Born: Kerfeunteun (Finistère), August 29, 1824.
Took the habit: Nancy, March 9, 1848.
Vows: Nancy, March 10, 1849 (N. 242)
Priestly ordination: Marseille, March 19, 1849.
Died: Jaffna, Ceylon, June 17, 1867.
Jean Le Bescou was born in Kerfeunteun, diocese of Quimper, on August 29, 1824. He studied at minor seminary at Pont-Croix and the major seminary at Quimper. He was a deacon when he assisted at a talk given by Father Léonard Baveux and decided to become an Oblate of Mary Immaculate. He began his novitiate in Nancy on March 9, 1848. Father Jacques Santoni, novice master, wrote in that same month: “Le Bescou is a deacon and has completed his theological studies which he seems to have done with some success. His character is very gentle. He is pious, docile and very charitable towards his brothers and has a good community spirit. His merits were much appreciated in the Major seminary in Quimper because he had been given a certain precedence over his fellow students.” In his reports for the following months Father Santoni always wrote “very good”, “solid virtue” and in June 1848: “He does not seem however, to a great talent for preaching and, besides, his shortness of stature combined with a certain shyness, depresses him somewhat.” He took his vows at Nancy on March 10, 1849 and was ordained priest in Marseille on March 19. Four days later he left for Ceylon with Fathers Frédéric Mouchel and Félix Leydier.
Like most of the other priests in Ceylon, he exercised his ministry in a number of missions: Jaffna in 1849-1851, during which time he also studied Tamil and English, Lassaiyoor and Kilali in 1851, Mantotte and Madhu in 1842, Valigamam in 1853, Trincomalee in 1855. At that time, together with Bishop Semeria, he was also a member of the team that gave parish missions. He was in Kayts in 1860. Mannar-Mantotte in 1861-1862, Chilaw in 1863, where he had to learn Singhalese. He was back in Jaffna in 1864. Father Jesuthasan Philip writes in necrology note: Father Le Bescou was God’s gift to the vicariate of Jaffna. He was an untiring and zealous missionary, an exemplary priest and a model religious, a model of obedience, faithful to his religious duties and enjoyed the trust of his superiors. He was Bishop Semeria’s right hand man. He had an extraordinary capacity for work and nobody can explain how he managed to do so much work in so short a time. He could spend a whole day and part of the night in the confessional and then, with no sign or tiredness or rest he would set out to preach and catechize for hours … He was ready to anywhere to take the place of a priest who was sick or to help a missionary in another mission.”
Father Le Bescou has always been in good health. In May 1867, a blood disorder was revealed by numerous painful inflammations. One of them formed a tumour and, in spite of two operations, led to the death of the missionary on June 17, 1867. He is buried in Jaffna cathedral close to the grave of Victor Lacombe.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.