June following he brought to the notice of the Convention the prophecies of Susanne de Bouze, of Perigord, made eleven years before, in regard to an impending general revolution, and the reforms consequent thereon. In 1792 he was chosen one of the electors of Paris. There was a strange mixture of philosophism and superstition in his nature, as was evinced by his becoming a Theotist, or follower of Catharine Theos or Theot, an old woman who styled herself the mother of God, and announced the near advent of a regenerating Messiah, and in whose following a number of silly, superstitious, or intriguing characters were gathered. Gerle thought that both himself and the French Revolution were clearly indicated in the prophecies of Isaiah. As these visionaries were politically friendly to Robespierre, whom they invoked as supreme pontiff, Robes pierre's enemies sought to increase the odium against him by a public exposure of their absurdities, and accordingly Vadier, the organ of the Committee of General Safety, made a report to the National Convention demanding the prosecution of Theos, Gerle, and others as guilty of plotting a fanatical conspiracy, which was adopted; and on May 16, 1794, these persons were arrested and imprisoned on the orders of the committee. In the excitement and confusion following the fall of Robespierre they seemed to have been forgotten. Theos died in prison, and Dom Gerle remained there until the advent of the Directory. He was for some time one of the editors of the Messag er du Soir, and afterwards employed in the bureau of the minister of the interior, Benezech. A memoir written by him in regard to his arrest appeared in the Revue Retrospective, No. 11, 2me serie, November 30, 1835. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 20:233-236; Alison, History of Europe, 3:92 (9th ed. Edinburgh, cr. 8vo). (J.W.M.)

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