Vincent, Letter 0002. To Monsieur De Comet, in Dax

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoWritings of Vincent de Paul0 Comments

CREDITS
Author: Vincent de Paul .

Letter 2. - Archives of the Mission (Paris), original autograph letter. We have already given the history of the original of this letter in the citation for letter no. 1.


Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Monsieur, I have written to you twice by the mail service from Spain which goes to Paris and Bayonne. I addressed my letters to Mon­sieur de la Lande1Very probably Bertrand de Lalande, Councillor of the … Read More

Vincent, Letter 0001. To Monsieur De Comet, in Dax

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoWritings of Vincent de Paul0 Comments

CREDITS
Author: Vincent de Paul .

Letter I - The original autograph letter, written in a fine, compact hand, covers three pages. Its history is well worth knowing. Along with the original of the letter that follows, it passed from the hands of M. de Comet to those of Catherine de Cornet, wife of Jean de Saint-Martin. Their son, Saint-Martin &Ages, found them in 1658 as he was going through the family papers. Pleased with his discovery, he took them to Canon de Saint-Martin, his uncle, a close friend of the Saint. The good canon thought that Monsieur Vincent would be very pleased to read these pages and immediately had a copy made for his illustrious friend. The copies did not remain in Vincent's hands for long. After reading them, he burned them. By lifting the veil hiding two years of his youth, at once the most tragic and the most glorious, the revelation of these documents was of a nature to wound his deep humility. His letter of thanks was also one of supplication in which he begged M. de Saint-Martin to send him the originals. Brother Ducouniau, his secretary, who was doing the writing, warned the Canon of Dax of the danger threatening the precious manuscripts if they were to fall into the Saint's hands. He advised him to send them to Jean Watebled, Superior of the College des Bons-Enfants, which he did. (Abelly, op. cit., vol. 1, chap. IV, p. 17.) Jean Watebled shared the letters with Antoine Portal Rene Almeras, Thomas Berthe, Jean Dehorgny, Brother Ducournau, and probably others studied them. No need to describe their astonishment and joy; these pages were a revelation for them. This was in August 1658. Brother Ducournau hastened to thank Canon de Saint-Martin, and the Saint waited a long time for the originals he had requested. On March 18, 1660, feeling that his end was near, he renewed his plea in a letter which we shall publish further on.The two letters to M. de Comet remained in the archives of Saint-Lazare until 1789 or 1791. They were either stolen at the time of the looting or confiscated two years later with the rest of the estate. How did the first of these letters come into the hands of Pelletier de Saint-Fargeau, and then become the property of his colleague, Carnot? We have no idea. On January 31, 1854, it appeared M a sale of autographs along with a few other letters of Saint Vincent and several outlines of sermons and speeches for the meetings of the Ladies of Charity of the Hotel-Dieu.In May of that same ran it is listed in one of Laverdet's catalogues as coming from the collection of M. de is Bouisse-Rochefort and priced at five hundred francs. Lavesdet ex­changed it for some manuscripts of Montesquieu. Shortly afterwards we find it in Fontenay-le­Comte, in the autograph collection of Madame Joseph Fillon. Benjamin Fitton gave it to the Daughters of Charity working in the hospital of Fontenay, where it remained for many years, carefully preserved in en expensive album. When the hospital closed in 1979, the letter was added to the collection of the Archives of the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity, 140 rue du Bac, Paris. Abelly did not reproduce it in its entirety; he omitted passages that seemed to him unworthy of a saint, among others, those which might have given rise to the suspicion that Saint Vincent believed in alchemy. Firmin Joussemet, Madame Fillon's nephew, published it in its unabridged form in 1856 in the Revue des provinces de l'Ouest. The recipient of the letter was M. de Comet the younger. (Cf. Abelly, op. cit.. vol. 1, chap. IV, P. 14.) We are using Comet and not Comma to conform to the spelling used by the Saint and by the members of the Comet family.


Estimated Reading Time: 16 minutes

Monsieur, One might have thought two years ago, judging by the ap­pearance of the favorable progress of my affairs that, contrary to my deserts, fortune was endeavoring only to make me more envied than imitated1At … Read More