Born at Saint-Pierre de Venaco (Corsica) on October 25, 1834.
Taking of the habit at Montolivet on June 28, 1856.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on July 16, 1857. (no. 438)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles on June 23, 1859.
Died at Aix on November 29, 1883.
Antoine Battesti was born at Saint-Pierre de Venaco in the diocese of Ajaccio on October 25, 1834. Having successfully completed his studies at the minor seminary of Ajaccio and one year of theological studies at the major seminary, he began his novitiate at Montolivet on June 28, 1856 and made his oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on July 16, 1857.
During his scholasticate at Montolivet, Father Mouchette, the moderator of scholastics, always passed a positive judgment on him, but was worried about his tendency to scrupulosity. For example, in his reports, he wrote: “1857, very good and very regular, a narrow and uneasy conscience; 1858, good, regular, zealous in every regard except in confronting his scruples which are the only problem blocking his progress; 1859, good, regular would be excellent if it were not for his scruples. He does obey, but not always with enough submission, whence some perplexity, sometimes some foolishness, especially in relation to his duty. He is liberally endowed with talent, but holds too stubbornly to his opinions.”
Scholastic brother Battesti was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on June 23, 1859 and taught Sacred Scripture at Montolivet in 1859-1860. From 1861 to 1868, he taught philosophy, then dogma at the major seminary of Ajaccio where, at the same time, he fulfilled the office of local treasurer. In his obituary, Father Fabre wrote: There already existed in Antoine Battesti “a tendency toward subtleties and scholastic distinctions which won for him the title of doctor subtilis. This natural tendency, in no way tainted by pride, led him to reason endlessly, always finding further distinctions, in order to never concede in any debate. What this worthy confrere had studied, what he had learned, especially the thesis he set forth in a debate, for him, turned into a fixed idea. No fellow professor or fellow disciple could dislodge him from his opinion [...] That was the beginning of the terrible illness that he later developed and which deprived us of him fifteen years before his death to relegate him to a nursing home. In spite of that, Father Battesti was loved and esteemed by his confreres and his superiors. He was readily forgiven for his stubbornness in debate because of his extraordinary talent and of his great and tender piety.”
Indeed, ever more distracted and stubborn, Father Battesti was retired to Vico in 1868, then to a nursing home in Aix-en-Provence. That is where he died on November 29, 1883. Father Fabre closed his obituary with the following two thoughts: “Father Battesti was lacking in neither humility in the appreciation of his own talent, nor in piety toward God, nor in charity toward his neighbour. On the contrary, it was because of these that he won forgiveness for the lack of equilibrium in his natural faculties. It was by his virtues and not by his extraordinarily penetrating mind that he was acceptable to God and worthy of being called a good and faithful servant. To this reflection, we will take the liberty of adding one other, that is, that in training of the spirit, the master and the disciple must guard themselves from concentrating too much on the development of one faculty or on the acquisition of a specialized knowledge. Since it is impossible to know everything, the man of God will at least be wisely well balanced. He will carefully avoid everything that smacks of factiousness and too great a confidence in the self. The science of logic is incorruptible; where it is lacking, it is not at fault, but the logician is often at fault; better that he should be humble; he will only be that much more precise and convincing for all of that.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula, July 16, 1857.
“Le père Antoine Martin Battesti,” Circular Letter, no. 133, Father Joseph Fabre, Paris, April 20, 1888 in Notices nécrologiques O.M.I., vol. 5, Paris, 1887-1894, p. 309-312.