Saints of the Vincentian Family

Francisco Javier Fernández ChentoThe Vincentian Family in HeavenLeave a Comment

Author: John E. Rybolt, C.M. · Year of first publication: 1998.
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The purpose of this week is to be faithful to paragraph 50 of the Constitutions, which instructs us about our Vincentian Family.

50. We should cherish devotion to Saint Vincent and to the canonized and beatified members of the Vincentian Family. We should constantly return to the heritage of our Founder, expressed in his writings and in the tradition of the Congregation, that we may learn to love what he loved and practice what he taught.

As you can see, we are really interested in just the first sentence of this paragraph. Nevertheless it tells us a great deal.

We could approach this subject hagiographically: that is, in the worst sense of the term, to look at these saints and blesseds as the models of every Vincentian virtue, searching their lives for examples of these, marveling at them, and drawing out lesson for our personal daily living. You are certainly free to do so, and during these hours together, I will display several items of interest which could be read, as well as a bibliography.

On the other hand, I am going to approach the subject historically, particularly by giving the historical context in which these confreres of ours lived and worked. For this, I have divided the work into three parts: China, the French Revolution, and Ethiopia. There is also a brief appendix which covers some other areas and the pious deaths of several other of our confreres.

There are, however, other persons who should be mentioned, and for this I have distributed a list of those “causes” which are in various stages in the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome.

I hope that at the end of this series, you might have more information than you had before, and, more importantly, a new interest in our confreres who in their own times and places followed Christ as he evangelized the poor. Lastly, I hope that during the group discussion you might tell some stories of confreres in your own provinces, whether well known or not, who can serve also as models for us of Vincentian life. It would be good to share these stories with the rest of us.


This presentation on China follows the outline of periods proposed by Octave Ferreux, C.M., who wrote Histoire de la Congrégation de la Mission en Chine (1699-1950). This appeared in the Annales de la Congrégation de la Mission vol. 127 (1963). In fact, this was the last publication of the Annales, which were being succeeded by Vincentiana. Period One covers 1699 to 1783, from the arrival of the first Vincentians in China to the end of the Jesuit period. Period Two covers 1785 to 1855, when Propaganda Fide sent the first Vincentians to China through the persecutions and martyrdom of Francis Clet and John Gabriel Perboyre. Period Three runs from 1856 to 1900, a period of growth and persecution, ending at the start of the Boxer uprisings. Period Four goes from 1900 to 1950, a period of great growth, but marred by the Japanese war (World War II) and the beginnings of the Communist state. A Period Five has been added, covering 1950 to the present, which deals with the continuation of the China mission in Taiwan and recent attempts to begin contacts again with the Congregation in mainland China.

The history of missionary efforts in China is marked by the following main issues: the enormous size and diversity of China (today the world’s most populous nation), the long history of China and its deep-rooted intellectual, scientific and spiritual traditions, and the isolation of China, often self-imposed, from the Western world.

PERIOD ONE (1699-1783)

The first Vincentian to arrive in China was Ludovico Antonio Appiani, (1663-1732) an Italian, sent with a group of 32 religious. His mission was to help form native priests in China. He arrived in 1699. He traveled with Johannes Müllener, (1673-1742) a German, who eventually joined the Congregation, made his vows, became a bishop, but who never made a proper novitiate nor lived in a Community house. Stafford Poole treats of Appiani and Mullener at great length in his History of the Congregation of the Mission, 1625-1843 (Santa Barbara, 1973), pp. 308 ff. Suffice it to say that these two pioneer missionaries had much to suffer, both at the hands of the Chinese and at the hands of jealous Europeans, even Jesuits, who imprisoned Appiani. He spent nearly twenty years, at various times, in prison. He died in Macao, 29 August 1732.

The third confrere to arrive was the Italian Teodorico Pedrini, (1671-1746) chosen for the mission over many others who had expressed interest, because of his musical talents. Pedrini’s charm and abilities to get his way are legendary, as are his exploits in traveling to China via Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, the Philippines and Macao. Pedrini arrived in Beijing in 1711, and, despite various terms in prison and severe punishments caused by, among other things, the controversy over the Chinese rites, he lived out his life in the highest circles of the imperial court. Some of the music he wrote for the court has been published and commercially recorded in France. He died 10 December 1746 at age seventy-seven, having served thirty-seven years in China.

The role of the Portuguese Vincentians should not be overlooked in this account, which follows Ferreux’s outline and is overly French and apologetic in its orientation. With the suppression of the Jesuits, Portuguese Vincentians, like their French confreres, were selected to come to China. In this case the first two confreres were Manoel Correa Valente (Portuguese, 1735-1804) and Giovanni Agostino Villa (Italian, 1752-1803). From Goa, part of the Portuguese empire, they traveled to Macao, and there in 1784 helped to refurbish the old Jesuit college into a seminary. Since Macao is on the sea, it offered a gateway through which many other confreres passed on their way beyond into China.

PERIOD TWO (1785-1855)

The second period in Vincentian missionary activity in China was, in fact, the true beginning of their organized inland mission. The reason was that after the world-wide suppression of the Society of Jesus, Propaganda Fide sought communities to take over their work in the missions. It took ten years, but finally in 1784 King Louis XVI compelled the Congregation of the Mission to undertake the work. Propaganda gave its assent for the Congregation to assume the property of the Jesuits. The superior general then sent two priests, Jean Joseph Ghislain (1751-1812) and Nicolas Joseph Raux (1754-1801) and one novice brother to China. After their arrival in 1785, persecution began, but principally outside of Beijing. At the death in 1801 of the superior, Raux, the mission counted only two French and three Chinese priests, and one French and one Chinese brother–who, it should be noted, was the first Chinese brother, Paul Wang, (1751-1827). The French brother, Joseph Paris, (1738-1804) was employed effectively as an imperial clock maker. His talent also extended to the making of a pipe organ and carillons for the court.

Besides French confreres, Portuguese confreres also arrived in Macao to assume direction of the former Jesuit college there. The otherwise successful history was marred by many problems. One unfortunate, Fernando Manoel de Mattos (1778/1779-1803) arrived in Macao in August of 1802, but, while he was chanting the office of the dead in the seminary chapel there, was himself struck by lightning and died, 28 June 1803. Arriving with him in Macao was Nicolao Rodriguez Pereira de Borja (1777-1845). Nominated bishop of Macao, he died before his consecration. Another confrere in the same situation was Eusébio Luciano (1764-1790), named bishop of Nanjing at age twenty-six. He, too, died before his consecration. Another bishop was Joaquim de Souza Saraiva (1774-1818), nominated coadjutor of Beijing. Because of persecution, he could never take possession of his see (1808) and died in Macao ten years later. Another in the same line of Portuguese confreres was Verissimo Monteiro da Serra (d. 1852). A member of the imperial Mathematics Tribunal, he also worked to try to save the property of the French confreres in Beijing. He was forced to leave the city, and returned to Portugal where he founded a seminary. He was named bishop of Beijing by the king, but refused the office.

Persecution and decline continued after 1811, and lasted until the death of Francis Regis Clet. He was born 19 August 1748 in Grenoble. After his secondary education, he entered the Congregation in Lyons, 1769. After his ordination, he spent fifteen years teaching moral theology in the seminary at Annecy. He moved to Paris to become the director of the novitiate in 1788, but shortly after, the Revolution broke out. As mentioned above, Propaganda had sought confreres for China and some were sent. Clet had volunteered but had been turned down. But in 1791, as things were going very badly in France, Clet was chosen to go with two students to China. As others had before him, he landed in Macao, a man aged forty-four. He set himself to learning Chinese, but was never very successful at it.

In his period, priests were not permitted to preach publicly, although they could be present in the country. He, however, broke the law by officiating at funerals, and his neighbors, Christian and pagan, knew him as a priest. For twenty-six years, Father Clet continued this precarious work over a vast area, traveling usually by boat or on foot.

At age seventy he was hunted down on a specious charge. A pagan had set fire to his own house, but said that Francis Clet had put others up to it. He had to flee, but was betrayed by a Christian whom he had rebuked for his scandalous life. Francis Clet, the former seminary professor, was arrested 6 June 1819, together with Francis Chen, (1780-1825) a Chinese confrere. He was interrogated, and he believed that his responses were the cause for the arrest of another confrere, Louis Marie Lamiot (1767-1831) in Beijing. In fact, this was not the case, but it troubled him. Clet was transferred to Wuchangfu, a regional center 20 days away. He suffered greatly on this journey, during which he passed through 27 prisons. Lamiot, who had not seen his former superior for 25 years, was brought there as well, and the three confreres were tried together. Lamiot was excused, but sent to Macao. Chen was sentenced to exile in Turkestan, where he was slaughtered by rioting Moslems. Clet, for having lived and preached illegally in China, was condemned to death. On 18 February 1820, he was strangled, while attached to a post in the shape of a cross. Leo XIII beatified him 27 May 1900, together with another China missionary, not a confrere, Bishop Gabriel Taurin Dufresse, martyred 14 December 1815.

At the same period, new recruits set out to join the Portuguese missionaries at Macao, where the Procure of the China mission was located. Among these was Jean Louis Perboyre, (1807-1831). Unfortunately, he died of disease, and was buried at sea, 2 May 1831. However, eight others came in the period 1832-1835, including his brother, John Gabriel Perboyre.

John Gabriel Perboyre was born in 1802. His vocation was influenced by his uncle Jacques, a seminary professor in Cahors, forced to hide in caves in the area for several years during the revolutionary period. John Gabriel was the first novice in France after the revolution, since no proper novitiate actually was in existence in France in 1818. After that period he was sent for more studies with his uncle, again in Cahors. Toward the end of his studies, he taught at Montdidier (1823-1826) at a small boarding school. After his ordination in Paris on 23 September 1826 by Louis William Dubourg, former bishop of Louisiana, he taught seminarians at Saint Flour. It is probably from this period that Perboyre’s famous prayer, beginning “O my divine savior, transform me into yourself” was written. Later editors excerpted these words from a longer prayer which Perboyre used before celebrating mass.

