Born at La Roche (Switzerland), July 7, 1808
Taking of the habit at Marseilles, October 31, 1837
Perpetual oblation at Marseilles, November 1, 1839 (no. 81)
Died at Notre-Dame de la Garde at Marseilles, August 25, 1880.
Pierre Bouquet was born at La Roche, diocese of Fribourg, July 7, 1808. He was a miller by profession when he met Father Martin, superior of the house at Billens. He decided to become a lay brother and walked the 80 leagues [3.9 to 7.4 kilometres] from Billens to Notre-Dame de l’Osier. He began his novitiate at Le Calvaire October 31, 1837 and was admitted to perpetual vows November 1, 1839.
Initially, Brother Bouquet was sacristan at Le Calvaire from 1839 to 1856. In a January 11, 1843 letter, Father Martin wrote that the house at Le Calvaire was a difficult place even for the priests because of the visitors and numerous ceremonies. He added: “As for the brothers, at Marseilles, we need them with the kind of stout virtue such as that of Brother Bouquet and Brother Joubert.” The Founder shared this opinion since, on August 18 of that same year, he asked Father Guigues to send him a brother, “but it will take a man who is sure and firm in his vocation, because Le Calvaire at Marseilles would simply undo a weak and poorly trained Brother.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 10, no. 812, p. 29)
In his obituary for Brother Bouquet, Father Fabre wrote that the sacristan of Le Calvaire “in a short space of time was equal to this difficult and delicate work and met the expectations of his superiors. Through the serenity he was able to maintain, by the kindness of his personality, by the astounding alacrity with which he saw to everything that needed doing, he satisfied the most exacting people. His piety, his religious bearing, the kindness he displayed for everyone earned for him the esteem and affection of everyone.”
Brother Bouquet worked at the scholasticate of Montolivet from 1856 to 1862, then was sacristan at the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Garde from 1862 to 1880. There, he was in constant contact with the chaplains, the administrators, the bishops, the priests and the faithful, pilgrims from every country. Father Fabre continued by saying that Brother Bouquet’s special gift “was what we are permitted to call the spirit of service. He put himself heart and soul into being of service to everyone without exception. His face beamed with happiness when he was able to make someone happy; his eyes then shone with such a joyous light that it seemed evident that making other people happy was his most cherished watchword. [...] In the final years of his life, his legs began to stiffen up, his body lost its suppleness and he became hard of hearing. No matter how he tried, he never arrived in time or he easily made mistakes. A slight grimace then betrayed his disappointment. But his good humour soon took over and he was the first one to laugh at these little mistakes. People would smile at his fleeting disappointment and he would say: We are getting old; the bouquet of flowers is beginning to fade!”
After a few months of illness, he received the Sacrament of the Sick with devotion and died August 25, 1880 at the age of seventy-two years.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and bibliography
Le frère Bouquet in Circulaire n. 103 of Father Fabre, January 12, 1887. Cf. Notices nécrologiques IV, p. 448-456.