1 October 1957 – Jacques Fesch

Jacques Fesch

Jacques Fesch

Jacques Fesch was a French cop killer who miraculously reinvented himself while on death row.

He turned devout Roman Catholic while waiting for the guillotine to fall during his incarceration between 1954 and 1957.

The Frenchman had been trying to reinvent himself when the crime happened too. Up to that point Fesch had led a louche life, leaving his wife and daughter for a mistress and another illegitimate child.

Fair cop

However, he had dreams of sailing the South Pacific. And to fulfil his vision, the Frenchman was attempting to rob money to buy a boat, when it all went horribly wrong. Fesch bungled it and shot policeman Jean Vergne, who was in pursuit.


Of course the press went into overdrive and stirred public opinion into a frenzy. And naturally, amid such a furore against him, Fesch was sent down for the crime.

But within a year of his incarceration Fesch suddenly found God and his life became one of humble piety. Such was his reinvention that there was talk of his posthumously becoming canonised after his head was cut off in 1957.

So far though, the argument for and against a sainthood for Fesch hasn’t come to a head…

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