In 1870 France had gone to war with Prussia (the leading state of the German Empire). The Prussians besieged Paris in September 1870, causing famine in the city. The poor were forced to eat cat or rat meat or went hungry. This experience led to an upsurge in radical and socialist political clubs and newspapers. When the war ended, the government declined to move back to Paris and instead moved to Versailles. They sent military forces into Paris to collect a reserve of cannons and machine guns. The detachment was still gathering the munitions when the Parisians surrounded them. In the chaos that followed, the soldiers killed two of their own, and by the end of the day, they were mainly sided with the Parisians. Insurgents now controlled the city, and they declared a new government called the Paris Commune, which lasted from March 18 to May 28, 1871.
The government shocked by this treachery decided not to compromise starting on May 21 and continuing through May 28, civil war erupted through the streets of Paris. Around 18,000 Parisians were killed, 25,000 were imprisoned, and thousands more were later executed. The outrageous violence of 'Bloody Week' became a rallying cry for the working classes; politicians would later proudly brag about their participation with the Commune. Caught up in the anarchy and the violence were 5 French Jesuits, Fathers Olivaint, Ducoudray, Caubert, Clerc, and de Bengy.
One of them, Pierre Olivaint was a superb teacher of history, famous preacher and renowned spiritual director, Fr Caubert was the Province treasurer, Fr De Bengy was famous for the work he did for the poor to relieve their suffering when the city was under siege. They were captured when the communards arrived to take possession of the house on the Rue de Sevres. The remains of Father Olivaint and the four Jesuits who were martyred with him were placed in the martyrs chapel in the Rue de Sèvres. The cause of Frs Peter Olivaint, John Caubert, Anatole de Bengy together with that of Frs Leo Ducoudray and Alexis Clerc, was introduced in Rome on February 17, 1937.