The friendship between the Holy Priest of Ars
and Brother Gabriel Taborin
We suggest the reading of some texts which remind us “the holy friendship” (Positio, XV) of our Founder with the Priest of Ars, and the importance of the latter to our Institute.
1) The first letter of Brother Gabriel: Communication of a great hope and a request.
Respected Parish Priest:
The past Lent I had the honour to see you in your holy and peaceful retreat where you daily work with so much zeal and success for the salvation of souls. I stated the poverty of our chapel of novitiate. I had the hope you would send some thing to adorn it. A happy circumstance for our Institute leads me today to renew my request, and that you only seek the glory of God, I am sure, dear Father, that it will be granted. Our Society has so satisfactorily grown that our house of novitiate of Belmont becomes small to welcome all the aspirants who reach it: our resources are not sufficient to extend it. Thanks to our dear Bishop we have come out more or less from difficult situation. His Excellency has found in his wisdom and clever zeal for the good works the way to get out of a spot; he is going to transfer the novitiate house to Belley, in the old convent of the Sisters of the Visitation. The house of prayer will again be established. That house sold during the revolution, fits perfectly to our needs. It is large and in a good condition; the big church to which it belongs, which was abandoned, will again be consecrated to the divine worship and open at the end of next month to the piety of the people consecrated to God in our Institute and to the devotion of the faithful. But this church has neither altar nor ornaments. Our economy does not allow us to buy anything. I come, thus, in the name of our Society, whose purpose will inspire interest in you, to solicit at the instance of your goodness, the objects that are no longer in use in your welcoming church and that we will receive them with pleasure to provide for our chapel which will be blessed and take possession of it at the end of next…
Deign to honour me with your answer and accept the expression of my deep and warm feeling. I am yours, dear Priest, your humble and obedient servant.
2) The first letter of the Holy Priest to Br. Gabriel: Expression of satisfaction and desire of continuity.
To the very honourable Brother Gabriel,
Superior of the Brothers of the Holy Family,
I am very happy with our good Brothers. I wish to keep them here for ever.
Receive the expression of my respect.
I commend myself to your good prayers.
Vianney, priest of Ars
3) Letter of Br. Gabriel from Tamié: Communication of his projects.
To Fr. J. B. M. Vianney, priest of Ars, via Trevoux – Ain – France.
Dear Parish Priest:
I think that by the constant and good interest that you show to the children of the Holy Family, you will feel great pleasure to know that finally I could have acquired the old convent of Tamié. I am writing from here itself, benefiting the visit of Br. Athanasius to this lovely solitude, before inhabited by saints, who have given 45 bishops to the Church. I hope this magnificent house, which cost more than 600,000 francs and that the Archbishop of Chambery has sold us by 20,000, may become the door of heaven for many souls and for those, dear Father, you would like to send when opportunity may be. I have the project to open here a novitiate of the Society for Savoy and a retreat house for men who need to reflect on the good for a more or less long time. I request, dear Father, plead for the blessings of heaven upon this work.
Br. Athanasius has told me about the project of construction for the establishment of Ars; I approve it totally, though it is more prudent, before starting, to sort out everything with the Sisters and the municipality, and to assure the funds for the construction.
Regarding the 1,000 francs of Catherine to increase the foundation of the school of the boys, I have the necessity of withdrawing them to help me to repair and furnish Tamié. I ask insistently, please, put them at my disposal; it is a particular favour that I ask, in this moment, to your paternal goodness. I have the conviction that the Providence will come in our help for the construction of Ars, which I am much interested.
I will remain this summer in Tamie to put all the things in order; I have much enthusiasm to do the good God is calling me to, but I need your grace, I ask you, dear Father, help me to obtain it from the Lord with your prayers, so that everything may be for the good of his glory and the salvation of souls, for whom you work with an admirable zeal.
Deign to accept the homage of my deep respect and the certainty of the acknowledgment of his humble and obedient son.
4) The death of the Holy Priest narrated by Br. Athanasius Planche.
“Next day, in the evening, while returning to the parish house, he was exhausted by the hard work of the day busy in the exercise of his ministry. He could neither speak nor stand up. He went to sleep and asked us to leave him alone. On 30th July, around 01:00 am, he got up to come to the church, but he was unable to come out of the room. He asked for help, and they reached next to him first Catherine Lassagne and then Brother Jerome. To all the offers of relief that they gave him, he answered: ‘It is useless, I see my end is near’. He went back to bed whereof he should not get up any longer. Indeed, despite the frequent cares and the help of the skilful doctors, Fr. Vianney, with 74 years old, with the help of the sacraments of the Church, which he received on 2nd August with the living faith that had animated all his holy life, returned his beautiful soul to God, on 4th August 1859, at 02:00 am, without agony, between the hands of Brother Jerome, while the latter was helping him because he called him. The name of this good Brother was the last word uttered by Fr. Vianney’s mouth. Father Toccanier, his assistant, several missionaries, several Brothers of the Community of Ars, the Count de Garets, they were present there. I too was also there. Bishop the Langalerie, the Bishop of Belley, had visited him and blessed him the evening before, around 06:00 pm. The Bishop was accommodated in the castle in the moment of the death and he hastened to come and pray before the venerated mortal remains, on 4th early morning.
We were in charge of keeping a vigil over the corpse and of making touch the objects of piety presented to us along the two days and two nights in which the corpse remained exposed. It is impossible to say the massive influx of people who came before his mortal remains. We have been busy without resting, Brothers and students, by turns of 3 or 4, in this pious ministry which was the envy of priests and laity. Another three persons were in charge of clearing the place, allowing the people only the time to say an Our Father and a Hail Mary before the corpse of the saint. The funeral took place on Saturday morning. It was presided over by the Bishop of Belley.”