Father Jean Le Vacher: Hero and Missionary, Blasted to Death by Muslims

October 6, 2014

Fr.  Jean le Vacher

Fr. Jean le Vacher

In 1647, St. Vincent de Paul sent Father Jean Le Vacher to do missionary work among the Catholics enslaved by the Barbary Coast’s Muslim corsairs and he arrived in Tunis during an epidemic of the plague and did much to comfort the captives. Upon the death of the French consul, the Bey appointed Father Le Vacher as his replacement. For many years the Vincentian priest brought the comforts of the Faith to this most abandoned group of the faithful and in 1652 was named Vicar Apostolic by the Holy See.

In July 1683, obeying orders from Louis XIV, the French Admiral Abraham Duquesne bombarded Algiers to punish the Muslim corsairs for their pirate raids, destroying houses, mosques and ships. Father Le Vacher, who was exercising his ministry in the city, was seized with other Frenchmen by the despairing Muslims who were intent on killing them in reprisal for the French bombardment.

St. Vincent sends out Fr. Le Vacher to Algiers on the left and on the right, his martyrdom.

St. Vincent sends out Fr. Le Vacher to Algiers on the left and on the right, his martyrdom.

—    “You will not die if you choose to wear a turban,” the commanding officer told the missionary.

—    “Keep your turban,” replied the priest, “and let it perish with you. Know that I am a Christian, and at my age, one does not fear death. I abhor the false law of Mohammed and I recognize only the Roman, Catholic, and apostolic faith as the one true faith. I profess it, and in its defense, I am ready to shed my blood to the very last drop.”

Baba Merzoug, a bronze cannon of twelve tons built in 1542 and renamed La Consulaire by the French in 1830.

The twelve ton cannon, Baba Merzoug, built in 1542, was renamed La Consulaire by the French in 1830.

He was attached to the mouth of a cannon called Baba Merzoug and the Muslims looked around for someone to light the fuse. They tried to get a volunteer from a group of Jews who were there but they all refused. They found a renegade Christian who accepted the satanic responsibility, but his arm was struck by Divine punishment and paralyzed when he tried to fire the cannon. Eventually the Muslims were able to fire the cannon and the heroic missionary was blasted to death on July 29, 1683.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 426



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