He was assistant novice director at the Maison Mere in Paris, but nourished a desire to go to the foreign missions after his brother’s tragic death. On 29 August 1835, during the generalate of Father Salhorgne, he landed in China near Macao with two other confreres, Joseph Gabet and Joseph Perry. After his language studies, he exercised his ministry for a little more than three years among the Catholic people of China in the same area as Francis Regis Clet, until he was betrayed by one of his own students. He was thereupon arrested, brutally interrogated, tortured and condemned to death. The charge was that he had entered China illegally to preach Christianity, and “to deceive and seduce the people.” The charge, of course, was true. He was, in their terms, “preacher of a false religion.” He had to wait in prison, enduring more sufferings, until the order came for his execution. He was attached to a pole in the shape of a cross, as Clet was, and strangled on 11 September 1840. Two others, common criminals, were decapitated on the same day. This took place where Clet had suffered, Wuchangfu, and his remains were buried near those of his confrere. He was beatified 10 November 1889, the first of the many Chinese martyrs to receive these honors. He was canonized 2 June 1996, “China’s First Saint.”

More and more foreigners gained entry to China, and more Chinese became Christians in this same period. In 1840, however, there were still only about 120 priests in China, of whom forty were Europeans and eighty Chinese. These eighty included fifty Chinese Vincentians, a great testimony to the dedication of the Congregation to develop indigenous vocations. The Portuguese mission was impeded in this period, since a law forcing the expulsion of religious congregations from Portugal and its territories was passed in 1834. This left the missions of Beijing and Nanjing without Portuguese missionaries. It also deprived the people of Korea of missionaries, since a group of lay Christians had come to China from Korea almost fifty years before, in 1789, in search of some missionaries. They were introduced to Raux, who later baptized the leader of this expedition, Yun Yu Il. The Portuguese had intended to go to Korea, but no permission was received from year to year, and finally the persecutions at home in Portugal put an end to the possibility. Yun Yu Il and other companions were martyred in 1795 in Korea. (Today, some Korean Vincentian vocations have begun to arrive.)

Joseph Martial Mouly (1807-1868) came to China at this period from France, to be superior of the Vincentians in the north. He went to Mongolia, at the time part of the Chinese empire, where he had a congregation of about 2000 Catholics. This energetic confrere was soon made vicar apostolic, a bishop, of Mongolia (1842). His first coworker was Joseph Gabet, (1808-1853) who had come to China with Perboyre. Gabet, an excellent linguist, learned the Mongol language from a lama named Tsi, whom he later baptized under the name of Paul. The two of them were instrumental in the conversion of another lama named Gardi, later called Peter Fong (1820-1873). This man was the first Mongol priest, at least in modern times, and was a Vincentian. [BML 1932, pp. 355-56.] His life was exemplary. Mouly became administrator of Beijing, and suffered ill-treatment, even giving himself as a hostage for some of his people who had been unjustly arrested during an uprising (1854). He was soon expelled from China, and died in 1868.

Another coworker was Evariste Huc, (1813-1860) who arrived in 1841. He began to work with Gabet among the lamas, and learned the Mongol and Manchu languages, in addition to standard Mandarin Chinese. His evangelizing trips with Gabet were described in several books. These were translated into several languages, and continue to be of interest. Gabet and Huc reached Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in 1846, in hopes of converting Tibetan lamas. Their visit was short, however, and they were escorted out of forbidden Tibet, and traveled to Macao. Gabet left for Brazil, and died in Rio in 1853, outside the Congregation. Huc left China for France, and he died in Paris in 1860, also outside the Congregation.

Several of the companions and contemporaries of Perboyre became bishops, mostly dying at a young age. François Alexis Rameaux (1802-1845) became bishop in 1840, aged 38, and died at 43. Bernard Vincent Laribe (1802-1850) came to China with Rameaux, and was deputed by the Holy See in 1842 to carry out a formal inquiry about Perboyre. He became a bishop in 1845, and was dead by 1850, at age forty-eight. Jean Henri Baldus (1811-1869) was able to flee at the time of Perboyre’s arrest. He became a bishop in 1845, dying at the old age of fifty-eight, in 1869. Pierre Lavaissiere (1813-1849) arrived in Macao in 1839, was a bishop by 1846, died in 1849, at the young age of thirt-seven. François Xavier Danicourt (1806-1860) came to Macao in 1834, and taught there in the seminary. He became a bishop in 1852, but had much to suffer in his diocese. He brought the remains of Perboyre to Paris in 1860, where he died shortly after at age fifty-three. Louis Gabriel Delaplace (1820-1884) became a bishop in China at age thirty-two and was coadjutor for Beijing.

Lastly, Ferdinand Félix Montels (1823-1857) had the bad luck to be arrested for no good reason, and was condemned to death by a low-ranking civil official with no power give such a sentence. It was swiftly carried out and he was decapitated in 1857, at age thirty-four.

As can easily be seen, life in China was extremely difficult and taxing for foreigners. The reasons for their early deaths included disease and exhaustion from the hard work of evangelization. Confronting a culture very different from their own, these brave confreres exposed themselves to danger and privation. Their brief lives helped to build up the Church in China, but at a huge cost in personal suffering.

PERIOD THREE (1856-1900)

In a surprising move, the Holy See suppressed the two dioceses of China (Beijing and Nanjing) in 1856 and established in their stead new vicariates. Both sees had been under Vincentian administration, the one French, the other Portuguese. Beijing was divided into three, two of which continued under the Congregation.

It was during this period that China’s openness to the west was enforced by treaties and by European military forces. A treaty of 1860 allowed freedom of worship in China for everyone. As a result, churches were restored for worship, again. Some priests and bishops, however, went overboard in their desire to “impress the pagans” as they said. The result was that European-style churches dotted the land, reinforcing the sense that Christianity was a foreign religion.

Vincentian bishops were active in religious and social life. One, Bishop Florent Daguin (1815-1859) spoke out against the custom of footbinding for women, practiced especially among Mongols and Manchus. This custom began in the Manchu court and upper classes, and was spreading elsewhere in society. Bishop Jean Baptiste Anouilh, (1819-1869) coadjutor of Beijing, was a character of great innovation. He was able to enter villages, go to the main square, sit down and begin discussing and evangelizing through his teaching, often remaining all day long. Although imitated by others, he was the most successful at this method of evangelizing. In terms of influence, Vincent Lebbe made great use of his methods.

The enforcement of treaty obligations gradually caused a backlash among the anti-foreign elements of China. In Tientsin, a major seaport and northern industrial center, the Daughters of Charity had established an orphanage. A rumor was spread about that the wonders that the sisters were able to perform in healing village people was due to the eyes and hearts which the Sisters had taken from the babies. (This calumny has continued even in other countries.) Agitation over these lies grew, and on 21 June 1870 a general uprising took place, probably orchestrated against all Europeans. The result was that two Vincentian priests (Vincent Ou [1821-1870] and Claude Marie Chevrier [1821-1870]), ten Daughters of Charity and several others were massacred. Was this a martyrdom? It seems that the Tientsin massacre was more racial and political than religious, although it is difficult to separate them. The Holy See, in any case, replied that the case of martyrdom in odium fidei was not proven, and so their cause toward beatification was stopped.

In this same period, the Lazarist Press began in Beijing. It was founded about 1878 by Auguste Pierre Maes, (1854-1936) a French brother, and after 1900 it was an important source of information, mainly in European languages, for the entire nation.

One of the most interesting Vincentians of the period was Jean Pierre Armand David (1826-1900). This young confrere was recruited shortly after his ordination to go to China and to do some scientific observations for various interested parties in France. As a result, he traveled to Mongolia in 1866, to Szechwan and Tibet from 1868 to 1870 and Central China from 1872 to 1874. He remained at the Maison Mere from 1874 to his death in 1900. His name has been given to various plants and animals, in particular Père David’s deer. He is noted, in particular, as the first European to have seen and described the Giant Panda.

The problem of Vincentian governance of the mission always was and continued to be difficult. In its early days, the Vincentian mission was fairly unorganized. Individual confreres went to China, lived their Vincentian life as best they could, and their appointed superiors exercised powers approaching those of a Visitor or Provincial. In 1890, an official province of China was erected. A significant problem for the visitor was how to transfer his men from house to house, since the Vincentian bishops acted as visitors themselves, transferring their men from mission to mission. This has been a problem in other mission territories, particularly with Vincentian confreres as local ordinaries.

PERIOD FOUR (1900-1950)

The event that gave the most character to the beginning of the century in China was the Boxer Rebellion. The name is a translation from a Chinese expression referring to the glorious “fists” of the rebels. Actually a revolutionary society, with anti-foreign aspects, the Boxers received help from an unexpected quarter: the empress and her palace court. The revolutionaries received arms and legitimacy, therefore, and began various attacks on Beijing. One of these was the Petang, the largest parish in Beijing. The Christian faithful in the Petang survived a siege of two months, from 13 June to 16 August 1900. There were, among others, 20 Daughters of Charity, 2 bishops, 12 Vincentian priests, 2 secular priests, 7 Marist Brothers, many refugees, and 30 French sailors under the command of Paul Henry. Henry died in the assault, together with one confrere, Antoine Claude Chavanne, (1862-1900) two Marists, and many of the weakest, particularly children. Was this martyrdom? It is much less clear in this case that hatred of the faith was directly involved.

For the sake of the record, the following is a list of the names of the Vincentians who died in this period: Jules Garrigues, Beijing, 14 June 1900; his cause was begun; Maurice Doré, Beijing, 15 June 1900; his cause, too, was introduced; Pierre Nié, a Chinese confrere, 18 June 1900; Pascal d’Addosio, Beijing, 15 August 1900.

