GLANDELET, CHARLES DE, priest, writer, teacher, preacher, secretary to Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix], superior of various communities of nuns, ninth superior of the seminary of Quebec, vicar general; b. 1645 at Vannes in the province of Brittany; d. 1 July 1725 at the Ursuline convent in Trois-Rivières.
Abbé Charles de Glandelet was a man who spent an active life and whose many talents did not always meet with unanimous appreciation. On his arrival in Canada in August 1675 he took up residence in the seminary of Quebec while working in the secretariat of the bishopric. Several documents in the “Livre du Secrétariat” were recopied by him, in particular “the acts against [Thubières*] de Queylus.” In 1678 he was appointed second assistant to the superior of the seminary and retained this office until 1684. From that time on Abbé Glandelet became the champion of the rights of the seminary of Quebec, an attitude which was to be the source of a great deal of friction with Bishop Saint-Vallier, who was considered to be “suspicious and susceptible in the extreme, even in France.” The bishop’s personal manner was certainly displeasing to the members of the seminary. According to Glandelet, during meetings the bishop “begins by using sweet words and acting in a flattering and gentle manner; but as soon as he is opposed he displays the indignation and out-bursts of anger which turn one’s mind and heart against him.”
The bishop’s demands were numerous; he wanted to extend his authority to fields as diverse as the temporal administration of the seminary, its internal regulations, the upkeep of ecclesiastics who were not attached to it, the acceptance of the children for the Petit Séminaire, whom the bishop would have liked to place there gratuitously, and the appointment of priests to charges which depended on the seminary, in particular that of Quebec. Despite these difficulties, Abbé Glandelet displayed real abilities as an administrator. In his correspondence with the authorities of the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris, on which the seminary of Quebec was dependent, he made discerning remarks concerning the general regulations which should be in force in all the seminaries, but at the same time he advocated adjustments which were necessitated by the particular circumstances of life in Canada. The very terms of the union between the seminary of Quebec and that in Paris made some compromises necessary because of the distance separating the two establishments. Glandelet showed particular reticence about the right of appointment of a superior by persons who did not know the possible incumbent or who might send an inexperienced man to Canada. One point, however, was clear in the assistant superior’s mind: it concerned the “sharing in common” which should be practised ‘at least by the officers who will be in charge of each seminary.” An expression that returns constantly in his writings is “detachment from worldly possessions.” He put this principle into application himself when on 7 Nov. 1679 he gave all his property to the seminary, on condition that the authorities provide for the needs of his mother, who had crossed with him to Canada and did sewing at the seminary.
In 1684 Abbé Glandelet was appointed canon of the cathedral and first theologal of the chapter in addition to assuming the role of procurator to the bishop and the chapter. He owed his appointment to Bishop Laval, who considered him worthy to figure among the first 13 titular canons appointed in Canada. After Bishop Laval’s retirement relations became strained between Bishop Saint-Vallier and the canons. The points of contention concerned the chapter’s jurisdiction, its own statutes, the appointment and rank of the canons and their responsibilities with regard to the parish of Quebec, the choice of precentors, etcetera. The bishop would have liked to arrange everything according to his point of view. Besides, according to Glandelet, “His Excellency’s prejudices are so great, the unfavourable impressions that he has acquired of us so strong, that most of what we say and do he turns to our disadvantage.”
Despite these difficulties Canon Glandelet was proposed by the authorities of the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris for the office of superior of the seminary, as early as 1687, “for the good and the edification of the church in Canada.” In their letter to the priests in Quebec they added that Glandelet might also assist the parish priest of Quebec in his ministry, in particular in the field of preaching, “for it is of capital importance that this function be performed as much as possible by some ecclesiastic who will do so gracefully.” It is difficult to form an accurate idea of Glandelet as a preacher. We know that he pronounced the first funeral oration for Bishop Laval. He undoubtedly had a more resounding success when in January 1694 he delivered a sermon in the cathedral in which he fulminated against plays and openly condemned the persons who took part in these productions. Some days later Bishop Saint-Vallier issued a pastoral letter which was distinctly unfavourable to the plays staged by Buade* de Frontenac in the Château Saint-Louis during the winter of 1693. On the other hand, it seems that after being a popular preacher Glandelet saw his audience desert him little by little, supposedly because he adhered too blindly in his sermons to what the bishop wanted him to say, “while being careless in the teachings that he gave.”
The years 1692–93 were painful ones. At this time, indeed, relations between the bishop and Abbé Glandelet became so bad that, according to a nun of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, the bishop forbad Glandelet to exercise his office as assistant superior and withdrew from him permission to hear confessions. It is, moreover, certain that the bishop of Quebec had asked the superiors of the seminary in Paris to recall to France Abbé Glandelet and his friend, Ango Des Maizerets, the superior of the seminary. M. Brisacier, the superior of the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris, replied to this request, saying: “the king’s intention is that in the event that His Excellency the Bishop of Quebec is not satisfied with their conduct at the end of a year after notification of the regulations which have been laid down today, His Excellency the Bishop may send back to France the aforementioned gentlemen. whom we enjoin with all our strength to obey with the respect they owe His Majesty and their bishop.”
