The Imperial Catechism
of Napoleon I
Chapter 25


Question. What are the duties of Christians toward those who govern them, and what in particular are our duties towards Napoleon I, our emperor?

Answer. Christians owe to the princes who govern them, and we in particular owe to Napoleon I, our emperor, love, respect, obedience, fidelity, military service, and the taxes levied for the preservation and defense of the empire and of his throne. We also owe him fervent prayers for his safety and for the spiritual and temporal prosperity of the state.

Question. Why are we subject to all these duties toward our emperor?

Answer. First, because God, who has created empires and distributes them according to his will, has, by loading our emperor with gifts both in peace and in war, established him as our sovereign and made him the agent of his power and his image upon earth. To honor and serve our emperor is therefore to honor and serve God himself. Secondly, because our Lord Jesus Christ himself, both by his teaching and his example, has taught us what we owe to our sovereign. Even at his very birth he obeyed the edict of Cæsar Augustus; he paid the established tax; and while he commanded us to render to God those things which belong to God, he also commanded us to render unto Cæsar those things which are Cæsar's.

Question. Are there not special motives which should attach us more closely to Napoleon I, our emperor?

Answer. Yes, for it is he whom God has raised up in trying times to reestablish the public worship of the holy religion of our fathers and to be its protector; he has re-established and preserved public order by his profound and active wisdom; he defends the state by his mighty arm; he has become the anointed of the Lord by the consecration which he has received from the sovereign pontiff, head of the Church universal.

Question. What must we think of those who are wanting in their duties toward our emperor?

Answer. According to the apostle Paul, they are resisting the order established by God himself and render themselves worthy of eternal damnation.

From J.H.Robinson, Readings in European History, Vol. II, New York: Ginn and Company, 1906, pp. 509-510. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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