The same uprising had results elsewhere. At Chala, a Beijing suburb and location of the seminary, there were massacres and the cemetery was profaned. At Tientsin, mentioned previously, another massacre took place, as they did elsewhere. Christians were regularly tortured, killed, and their bodies burned. An informative Process for canonization began in 1920, and the information was sent officially to Rome in 1937. As far as I can tell, no Vincentians or Daughters of Charity were among the number. In all, at least 6000 died.

After the Boxer period, China continued along a revolutionary path. European and Chinese Christians were able to develop religious life: seminaries, churches, provincial headquarters, hospitals. Two other confreres were murdered: Fathers Jean Marie Lacruche (1871-1906) and the Italian Antonio Canduglia (1861-1907). All the districts of China suffered in this period, but peace did not come with the fall of the empire and the installation of the first Chinese republic, which ran from 1912 to 1927. Nevertheless, Catholicism grew at a great rate, with both foreign and native Chinese vocations. For the Congregation, a second internal seminary was founded in the north, since south China and north China speak quite different dialects, and, besides, the numbers of vocations were increasing. The Irish province undertook a mission in Beijing in 1919, a commitment which lasted–despite terror and imprisonment for some of its members–until 1951. Seven Irish confreres, beginning with Robert Hanna in 1788, worked in China before the founding of the Beijing mission.

Another interesting character, one who was the source of much good but also of much division, was Vincent Frédéric Marie Lebbe (1877-1940)

Belgian-born Lebbe apparently was sent to China after his superiors had experienced him as a troublemaker, someone who caused some division among fellow students. He was a great talker, an original thinker, a man of ideas and action. Unfortunately for him, his thoughts and actions often marked him as too original, too independent, too intense for others. He upset Europeans by adopting Chinese clothing, customs and language, and by wondering why other Europeans did not do the same. He had “blind spots” in that he was not good with finances, was very involved in his own projects and cared little for certain issues that some of his confreres had. “All hopes are permitted” was one of his phrases, and this conviction led him into many kinds of ventures.

One of these was the founding of a semi-independent Catholic weekly newspaper, designed for Chinese. This was succeeded by a daily, published in several places, as well as other publications. With these successful means, Lebbe spread news about religion and the missions and raised quite a lot of money. At the same time, since it was independent, control was not in the hands of his superiors. Further, others thought that he succeeded in shining too bright a light on his own work of developing an indigenous clergy. The result was that criticism poured down on him.

Another issue was his long friendship with Antoine Cotta, (1872-1957) a young Austrian-Egyptian confrere, who had shared many of Lebbe’s ideas since their student days together in Dax. Cotta later left the Vincentians and joined the Maryknoll Society in the United States. He died only in 1957. Forced to leave China because of Vatican visitators, Lebbe returned to Europe and stayed there for seven years. He continued his writing, fund raising and efforts for China there, particularly for a native hierarchy. Pope Benedict XV decided to nominate Chinese bishops, but died in the meantime. His successor, Pius XI, did so four years later. Returning to China in 1927, Lebbe went to work in the diocese of one of the new bishops. The next year, 1928, he founded two religious communities: the Little Brothers of Saint John the Baptist, and the Little Sisters of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus. At the end of 1933, he left the Congregation, and became the superior of the Little Brothers. During the Japanese war, he enlisted Christian help as stretcher bearers, oblivious of the political or military standing of the wounded. His exertions took their toll, and he died at the outbreak of the Second World War, 24 June 1940. He is much admired in some fields, and the Belgian Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve preserves his papers and conducts research into his life. An information process for his canonization began in 1988.

Missionary interest in China grew during this period. For example, the Holy See opened an Apostolic Delegation in China for the first time in 1922, and the delegate held a general synod for China in 1924. In that year, the country had fifty-five bishops. It should be noted, however, that of the forty-seven who attended the synod, fourty-five were foreigners. Also, the Vatican held a missionary exhibition as part of the jubilee year of 1925, and, most important of all, as mentioned above, Pius XI named for the first time six Chinese bishops. Two of these, Bishops Melchior Sun (Souen) (1869-1951) and Joseph Hu, (1881-1962) were Vincentians. He ordained them himself in Rome, with the greatest possible splendor, to show to the world, especially the Catholic world, that China as a nation could supply good priests and bishops for its own people. In a way, this was also a victory for our confrere, Vincent Lebbe, who had agitated in his own aggressive way for such an event. He attended the consecration, too, since he was still in “exile” in Europe. Although he had no special place in the basilica, he sat at the banquet in the middle of the new bishops, his proper place.

On the dark side, however, there continued to be mistreatment of foreigners and Chinese Christians of all denominations. Our Swiss confrere, Henri von Arx, (1879-1931) was captured by a band of Communists in 1930 and died after mistreatment. Giacomo Anselmo (1883-1934) was decapitated by bandits in 1934. A Dutch confrere bishop, Francis Schraven, (1873-1937) was massacred by Japanese soldiers along with four Vincentian priests (Lucien Charny, Thomas Ceska, Eugène Bertrand, Gérard Wouters) and two brothers (Antoine Geerts, Ladislas Prinz), plus one Trappist and one layman at Shentingfu, 9-10 October 1937. (Another atrocity under the Japanese was the execution of six Spanish Vincentian priests, four brothers and one seminarian in Manila, Philippines, as the Japanese were getting ready to surrender, 9 February 1945. Besides these innocent victims, other died in the war from various causes.)

Amid these rising tensions, two other events took place which would have long-term effects for the China mission. These were the decisions to have the Eastern and the Western provinces of the USA take charge of two vicariates. John O’Shea, (1887-1969) formerly superior of a community house in China, became a bishop in 1927. As the first bishop of Kanchow after the war, 1946, he suffered imprisonment, and was expelled in 1953. He died in 1969. The Western Province had two bishops, Edward Sheehan (1883-1933) and Paul Misner, (1891-1938) neither of whom lasted long. On the eve of the Japanese war, 1940, a third, Charles Quinn, (1905-1960) became bishop of Yukiang. He was expelled in 1951. A third event should also be listed: the participation of Polish Vincentians in China. Bishop Ignacy Krause, (1896-1984) formerly a missionary in Brazil, led them in China, beginning in 1929, from which he was later expelled after having suffered greatly.

At the end of the war, the first Chinese cardinal was appointed, Thomas Tien, a priest and bishop who had never studied outside of China, let alone in Rome. This appointment was accompanied by the establishment of a Chinese hierarchy, and it entailed development of flourishing new works. This important decision on the part of the Holy See was overshadowed by the continuing growth of Communism in China. When the Communist government took power in 1950, it developed the concept of being self-reliant, autonomous, and extended this to the Church. This was a philosophy well in keeping with ancient Chinese practice, and, to some extent continues today. It is hard to overlook the Chinese, who constitute more than 20% of the world’s entire population, 1.2 billion people, that is: one out of every five people.

Several other names could be mentioned of confreres who suffered at the hands of the Communists. Joseph Hippolyte Tichit, (1903-1974) visitor of North China, was imprisoned and tortured for three years before his expulsion in 1954. Jacques Huysmans, (1888-1972?) his assistant, was also imprisoned and expelled. The same fate befell three Vincentian bishops: Georges Deymier, (1886-1956) André Defebvre, (1886-1967) and John O’Shea. Archbishop Joseph Chow Chi-Shih (1892-1972) of Nanchang languished in prison from 1951 to 1957. His confrere Bishop Joseph Hu (1881-1962), mentioned above, was arrested in 1955, and died in prison in 1962. So ended another Vincentian era in China. In its last years, confreres from France, Holland, Poland, Italy and the United States were responsible for mission areas. It was, however, Bishop Quinn’s story that links the fourth and fifth periods.

PERIOD FIVE (1950-present)

When it became clear that a rapid return to the mainland was not possible, confreres from the Western (later Midwest) Province of the United States responded to a call from Taiwan, or Formosa as it was then called, to minister to the estimated two million refugees there. Former China missionaries, including Bishop Quinn, took up this new work, as well as Chinese and Dutch confreres. As the years passed, it became increasingly clear that a return to the mainland was now less possible, the focus of the Taiwan mission changed. The confreres and the Church in general began to minister not only to mainland Chinese exiles, but to their descendants, to the native Taiwanese Chinese, and even to the aboriginal people. Vocations began to appear, and movement toward being an independent province began. The new Province of China began 15 January 1987. Since then, contacts with the mainland confreres, Daughters of Charity, and laity, have been resumed.

What can be said about Vincentian works in China? We were among the pioneers and, in later years, worked closely with numerous other religious congregations and confreres from many lands who, collectively, sought to evangelize China. One large problem was that pointed out so vigorously by Vincent Lebbe. This is the intercultural question: was the Catholic faith western (i.e., mainly European) or could it be Chinese? Some missions flew foreign flags. Some foreign properties had signs out front like this: “Dogs and Chinese keep out!” When you understand how badly the Chinese regarded dogs, you can get the picture. In returning to China, the Congregation will go in much more humbly, much poorer, more open to the beauty of the Chinese people and their ancient culture.


This discussion of the French revolution intends to give the context to help us understand better the position of the Church in that period. Within that framework, we will look at the Congregation of the Mission, its suppression, and its many martyrs, particularly three who have been beatified: John Henry Gruyer, Louis Joseph François, and Peter René Rogue. At the end, we will look briefly at how the revolution directly affected other European provinces. Even a survey of the entire story would take us far beyond our time.

The revolution in France had both political and religious aspects, although it was neither exclusively the one nor the other. Many revolutionaries sought to impose a new structure and even a new philosophy on the entire Church, and Catholics in later years often saw the revolution only in religious typologies: God versus the devil, the Church versus atheistic or deistic freemasons. Less threateningly, some viewed it as the ancient versus the modern, or the slave versus the free. As with all similar typologies, there is an element of truth in all these positions.

