1816: The Visions of Thomas Martin

Unknown - L'apparition de l'archange à Martin de Gallardon (1859)

Thomas Martin was born in Gallardon, France in 1783. Beginning in 1816, he began to see visions of an elegantly dressed young man who called himself the Archangel Raphael. The youth commanded Martin to travel to Paris to see King Louis XVIII and warn him against danger. He was to tell the king that people were again planning to overthrow the government; that the king must restore order to France; and that he should make Sunday an official holiday to honor Christ.

An 1857 version of the story in The Medical World: A Journal of Universal Medical Intelligence recounts the details:

Thomas Ignace Martin was a farm laborer, near Gallardon, not far from Chartres, about thirty-three years of age, and father of a family, when in 1816, as he was engaged in spreading compost over a field, suddenly a young man, of small, slender form and long visage, very white, and clothed in a light-colored surtout, buttoned close and reaching to his feet, laced shoes, and a high-crowned hat, appeared before him, and told him he must go and take a message to the king.

Martin replied that he was not qualified for such a high mission; but the youth told him that he must go. Martin, in return, said he thought the young man himself better fitted for such an office. But “No,” was the answer,  “it is you that must go.” After that the head of the youth descended toward the waist, and the feet rose toward the waist, and the entire figure disappeared. Martin’s brother and the curate, to whom he mentioned the circumstance, treated it as an illusion; but the youth repeatedly came with the same communication.

Sent to Paris by the local Bishop and police, he was eventually directed to an asylum in Clarenton, “to be treated as a lunatic.” There he was examined by psychiatrists Philippe Pinel and Antoine-Athanase Royer-Collard, who declared him sane after several days of confinement.

Eventually, word of Martin and his visions reached the king, who granted him an audience. Louis XVIII had recently returned from exile during the French Revolution and its aftermath to assume the throne.

The king received Martin very graciously, and asked him to sit down on the other side of the table. The interview lasted about an hour. The conversation began with a narration of the facts of the case. After this the king said that he understood that Martin had some secret to communicate to him. Up to this time Martin knew nothing of the secret; but no sooner had the king spoken the word than Martin’s organs of speech were suddenly seized by an irresistible force, and he spoke volubly, without even choosing his expressions. The secret was, that, in hunting in the forest of Saint Hubert, the king had formed the design of assassinating his brother, Louis XVI. He had a double-barrelled gun, and with one barrel he meant to shoot the king, and then fire the other in the air, pretending to have been attacked, but was prevented from executing the design by being entangled among the branches of a tree, through which the king passed freely. On hearing this, Louis wept bitterly, and confessed the truth, but extorted a promise from Martin, that he would preserve his secret, which Martin did as long as the king lived.

The king was then making preparations for his coronation, but Martin told him if he dared to receive the oil of consecration, he would be struck dead during the ceremony. Accordingly, the king countermanded the preparations, and he was never crowned.

Image: Wikipedia

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