Born at Cuges (Bouches-du-Rhône), September 29, 1810.
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, February 18, 1837.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 27, 1858.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 29, 1859. (no. 490)
Died at Notre-Dame de Bon Secours, December 18, 1888.
Michel Bonnifay was born at Cuges in the diocese of Marseilles, September 29, 1810. Ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod, bishop of Icosia, February 18, 1837, he was chaplain of the Saint-Pierre hospice when, on the 27th of August, 1858, he entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier where he made his oblation on August 29, 1859. Father Vandenberghe, the novice master, saw a few faults in this priest, specifically: “too hasty,” “idiosyncrasy,” over-sensitivity and lack of tact, etc., but he admired especially his “simplicity,” his “child-like openness,” his “upright and fiery heart,” his “absolute and blind obedience,” his “exceptional prayer life,” etc.
After his oblation, Father Bonnifay was sent to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours where he spent his entire life with the exception of three years at Le Calvaire (1866-1868). During his first years at Bon Secours, he was the custodian of the shrine, especially in winter, but subsequently, he preached, constantly and with good results, parish missions especially in Ardèche. Already in 1865, Father Martin, his superior, wrote about Father Bonnifay: “The fruit that he reaped, especially in the two parishes of the Cévennes, at Astet and at Saint-Laurent-les-Bains, are truly those of an apostle. In the latter town especially he succeed so well in winning the people’s affection that he literally saw all of its people receiving Holy Communion. In a letter thanking me for the help I had given him on this occasion, the parish priest told me that never had anyone won such a degree of confidence from the members of his flock.”
After a life of prayer, mortification and devotion in the service of souls, about the middle of September 1888, because of great fatigue occasioned by the flood of pilgrims, he fell ill and died on December 18,1888.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
There is no dossier on him in the General Archives.
“R. P. Michel Bonnifay [Bonifay]” in Missions O.M..I., 1914, p. 500-507.