The sources of the revolution can be traced back over centuries. For our purposes here, the intellectual ferment which came to be called the Enlightenment is more immediate. The advocates of the new thinking regularly rejected revelation over reason. They looked on the scandalous lives of the clergy–too true, unfortunately–and realized that this condition had to change. The ecclesiastical state was too closely bound up with the government of the kingdom, the Church being, as for example, in Richelieu’s time, an arm of the state. Its bishops were expected to have state responsibilities, and to leave their dioceses in the care of vicars. Clerical privileges, some of which dated from ancient times, distanced some clergy from the people. Gallicanism, a French separatism, set itself up against papal power, which was often seen as more Italian than papal. In addition, Pius VI (1775-1799) was not very enlightened in many of these areas, and exhibited a lack of tolerance for other views. All these conditions led to many calls, even on the part of the Church itself, for reorganization, purification, modernization.

The following material has been divided into five periods for easier presentation: Period One (May 1789–April 1792), the beginnings of the revolution; Period Two (May 1892–October 1794), a period of dechristianization with the Reign of Terror, martyrdoms and the suppression of the Congregation; Period Three (September 1794–November 1799), a confused period of revival and repression, marked by the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte; Period Four (November 1799–July 1802), the accession of Napoleon, and the approbation of the Congregation; Period Five (August 1802–April 1814), the Napoleonic period.

PERIOD ONE (May 1789–April 1792)

On 4 May 1789 the ancient body known as the Estates General met for the first time since the days of Louis XIII to present its traditional plans and complaints to the king. They met in Versailles, and paraded through the streets from one Vincentian church, Notre-Dame, past the palace, to the other Vincentian church, Saint Louis, for its initial sessions. By June, the Third Estate (the vast body of the people) had determined to invite the First Estate (clergy) and Second Estate (nobility) to join it in writing a constitution for France. On 20 June they swore an oath “to never separate and to assemble wherever circumstances demand it until the constitution of the kingdom if established and laid on a solid foundation.” This is the famous “Tennis Court Oath” [Jeu de Paume], the first of many such engagements. One of the members of the Paris clergy who attended as a delegate was Jean Félix Cayla de la Garde, the superior general of the Congregation of the Mission. By early August, the assembly had decreed the abolition of privileges, which meant that the clergy lost their rights to levy tithes on the people. Henceforth, all would be equally Citizens. In November, ecclesiastical property was nationalized, ostensibly to benefit the State. In fact, the Church had come to possess huge tracts of rural land as well as extensive urban properties that were often unused. The State, in turn, promised to pay clerical salaries. The Assembly also passed a document that has continued to have pride of place in French life, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Not content with simple documents, the Assembly turned to rationalize ecclesiastical life, that is, to impose reason and order on what had grown up haphazardly. Thus, since vows were deemed to violate personal liberty, religious vows were suppressed. Most religious congregations were disbanded (but not the Congregation, since it was not strictly religious.) Some small religious houses were forcibly combined with others, and some congregations were merged. Only religious congregations such as the Daughters of Charity could survive, since they were of use to the State by their nursing and teaching activities. However, by August of 1792, all religious corporations were dissolved. What did we lose? In 1789, the Congregation had numbered seven provinces in France, with seventy-nine houses and 824 priests. In addition, there were three non-French provinces: Rome, Lombardy and Poland, in addition to missions elsewhere, particularly in Spain.

In the midst of all this, an event of great interest to the Congregation also took place: the sacking of Saint Lazare. What happened and why? On 11 July 1789, the king dismissed his popular minister of finance, and simultaneously was believed to have brought in foreign troops to terrorize the Assembly. Word of this filtered into Paris, and armed guards were hastily formed to protect the city. At the same time, grain was scarce because of high prices and the summer’s heat. Word went around that the Priests of the Mission had hoarded grain and arms at Saint Lazare, and by 2:30 in the morning of 13 July, some 200 armed men forced their way into the compound. The crowd later grew to some 4000, and, whatever the interest of the original group was, a general looting began. Books and paintings were resolutely destroyed, Saint Vincent’s room, preserved until then as a shrine, was destroyed. The pharmacy was ruined and some looters were poisoned by trying the medicines. Nothing remained, even doors and windows had been torn away. Once the royal forces of order arrived in the late afternoon, they reportedly found some 100 bodies floating in the wine casks in the basement!

Remarkably, the chapel had not been disturbed. Four of the revolutionaries, on finding a reliquary of Saint Vincent in the house chapel, piously took it close by to Saint Laurent Church for safekeeping. They then returned to the task at hand: looting and pillaging. Across the street at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity, the sisters were cowering in fear and prayer in the community chapel, listening to the horrible disturbances outside, expecting the crowd to cross the street in their direction. The revolutionaries, instead, liberated the poor mental patients, who, in their confusion, refused to leave. The confreres, however, escaped as best they could. Francis Regis Clet was the novice master, and he wisely sent the candidates home.

Religious policy underwent several other changes: nationalization of church lands (2/11/1789), sale of nationalized lands (19/12/1789), and no recognition of monastic vows (13/2/1790). Another grave decision which the Assembly took was the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, passed 12 July 1790. This, too, tried to rationalize ecclesiastical life. Among its points it abolished the old dioceses, and established one diocese per civil department (a reduction of 134 to eighty-three or so dioceses.) The faithful would elect pastors and bishops, as they did civil officials. The clergy would be paid by the state, and would give all services freely. Papal authority was henceforth limited to his spiritual role. Without consulting Rome, of course–since this would have run counter to French (Gallican) privilege–the clergy were required to take the standard civic oath taken by other officers of the state: “I swear to be faithful to the nation, to the law and to the king, and to maintain with all my power the constitution decreed by the national assembly and accepted by the king.” The clergy, henceforth, would be an arm of the State, at least those with civic responsibilities, such as pastors. (In the case of the Congregation, seminary professors were excluded.) This oath, backed by swift and often arbitrary punishment for not taking it, managed to divide both the clergy and the laity: some accepted it, the majority did not. Since Father Cayla did not take the oath, he was excluded from the Assembly along with all the other non-juring clergy. After the suppression of the Congregation, he fled the country, 13 February 1792.

As matters worsened, many priests and bishops fled the country. Some confreres fled to Spain (the names of thirty-three are known who lived in Vincentian houses there), to one or other of the Italian states, to Germany, etc. At least sixteen confreres fled to England, beginning in 1790. Some died in these exiles, but others returned to France at various points and assumed once again their connection with the Congregation. One confrere, Simon Bruno Fontaine, the superior at the seminary of Noyon, fled the country to Italy, and fled again from there when it was overtaken by Napoleon. He moved to Ljubljana in modern Slovenia, where in 1805 he died of disease after his hospital ministry, a martyr of charity. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, his wife, were put under house arrest, until, stupidly, they sought to flee the country into the power of the Holy Roman Emperor, an Austrian, who just happened to be the queen’s brother. A period of great unrest ensued, since revolutionary France now found itself at war with the Holy Roman Empire (20 April 1792), and without a king (after 10 August).

PERIOD TWO (May 1792–October 1794)

Fear of enemies, foreign and domestic, led the nation down the path of what has been called “dechristianization.” This meant that Christianity was to be uprooted from society. In this period, churches were closed, monuments were destroyed in revolutionary fervor, and public worship was prohibited, as was any religious teaching. In its place would come a kind of civil religion, tolerant of everything except the old religion: regarded as the source of so much that was wrong in France.

This period also saw the “Reign of Terror,” a centralized, dictatorial, bloody regime bent on defending the State. It can be divided into two periods: the Little Terror (Summer-August 1792) and the Great Terror (September 1793–August 1794).

The two months of the first terror were marked by the arrest and exile of about 30,000 priests and religious. Since they had rejected the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, they were deemed to be enemies of the State, suspect of revolt against the laws, and consequently in league with the State’s enemies. The State’s enemies were, of course, on French soil, since Austrian and Prussian troops had invaded from the north. The Congregation, by this time, had lost whatever protection it had once enjoyed, and was suppressed on 18 August 1792. One of the confreres who escaped was Louis Luc Chantrel (1747-1820). He moved from Saint Brieuc, where he was the superior, to near-by Jersey, under English government. He set to help his fellow countrymen with whatever aid he could arrange, and gradually opened chapels for them. He moved to England and was there still in 1801, during which time he offered important services to French clergy and laity alike. He later returned to France.

Some of its members, a small minority, decided to take the oath to uphold the Civil Constitution and became thereby members of the Constitutional Church. The text was: “I swear to carefully watch over the faithful confided to my care, [or perhaps: to fulfill exactly the functions of my ministry] to be faithful to the Nation, to the Law and to the King, and to preserve with all my strength the Constitution decreed by the National Assembly and accepted by the king.” (27/11/1790) Three of these ex-confreres became Constitutional bishops, and their names live on: Adrien Lamourette (Lyons), Nicolas Philbert (Sedan), Jean Baptiste Gratien (Rouen). Lamourette had left the Congregation in 1785 and returned to his diocese. He took the oath, but later retracted it and was guillotined, 10 January 1794. Lamourette’s nephew, Ange Bernard Joseph Lamourette had Francis Regis Clet as his director, took vows in 1788, and is said to have died in prison in 1793. Details are lacking. It is known, however, that the seminarians and the brothers at Saint Lazare were conflicted on this issue. Six students eventually took the oath and received a state pension. Forty-eight of the fifty-eight brothers also took the oath and similarly received a pension.

Fear of prison uprisings, and possibly a premeditated decision to kill the imprisoned clergy anyway, led to the savage September Massacres of 1792. Three-quarters of those in the prisons were common criminals, and they were quickly dispatched. The others were political prisoners, and included hundreds of bishops, priests and religious. More than one hundred, including three bishops, were butchered near here, at the Carmelite monastery, where a makeshift prison had been set up. Twenty-six died at the Abbey, Saint German des Prés, and three died at La Force prison. For us, the most important group were the seventy-six who were brutally massacred at the former Collège des Bons-Enfants (then called the Saint Firmin Seminary).

