Father Jules Blin (1853-1891). Courtesy of Father Charles Libois, S.J., Collège de la Sainte-Famille, Cairo, and Lebanon.
(born November, 1853; admitted as a Jesuit, September 20, 1877; died June 8, 1891)
Translated from the Latin by David Shive
Jules Blin was born in a section of the diocese of Le Mans commonly called Marigné. Having passed the course of lower studies and having studied theology for two years in the Le Mans seminary, he went to Algeria to devote himself to mission work among the Arabs. Returning to France, he lived for some time at our Collège of Dole in the position of auxiliary. Then admitted to the Society, he asked to serve his apprenticeship in Syria in the Ghazir House of Probation. For two years he was prefect of morals in Beirut University, and also spent two years as a missionary in Hauran station. Sent afterwards to Egypt, he taught grammar at the Collège of the Holy Family. However, when a grave plague raged (apparently cholera), he exhausted himself totally [caring for] the health of the sick, at the danger of his own life. In the following years while he was engaged in Arabic studies, he wrote a grammar of the Arabic language. But, because of teaching, his voice almost failed him, [and] he betook himself to the study of Coptic language, in which shortly he became so practiced that he taught its elements to seminary students and translated liturgical books. Very experienced in music, he transcribed with notes and melody the chants of Coptic liturgy, a work of most excellent utility and celebrated with worthy praise.
Meanwhile the disease, with which he had been infected already for some years, was strengthening daily. But he, by strength of sublime invincible spirit, overcame the most vehement pains, [and was] often heard thanking God the more he was suffering [literally: being crucified]. Recalled to France, when he seemed to be better, he hastened to return to Egypt to renew his labors. But soon, the disease becoming more serious, which could be relieved by no remedy, [and] advised of his approaching death, with happy face he accepted the news, and himself asked that as soon as possible he might receive the sacraments of the church. Piously he died at the Cairo Collège [of the Holy Family] at the age of thirty-eight.
From Litterae Annuae Provinciae Lugdunensis Societatis Jesu, 1890-1891. Brussels: Typis Polleunis & Ceuterick, 1892, page 64. John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections, Boston College University Libraries. Digital image of original text kindly provided by Justine Hyland, a librarian, in the Burns Library.
- Marigné-Laillé, in the diocese of Le Mans, is in the department of Sarthe, in northwestern France. [back to biography]
- Dole is in the Jura department in eastern France [back to biography]
- Society of Jesus, that is, the Jesuits. [back to biography]
- Ghazir is in present-day Lebanon. [back to biography]
- Hauran is in the southwest of present-day Syria. [back to biography]