What is a supreme being


The cult of the Supreme Being

However, the de-Christianization had not only found supporters in the population. Especially in the provinces it was difficult to convince people to give up ancient habits. For example, the bringing down of the church bells triggered a strong protest from the people, as they were not only a symbol of the Christian timing, but also marked the daily routine of the people by calling for work and celebrations or announcing accidents. There was also resistance among the population to the closure of the churches. (Bertaud, 91 and 93)
Robespierre was aware of this popular resistance. Traveled on November 21, 1793, he spoke in the Jacobin Club expressly in favor of freedom of worship, although he was not an advocate of Catholicism. However, he saw the abolition of church services as a political mistake that would only bring the republic into more enemies at home and abroad. (Soboul, 315)

On December 6, 1793, the convent also issued a solemn decree to remind people of the freedom to practice religion, which it proclaimed and which it intended to uphold. This was a first step towards containing the cult of reason. Just like Danton, who opposed the "anti-religious masquerades" (Soboul, 315) and Robespierre, who once again warned of the dangers of de-Christianization, Chaumette had the commune confirm the freedom of public religious practice. (Soboul, 315)
However, the decree of the convention did not change the measures already taken - closed churches remained closed.
On May 7, 1794, Robespierre addressed the importance of religion and morality in an address to the convent. The decree subsequently passed by the Convention stated in Article 1: "The French people recognize the existence of a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul." (Markov / Soboul, 243) That of the Supreme Being has now been added to the series of national festivals.
On June 8, 1794, a "Festival of the Supreme Being" in Paris solemnly inaugurated the new cult. Robespierre personally attended the festival that David had carefully planned. Nothing was left to chance, even expressions of enthusiasm and ecstasy followed a meticulous protocol. David's stage directions passed on to Hans Maier in his work, Revolution und Kirche as follows:

"The mothers lift the youngest of their children in their arms and offer them in awe to the Creator of nature. The young girls throw flowers up to the sky ... The young men draw their sabers and swear to lead them victoriously everywhere. The elderly, carried away by the enthusiasm of their sons, lay hands on them and distribute their fatherly blessing .... A terrible artillery volley, the sign of national vengeance, and all the French unite their feelings in a brotherly embrace: they have only one left Voice whose united cry: Long live the Republic! makes the air shake". (Maier, 275)

Even the houses with flags fluttering from their windows were decorated and the streets were strewn with flowers. Instructions were given as to who should carry the ears of corn and flower baskets and even determined how the young girls should wear their hair, which bouquets of flowers they were allowed to hold, and how their clothes were decorated with roses. The musical side of the festival was also planned down to the smallest detail. (Ozouf, 111)
Robespierre was to speak from a high platform to the congregation and to the people in which he invoked the Supreme Being and asked the audience to pay homage to him. While the musicians of the "Institut National de Musique" were singing a hymn by Gossec, Robespierre lit a pyre, causing atheism, discord and ambition to collapse, while a statue of wisdom (with a slightly blackened face) rose from the ashes. (Aubry, 210) Thereafter, Robespierre, as chairman of the national convention, led the procession to the sounds of Gossec and Méhul from the Tuileries National Park to the Marsfeld. A symbolic "mountain" was erected there, overlooked by a freedom tree. In contrast to the Festival of Reason, this hill was now built outdoors. The ceremony on the Marsfeld was purely musical and religious, with orchestral music, the raising of the children to heaven and an oath. (Ozouf, 112)

The introduction of this new cult was welcomed in the provinces, especially in some areas of south-east or west France, and it was very popular with the population. (Bertaud, 96)

Representation of the feast of the Supreme Being