December 30: The Purchase of the Carmelite Convent in Aix

The Purchase of the Carmelite Convent in Aix

December 30, 1815 marks a further important step for the foundation of the Missionaries of Provence. That day, thanks to the presence of Father Tempier, the contract for the purchase of the Carmelite convent in Aix was signed.

Before the Revolution the Carmelites had a beautiful convent in Aix with an adjoining church and a large garden. During the Revolution all the property of the Aix Carmelites was confiscated and declared national property to be sold to the first comer. August 10, 1796, Mr. Jacques Ginezy was able to buy three quarters of the convent. He sold it in turn to Ms. Victoire Gontier on January 17, 1810. She opened a girls’ boarding school there, but being in difficulty […] thought it prudent to sell to Father de Mazenod the part she had purchased from Mr. Ginezy while reserving certain rights for herself.

When signing the bill of sale, the Founder paid 5,000 francs […]. The remaining 11,000 francs were paid in installments. March 12, 1816: 3,000 francs. May 30, 1816:  4000 francs and on December 31, 1822: 4,000 francs. Although Mrs. Gontier had reserved for seven years the use of a part sold to the Founder, she gave it up after five months, precisely on May 13, 1816. From that day the Founder and his companions really felt at home. (J. Pielorz, Nouvelles recherches sur la fondation de notre Congregation, « Missions OMI » 83 [1956], p. 192-253)

            You should know that, in order to secure the acquisition of the part of the house that the teacher, Mrs. Gontier possessed, I had to accept the most onerous conditions. She sold me her property in the hope that the closeness of the missionaries would be good for the boarding school that she insisted on keeping. To this end, she gave me only half of the building, reserving the other half for her and her guests; she would also enjoy the right to enter the chapel; this spared her hiring a chaplain whom she would have had to pay. She also hoped that one of us would undertake to confess them; it was not enough that she had sequestered us in the rooms that she had ceded; but to get to the apartments at the top of the house, which now form the library, we had to go up the narrow staircase that goes to the outside. We had much difficulty to squeeze in. ” (St. Eugene, Mèmoires, Rembert I, p. 176)

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