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Born at Merlas (Isère), March 8, 1822.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 9, 1849.
Perpetual oblation at Pont de la Maye on October 30, 1852. (no. 341)
Died at Royaumont on May 14, 1889.
François Picard was born at Merlas near Notre-Dame de l’Osier in the diocese of Grenoble on March 8, 1822. As a young man he exercised the trades of weaver, sawyer and even
as an assistant agent to catch smugglers. He began his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on July 9, 1849 and made his annual vows there on July 29, 1850. In the General Council
session of July 15, he was unanimously admitted to vows “based on the testimony of the novice master [...], that this brother was without any doubt one of our best coadjutor
brothers as to the solidity of his virtue, his goodness of character and his ability for outside work.” During his novitiate, he especially worked at our country house of
Rif at some distance from the shrine.
He was sent to Le Calvaire in Marseilles and made his vows for five years on August 10, 1851 at Notre-Dame de la Garde in the presence of Father Bernard. In the fall of 1851,
he was designated along with Father Dassy for the foundation of the house of Notre-Dame de Talence in the diocese of Bordeaux. The Oblates initially lived for more than a
year at Pont de la Maye near Bordeaux, and it was there that Brother Picard made his perpetual vows on October 30, 1852. Father Dassy had recommended him to Bishop de Mazenod
in an August 30 letter in which he wrote: “This young brother is regular in his observance, energetic, obedient, capable of doing anything, with a robust health. By himself
alone, he did the cooking, the gardening, cleaned the house, etc.”
In 1858, Brother Picard was given an obedience for Saint-Jean d’Autun, a new Oblate foundation. There, as in Bordeaux, Father Delpeuch wrote of him: “What a great amount of
work awaited our dear brother: the cooking, answering the door, gardening, going to the market, running errands and doing odd jobs, the good order and cleanliness of the house,
he stayed abreast of everything. Everything was not always perfect with regard to internal order; but energy was never lacking on his part and the most candid good cheer constantly
permeated his work...”
In 1864, the Oblates had purchased the abbey of Royaumont near Paris, an establishment they sold to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux in 1869. A few priests were
appointed chaplains of these religious women. Brother Picard immediately became the factotum of this community and remained there until his death. Initially, he supervised
the workers who were restoring the buildings of the old monastery; then, he worked the large gardens that were a part of the abbey. During the Franco-Prussian war and the
period under the Commune in 1870-1871, he remained as custodian of the house.
Amidst his work, Brother Picard always remained a good religious. Father Victor Baret wrote in his obituary (p. 495): “As a coadjutor brother of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate,
his life did not consist entirely of giving himself over with irrepressible generosity to the material tasks which were the role reserved for him; he had a higher duty to
fulfill, that of carefully safeguarding the supernatural life of his soul along with continually progressing in this divine life by the constant and meticulous observing of
our holy rule. Brother Picard, who always understood his role in this way, was from that time on very happy as well to find in the midst of our humble community the means
of completely satisfying the deepest desires of his soul which was filled with faith along with a heart that was deeply loving. He wanted to be, and by God’s grace he actually
was, from these first days a faithful and tireless worker as well as a good religious.”
Brother Picard’s activities began to taper off in 1880 because of an illness that slowly undermined his health. He died on May 14, 1889. His remains were laid to rest in the
cemetery of the parish of Asnières near Royaumont.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome: a will, one letter to Bishop de Mazenod and 15 letters to Father Fabre (1862-1886), etc.
BARET Victor and DELPEUCH, Léon, o.m.i., “Le frère Picard” obituary, no. 170 in Notices nécrologiques, vol. VI, Bar-le-Duc, 1895, p. 483-499.