The Republic of VirtueDanton’s death marked the inauguration of the Republic of Virtue, which was characterised by a concentration of power at the centre. On 7 May (18 floréal) the Rousseauean cult of the Supreme Being was established. Article I of the new constitution stated:
‘The French people recognizes the existence of the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.’Initiating the cult, Robespierre declared in a speech to the Convention:
‘The true priest of the Supreme Being is Nature itself; its temple is the universe; its religion virtue; its festivals the joy of a great people assembled under its eye to tie the sweet knot of universal fraternity and to present before [Nature] the homage of pure and feeling hearts.’ (Quoted Schama, Citizens, 831)This was an attack on the policy of dechristianisation associated with the former priest, Fouché.
On 20 Prairial (8 June, Whit Sunday in the old calendar) Paris celebrated the Festival of the Supreme Being in a ceremony stage-managed by the painter, Jacques-Louis David.