Born at Sausses (Var), February 4, 1832.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 13, 1852.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 26, 1853. (no. 344)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, February 16, 1856.
Died at Marseilles, December 25, 1890.
François Bellon was born at Sausses in the diocese of Fréjus on February 4, 1832. He began his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on July 13, 1852 and made his oblation there on July 26, 1853. In the General Council session of July 4, he was admitted to vows with the following annotation: “Without being endowed with more than ordinary talents, he is quite adequately endowed. As for the rest, he will a good candidate as well.”
He studied theology at the major seminary of Marseilles in 1853-1854 and then at the Oblate scholasticate at Montolivet from 1854 to 1856. In the report on the Oblates, Father Mouchette, moderator of scholastics, always offers a favourable judgment of this brother. For example, in 1853, he wrote: “Good health, excellent religious, carries out well all the exercises, dedicated to his vocation, is happy to live with his confreres; perfect detachment [...]; 1854; solid, but hidden virtue that does not manifest itself in any particular way, recollected, he works, conscientious, unbounded charity, perfectly balanced moods, I recognize no faults in him [...]; 1855; excellent religious, very attached to his vocation, a delicate conscience which could deteriorate into scruples, but he does obey [...]”
He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on February 16, 1856. After a few months of ministry at Le Calvaire and at the Nazareth Institute, he was sent to Notre-Dame de l’Osier as treasurer of the house and confessor of the sisters of the neighbouring convent. In 1859, he received his obedience for Nancy but he was not able to withstand the climate and was called to serve as treasurer and mission preacher at Notre-Dame de Lumières. When the scholastic brothers left for Autun in 1862, he was assigned to Montolivet as custodian of the property. Except for the years from 1866 to 1868 as superior of Notre-Dame de la Garde he spent his life at Le Calvaire where he was superior from 1863-1865 and in 1881 to 1887. In this community, he worked in all the various ministries of the house: confessor and preacher in the chapel and in a few convents of the city, then from 1880 to his death, was in charge of the mission to the Italians. More especially, he was treasurer for the Midi province from 1863 until the end of his life.
On December 19, 1890, Father Delpeuch, superior of Le Calvaire, told Father Sardou, the treasurer general, that Father Bellon was ill. He had taken a chill with bronchitis. The medical doctors, he added, saw little ground for hope “of keeping this beloved ailing member, the soul of the works of our province and the good management incarnate of our juniorates.” In the codex historicus of the house, we find written under the date December 25: “On this Christmas day about 13:00 hours, our beloved patient died. As a religious, he lived his poverty, was regular in his observance, strict with himself, everyone’s staunch support, the soul of the important work of juniorates. His constant activity was concentrated on increasing the number of juniors and of assuring the well-being of the novitiate at l’Osier, of the juniorate at Lumières and that of Diano-Marina which owe to him their continued existence in the most difficult days they endured. A most unfortunate loss for the Congregation and for the province in particular, over whose financial interests he watched with so much competence and devotion. December 26: The deepest and very numerous sympathies poured in, all unanimous in expressing their sincere condolences. This priest, so beloved and so deeply missed, was truly universally loved and esteemed in Marseilles.”
The author of his obituary wrote: “Father Bellon’s priestly and apostolic life [...] was spent entirely within the confines of his religious house and in an atmosphere of monotony. But, for all that, it did not stand out less prominently in God’s eyes and even in the eyes of men. Three brush strokes can paint his portrait: he was a very spiritual and zealous priest, a religious whose life was always exemplary, an Oblate of Mary absolutely dedicated to his Congregation.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Dossier 1: Oblation formula, July 26, 1853; will 1890; various documents: Dossiers 2 and 3: A few hundred letters to various Oblates A-Z; Dossiers 4 and 5: One hundred and ten letters to Father Sardou (1871-1890)
“R. P. François Bellon” in Missions O.M.I., vol. LII (1914), p. 510-515.