national guardsmen. There is also evidence that some towns and regions were substantially more receptive than others to the goals of de-Christianization. It may have been least successful in precisely those zones, like western and north-eastern France, where Catholicism seems to have been exceptionally vital on the eve of Revolution.
As many historians have noted, de-Christianization entailed both destructive attacks against existing religious symbols and practices and a variety of efforts to evolve a new 'revolutionary religion'. It was in October 1793 that a revolutionary calendar - commissioned by the Convention ten months earlier -was first formally adopted, instituting a ten-day week without reference to the Christian Sabbath and marking the beginning of a new era in time with the creation of the French Republic, rather than with the birth of Christ. At almost the same period, thousands ofnames oftowns and streets and businesses were changed to remove all allusions to saints or the Virgin - or to kings, queens, and aristocrats. But there were also more direct attacks on physical objects integral to Christianity. Hundreds of church bells were removed and melted down, ostensibly for cannons to defend the nation. Religious statuary was battered and defaced. On occasion the de-Christianizers held veritable autos-da-fe of ecclesiastical vestments and sacred ornaments or texts. And almost everywhere there were efforts to close down churches altogether, sometimes converting them to factories or stables or anti-Christian temples for revolutionary ceremonies. Though the principal targets were the buildings devoted to the Catholic religion, virtually all Protestant churches and Jewish synagogues were closed as well.
But the central symbolic event in this process was the attack on the clerical leadership, the constitutional clergy and the Protestant pastors. Throughout France, priests and pastors were forced to resign their posts and cease celebrating the sacred Offices. And in large areas of the nation, revolutionary leaders went even further, pushing Catholic clergymen to repudiate the priesthood altogether and, if at all possible, to marry. Those who failed to follow such directives were sometimes imprisoned. Whether through fear or conviction, a certain number of priests enthusiastically denounced their previous sacerdotal functions. But by far the greater number quietly retired, profoundly disillusioned with a revolutionary process which most of them had long supported and which had now turned against them.
During the same period many officials made vigorous attempts to establish new revolutionary cults to replace the Christian religion. A first wave of 'cults of reason' was self-consciously atheistic in inspiration and involved various rituals in honour of Reason or Nature, usually depicted by sculptured or
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