Saturday 22nd February 2020

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes… Servant of God Jacques Fesch

October 31, 2019 saints No Comments


“Great sinners make great saints. God has big plans for you.” These are words of wisdom from the Church as handed down by Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, which explain the lives of great saints.
In Sacred Scripture we meet St. Matthew, a reviled tax collector, who became one of the apostles; Mary Magdalene, a woman of pleasure, who stood at the foot of the cross and became the apostle to the apostles after the Resurrection; and St. Dismas, a repentant thief, who was promised Paradise as he died next to Christ on the cross.
Likewise, St. Augustine of Hippo not only espoused the heresy of Manichaeism, but also fathered a child out of wedlock and yet became the most prolific writer as a father of the Church.
St. Callixtus, a thief, brawler, and felon, became a Pope and died a martyr.
In the 1950s, a man known for his immorality was executed for killing a cop. However, he died as a follower of Christ and he tried to convert his family from his prison cell during his last days.
On April 6, 1930 an avowed atheist and his wife brought Jacques Fesch into this world in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. Accounts differ on whether the father was close to his son or distant. Little is known about Jacques’ mother, but she was at least nominally Catholic.
Jacques seemed to be a troublemaker from his earliest days. He neglected his schoolwork, disrupted classes, and made mischief until he was finally expelled from school. As he grew older, he did not improve and failed to practice any semblance of faith, soon living a life of crime and hedonism.
Although his father managed to get Jacques a job in a bank, Jacques wasted the opportunity by his laziness and bad attitude and was soon fired. Time after time his father found him other jobs, all with the same result.
In the meantime, Jacques’ life spiraled into deeper immorality. He fell into a shambles of unsavory results as his main objective in life was to enjoy the pleasures of this world, not caring what the consequences were. He rarely took responsibility for his actions.
Before he was 24, he had fathered a child out of wedlock by his girlfriend, Pierrette, whom he married before his daughter was born. This unhappy union did not last long, soon ending in divorce. Jacques felt no compunction to care for either his wife or his daughter.
Once again, after this relationship ended, Jacques continued his womanizing and fathered an illegitimate boy, a son who never knew who his father was until years after Jacques was executed.
Jacques’ avoidance of God and his total abandonment to worldly pleasures cast him into a deep depression. In an effort to break free of his misery, he decided to sail to the South Pacific. He dreamed of buying a yacht and living an idyllic life of constant pleasure and relaxation on a tropical island.
Jacques, an adulterer, thief, and ruffian, became angry when his father refused to support his plan in any way. Undeterred by the refusal, Jacques continued to scheme. He decided to steal the money to fund his quest by diabolical means.
Alexander Silberstein’s currency shop soon became his target. Foolishly, Jacques entered the shop just as the rush hour was beginning on February 25, 1954. He beat Silberstein relentlessly with his pistol, grabbed 300,000 francs — hardly enough to finance his scheme — and fled.
Having lost his glasses in the scuffle, he fled from the shop as Silberstein stumbled out the door, shouting for help. A witness saw Jacques flee and called the police. Later this same witness recognized Jacques. The police officer cornered him, drawing his gun and telling Jacques to halt and surrender.
The police officer, Jean Vergne, was a 35-year-old father. Jacques’ response to the order was to pull his pistol and shoot the officer three times in the chest, killing him instantly. Others wrestled Jacques to the ground and he was arrested.
Pictures of Jacques show an emaciated man with darkened eyes and sunken cheeks from his dissipated lifestyle. During the trial, he proved his evil nature by his surliness, nasty responses to questions, and total lack of remorse. The jury had little trouble finding him guilty of his crime, and he was sentenced to death by the guillotine.
By the mercy of God, Jacques sat on death row in solitary confinement for three years, allowing him time for his conversion, and finally for his repentance.
God works in threes. Jonah was in the whale for three days. Our Lord rose on the third day and three apostles came with Jesus during the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden. There are three persons in the Holy Trinity and in the Holy Family. For Jacques, there were three men who guided him on his way to conversion during the last three years of his life.
These three men, the prison chaplain, his lawyer, and a monk who was a friend of Pierrette, his wife, never abandoned Jacques.
His conversion took some time, but finally after nearly one year, the realization, the horror of what he had done, struck him. As he wrote in his journal that he began to keep, “The Spirit of the Lord seized me by the throat.”
Immediately, he asked for the prison chaplain so that he could make his Confession after many years.
He began a life of deep prayer as his journals indicate — even becoming a mystic. Jacques also sought to repay the many and deep hurts he had caused his family. He reconciled with his wife and daughter. He also wrote many letters to his family, including his brother and stepmother.
During Jacques’ last two years, he wrote much in his journal about his conversion, his love of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his repentance. At the end, he serenely accepted his sentence.
His letters reveal a man no longer preoccupied with seeking pleasure. Rather he sought to comfort others and to console them and convert them.
“I am living through marvelous hours, and I feel as if I had never lived any other life than the one I’ve been experiencing now,” he once wrote. “Jesus draws me to Himself, and knowing the weakness of soul He gives me much, while asking for so little. For each effort that I make I receive another grace, and, in view of the shortness of time, this ascent toward God is achieved far more quickly than it would be for someone who still had years ahead of him.”
His last journal entry before he died was, “In five hours, I will see Jesus.” On October 1, 1957, just before he died on the guillotine, Jacques pronounced his last words, asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to have mercy on him.
After his death, Pierrette and his daughter worked with Sr. Veronica, a Carmelite nun, and Fr. Augustin-Michel Lemonnier to publish the writings of Jacques Fesch. Since the 1970s, his writings have brought encouragement to many souls. Many plays have also been written about him.