The best known of these is Louis Joseph François. He was born on 3 February 1751 and entered the Congregation at a time when it was very important for the French Church: it conducted more than half of the seminaries in France and had charge of three royal chapels, as well as other mission houses and parishes. After his ordination he spent eighteen years teaching in one or more seminaries. He became the Secretary General of the Congregation in 1786, and was a well-known preacher. In 1788 he was appointed superior of Saint Firmin, and set about renewing the old buildings. His most important contributions, however, were his ten pamphlets defending the interests of the Church in the revolutionary period. Most of his writings went through several editions, and made him well known. Surprisingly, two of his blood brothers, both Vincentians, saw no problems with the oath, and took it.

During the fateful summer of 1792, a small radical group, the Commune, took over municipal power in Paris, and decreed the full implementation of previous anti-clerical decrees. All citizens were to denounce conspirators and by 13 August Saint Firmin had been effectively changed into a prison for those inside. On 18 August, the date when the Congregation was officially disbanded, more prisoners arrived at Saint Firmin. Word came through that plans had been laid to execute all the prisoners, and about thirty-five were able to flee. Death came for most of the others as they were hurled out of the windows to the howling crowd below. This happened on 3 September 1792. Louis Joseph François was similarly treated, and was finished off by a group of women who beat him to death with heavy wooden clubs. Other unfortunates had their eyes gouged out with scissors, and some were caught on pikes as they fell.

Very little is known about John Henry Gruyer. He was born 13 June 1734 in Dole, and was ordained a priest for the diocese of Saint Claude. He applied to the join the Congregation in 1770, and entered the novitiate at Saint Lazare at age thirty-seven. He served the two Vincentian parishes in Versailles (Notre-Dame and Saint Louis), and when the parish was taken over by the Constitutional clergy, he returned to his home region. In August 1792 he made a trip to Paris and had the bad luck to stay with the confreres at Saint Firmin, where Louis Joseph François was the superior. Just after Gruyer’s arrival, a guard was placed at the door, and no one was allowed to leave again. He was killed with the others, but how or what happened to his and François’s body afterward is unknown. The State made some attempts to bring the guilty to justice, but only three were condemned to prison sentences for what was, in all likelihood, a deliberate attempt to finish off the clergy. What began as a conspiracy turned into a riot, with predictable results.

The Church beatified 191 of these martyrs, whose deaths were clearly carried out in hatred of the faith. The ceremony took place on 17 October 1926. Other confreres also died, for example Jean Joseph Avril, Jean Paul Galoy (or Galois), Mathieu Caron, Alexis-Jean Colin (Collin), and François Messin killed a few days after the others, 9 September, at the queen’s stables in Versailles. Two of the other priests killed that day at Saint Firmin were diocesan priests, former Vincentians (they left in 1770), who were also beatified with the others: Jean Charles Caron and Nicolas Colin (Collin). Colin first took the oath, with some stated restrictions, but then recanted. Seven confreres seem to have escaped: Fathers Boullangier, Gaumer, Delangres, and Adam, and three brothers. Boullangier wrote a valuable account of the events at Saint Firmin.

As noted above, the Paris Commune stepped in, a group of more or less self-appointed officials ratified by the National Assembly. Its word became law not only in Paris but elsewhere in France. The Commune absolutely forbade all public worship and authorized looting the churches for their silver and bronze, ostensibly to help the war effort. The national government, the Convention, authorized the trial and execution of the monarch, and Louis XVI was beheaded in the Place de la Concorde 21 January 1793; he was 39. His wife was executed somewhat later; she was 38. Martyrs for the faith best known to Vincentians are the Daughters of Charity who suffered at Angers, Blesseds Marie Anne Vaillot and Odile Baumgarten, who died with many others, 1 February 1794; and the martyrs from Arras, executed at Cambrai on 26 June 1794: Blesseds Mary Magdalene Fontaine and her three companions (Marie Françoise Lanel [or Lasnel], Thérèse Magdalene Fantou, and Jeanne Gérard). Another victim was Marguerite Rutan, superior of the hospital in Dax. She was arrested likewise for refusing the civic oath. After a show trial, she was imprisoned briefly, paraded through Dax, and guillotined on the main square. After a preliminary examination of her cause, however, the Holy See determined that martyrdom was not proven, but new attempts are being made to open her cause. .

Practically unknown are other Vincentians who were also executed, listed here in chronological order: Louis Hayer, guillotined at Niort (2 April 1793); Alexis Julien Lucas, drowned in the river at Nantes with eighty-two other priests (17 November 1793); Louis Guinand (or Guinant/Guinaud), part of the staff at Valfleury, was executed at Lyons, “Liberty Square” (16 January 1794); Claude Leclerc, who took the oath but retracted it, and was executed at age seventy-five at Lyons (24 February 1794); Jean Guibaud, age thirty-three, at Le Mans (18 March 1794), Nicolas Dodin, (Docdin) age thirty-nine, at Poitiers on Good Friday (18 April 1794); André Borie (called Portefaix), age fifty-eight, at Mende (2 May 1794); François Bergon, age thirty-seven, at Cahors (17 May 1794); Brother Jean Antoine Martin, guillotined at Feurs, (1 July 1794); Jean Elie Bories, age seventy-four, guillotined at Périgueux (2 July 1794); and Antoine Imbert, likewise guillotined at Feurs (10 July 1794). Among those who suffered and died in prisons and exile were the following: Deacon Victor Jacques Julienne (10 October 1793), Nicolas Joseph Bailly (16 November 1793), and Paul Nicolas Raymond Brochois, (age 51, 12 December 1793), all in prison at Amiens; Claude Joseph Vaucheret and André Chambovet both died somewhere in prison, but the details are not known.

The beatification of the martyrs took place in 1926, and, as usual, had a political side to it. The process began in earnest after the centenary commemorations, 1892. Anti-clerical feeling was high in France, and the Church’s desire to remember its martyrs was correspondingly intense. A period of severe anti-clerical laws followed beginning in 1901, and many congregations were dismissed from their work and expelled from the country. By 1926, however, broken relations had been re-established with the Holy See, yet the beatification went ahead anyway, amid some controversy.

One is right to wonder where all the violent feelings came from. Bishops, priests and monks had for some time pointed to the disastrous state of the clergy and suggested reforms. The National Assembly, therefore, was responding to some legitimate issues. When the new laws were implemented in their rigor, the people in many country parishes, in particular, offered both active and passive resistance. Actively, the newly freed people demanded that they be free to practice their traditional worship. Others broke into the locked churches and even without the priest present celebrated such offices and liturgies as they could: hymns, processions, vespers, even the “dry mass.” Others reacted against revolutionary symbols, by destroying them. This reaction lasted until well after the end of the revolutionary period.

PERIOD THREE (September 1794–November 1799)

The Great Terror began, its second period, in September of 1794. It was inspired partly by fear of being surrounded by enemies abroad, such as England and Spain, and of having revolts at home, such as in the Vendée, where the Catholic sympathizers conducted a long but ultimately fruitless insurrection. In the face of these problems, officials were sent out from Paris with arbitrary powers to crush all opposition. Priests, as a result, were arrested and forced to marry and quit the priesthood. (By the end of the revolutionary period, about forty Vincentians had left and married.) After 21 October, those who refused, and those who harbored refractory priests, could be executed on sight. Those who denounced them or revealed their hiding places could receive a monetary reward. Many more martyrs resulted. To substitute for the old ideas, the Second Directory (1795-1799) imposed a civil religion of Liberty, with new feasts, new liturgies, and new symbols. In addition, a rationalized Revolutionary Calendar was imposed, with different names of the months, and a “week” of ten days. As a result, the official or Constitutional Church ceased, and even French Protestants and Jews suffered, since their worship was likewise proscribed. The revolutionary cult lasted until Napoleon opened the churches again on Sundays in 1799. It was dissolved in 1805.

A coup d’état had put an end to the Terror, and brought about the fall of Maximilien Robespierre (27/6/1794). France’s new leaders, forced to face reality, realized that they could no longer afford to pay clerical salaries. This nearly eliminated the Constitutional Church, which alone had been supported. Freedom of conscience, a value already enunciated, was extended to all, and thereby helped in some way to revive Catholic life.

During this period, however, another martyrdom took place, that of Peter René Rogue. This tiny man, only 4’11” (about 1.5 m), was born 11 June 1758. He did his seminary studies in Vannes in Brittany and was ordained a priest there in 1782. After four years, he joined the Congregation. Perhaps because of his health, his novitiate lasted only three months, and he returned to teach in the Vannes seminary. At the time of the civic oath (1790) he refused it, and prompted the superior of the seminary to rescind his decision to take the oath on the following Sunday. After many other events, the seminary was to be closed and its contents sold, but Rogue and the other Vincentians worked hard to forestall it. He served also as the pastor of a local parish, but, when that church was closed, he continued to minister by saying mass in private homes.

Another oath, to uphold Liberty and Equality, was decreed in August 1792, with deportation to French Guyana provided for those who did not. Our confrere went underground instead. He could have said: “I swear that, preserving Liberty and Equality with all my power, as well as the security of persons and property, I will be faithful to the nation or die defending it if need be.” The problem was the term “Liberty,” which could be understood to mean that the Church was completely free of any authority, especially Rome’s, and that all ecclesiastical life, with its hierarchy of obedience, would be destroyed. The punishment for refusal to take the oath was death. After Robespierre’s death, however, as mentioned above, a period of relaxation of the laws was decreed, and Peter René Rogue came out of hiding. Shortly after another oath was prescribed which he again refused to take. “I acknowledge that the entire body of French citizens is sovereign and I promise submission and obedience to the laws of the Republic.” (29/9/1795) The problem was the same, concerning the term “sovereign.” Also, this oath seemed to involve swearing obedience to any laws to be passed in the future–clearly impossible. Because of foreign invaders near Vannes, the city was tightly controlled, and Rogue was arrested on Christmas eve, 1795. In a strange resemblance to Clet and Perboyre, one of those who arrested him had received financial help from him. In prison, he continued to minister to others and gave up various chances to escape, to keep others from having to suffer reprisals. Rogue’s regularly came to visit him and bring him comfort. He was guillotined 3 March 1796; his executioner was a former student of his. His body was buried in an unmarked grave, alongside a diocesan priest executed with him. His mother’s devotion kept alive the memory of its location, and eventually his body was reburied in the cathedral. He was beatified 10 May 1934.

