(Between 1801 and 1803)1
Be prepared to leave for the mission you desire so much. You are destined for China, and you and your companions will be able to see in these circumstances the designs of divine providence. To accomplish its purposes it makes use of truly unforeseen means.2
- Letter 1. Cited in Raffaele Ricciardelli, Vita del servo di Dio Felice de Andreis. Fondatore e primo superiore della Congregazione della Missione negli Stati Uniti d’America (Roma: Industria tipografica Romana, 1923), 17.
- Rosati noted that a group of Russian Orthodox women in Saint Petersburg used to raise funds to support the travel of Catholic missionaries to China. For reasons unknown, the mission was called off. (Also see the complete version in Joseph Rosati, C.M., “Life of De Andreis,” in the “Summarium super dubio,” in Sacra Rituum Congregtione. Sancti Ludovici. Beatificationis et Canonizationis Servi Dei Fehcis de Andreis. Positio super introductions causae (Rome: Guerra et Mini, 1918), 99. (Hereinafter cited as Rosati, “Life,” Summarium.) The original of Rosati’s “Life of De Andreis” can be found in the Archives of the Postulator General of the Congregation of the Mission, Rome (De Andreis papers), 60 pages, in Rosati’s own hand. The manuscript features two title pages: Quelques souvenirs touchant la vie et les vertus de M’ Felix De Andreis Pretre de is Cong” de la Mission et 1″ Superieur de la Mission des Etats [.Iris d’ Amerique mort a S’ Louis; and Memoires pour seruir a I’histoire de la Vie de M’ Felix De Andreis Visiteur de la Coral de is Mission aux Etats Urns et Vicaire General du Diocese de is Nu` Orleans mort a S’ Louis. The second, less accurate, title was probably added later, as it refers to him as a Visitor.
- Francois Brunet, French vicar general (12 February 1800 – 15 September 1806). No reference to Brunet’s appointment of De Andreis has been found in Brunet’s extant papers. De Andreis’s name is given in letters from Brunet and others during that period, but nothing refers to his China assignment. Rosati, however, claims to have seen the letter. (Rosati, “Life,” Summarium, 42). The reasons for not going to China are undear, but seem to be that Felix was not French, and perhaps did not have the requisite skills to satisfy the emperor’s wish for European scientists and mathematicians in his court (although De Andreis had studied mathematics at Piacenza). Brunet proposed three French Vincentians to Napoleon in February 1803, but their mission did not take place.