Oil Dedicated to St John Gabriel Perboyre
St John Gabriel Perboyre would never have considered becoming a priest. Until he accompanied a younger brother to the seminary and decided to stay, himself.
Born to faithful farming parents in 1802. In the shadow of the French Revolution and its devastation of the Church. Five of the family’s eight children eventually entered religious life.
As an adolescent, John displayed no extraordinary signs of holiness. But that changed when, in 1816, his parents asked him to accompany his younger brother, Louis, to a seminary founded by their uncle that formed Vincentians, priests who followed the example of St. Vincent de Paul. His parents wanted John to make sure Louis settled in and acclimated to the new life; John discovered that the new life spoke to him as well, and he joined his brother as a seminarian.
John proved to be a bright student, and promoted to positions of responsibility within his order after he ordained in 1825. He had a clear desire to serve in the foreign missions, especially China, where Christians were suffering and encouraging the faith. But the Vincentians in France needed him, and he was in poor health, so his requests denied.
Louis chosen for the missions in China, but died during his voyage there. John immediately asked to take his place, and received permission to go. He arrived in Macao in 1835 to study the Chinese language, and proceeded to Ho-Nan and Hubei regions to serve the poor there. He helped his order rescue and care for abandoned children—he taught them through stories he told in his broken Chinese.