1880s Pastoral Letters from Archbishop Jean-Joseph Marchal of the French Diocese of Bourges

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On offer are 2 printed pastoral letters from the French Diocese of Bourges dating to the late 19th century. 

The letters were written by Jean-Joseph Marchal. Marchal was born in 1822. Ordained a priest in 1845, he served as a professor in a major seminary before beginning pastoral work in 1855. He was first appointed a Bishop in 1875 (Diocese of Belley) and subsequently Archbishop of Bourges in 1880. Marchal passed away in 1892.

The 1st document is undated, however, from context, it can be dated to March 3rd, 1881. It is titled L’Oeuvre du Denier de Saint Pierre. (The Alms of Saint Peter). This is a donation, collected from Catholic churches worldwide and made directly to the Holy See of the Catholic Church. It is frequently referred to as “Peter’s Pence”. The practice began in early England. Generally done as a contribution or donation, at times, it was collected by rulers as another form of tax. In 1871, Pope Pius IX formalized the practice of lay members of the church and "other persons of good will" providing financial support to the Catholic Church in Rome. Today, these donations are used by the Pope for philanthropic works throughout the world and for administrative costs of the Vatican state. In this letter, Archbishop Marchal urges the people of his Diocese to be generous in supporting the works of Pope Leo XIII. 

...Il semble que cette fois plus que jamais, cette annonce doit suffire pour exciter le zele et la generosite des fideles enfants de l'Eglise catholique...

[Translation: ...It seems that this time more than ever, this announcement must be enough to excite the zeal and generosity of the faithful children of the Catholic Church…

The 2nd document is dated 1883 It is titled ... A L’Occasion de la Visite Generale des Paroisses et des Eglises du Diocese (On the Occasion of the General Visit to the Parishes and Churches of the Diocese.). This General Visit would have been a significant undertaking as the Diocese of Bourges is a large diocese covering over 5,000 sq miles/14,000 km2

... apres avoir remercie et beni le Pere celeste qui a dirige nos pas au millieu de vous, il nous semble que c'est aussi notre devoir de vous parler des impressions que nous avon recues durant cette longue Visite pastorale, des consolations, des jois, des enseignements et des encouragements que nous y avons recueillis.

[Translation:...after having thanked and blessed the Celestial Father who directed our steps in your midst, it seems to us that it is also our duty to speak to you about the impressions we received during this long Pastoral Visit, the comforts, joys, teachings and encouragements we gathered there]. 

The tone of his letter is warm:

Si des notre premiere rencontre avec vous, notre impression a ete presque toujours consolante et encourageament, bien souvent cette impression est devennue celle d'une veritable joie quand nous avons franchi le seuil de vos eglises...

[Translation:...From our first meeting with you, our impression was almost always comforting and encouraging, very often this impression became one of true joy when we crossed the threshold of your churches.]

Both of these letters bear his printed signature and are sealed with his coat of arms. They also bear the printed signature of Gustave Mingasson, his Secretary. These Letters offer an excellent insight into some of the teachings and understandings of the Catholic church on a local level in late 19th century France.

Each printed document measures approximately 10.5 inches by 8.25 inches. The 1st document (1881) contains 12 pages. The letter itself occupies 8 pages including cover. The 2nd document (1883) document 16 pages and the letter occupies all 16 pages. The documents are bound with a thread binding which is intact and in good condition. The pages themselves are also in very good condition with some slight discolouring along the edges.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

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