Born at Bort (Corrèze), April 11, 1827.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, September 7, 1850.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, September 8, 1851. (no. 308)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, November 16, 1851.
Died at Montmartre, May 5, 1897.
Léon Delpeuch was born on April 11, 1827 at Bort in the diocese of Tulle, the second of three children born of Jeanne Veyriol and Antoine Delpeuch, a court clerk. He studied at Bort, at Mauriac and at the minor seminary of Servières. At the beginning of the year of philosophy, he left the seminary to attend the military school of Saint-Cyr. Against his mother’s wishes, he spent a month working for a business firm at Clermont and, on the advice of a priest and of his friends, he entered the major seminary of Tulle in 1845. After his ordination to the diaconate in 1849, still undecided as to his future, he was appointed professor of the fourth form at the minor seminary of Brive.
He had already heard a talk by Father Léonard Baveux in 1847 and he met Bishop de Mazenod at Brive at the beginning of August 1850. He then decided to become an Oblate. he spent fifteen days in the community at Limoges and entered the novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on September 7, 1850. He made his oblation there on September 8, 1851 and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on November 16, 1851. In 1851-1852, he took the course of “advanced studies” in Marseilles which was intended to better train the young priests for preaching. He benefited a great deal from this course because he subsequently preached missions and retreats constantly throughout his life. “In his obituary, we read: “A career preaching parish missions was his dream.” And this dream became a reality. An ardent soul with above average intelligence and well educated, fluent in speech, the new missionary possessed qualities that enthralled and swept his hearers along.”
He was sent to Bordeaux where the Founder had accepted to make a foundation. He remained there with his confreres at Pont-de-la-Maye in 1852-1853, then at Notre-Dame de Talence from 1853 to 1858. He was then one of the founders of the Oblate house at Autun in 1858-1859 and that of Paris in 1859-1861, before becoming professor of Sacred Scripture and eloquence at the major seminary of Marseilles in 1861-1862. He was superior and parish priest at Notre-Dame de Talence from 1863 to 1869 and of Notre-Dame de l’Arcachon in the diocese of Bordeaux from 1869 to 1872, superior at Angers in 1873-1874, at Limoges in 1874-1876, at Tours in 1876-1879, at Pontmain in 1879-1883. In 1883, he was custodian of the house of Autun while it was being rented to the minor seminary, then, he was appointed superior at Le Calvaire in Marseilles where he remained from 1883 to 1893. He was finally sent to be chaplain of Montmartre in Paris. In this new field of endeavour, he spent himself, just as he usually did, without measure. In addition to the ordinary tasks of chaplain, he added a work to which he attached his name, the work with the poor that Father Jean-Baptiste Lemius had established in the basilica of the Sacred Heart. It was at Montmartre that he died on May 5, 1897.
Amidst his occupations as superior and preacher, Father Delpeuch found the time to write. He published the following works: Histoire de Notre-Dame d’Arcachon et du bx Illyricus, son fondateur, Bordeaux, 1872, 238 p. Essai sur les missions dans les pays catholiques, Paris, 1876, 216 p.; “Saint Alphonse de Liguoiri et Eugène de Mazenod” in Missions O.M.I., 1876, p. 203-212; Histoire de Notre-Dame de Bon Secours en Vivarais, Lille, 1893, 102 p.
We read in his obituary: “In Reverend Father’s [Delpeuch] character, uprightness and forthrightness held pride of place. This made his relationships with his confreres very pleasant. What one noticed about him was his spirit of faith: a solid faith, genuinely supernatural, a source of strength for a will that sought what is good. It was, indeed, this spirit of faith which had early inspired in him the love of the calling of a mission preacher and had enkindled in his heart an ardent desire to win souls to God. From this source as well came the tireless zeal he displayed in his apostolic endeavours. He stopped at nothing when it was a question of the salvation of wretched sinners. He sought them everywhere he hoped to find them without counting the cost of the wear and tear which were part and parcel of certain endeavors that were often very trying. It was once again from his spirit of faith that he drew his great love for the Congregation and his various works and, all the more, for the holy Church and its sublime Head…”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.