+ + +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

The #USSCB preoccupies itself with open borders, climate change and "tolerance". Meanwhile < 30% of Catholics believe in the Real Presence.

How refreshingly "common sense" this statement is. Finally, a Catholic Bisho (Cardinal) who understands the principle of subsidiarity, as properly applied, and affirms the truth that difference is not a problem, but a gift.

Sachin jose on Twitter

“"Poland can tell Europe that each nation was created by God to be placed in a particular place, with its culture, its traditions, its history. ...

Bishop Strickland . . . Mary, Mother Of God And The Church -

Load More...

Rush has lung cancer. Catholics owe him BIG TIME. Wherein Fr. Z rants. ACTION ITEM!

Rush Limbaugh has advanced lung cancer.  He made the sad announcement yesterday. ACTION ITEM: Please pray for a complete, swift, durative miraculous cure for him, perhaps through the intercession of Ven. Augustus Tolton. Every reader here, every committed conservative, faithful…Continue Reading

Catholic parish will not host Episcopalian consecration

Richmond, Va., Jan 17, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia will no longer hold a bishops’s consecration at a Catholic parish in Williamsburg, after an internet petition objecting to the event drew national attention. “It…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan conducting ‘Vos estis’ investigation into Brooklyn’s Bishop DiMarzio

New York City, N.Y., Jan 18, 2020 / 09:05 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan is conducting an investigation into Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, following an allegation of sexual abuse. The investigation is being conducted under the provisions of Vos estis lux…Continue Reading

Theodore McCarrick has moved from Kansas friary

Denver, Colo., Jan 7, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living since 2018. A spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad told CNA…Continue Reading

Vatican Archbishop: those who say Judas is in hell are ‘heretics’ and priests may ‘accompany’ assisted suicides

ROME, December 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a statement difficult to reconcile with Scripture and Tradition, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has claimed on behalf of the Catholic Church that anyone who says Judas Iscariot is in…Continue Reading

Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone resigns after year of scandal

Vatican City, Dec 4, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo’s embattled Bishop Richard Malone. The Diocese of Buffalo will be administered by Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger until a permanent replacement for Malone is…Continue Reading

Chinese bishop says Catholics must put ‘love for homeland’ first

Beijing, China, Dec 3, 2019 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- A Chinese bishop has said that Catholics in the country must put their loyalty to the state before the faith. Bishop John Fang Xingyao made the statement during a Communist Party…Continue Reading

Canada’s largest newspaper: Catholic schools must back LGBT ‘rights’ or risk losing public funding

TORONTO, November 25, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s largest newspaper threatened Catholic schools in an editorial that unless they get in line with homosexuality and transgender “rights,” support will only grow for an end to their public funding. The Toronto Star’s…Continue Reading

Pope compares politicians who persecute gays, Jews to Hitler

Pope Francis denounced the persecution of gay people on Friday and compared public officials who stoke hatred and anti-gay sentiment to Hitler. Francis delivered his remarks at an international conference on criminal law at the Vatican City, Reuters reported. “It is…Continue Reading

7-year-old whose mom tried to ‘transition’ him chooses to attend school as a boy

DALLAS, Texas, November 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven-year-old James Younger, whose mother enrolled him in kindergarten as a “girl,” has finally been able to attend school as a boy for the first time. James’ parents’ fight over whether he should…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan on Biden communion denial: ‘I wouldn’t do it’

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2019 / 04:58 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York has responded to questions about the denial of Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden last Sunday. On an Oct. 31…Continue Reading

Judge blocks Alabama law banning abortions, pro-lifers plan to appeal to Supreme Court

October 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Alabama’s ban on virtually all abortions will not take effect on November 15 as planned, thanks to a preliminary injunction issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. In May, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the Alabama…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Italy is dying: Country’s birth rate drops to its lowest level in history

ROME, Italy, February 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Italy welcomed its smallest number of newborns in 2019, leading its president to foretell the country’s doom. “This is a problem that concerns the very existence of our country,” said Sergio Mattarella, 78. “The fabric of our country is weakening, and everything must be done to counter this phenomenon.”

