Pigneau De Behaine, Pierre-joseph

Pigneau de Behaine, Pierre-Joseph a French missionary, was born December 1741, at Origny (Thidrache). He was brought up in the College of Laon, and studied theology at the Sdminaire des Trente-Trois at Paris. After taking holy orders, he embarked at Cadiz, in the beginning of 1756, for the Oriental missions. unknown td his parents, who were opposed to his design. In 1767 he arrived at the island of Hon-Dat, near the coast of Cochin-China. The apostolic vicar of that mission, M. Piguel, bishop of Champa in partibus, gave him the direction of his college, which he was then transferring to that place. In 1768 the governor of the province KanRao, to which the island of Hon- Dat belonged, ordered him to be arrested, and sentenced him to the cangue, with another French missionary and a Chinese priest. They endured the torment with patience, and after three months' captivity were set at large. Pigneau resumed the direction of his college, and transferred it to Pondicherry. In 1770 he was appointed bishop of Adran in partibus, and coadjutor of the apostolic vicar of Cochin-China, whom he soon after succeeded in his office. In 1774 he entered Cochin-China by the Cambodia. He found the whole country in the power of rebels, who had put to death the king and his nephew. The brother of the latter, Nguydn-Auts, who had been imprisoned, escaped and fled to the house of the bishop of Adran, where he was concealed for a month. He succeeded afterwards in bringing together a small force, took possession of Lower Cochin-China, and called to his side his benefactor, and was, in all he did, directed by his advice. In 1783 he was beaten by the rebels, and had to flee the country. Pigneau then, taking along the pupils of his college, went to the Cambodia, and thence to Siam. Having embarked for Pondicherry, he heard. while sailing along the coast of Cambodia, that Nguyen-Auts was at a short distance on the coast; he joined him, who, with about six hundred soldiers, was reduced to the last extremity of starvation. He relieved them with his own provisions, and after spending a fortnight with them, he gained Pulo-Way, a small deserted island, situated sixty leagues from the continent. He stayed there nine months, during which time he wrote, in company with a Cochin- Chinese priest, instructions for the religious worship, and corrected several works translated from the French. In December 1784, he joined again the king of Cochin-China, and soon after went in person to solicit the assistance of Louis XVI for his friend, taking along with him the six-year- old son of the Asiatic prince. He arrived at Lorient February, 1787. His embassy was a successful one. France engaged to send four frigates and nearly two thousand soldiers to Cochin-China, and obtained in compensation the principal harbor of that country, Touron. Louis XVI appointed Pigneau his plenipotentiary, and had his prebend presented by him to Nguyen-Auts. The bishop, who had received rich presents himself, embarked for Pondicherry with the young prince, carrying to count Thomas Conway, governor-general of the French settlements, the blue cordon he had obtained for him, with the direction to prepare and command in person the projected expedition; but various obstacles, among others the Revolution, prevented it. and the hishop could only equip two little ships, which he loaded with ammunition, guns, etc. Count Conway put also at his disposition a frigate, on board of which he sailed to Cochin- China, where he joined the king in December 1789. The arrival of these subsidies, the clever exertions of the French officers, who in a short time equipped a powerful fleet, and organized an army of six thousand soldiers after the European fashion, gave the victory to the king. The bishop was hopeful of turning to the advantage of religion the influence he had won, when he died of dysentery, October 9, 1799. In August 1861, the French government restored the tomb of Pigneau de Behaine, and proclaimed it French property. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 40:224.

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