Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort

holy card of the Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort, date and artist unknown; swiped from Santi e BeatiAlso known as

  • Martyrs des Pontons de Rochefort
  • Martyrs of La Rochelle
  • Martyrs of Rochefort
  • Martyrs of the Prison Hulks of Rochefort
  • Martyrs of the Rochefort Ships



In 1790 the French Revolutionary authorities passed a law requiring priests to swear allegience to the civil constitution, which would effectively remove them from the authority of, and allegience to, Rome. Many refused, and in 1791 the government began deporting them to French Guyana. 827 priests and religious were imprisoned on hulks (old ships no longer sea-worthy and used for storage, jails, hospitals, etc.) at Rochefort, France to await exile, most on the Deux-Associés and the Washington which had previously been used to house slaves or prisoners. There they were basically ignored to death as there was little provision for food and water, less for sanitation, and none at all for medical help. 542 of the prisoners died there.

The survivors were freed on 12 February 1795 and allowed to return to their homes. Many of them wrote about their time on the hulks, and many of them wrote about the faith and ministry of those who had died. 64 of them have been positively identified and confirmed to have died as martyrs, dying for their faith –




Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort“. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 August 2016. Web. 22 October 2016. <>