Bishop Schneider analyzes Pope’s Amazon text: ‘a glimmer of hope’ despite deficiencies

ROME, February 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In a new in-depth analysis of the apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia, Bishop Athanasius Schneider has praised what he views as Pope Francis’ decision not to weaken priestly celibacy or open the door to a female “diaconate.” But he has also criticized the “lamentable doctrinal ambiguities and errors” that he says the document contains. The auxiliary bishop of St. Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan, maintains that Querida Amazonia’s stance on priestly celibacy and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen criticizes Vatican for ‘despis[ing] the heroes of faith’ in China

NEW YORK, February 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The communist-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association “has always been objectively schismatic” and remains that way “but with the blessing from the Holy See,” Cardinal Joseph Zen said today. Cardinal Zen sat down with LifeSite for a one-on-one interview in New York today.


1. The beloved Amazon region stands before the world in all its splendour, its drama and its mystery. God granted us the grace of focusing on that region during the Synod held in Rome from 6-27 October last, which concluded by issuing its Final Document, The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology. The significance of this Exhortation 2. During the Synod, I listened to the presentations and read with interest…Continue Reading

Pope Francis’ Amazon exhortation calls for holiness, not married priests

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis published his response to the Vatican’s 2019 Amazon synod in an apostolic exhortation Wednesday. Despite widespread speculation following the synod, the pope does not call for married priests, but seeks to expand “horizons beyond conflicts.” Querida Amazonia, Pope Francis’s much-anticipated post-synodal apostolic exhortation, presents the pope’s “four great dreams” for the Pan-Amazonian region’s ecological preservation and “Amazonian holiness.” The exhortation does not quote from…Continue Reading


If Duterte Wants Us Out, Let’s Go

  By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has just given us notice he will be terminating the Visiting Forces Agreement that governs U.S. military personnel in the islands. His notification starts the clock running on a six-month deadline. If no new agreement is negotiated, the VFA is dissolved. What triggered the decision? Duterte…Continue Reading

The Face of God Was Seen That Day

By ROBERT N. BORGHESE A veil separates the face of God From our world of flesh. Is it ever breached? The mystic said the most sublime act Sets another before you. Unconditional human love reflects the face of God; And God is love. When Jesus said there is no greater love Than to lay down…Continue Reading

A Champion of the Catholic Faith . . . Sister Mary Louise RIP


  Sister Mary Louise Matt, beloved aunt of Joseph Matt, the current publisher of The Wanderer was called to her eternal reward this past week. In an age that saw many changes in the Catholic church including within the sisterhood as conforming to the culture of the times – Sister Mary stood tall among her peers passionately…Continue Reading

Coronavirus, St. Jacinta And St. John Bosco

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY By one of those curious coincidences, the current threat from the Chinese coronavirus has come to prominence just as we celebrate the centenary of the death of St. Jacinta of Fatima, a death which can be attributed to complications arising from the Spanish flu pandemic which afflicted the world between January…Continue Reading

Don’t Trust Election Polls Predicting Huge 2020 Dem Victories

By TREVOR THOMAS (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews reprinted this with permission from American Thinker. All rights reserved.) + + + (American Thinker) — According to Real Clear Politics, in spite of the economy and everything else going well in the United States of America, almost every current national poll has President Trump trailing a hypothetical Democrat…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: In his weekly Bulletin at the Church of St. Michael in New York City, Fr. George Rutler listed some of the false predictions of the climate alarmists and noted their refusal ever to admit being wrong: “Inevitably, the list of mistaken predictions keeps growing. We may remember being told in the 1960s that, within twenty years, overpopulation would…Continue Reading

“What Will There Be For Us?” Amazon Synod Doesn’t Like The Answer

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Many of you know I happily served as a Navy chaplain for years. Some of my assignments were with Marine units. I found Marine officers were always very happy to have a priest along because, being celibate, he could more easily pick up and move with the unit at any time they were called upon…Continue Reading

The Temple Of God Is Holy

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18 1 Cor. 3:16-23 Matt. 5:38-48 In the first reading today, God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites that they were to be holy because the Lord God is holy. This makes sense on several levels. First, we are made in the image and likeness of…Continue Reading

Bishop Strickland . . . Mary, Mother Of God And The Church

By MOST REV. JOSEPH STRICKLAND I write this column on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, one of many Marian memorials in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. That is because Mary is, and always has been, deeply loved and honored by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. It was only in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation, that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. In an exchange with a fellow on Facebook, he wondered how God could be a loving Father when He abandoned His Son Jesus on the cross. How can I answer him? — R.Q., Massachusetts. A. Your questioner is referring to Jesus’ words from the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). But Jesus was…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Frances Of Rome

By CAROLE BRESLIN Saints come from all states of life and forms of associations within the Church. Quite a few of them were members of Third Orders. A Third Order is an “association of the faithful established by religious orders. Dating from the thirteenth century, they may be either secular or regular. If secular, they are lay persons, commonly called…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Margaret Of Cortona

By CAROLE BRESLIN Great sinners make great saints. It takes a strong-willed child to become a saint. These are statements which would easily fit saints such as Mary Magdalene and St. Augustine. In the thirteenth century, a young lady free in spirit and strong in will led such a life that she was essentially driven from her home village, but…Continue Reading