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Charles Le Gobien

French Jesuit b. at St-Malo, Brittany, November 25, 1671; d. at Paris, March 5, 1708

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Le Gobien, CHARLES, French Jesuit and founder of the famous collection of “Lettres edifiantes et curieuses”, one of the most important sources of information for the history of Catholic missions, b. at St-Malo, Brittany, November 25, 1671; d. at Paris, March 5, 1708. He entered the Society of Jesus on November 25, 1671. As professor of philosophy and especially while procurator of the Franco-Chinese mission, he sought in a series of admirable papers to awaken the interest of the cultivated classes in the great work of Christianizing Eastern Asia. In 1697 appeared at Paris his “Lettres sur les progrez de la religion a la Chine”. Apropos of the violent literary feud then in progress concerning the so-called “Chinese Rites“, he published among other things “Histoire de l’edit de l’empereur de la Chine en faveur de la religion chretienne avec un éclaircissement sur les honneurs que les Chinois rendent a, Confucius et aux morts” (Paris, 1698); and in the year 1700: “Lettre a un Docteur de la Faculte de Paris sur les propositions deferees en Sorbonne par M. Prioux”. Under the same date there appeared in Paris the “His toire des Isles Mariannes nouvellement converties a la religion chretienne”. The second part, translated into Spanish by J. Delgado, is found in the tatter’s “Historia General de Filipinas” (Manila, 1892). In 1702 Pere Le Gobien published “Lettres de quelclues missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jesus, ecrites de la Chine et des Indes Orietales”; this was the beginning of the collection soon to become celebrated under the title of “Lettres edifiantes et curieuses ecrites des missions etrangeres par quelques missionnaires de la Compagnie de Jesus”. The first eight series were by Pere le Gobien, the later ones by Fathers Du Halde, Patouillet, Geoffroy, and Marechal. The collection was printed in thirty-six vols. duodecimo (Paris, 1703-76), and reissued in 1780-81 by Fathers Yves, de Querbeux, and Brotier in twenty-six vols. duodecimo, unfortunately omitting the valuable prefaces. New editions appeared in 1819, 1829-32, and 1838-43. One abridgment in four vols. octavo, was entitled “Pantheon Litteraire”, by L. Aime Martin (1834-43). A partial English translation came out in London in 1714. The publication incited the Austrian Jesuit Stocklein to undertake his “Neuer Welt Bott” (about 1720), at first considered merely a translation, but soon an independent and particularly valuable collection (five vols., folio in forty parts) substantially completing the “Lettres Edifiantes” (see Kath. Missionen, 1904-05)

A. HUONDER


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