A brief period of revival occurred, with priests being readmitted to France, and reappointed to churches. Unfortunately, the Catholic priests had to struggle often against the Constitutional clergy, who sometimes held the same churches. In some instances, one congregation celebrated in the body of the church while the other stayed in the sanctuary. When this leniency did not work, an anti-religious offensive began again (September 1797) and ran until the time of Napoleon. The Directory, that group of five directors in charge of the State, prescribed a new oath against royalty. It spoke of : “hatred of royalty and anarchy, of attachment and loyalty to the Republic and to the Constitution of the Year III.” (5/9/1797) At least 2000 priests and religious were arrested as a result. Vincentian brothers and priests were sent to prisons (the château of Hâ at Bordeaux, the fortress of Blaye, the prison of Saint Martin on the Ile de Ré), or put on convict ships. These confreres can be classed at least as confessors of the Faith, if not martyrs. In the same period, many were deported. Of these, several confreres were able to return after conditions improved.

Others were killed. François Bernard Martelet was shot to death at Besançon, 9 February 1798, for being a returned émigré. He was 38. His cause has been introduced along with others martyred at Besançon. Jean-Louis Janet (10 September 1794) and Nicolas Parisot (14 October 1794) were put on the convict ship “Washington.” These young men died off Rochefort, and were buried on Ile Madame. Jean Pierre Frayssé was put on another convict ship and died at the end of the next year at Marennes. Louis Verne was imprisoned at Puy, where he died in 1794. Others priests and religious were sent to French Guyana, in northeastern South America, several confreres among them. We know two of these. Claude François Guin and César Auguste Rimbault (or Raimbault) died there in 1799, clearly from ill treatment.

The young general, Napoleon Bonaparte, had begun to attract attention because of his amazing military victories in Italy. He was able to stage a coup d’état of his own, 11 November 1799. Although he treated the elderly Pope Pius VI well in Italy, his associates did not, and the pope was taken prisoner and sent to France, where he died in that same year, 1799. The reason for mentioning the pope is that, in the absence of legitimate Community authority in France, the pope nominated the first of the Italian vicars general, Benedict Fenaja. He was given powers, legitimately, to govern the Congregation outside of France, a development that took many years for Vincentians to overcome.

PERIOD FOUR (November 1799–July 1802)

With the advent of Napoleon by a coup d’état, (9/11/1799) the formerly inconsistent, unjust and brutal government was overthrown. He declared the revolution over, but sought to continue its “victories,” under his guidance. He supported the Roman Catholic Church, in preference to the Constitutional Church or even French Protestants, as the primary national religion. This meant, however, that the Church was to continue in its role as an arm of the State.

Pope Pius VII began negotiations with France, and the result was the Concordat of 1801, promulgated 8 April 1802 This agreement would define Church-State relations in France until 1905. By it, religious freedom was granted to all, including Jews. The Church found itself forced, in a way, to forgive and forget. Nevertheless, the issue of religious freedom lurked just below the surface. People asked themselves: Does error, especially religious error, have any rights? This much-vexed question overlooked the fact that error does not exist apart from persons, who may, in the ideal order, embrace error. It was resolved in some way during the Second Vatican Council. One of its loudest critics, Archbishop Marcel Lefevre, however, looked back on the French Revolution and declared that its ideas of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité had, in the long run, defeated Catholicism during the Second Vatican Council. The council’s teaching on religious liberty (Liberté), the Constitution on the Church and the document on ecumenism (Egalité), and liturgy (Fraternité) where enough proof for him to engineer a schism.

The Daughters of Charity, who, during the revolutionary period were able to serve in hospitals, but only as lay women, were more or less re-established at the end of 1800, and the decree re-establishing them took effect on 16 October 1802.

The Vincentians who did not abandon their vocation often found some sort of ecclesiastical work. This was especially the case after the Concordat, when bishops were anxious to have well-trained priests as their vicars general, pastors and to fill other important positions, many of which had been vacant for ten or fifteen years. Some of these confreres returned to the Congregation after it was re-established, but many found it difficult to do so. The causes, as might be expected, were multiple: age and health, inclination, commitment to bishops or other works, generalized anxiety, or lack of interest in a community which had been dispersed for so many years.

PERIOD FIVE (August 1802–April 1814)

This period of twelve years was the Napoleonic period, running from his becoming consul for life to his abdication as emperor. He returned for a Hundred Days in the spring of 1815, but was defeated again and sent into permanent exile in the South Atlantic.

The Congregation of the Mission was reestablished as a secular congregation for foreign missions on 27 May 1804. The State looked on the community as being of public usefulness, and so Vincentians again had legal existence, mainly for the Levant (Syria, Turkey, etc.), and for China.

When the Congregation lost its usefulness, it was suppressed a second time. The reason was that the vicar general, Dominique François Hanon, refused to agree with government plans to place the Daughters of Charity under episcopal control, and under the august protection of the emperor’s mother. Napoleon signed the decree 26 September 1809, but it never had the force of law. Nevertheless, all the confreres had to be sent away. Additionally, Father Hanon was arrested, placed under house arrest (1809), and then imprisoned by Napoleon at the fortress of San Carlo in Fenestrelle, a town in Piedmont, from 1811 to 1814. One of his fellow prisoners was no less than Cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca, a papal diplomat imprisoned from 1809 to 1813.

In Italy, Napoleon’s troops effected various closures and disruptions of religious houses in the Italian states. During his time, the novitiate in Turin was shut briefly, and the novices had to return home. Other confreres, such as students in Rome, were ordained early to avoid possible complications. Among those affected were the pioneer Vincentians in the United States (Felix De Andreis, Joseph Rosati, John Baptist Acquaroni). Because the French were no longer able to guide the Congregation from Paris, these young missionaries were sent by the province of Rome to found the American mission.

Spain, too, was cut off from Paris. The confreres there had their own vicars general, who continued in office until about 1817. The same situation was repeated in Portugal, where a local confrere, Antonio Martins Silva was named “vicar apostolic” for the congregation there (1812). Several confreres later left Portugal with the royal family to settle in Brazil. Among these was another confrere whose cause for beatification has been begun, Antonio Ferreira Viçoso. From these confreres began the Brazilian mission.

What lessons can be drawn from this central point in the life of the Congregation? The Congregation suffered as did others, but, in terms of human suffering, less than others. Fewer were martyred, more escaped, but many continued the quiet work of Vincent de Paul. The condition of the parish clergy in France was, admittedly, not wonderful, but it was worlds better than that of the religious clergy. This increase in fervor and loving service was due, in no small measure, to the work of the confreres in French seminaries. It is difficult, however, to distinguish at this distance between martyrdom and execution of a political/religious/economic prisoner. We can also deplore the loss of some confreres, but we can also admire the vibrant faith of others of our confreres whose names are still on our lips. Martyrdom, suffering and violent death are far from being events of the past, as a glance at the television will show. Without moralizing too much, might we not see a possibility of this suffering in our own lives, or at least in the lives of confreres in our provinces?


In this section, we will treat the Vincentian mission in Ethiopia, and focus, of course, on its two great figures: Saint Justin De Jacobis and Blessed Ghebremichael. This material is divided into three periods. Period One is the pre-history of Vincentian missionary labor in Ethiopia. Period Two covers the founding of the mission, the age of Abuna Yaqob Mariam, as Justin De Jacobis was known in Ethiopia, and his companion Ghebremichael. Period Three brings the story up to the modern day.


Ethiopia enjoys a special and privileged place in Africa, inasmuch as it has been, and remains, a largely Christian nation for more than fifteen hundred years. In the earliest Christian days, Ethiopia received the Christian message through travelers from Egypt. Later, its Christian history took more definite form through contact with Christian communities living across the Gulf of Suez in the Arabian peninsula. It is from there that it received its Semitic language and special writing system, still in use. Ethiopians continued to have connection with other Christian communities because of Ethiopian presence in the Holy Land, where Christian pilgrims from many lands gathered.

Although its Christianity is privileged because its antiquity, the Ethiopian peoples gradually became cut off from the larger currents of Syrian, Byzantine and Western Christianity. As a result, it became classified Monophysite, following neighboring Egyptian and Nubian churches in proclaiming that Christ was truly God and truly man, but had only one nature. In fact, this so-called heresy has now been shown to have been mainly caused by differences in language, translation and philosophy. The Ethiopian church developed a rich monastic heritage, somewhat like early Celtic Christianity in Ireland. This meant that the church was focused more around monastic life and customs than around bishops, since there was only one bishop in the country, and he was an Egyptian appointed by the patriarch of Alexandria. Another feature of Ethiopian life was a strong heritage from Judaism. This may reflect the powerful Jewish communities which lived in the Arabian peninsula at the time of the nation’s evangelization. The last feature is the special Ethiopian rite, based on that of Egypt, but with its own developments.

