Father Joseph Capmas was part of the Oblate community of Notre Dame du Laus. Yvon Beaudoin narrates this sad incident concerning him:

“In the spring of 1830, he was the unwitting and unwilling accessory to a dreadful accident. On his way back from a retreat preached at the minor seminary of Embrun, his horse took the bit in his teeth descending a steep hill. The missionary lost control of his mount. As they dashed by a group of travelers whom repeated shouts of warning had warned off and scattered, one of the men was struck and bowled over. A few days later, he died. According to one physician, it was due to a pre-existing medical condition; according to another physician, it was due to the fall he sustained when he was run down by the horse. The public prosecutor had Father Capmas put in the custody of the court of summary jurisdiction. As a result, he was sentenced to three months in prison with a 50 franc fine and 1200 francs damages awarded to the injured party. Father Guibert appealed to the court at Gap. The case was tried again at Gap on appeal with the result that Father Capmas was fully acquitted.
It was judged that this death could not be attributed to lack of prudence, or negligence or to any bungling on Father Capmas’ part.”(http://www.omiworld.org/en/dictionary/historical-dictionary_vol-1_c/636/capmas-joseph-th-odore-martial/ )

Eugene wrote to Fr Guibert, the superior of this community, regarding this incident:

First, I rejoice, my dear Father, that you no longer spit blood. It is not surprising that so much agitation and anxiety have undermined your health. There is certainly much to be vexed about in seeing iniquity ready to pounce and hatred against religion and her ministers triumphing even over justice.
However let us submit to these unfortunate circumstances and put our trust in God who permits only what is necessary they can never act beyond his will.

Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 22 May 1830, EO VI n 345

This entry was posted in WRITINGS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Fr. Capmas. He was already an ordained priest when he met the Oblates; he felt an almost immediate connection with them and asked to join them; and he died taking care of those in a hospital that housed people with contagious diseases he was called a martyr of mercy. Not a martyr in the usual sense, but still I believe it was the right word to use.

    He reminds me that there are many who are found guilty and who are sentenced and are in prison for crimes they did not commit. Fr. Capmas was found guilty by a judge when one doctor said that the unfortunate person who died when Fr. Capmas’ horse hit him and another doctor said that the person died directly from being struck by Fr. Capmas’ horse hit. The judge seemed to prefer the second opinion. If I look at something by closing one eye – then I do not get the full picture for there is an imbalance and if I look through both eyes then everything changes for the picture is fuller, I see more. What is the lens that I look through? Does it give me a full view? What is my attitude as I look and listen? Am I truly open to the truth, the full truth or am I so wrapped up in fear and anger that I see only one small part of the truth?
    The last sentence of Eugene’s letter to Fr. Guibert resonated with me my Grandmother used to tell me that God would never give me more than I could bear. “…put our trust in God…’

    Until yesterday I had never heard of Fr. Capmas – he was not one of the ‘star players on the team’ whose name was always in the news. And yet he was one of those ‘wonder-workers’ that Frank spoke of yesterday. A whole new way of seeing and walking the path that I have been set on for today! “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice” and give thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *