Born at Marseilles, May 27, 1821
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, June 14, 1842
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, June 15, 1843 (no. 106)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, December 20, 1845
Dispensation from vows, September 20, 1853.
Pierre Palle was born at Marseilles on May 27, 1821. He entered the novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on June 14, 1842. He made his oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier June 15, 1843. He spent 1843-1844 as a scholastic brother at the major seminary of Marseilles and was ordained to the priesthood in Marseilles by Bishop de Mazenod on December 20, 1845. Struck down by illness in 1844, he spent the school year for 1844-1845 at Notre-Dame de l’Osier. When he sent him there, in a May 21, 1844, the Founder wrote to Father Vincens: “I strongly suggest to Palle to put aside his childish ways and to be serious as befits a young religious who is so near to the diaconate.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 10, no. 841, p. 67) The report Father Vincens sent back was not reassuring. On April 17, 1845, Bishop de Mazenod wrote him: “If he were not a subdeacon, I should not hesitate to bring on his expulsion; but he is bound in Orders, but he is no better for that. It is enough to make one tremble. […] In charity, follow this poor child closely and grant him more care than to any other.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 10, no. 871, p. 102)
Following the death of Father Noël Moreau in 1846, Father Jean Joseph Magnan was appointed superior of the major seminary of Ajaccio and he left to take up his post accompanied by Father Palle who was to teach philosophy. Father Palle spent the summer at Notre-Dame de Lumières where, wrote Bishop de Mazenod to Father Vincens, May 5, 1846, under his [Father Vincens’] direction, eight young priests were “to prepare themselves by study for the holy ministry, which is being compromised daily by the ineptitude of those who exercise ministry without experience, possessing little doctrine and less written material.”(Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 10, no. 898, p. 131)
Father Palle remained at Ajaccio for three years. In his numerous letters to the Founder, the superior constantly mentions him. He finds in him many good qualities: goodness of character, genial and happy relationships with everyone, active participation in all seminary activities, esteemed by his philosophy students and by the students of a few courses in geology, mineralogy, botany, applied agriculture, geography and history demanded by the district governor of Corsica. However, Father Palle was lacking in piety, did not go to confession often, did not make his annual retreat in 1847, “at times dressed in childish fashion” and gave evidence of “a deep-seated indolence.” At the beginning of the 1847-1848 academic year, Father Magnan suggested that Father Palle be sent back to Marseilles because, as it seemed to him, “this wretched priest’s spiritual life is dead.” He could no longer remain in a seminary, especially the seminary in Corsica “where all the seminary staff members had the obligation of being apostles and men of outstanding piety.”
Father Palle was very open with Father Magnan and Father Magnan spoke to him “frankly.” This fraternal correction seems to have been effective. The superior perceived good will and a marked improvement. Father Palle’s confreres, especially Father Nicolas in 1847 and Fathers Chauvet and Pont in 1848-1849 showed less understanding and wrote critical letters about him to Father Tempier. Father Tempier prevailed upon the Founder to call Father Palle back to Marseilles in March of 1849 in the very midst of the school year and in the face of the superior’s opposition.
Father Palle was sent to Notre-Dame de l’Osier, but in May of 1849, received his obedience for England. He refused to go, alleging that he felt “an extreme aversion for foreign countries” and that he “felt no inclination to teach.” Father Vincens came to his defence. This irritated the Founder who, nevertheless, allowed Father Palle to remain at l’Osier where Father Vincens hoped to “make him productive in some way.” In a June 13, 1849 letter to Father Charles Bellon in England, Bishop de Mazenod told him: “I thought of sending you Fr. Palle. The shortcomings of this person who alleged the most futile reasons to me for not complying with his mission dispensed me from making you a present of him.” (Letters and Documents Concerning England and Ireland, 1842-1860, Oblate Writings I, vol. 3, no. 28, p. 40)
Right up until 1853, Father Palle remained at l’Osier where he held the office of treasurer and, it seems, taught literature to some of the postulants. At the time, Father Melchior Burfin was superior of the house and was usually demanding when it came to his religious subjects. He seemed to appreciate Father Palle.
In May of 1853, Father Palle was sent to Notre-Dame de Lumières to teach philosophy to the first year scholastic brothers whom they were planning to install in this house for lack of room at the major seminary at Marseilles. Father Palle, whose health was failing, first went to spend the summer vacations with his family. From there he requested to be dispensed from his vows. His case was studied in the General Council’s session of September 20, 1853 and the unanimous decision of the council was in favour of granting the dispensation because, as it was stated, this priest always stood out for his “lack of regular religious observance, his excessive flippancy and his total lack of piety.” It seems that Bishop de Mazenod set as a condition of granting this dispensation that Father Palle leave the diocese of Marseilles. November 3, 1859 Father Palle wanted to return to Marseilles and asked for some position in the diocese without obtaining it.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.