John E. Rybolt surprises us again. With his characteristic investigative erudition and his arduous experience in the study of Vincentian archives, he now puts in our hands a new collection of some 650 original unpublished texts by Saint Vincent de Paul.
This is a collection which adds to the huge list of materials available and now easily accessible that are provided for researchers and students around the world.
Rybolt’s new collection respects the traditional structure of Pierre Coste’s works published between 1920-1925, organized in four volumes: letters, conferences, and two of documents. In particular, this new collection offers us:
- A good number of letters not yet published: correspondence that the saint sends and receives throughout his life, and a series of letters are added at the end whose date is not possible to establish. An interesting novelty is that Rybolt offers us eighteen letters between confreres who during the time of M. Vincent.
- Original Saint Vincent Conferences and their “elegantly improved” version by Abelly and by Coste, so that readers can compare them. In addition, there are a good number of excerpts from conferences and sayings of Saint Vincent. The latter are mostly on frequent themes of the saint: virtues, Divine Providence, formation of the clergy, the poor, the will of God, among others.
- Documents structured in the same order as Coste: the saint’s life , the Congregation of the Mission, the Ladies of Charity, and the Daughters of Charity, although these last two are fewer than the first.
Among the many documents on the life of Saint Vincent, we can find his testament drawn up in 1630, and the bulls for beatification and canonization. Also included is a collection of short notes that were composed by Joseph Guichard, C.M. in 1941 in Paris with the title “Contemporaries and friends of Saint Vincent de Paul,” and which Rybolt now publishes in a wonderful way. It refers to a series of pieces that allude to M. Vincent or his works, and there are even some praises that the saint received during his life. Some of the names that shine in this collection are: Adrien Bourdoise (1584-1655); the famous doctor of the Sorbonne and spiritual director of M. Vincent, André Duval (1564-1638); Cardinal François de la Rochefoucauld (1558-1645), among many others. This collection represents a meticulous work of consulting various sources to make these treasures of Vincentian studies available to us.
Where did Rybolt acquire all these previously unknown texts? The summaries of Bertrand Ducournau; the notebooks of the saint’s secretary, Brother Louis Robineau; materials of the secretary general of the Congregation of the Mission in the time of Fr. Etienne, Father Jean-Baptiste Pémartin, some of which, for unknown reasons, Pierre Coste, although following in the footsteps of his predecessor, did not decide to publish; the valuable contributions of Father Bernard Koch; the archives of the Mother House in Paris; and the work of a group of scholars from the National University of Ireland found in the archives of Propaganda Fide in Rome. In any case, Rybolt has faithfully noted the sources at the beginning of each text.
The texts are originally in French, with a few in Latin or Italian, but they have been translated entirely into English. Hopefully soon we can count a Spanish version. The Rybolt collection is good news for the Congregation of the Mission and for all Vincentians who like to drink from the foundational well where our identity is revitalized in order to assume with missionary spirit the challenges that are presented to us today.
To find the collection you can enter the site: https://via.library.depaul.edu/lcd/
Rolando Gutiérrez CM.
Vice Province of Costa Rica