This letter, dated 20 Jan. 1692 at Paris, had no sequel, since the seminary in Paris could find no one to replace the two ecclesiastics. They were, moreover, “canons and dignitaries.” The direction of the seminary could very well be taken away from them, but they could not be deprived of their benefices. Be that as it may, relations certainly improved, since we find Glandelet in a new function in 1697, that of vicar general to the bishop of Quebec. He was delighted, but took care in announcing the news to point out that “the good Lord takes pleasure in establishing His works by ways that seemed certain to destroy them.” We find the vicar general, in the exercise of his functions, conducting a succession of inquiries among the Ursulines of Quebec to gather evidence relative to claims of extraordinary cures for a nun and one of the boarders in the convent obtained through the instrumentality of Brother Didace Pelletier*.
In addition to his position as an official of the diocese, Glandelet held several superiorships concurrently: that of the Ursulines of Trois-Rivières, which he held from the founding of the convent in 1697 till his death; that of the Ursulines of Quebec from 1700 till 1715, and that of the nuns of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec from 1710 on. He also found time to write. We are indebted to him for the text of an office of the Holy Family done in collaboration with a religious from France, as well as the biographical accounts of the first two superiors of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, Marguerite Bourgeoys* and Marie Barbier. Was he the author of the commentaries which accompany the manuscript copy of the Comte de Frontenac’s funeral oration, pronounced on 19 Dec. 1698 by Father Olivier Goyer? The Recollet exaggerates indeed the praises addressed to Frontenac, and the annotator attacks with a biting pen:
“To judge fairly
The oration made to the glory
Of a hero of sad memory
Nothing is lacking but the truth.”
In the notes which accompany his study on Frontenac and his times, George Stewart says that Abbé Casgrain told him that these remarks were due to Abbé Charles de Glandelet.
Finally in 1721 Abbé Glandelet became the ninth superior of the seminary of Quebec. He remained in this office until 1723. This appointment was undoubtedly no surprise, as his name had been suggested for the post on various occasions.
Was Glandelet a Jansenist? Several accusations on this point have been made against him. The Ursulines of Quebec were somewhat “prejudiced” against him. What may seem strange is that he himself suspected certain people of practising Jansenism, in particular one Merlac*, who had in his possession M. Arnauld’s Lettres. In 1714 Glandelet left Quebec temporarily for the Ursuline convent in Trois-Rivières. It seems that there was a connection between this departure and the Jansenist doctrine. At the very least Abbé Glandelet was rigid in his morals and austere in his principles. One has only to read the regulations of the seminary of Quebec to ascertain the painful requirements laid down by the Abbé. He himself lived a life of labour, mortification, and detachment from worldly possessions. His will, drawn up in his hand on 27 Nov. 1716, shows that he possessed nothing “which does not belong on several scores to the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Quebec, of which I have the honour of being a member . . .”; it also indicates that “in addition I have made to it [the seminary] a donation of the little wealth I had when I came to Canada by a private act written and signed by my hand the seventh day of November one thousand six hundred and seventy nine . . .” Why then did Glandelet make his second will in 1716? He explained that he had taken certain personal belongings to the convent of the Ursulines in Trois-Rivières, and he asked the members of the seminary “to be so kind as to leave them with them as a favour to, and for the benefit of, their community.” He took advantage of the occasion to ask pardon of all the members of the seminary for anything that was blameworthy in his conduct and “for all the bad examples that I have set.”
In 1723 Abbé Glandelet, crippled with infirmities, left Quebec for the Ursuline convent in Trois-Rivières, where he ended his days. His death occurred on 1 July 1725; at this point, therefore, a correction must be made to Tanguay, who said that he died in June. His body was probably taken to Quebec, since there is nothing to be found in the bishop’s palace at Trois-Rivières on the subject of his burial.
“He was generally mourned and died as he had lived, that is to say in sentiments that make us believe without difficulty that he has gone to harvest the fruit of his labours and to share the glory that God reserves for those who have served Him with as much ardour and loyalty as he did throughout his life.” This was the eulogy, no doubt merited, that Canons Pierre Hazeur* and Jean-Marie de La Corne bestowed upon Abbé Glandelet after his death. Thus disappeared, in the words of Abbé Honorius Provost, “one of the most distinguished and most representative priests of the seminary.”
ACND, Charles Glandelet, Le vray esprit de Marguerite Bourgeoys et de l’Institut des sœurs séculières de la Congrégation Notre-Dame établie à Ville-Marie en l’Isle de Montréal en Canada, 1701. ASQ, Chapitre, 16, 17, 30, 31, 32, 41, 306, Congrégation Notre-Dame, 65; Lettres, M, 6, 7, 38; P, 11; MSS, 198; Polygraphie, II, 28; Séminaire, I, 31a; VI, 73u; XVII, 35; LI, XCII, 17; XCV, 4a, 7, 24. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet). Provost, Le Séminaire de Québec: documents et biographies, 421–22. Caron, “Prêtres séculiers et religieux,” 230. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada, IV; Vie de Mgr de Laval. George Stewart, “Frontenac and his times,” in Narrative and critical history of America, ed. Justin Winsor (8v., Boston and New York, 1884–89), IV, 397. “Le récollet Olivier Goyer,” BRH, I (1895), 65f. Odoric-M. [Jouve], “Étude historique et critique sur les actes du Frère Didace Pelletier, Récollet,” BRH, XVII (1911), 87.
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Cite This Article
Noël Bélanger, “GLANDELET, CHARLES DE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 1, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/glandelet_charles_de_2E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Noël Bélanger|
|Title of Article:||GLANDELET, CHARLES DE|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1969|
|Year of revision:||1982|
|Access Date:||June 1, 2023|