Despite the consternation of the faithful, the closure of the cemetery of Saint-Médard in January 1731 did not destroy the Jansenist convulsionnaire movement - far from it, though one of the effects was undoubtedly to de-emphasise miracles of healing in favour of prophetic and charismatic gifts. In an effort to escape police surveillance, adherents dispersed into small gatherings in private homes and religious houses: within a few weeks they had spread into the suburbs of Paris and cells took root in the provinces - in Champagne, Lyon, Eure, Troyes and Auxerre. The groups kept alive the cult of the diacre Pâris through relics such as earth from his grave or water drawn from a well which had once belonged to him, so that private homes became "stations of the little cemetery of Saint-Médard". Participants were also mindful of the organisational example of the conventicles of the early Church.
|Illustration of a Convulsionary meeting by Bernard Picart,|
Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde
The separate cells were sometimes in contact, but do not seem to have evolved into a formal organisation. Membership was open to "friends of the truth" who were "sponsored" by existing members; most adherents continued to pursue their ordinary daily lives outside the fixed meetings. Most were of humble origins, but noble and bourgeois converts were crucial in providing patronage and protection from the police. Among them, besides Montgeron himself, were the lawyer Olivier Pinault, Edward Lord Drummond, the duchesse de Rochechouart, comte de Tilly; the marquis d'Arbois, the comtesse de Lampsac, the chevalier de Falord and the retired royal secretary Louis Fontane, who ate his meals on his knees. In a study based on 384 individuals, the historian Daniel Vidal found that adherents divided roughly 60% female to 40% male and confirmed that they were recruited mainly from the petty bourgeoisie and artisan classes (Stryer, p.254-5 gives various other statistical estimates, generally similar in conclusion; the chronology is a bit vague, especially summary form. The best guess for total numbers is between 600 and 700 total adherents by 1733.)