Contact with Ethiopia in medieval times was nearly non-existent. One persistent legend was that of Prester John. In one version, this king was blind, but the richest king of the world, and was an Ethiopian. He is supposed to have helped Charlemagne in battle with the aid of horses and ships, but once the battle was over, Prester John and his troops were magically removed. As usual, some kernel of truth could be dragged from this ancient story. At all events, the lure of finding the fabled kingdom of Prester John lingered in Europe, and may have moved explorers to look for it in Ethiopia. Dominican missionaries came in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but left with little to show for their efforts. As travel became easier in the Renaissance period, the Portuguese began to have contacts with Ethiopia. Portuguese Jesuits were sent in the sixteenth century, but they were forced to withdraw since they had tried to do away with the Ethiopian rite and impose the Roman liturgy. This happened, it should be noted, after a brief period during which the entire Ethiopian church entered into union with Rome. A few Capuchins also attempted to carry on, but had to withdraw in the face of opposition.


Toward the beginning of the nineteenth century contacts with Europeans increased markedly. Some in Rome, even, thought that Ethiopia was ready to resume full union with the Holy See. These contacts led, more or less directly, to the search for missionaries for Ethiopia. The Church assigned “Ethiopia and neighboring lands” to the Congregation of the Mission in 1830, but it took some time to find missionaries. At this point, our attention turns to a confrere of the type the French call “original,” namely Giuseppe Sapeto (1811-1895). This Italian confrere asked to be sent to the foreign missions while he was still a student. His superiors agreed, and he was sent to Syria. There he undertook the study of Arabic, ran a small school, and prepared himself for ordination, which he received in 1835. It is hard to know what prompted him to leave, but, without official permission, he left for Cairo and impulsively departed for Ethiopia in the company of two French brothers who were preparing a scientific mission in Ethiopia. His official request for confreres to accompany him was turned down and he was told to return to Turin, but this response reached Cairo after he had left.

Although this placed him outside the Community structures, Sapeto forged ahead, and secured grudging permission from the Holy See. He purchased a house, began to learn the languages of the country, adopted Ethiopian dress, and at length was able to welcome Justin, the prefect of the new mission which Sapeto had started more or less on his own, but probably with the best of intentions. After bouts of sickness, he had to return to Italy, where he was a thorn in the side of his superiors, and they considered expelling him. He went back to Syria then eventually to Ethiopia, completely without permission either from the Holy See or from the Congregation. He traveled later to Egypt and Palestine, then published accounts of his voyages and adventures–in fact, that is what he was: a Vincentian adventurer, the restless type noted by Dodin and others. This spirit led him to leave the priesthood, and he contracted marriage at age fifty-four (29 June 1865). He was able to secure a teaching position for Arabic at an Italian state institution in Genoa. The death of his wife and friends and finally his illness brought about serious problems for him, and he died nearly forgotten at age eighty-four.

After the tentative beginnings made by Sapeto, the Holy See realized that the Ethiopian mission needed to be put on a more secure footing. They found this missionary in Justin de Jacobis (1800-1860). He was born 9 October 1800, and entered the Congregation in 1818. After his ordination in 1824, Justin gave retreats and parish missions in the province of Naples. He was noted even then for his personal holiness as well as for his administrative abilities. After fifteen years of work in his province, he was accepted for the new Ethiopian mission, and was named Prefect Apostolic. Before going to Ethiopia, he went to Paris to secure the proper permissions (which he got) and also to look for Daughters of Charity (whom he did not get). Then, he left for Ethiopia with another confrere, Luigi Montuori, about whom more will be heard later. They arrived in Ethiopia and met the tragic Sapeto. Since it was technically against the law for Catholic missionaries to be there, the three pioneer confreres had to begin from zero. They developed a few points of missionary planning which centered around developing good personal relationships with the local clergy and adapting the local way of life. In addition, they agreed to be continually on the move, trying to evangelize and develop local communities.

The three confreres separated and began their work. After Justin had begun to adapt himself to local life, and to avoid openly antagonizing the monks, he gradually began to make inroads, and people came to him. What attracted them? His spirit of prayer and willingness to listen to them were, it seems to me, central. He knew the language well, and invited people’s confidence. This was such that he was invited by the local ruler to head a delegation of Orthodox clergy to go to Cairo in search of a new metropolitan for Ethiopia. Justin hoped, of course, to influence their thinking about union with Rome, something which had briefly succeeded under the Jesuits. One member was a debtera, Ghebremichael (1788 [?]-1855). His birthdate is unknown, as are the precise identities of his parents. It seems, however, that his father was of a mixed ancestry, probably Ethiopian and Portuguese. Ghebremichael was a monk and a seeker after truth. As a debtera, he had been especially trained in monastic life and liturgy.

This delegation to Cairo received a young bishop, who took the name Salama. He had been trained by English Protestants in Egypt, his family was engaged in the slave trade, and his character was unpredictable and violent. He would be the central cause of problems for Justin and Ghebremichael for the rest of their lives. At this point, however, the two went to Rome with part of the delegation. While there, they were able to have an audience with the pope (17 August 1841), partake of Italian hospitality and see something of Roman Catholicism. Justin also encountered some problems with young Jean Baptiste Etienne, the secretary general. Etienne wanted more information and clarity about the mission and its finances, something Justin could not readily give him. Misunderstandings with Jean Baptiste Nozo and then with Etienne as superiors general clouded the mission for some time. Four of the group remained in Rome, and Justin returned to Ethiopia with a French passport, more or less falling under French protection, much as the English sought to protect Protestant and Orthodox missions.

A word should be said here about Luigi Montuori (1798-1857), since his career was influenced by Abuna Salama as well. After his ordination, he concentrated on missions, the principal work of the Naples province. He worked with Justin De Jacobis, and lived at the main house in Naples with him. He asked to be sent to the foreign missions, and was assigned to go to Ethiopia with De Jacobis. He arrived after a difficult and lengthy passage and stayed with Justin only briefly, before the three missionaries (De Jacobis, Sapeto and Montuori) split up to work in different regions. Because of increasing religious persecution from the young patriarch Salama, Montuori joined forces with a Belgian consul and set out for neighboring Sudan, technically under Vincentian responsibility. He loved Khartoum, its capital, and decided to stay there. Like Justin and Sapeto, he, too, adopted native dress. All this happened, it should be remarked, without official permission. Nevertheless, two confreres, a priest and a brother, were sent to help him. The mission did not succeed, and Montuori, “the most positive, the most zealous, the most heroic” missioner, in Justin’s terms, returned to Naples, where he died in 1857.

Justin’s life in Ethiopia was marked by work for converts, especially among native clergy. He decided early on to identify himself in what could be called “ecumenical” terms: “I am a Roman Christian who loves the Christians of Ethiopia.” His love and friendship for them shone forth in what he did. Also, he emphasized a good formation for them, liturgy according to the Ethiopian rite–a startling change for missionaries in those days–and common life. This solid preparation more and more interested Ghebremichael, and the two of them visited monasteries and their collections of manuscripts to search for the truth. Ghebremichael was received into the Church in February 1844. After this, Ghebremichael principally worked for the formation of the clergy, and other convert monks worked with children, while Justin took general responsibility for the mission. Since their previous training and observance of proper sacramental discipline was questionable, Justin came to realize that a bishop for Ethiopia was essential. He reasoned that these convert priests should be re-ordained to assure sacramental validity. As it happened, Rome sent Guglielmo Massaia, an Italian Capuchin, as bishop for southern Ethiopia. He stayed for some time with Justin, and in his appreciation for Justin’s qualities, recommended him as bishop. Justin accepted. Opposition from Abuna Salama had accompanied the Catholic missionaries for some time, and increased as it became known that Justin would be a bishop. He called for Justin’s murder, and threatened arrests and excommunication for all who helped him. Many of his convert communities suffered.

Justin’s ordination as a bishop took place under strange circumstances. Quoting Thomas Davitt’s account: “Two boxes were pressed into use as an altar; two Ethiopian priests acted as witnesses; [Capuchin] Brother Paschal stood just inside the door with two pistols in his cincture; outside the door were Mohammedan soldiers sent by the authorities to guard the Europeans.” He was ordained in a room in a house in Massawa, the port city, probably on 8 January 1849. The two bishops had to share the only miter and crosier available.

One of the convert priests of Abuna Yaqob Mariam, as Justin was now called, Roman trained and his confidant, turned against him and betrayed Justin to the authorities. Ghebremichael was also imprisoned, and after his release, Justin ordained him a priest, 1 January 1851. This was Abuna Yaqob’s first ordination. In this period, also, Justin moved to Hebo, which became and remains a center of Ethiopian, now Eritrean, Catholicity. Relationships with Paris continued to be tense. About 1850, the confreres there were attached to the province of Syria. To help out the situation, Justin asked for a received a visit from Marc Antoine Poussou, assistant general, on a return visit from China. Poussou’s report, in which he said about Justin, “He is called a saint,” helped to dispel doubts and provide better information to the general council in Paris about Ethiopia.

A new king, Theodore, attempted to enforce previous prohibitions against missionaries, and Abuna Yaqob was put under house arrest (1854) and then was imprisoned. He was required to make a public profession of faith, which he refused, but he was released by his Moslem guards when they learned that they were expected to kill him. Meanwhile Ghebremichael and others were kept in prison, tortured and scourged. To increase the monk’s sufferings, Theodore forced him, even though an old man, to travel with the king’s retinue from camp to camp. Ghebremichael contracted cholera, and gradually weakened. He had hoped to enter the Congregation, but was unable to begin his novitiate because of his imprisonment. He died, therefore, as a Vincentian postulant and a martyr, on 28 August 1855. He was beatified as a martyr in 1926.

Justin’s own health was weakened by years of privation. A young confrere sent from Italy, Carlo Delmonte (1827-1869), met him and wrote later: “I saw a poor old man squatting on the ground beside the door way, wrapped in his white Ethiopian cloak, a book in his hand; you would have taken him for a beggar, but it was Bishop De Jacobis.” Justin was again on the run, so to speak, and was starting to see his end approaching. He had hoped to found a small congregation of Ethiopian priests, but he did not have the time. Instead, he saw his coadjutor, Bishop Lorenzo Biancheri, (1804-1864) deciding to overturn many of Justin’s cherished ideas about a native Catholic clergy of the Ethiopian rite. Justin died, as Ghebremichael had, outdoors in the country, while traveling, on 31 July 1860. He was buried at his beloved Hebo, where his body remains, and was beatified in 1939 and canonized in 1975. Delmonte was appointed as bishop later, but died before receiving his official appointment.

