On a personal note and to posthumously pay the debt of gratitude I owe him, I’m eager to admit that, over the course of my life, I have learned so very much about the questions of Catholic counterrevolution, the Kingship of Christ, Catholic Social Teaching, the work of the great Jean Ousset, the historical uprising of the “first traditional Catholics” in the Vendee, the pilgrimage to Chartres – from Arnaud de Lassus.
Generally speaking, the social Kingship of Christ and the true meaning of Catholic action was his forte, and, as a young man, I was truly honored to visit him in his home in Versailles before the pilgrimage to Chartres, and to sit and breathe in his extraordinary sensus Catholicus.
Arnaud worked closely with men such as the great Jean Ousset, Jean Madiran and Louis Salleron (co-founders of Itinéraires), his confreres at Action Familiale et Scolaire (sort of the French equivalent of The Remnant), Michael Davies, Fr. Harry Marchosky, my father, Walter Matt, Hamish Fraser, Tony Fraser and many other traditionalists all over the world.
And now that he has gone to his eternal reward, perhaps he will forgive me for sharing one of my favorite stories about Arnaud de Lassus. Never one to brag or to speak of himself at all, it took years of me hinting and then coaxing before he would finally confirm the veracity of the event as recounted to me by an old friend of his, years earlier. You see, before his retirement he’d served as an engineer and an officer in the French Navy, developing missile technology. At some point, his avant-garde work in that field attracted the attention of the President of France, Charles de Gaulle. It was determined that Arnaud de Lassus and a handful of his fellow officers were to be honored by the French president personally.
Alas, Charles de Gaulle had made some political decisions in the post-war era, especially where Algeria was concerned, that had enraged many French patriots. It was believed at the time that de Gaulle had abandoned that country and left it susceptible to Communist takeover. As a testament to the man's character, allow me to recount how that award ceremony played out.
When Arnaud was to be awarded his metal of commendation from the hand of the President on a parade ground, he made a difficult decision. With all the appropriate fanfare, Charles de Gaulle approached each man who was to be awarded, pinned a metal to his chest, saluted him, and then shook his hand. But when de Gaulle attached the metal to Arnaud's chest and saluted him, he extended his hand in vain. Arnaud de Lassus honorably held his salute, but in front of all the people in attendance that day, refused to shake the hand of the President of France. This was many years ago, but it helps us understand something about the courage of this man.
Moving on to something to which all Remnant readers can readily relate: Were it not for Arnaud de Lassus, it is very unlikely that there would be an American chapter on the great Notre-Dame de Chretiente Pèlerinage from Paris to Chartres. A quarter-century ago, Arnaud de Lassus took a handful of American kids, really—including the present writer—and literally taught them how to be pilgrims. He organized every jot and tittle of our very first participation in the Pilgrimage to Chartres, and helped us ‘Yanks’ integrate into a very, very French movement. Never before had there been an American contingent, until Arnaud made it happen.
(For those who speak French, Arnaud de Lassus on Vatican II. Keep in mind, he's in his 90s in this video.)
In all the years of pilgrimage that followed, including last year, it was a familiar sight for the pilgrims to see the legend – “Monsieur de Lassus”, trudging along the pilgrimage route, hopping from this chapter to that, comparing notes and strategizing with his many allies and friends from all over the world. Even well into his 90s, he continued to walk to Chartres, sleeping on the ground with the rest of us at night and walking at our side on the road to Chartres in the morning. He was truly an inspiration to us all.
In fact, in the grand saga that is the Notre Dame de Chretiente pilgrimage to Chartres, Arnaud de Lassus plays a starring role (though he never spoke of it). When the French traditionalists first revived the ancient pilgrimage, they’d walked 70 miles from Paris to Chartres only to be refused entrance at the door of the Chartres Cathedral, three days later. One of the small handful of stalwarts on that first pilgrimage—which had been forced to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass in the courtyard in front of a locked cathedral—was Arnaud de Lassus.
Ever after that historic first Chartres Pilgrimage (since the Council), Arnaud worked harder than anyone I know to spread word of the Pilgrimage to Chartres, until finally and true to form, the pilgrimage blossomed into the international Catholic phenomenon it is today, packing out that same Cathedral with tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over the world every year. This is one of the most amazing success stories in the traditional Catholic world today, and I have often wondered if any of us on this side of the Atlantic would ever have heard of it had it not been for Arnaud de Lassus.
He spoke at several Remnant conferences stateside over the years, and contributed occasional articles to The Remnant. In fact, his last book was published by the Remnant Press, "UNHOLY CRAFT: Freemasonry and the Roots of Christophobia".
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Madame de Lassus, who dedicated much of her adult life to the promotion of the cult of the Infant Jesus. She spread word of the power of the Infant literally all over the world. It is no exaggeration to suggest that this extraordinarily Catholic couple lived lives of great holiness, virtue and sanctity—totally dedicated to the Catholic restoration, the Mother of God, and the Kinship of Christ.
That being said, this loyal soldier of Jesus Christ believed with all of his heart in the justice of Christ. He would thus admonish me if I failed to beg all English-speaking traditional Catholics to pray for the repose of the soul of Arnaud de Lassus—a quiet intellectual and spiritual giant. Please remember him in your rosaries and, of course, in your Masses. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude as one of the great traditionalist pioneers who refused to go along with the revolution in France, the ‘eldest daughter of the Church’.
We will have more to say about his passing in the pages of the next issue of The Remnant. But, again, please remember him in your prayers, especially tonight as he passed away just yesterday, January 25, 2017. And I would also like to extend The Remnant’s deepest condolences to our allies at AFS, to Arnaud’s son, Yves de Lassus, and to the many children and grandchildren of this extraordinary Catholic warrior.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul rest in peace.
American Pilgrims, Honored To Stand With the Legendary, "Monsieur de Lassus", on the Road to Chartres
(From left to right: John Rao, Michael Matt, Fr. Paul McDonald, Arnaud de Lassus, Bob Hurt, Chris Ferrara)