Born at Domène (Isère), February 20, 1829.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 14, 1847.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 15, 1848. (no. 206)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, June 27, 1852.
Died at Bordeaux, December 11, 1894.
Aimé Martinet was born at Domène, in the diocese of Grenoble on February 20, 1829. After a few years of secondary study at the juniorate of Notre-Dame de Lumières, he entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier on August 14, 1847 and made his oblation on August 15, 1848. When he entered the scholasticate which, at the time, was at the major seminary of Marseilles, he was accompanied by the following report: “Brother Martinet is a good candidate, and that from every point of view. He is brimming with virtue and talent; he has a naturally gifted disposition and is of very solid virtue, his observance of the rule is perfect; in addition to this, he readily accepts direction. He is endowed with abilities that are far above average and has a beautiful voice.” Nevertheless, the General Council hesitated to admit him to profession. In their report of August 7, we read: “Father Martinet would be a first-class candidate if not for the fact that we see in him a natural defect which leads us to fear that we will be unable to use him for ministry to the people at large. The problem lies with his shortness of stature and his slender proportions which are such that he will never give the appearance of being a mature man.”
After his ordination to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on June 27, 1852 Father Martinet was assigned to teaching in the seminaries: professor of philosophy at the major seminary of Fréjus in 1852-1853, at the major seminary of Marseilles from 1853 to 1855, at Romans in 1856-1857; professor of dogma at Marseilles in 1855-1856 and from 1857 to 1862. In 1862 when the scholastic brothers had to leave Montolivet in Marseilles destined for Autun, Father Martinet, friend and trusted associate of Father Joseph Fabre, the Superior General, was placed at the head of this important community.
At the General Chapter of 1867, while not being one of the capitulants, he was elected to the post of fourth assistant and secretary general. He held this post until his death 27 years later. He was third assistant and secretary from 1873 to 1879, second assistant and secretary in 1887, first assistant and admonitor of the Superior General in 1893. In virtue of his office as assistant, he made a canonical visit of the Oblates of South Africa in 1871-1872, of the English province in 1875, of British Columbia in 1882 and of Eastern Canada in 1891. He acted as Vicar General during Father Louis Soullier’s trip to North America in 1894. In 1870, Bishop Bonjean, the vicar apostolic of Jaffna, appointed Father Martinet to represent him at Vatican Council I.
The author of his obituary wrote that Father Martinet left his cell only when compelled to do so by duty “to fulfill the missions which had been entrusted to him or to share with souls of religious women the benefits of his firm and lofty spiritual direction. As for the remainder, if he enjoyed the pleasures of his cell, that does not mean that he was idle. The opposite was true. He devoted himself to never ending desk work, without a break, the kind of work that could strain beyond measure the soundest set of nerves and exhaust the most stubborn of wills. And, when he was not dedicating his time to preaching, this office work, so hidden and so demanding, made no less a contribution to the good of the Congregation and to souls as well as to the glory of God. How numerous were the missionaries whose apostolate, so to speak, he shared by encouraging them, consoling them, strengthening them by his advice that was so fatherly and so firm, his decisions that were so sure and timely! How many Oblates were there who, at least in part, owed him their salvation because he confirmed them in their vocation and steadied their uncertain steps.”
Shortly after his election as first assistant general, a heart ailment compelled him to reduce his workload little by little and subsequently to retire completely to Bordeaux where he was cared for by the Sisters of the Holy Family. He died on December 11, 1894 at the age of 67.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome.
Manuscripts: Notes to the General Council from 1885-1887 (about 190 pages); notes for preaching (8 bundles); notes from canonical visits en British Columbia in 1881, in Eastern Canada in 1891.
Personal dossiers papers: Doss. 1: Baptismal certificate, ordination to the priesthood, death certificate; faculties granted him, obediences, will, etc.; Dossiers 2-57: 888 letters to various Oblates, 466 of these letters were to Father Fabre and 249 to Father Soullier.
“R.P. Aimé Martinet, assistant général o.m.i.,” in Missions O.M.I., 1914, p. 489-492.