One further companion of Saint Justin’s, although not a Vincentian, should be mentioned, Tekle Haymanot, (1825-1902.) He probably met De Jacobis and Sapeto during their earliest months in Ethiopia, and eventually asked to become a Catholic. He was ordained a priest by Massaia in 1847, and served with Biancheri and Ghebremichael in various missions. He was imprisoned with the latter for eleven months, tortured and beaten for the Faith, but eventually released. He continued to work for many years as a missionary, and was influential in giving testimony before the ecclesiastical tribunal about Justin’s heroic life. He wrote a life of Abuna Yaqob, which was translated into French and Italian after his death in 1902.


Since Justin’s day, the Orthodox Church has received Ethiopian-born bishops from Egypt. Later it received a metropolitan (patriarch) as the head of the Church, born in Ethiopia and appointed by Ethiopians. This act severed an ancient link with Alexandria. This Church suffered in various ways under the Italian occupation (1890-1941), then under the English after the Second World War, and most recently because of civil war and the Communist government.

Since Justin’s day, too, the main lines set down by him were followed by the Catholic Church in Ethiopia. Several confrere-bishops succeeded Abuna Yaqob as vicar apostolic, until 1894 when French confreres were expelled from Ethiopia, and Italian Capuchins received responsibility for Eritrea. These Capuchins replaced the Vincentians and the Italian Sisters of Saint Anne replaced the Daughters of Charity. The Catholic presence grew with the introduction of other religious congregations and the gradual growth of the Ethiopian and Eritrean clergy themselves, who slowly took over the leadership of the local Church. Some Vincentians came as chaplains for the Italian fascist soldiers in 1935. When the English defeated them, some were held as prisoners of war, but later returned to Naples. In 1948, during the period of exile from Eritrea, two Italian priests and one brother went to open a mission, again, at Hebo, where Justin De Jacobis had been buried. By 1969, the first eight Vincentian Eritrean priests were ordained. In 1992, the Eritrean vice-province was established, and it has almost entirely Eritrean personnel. A civil war, lasting thirty years, from 1961 to 1991, finally brought an independent Eritrea, separated from Ethiopia.

After the defeat of the Italian Fascists, French Vincentians returned to Ethiopia with two Ethiopian priests. In 1956, Dutch confreres replaced the French, and in 1968 a province was established. This province has both Ethiopian and Dutch priests, and welcomes missionaries from other provinces. The difficult problem of the two rites, Ethiopian (Coptic) and Roman, continues to exist, with some dioceses being of the eastern rite, and the others western. We have confreres of both rites serving in the two now-independent nations, Eritrea and Ethiopia. Eritrea is mainly eastern rite, and Ethiopia mainly western or Latin. The Ethiopian College, situated on the grounds of Vatican City, continues to provide a residence for the education of Ethiopian and Eritrean clergy, as it has since 1919. There have been confreres as bishops of both the Ethiopian and Roman rites, and the present archbishop, a Vincentian with residence in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is of the eastern rite.

Justin’s life stands out in contrast to two different types. The first is the spirit of reckless youthful adventure, characteristic of Sapeto and, to a lesser extent, Montuori. The second is the fairly rigid and European-centered approach favored by Biancheri and his eventual successors. Justin–Saint Justin De Jacobis–was also original and daring. He practically founded the Ethiopian rite in the Catholic Church, for example. His life of prayer, study, hard work, and especially of love for the Christians of Ethiopia, sheds luster on the Church and on the Congregation of the Mission.


Others confreres, martyrs or confessors for the faith as well as others whose causes have been opened. Their names should be recorded, although not yet listed among the saints and blesseds of the Congregation. They are given here in rough chronological birth order by countries of birth or death.


Thady Lee (Lye/Lie) b. 1623 at Tough (?) Co. Limerick; entered CM 21 October 1643 in Paris; vows 7 Oct 1645. returned to Ireland; St. Vincent recorded his death in a letter of 22 March 1652 [Coste 1473, vol. 4, pp. 341-43.] (to Fr. Lambert, Warsaw). He was mentioned also in Collet, v. 2, pp. 471-72; Maynard, v. 3, p. 42. Sometimes called a brother, but he was a clerical brother, before ordination. [Colloque, No. 1 (Summer 1979) pp. 51-58.] He is the Congregation’s first martyr.


Nicolas Etienne, Brother Philippe Patte (with a Malgache layman) Nicolas, were poisoned and killed in Madagascar, 27 February 1664. The cause was the pretended conversion of a chief, Dian-Manangue, who then continued a revolt against the French. The date may also be 4 March 1664 (so the Mémoires, pp. 369-71, and p. 350.) Brothers Pierre Pilliers, Guillaume Gallet, in Madagascar, 30 August 1674, were killed by native people along with most of the French settlers.


Jean Le Vacher was killed at the mouth of a cannon, 26 July 1683. The diocesan phase of his cause was introduced in 1921, but not much has been accomplished since. He was a native of Ecouen, where monuments to him were erected in the parish church. Michel Montmasson, successor of Le Vacher as consul, was killed in the same way, in Algiers, 5 July 1688. Brother François Francillon died the following day, 6 July 1688, also at Algiers. He had been in Tunis since 1645.


Blessed Frederic Ozanam
Saint Joan Antide Thouret

Those who suffered in prison during the Revolution include the following, all in prison at the Saint Martin citadel on the Ile de Ré: Jacques-Eugène Bourquin, age thirty-two, in prison for two years. François Greffier, age thirty-two, in prison for two years. Jean-Françis Léonard Mouillard, age thirty-one, in prison for two years. Jean-Baptiste Thiesdey, age tyhirty-five , in prison for two years. Joseph Perrin was deported to Rochefort and put on the floating prison, the convict ship “Washington.” Unlike his confreres Janet and Parisot, he survived.


Marcantonio Durando (1801-1880), priest, and now beatified by John Paul II
Giovanbattista Manzella (1855-1937), priest
Salvatore Micalizzi (1856-1937), priest, whose cause has progressed well.


Antonio Ferreira Viçoso, bishop of Mariana


Alfred Jean Baptiste Fragues (French), and Bernardino Barros-Gomes were shot on 5 October 1910 at the apostolic school at Arroios in Lisbon during the revolution which threw out the monarchy and proclaimed a republic. This revolution had a very anti-clerical character. Fragues had been the confessor of Queen Amélie of Portugal. Barros-Gomes, born in Lisbon in 1839, had been a married man, and worked in the civil service. After he was widowed, he joined the CM (1885). [Annales, 1911 (vol. 76), pp. 184ff.]


Bishop Jacques Emile Sontag (b. 1869) and Father Joseph Dinkha, 27 July 1918, at Urmiah; and Fathers Mathurin L’Hotellier and François Miraziz, 8 July 1918, in a Moslem village near Urmiah. Miraziz was the grand-nephew of Paul Bedjan. The cause of these disasters was a civil and religious war in Persia. Sontag’s cause for beatification was introduced, but it appeared that the motive of his murder was more theft than hatred of the Catholic faith. [See Annales, v. 84 (1919); also see Bugnini, La Chiesa in Iran, 1984, p. 471.]


André Tsu, massacred at Ning-hai, 3 October 1903
Jean Baptiste Tisserand, massacred 23 July 1921 (where?)
Hippolyte Tichit, Jac Huysmans, Harry Hermans suffered from imprisonment in China and from a sort of brainwashing.

SPAIN (Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War)

1. Fortunato Velasco Tobar, 2. Leoncio Pérez Nebreda, 3. Bro. Luis Aguirre Bilbao (at Teruel); 4. Ireneo Rodríguez González, 5. Gregorio Cermeño Barceló, 6. Vicente Vilumbrales Fuente, 7. Bro. Pascual Narciso Pascual (at Sigüenza-Guadalajara); 8. Pelayo-José Granado Prieto, 9. Amado García Sánchez, 10. Ricardo Atanes Castro, 11. Andrés-Avelino Gutiérrez Moral, 12. Tomás Pallarés Ibáñez, 13. Vicente Pastor Vicente, 14. Bro. Salustiano Gonzáles Crespo (at Oviedo); 15. Antonio Carmaníu y Mercader (at Urgel). Their cause for beatification has been introduced and has progressed well, along with that of Daughters of Charity murdered in the same war. (Many other Vincentians and Daughters suffered as well.) Among these are four confreres from Barcelona, killed in 1936: 1. Vicente Queratt; 2. Juan Puig; 3. Manuel Binimeles; 4. Luis Berenguer. Their cause has not been introduced, however.


Bishop Emilio Francisco Trinidad Lissón Chavez, (1872-1961), archbishop of Lima, Peru.


Janez Francišek Gnidovec, (d. 1939, 3 February). Bishop of Skopje. Cause introduced in Rome in 1985.


Victims of Nazis in World War II, for example Brother Stanislaw Ploszczyca, who died in 1996. Many other confreres died in concentration camps.


Ján Hutyra, visitor of Slovakia, imprisoned in 1947, tortured; condemned to prison for distributing religious literature; again in prison from 1958 to 1965. He died in 1978 at Brno, Czechoslovakia.


William M. Slattery (1895-1982), priest, superior general


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  • “Un martyr au Tché-Kiang. M. André Tsu, Lazariste Chinois,” Annales de la Congrégation de la Mission 69 (1904) 186-94.
  • Van den Brandt, J. Les Lazaristes en China. 1797-1935. Notes biographiques. Pei-P’ing: Imprimerie des Lazaristes, 1936.
  • Vatus, Jean. 1792. Au Coeur des Massacres. Jean Henri Gruyer. Pretre Versaillais. Versailles, 1991.
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