Abelly: Book 2/Chapter 01/Section 02/Part 06

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Various Places in Brittany

The missions in Brittany were as successful as those in the other provinces. The superior of the missionaries headquartered at Saint Meen in the diocese of Saint Malo wrote to Monsieur Vincent in 1657. [1] He said that at a mission in Pleurtuit, three thousand persons had gone to confession. Further, if the priests should return, they would need more than twenty confessors to satisfy the great number of people who would come for confession. Among other things he said that upon leaving the church, a respected person of the parish fell to his knees in the cemetery before his fellow parishioners. He asked pardon from those he had offended, to the great consternation of all at this demonstration. Another person, upon leaving the confessional, went of his own accord eight leagues away to ask pardon of someone he had offended in some rather slight way. [2]

In another letter from 1658, he reported to Monsieur Vincent several remarkable events which occurred at the mission of Mauron.

Every day, even on working days, more than twelve hundred people came for the catechetical instructions. The leading people of the town came to hear the sermons. Several men and women servants even left their employment because their masters or mistresses would not give them time off to attend the services. They preferred to lose their wages rather than miss an opportunity to hear the word of God. We saw mothers, after they had made their own general confession on the mission, take the place of their daughters in service, to give them the opportunity to do likewise. Other servants requested permission to come to the instructions, even at the cost of losing their wages for the time they would not be at work.

On Quinquagesima Sunday and the two following days, such a crowd of people wanted to receive communion that it took until seven o'clock in the evening to satisfy them all. Since the closing the mission, I have been told that, of all the taverns there, not a single one remains, for in one of our sermons we had mentioned how difficult it was for inn-keepers to keep from sin in giving people drink to excess, a vice prevalent in this region. In addition, in the dealings they have with one another, instead of sealing an agreement by a drink, as is customary in this region, they now give money to the Confraternity of Charity, which we were able to set up in the locality for the sick poor. [3]

The following year this same superior wrote of another mission:

Our mission in Plaissala is now completed by the grace of God. He showered his blessings in such abundance that all who worked on it agree they have never seen one which accomplished so much good.

We noticed people from seventeen surrounding parishes. Several men who came to confession remarked they had waited ten days in the church. I believe the same thing could have happened to five hundred others as well. Major disputes have been settled, particularly among the nobility, helped along by the Baron du Rechau. He has a house in this parish, where he came from Saint Brieu, his ordinary residence. After hearing our first sermon, he came to our house with his wife, to tell us he was going to stay here the entire mission. I asked him to help us settle the frequent disputes in this region, and to bring reconciliation, especially between gentlemen. He succeeded to an extraordinary degree.

The carnival days were taken up in exercises of piety. On Monday we had a solemn procession, in which the bishop of Saint Brieuc carried the blessed sacrament. [4] The people attended with devotion and modesty, walking four by four in the procession which lasted nearly two hours in an almost continuous rain, and only a few dropped out. The same prelate conferred the sacrament of confirmation the next day, Tuesday, in the cemetery, in the midst of wind and rain, for the church was not large enough to hold all the people. [5]

The bishop of Treguier had a mission given at Guingcamp, after another at Morlaix in 1648. [6] He wrote of them to Monsieur Vincent:

Your letter has found us busy in the mission, from which I expect a great deal. One of your priests preaches admirably and devoutly in the evening service. Another gives the main catechetical instruction at one o'clock in the afternoon, to the satisfaction of all. Another priest teaches the shorter catechism lesson, and my theologian preaches in the morning in the native dialect. In a word, everyone is working, even myself, for I preach twice a week. With God's help, we will begin the confessions tomorrow. The people of the area are not used to missions, but are astonished at what takes place, and each expresses his thoughts differently, but all with respect. I hope that all will work out well with the grace of God. [7]

In another letter, written in 1650 about another mission, he said:

I thank you for the faithful service of four of your priests in the mission they have given here. Their ability, their zeal, their care in preaching and hearing confessions have been so great that they have reaped abundant fruit. I may say the residents of this region, men and women of all ages and conditions, have been converted. I praise God that through you we have such good laborers in this vineyard. Monsieur N. exerts such energy in his preaching that no one can resist him. I have already engaged him for the mission next year at N. [8]


  1. Louis Serre, superior at Saint Meen, 1655-1665.
  2. CED VI:281.
  3. CED VII:115.
  4. Denis de la Barde.
  5. CED VII:469-70.
  6. Balthasar Grangier.
  7. CED III:269-70.
  8. CED III:630.

This page:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Section Two/Part Six: Various Places in Brittany

Index of this section:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Section Two/Index: The Most Notable Fruits of the Missions Given in Various Parts of France

Index of this chapter:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Index: The Missions of Monsieur Vincent

Index of:
Abelly: Book Two