GABET, Joseph

GABET, Joseph. Nevy-sur-Seille (Jura) 4.12.1808 — Rio de Janeiro 3.3.1853. French Lazarist Missionary in China. Son of a smallholder, went at the age of 15 to petit séminaire de Vaux, at 20 to grand séminaire de S.-Claude. Ordained as a priest at the age of 26. In 1834 he joined the Lazarists and was sent to Indonesia, but returned soon for unknown reasons. Now he was sent to China, where he lived first in Canton, from 1839 in Si-Wang on Mongolian border. In Chinese known as Qin Gabi. He was planning the conversion of Mongolians and therefore tried to learn their language, culture and religion. A young desert Lama taught him Mongolian and travelled with him two years in Manchuria. After this Gabet got the idea of visiting Lhasa. He met —> Huc and agreed to make this venture together with him. In August 1844 they came to Kumbum and in January 1846 to Lhasa. The Chinese officials quickly found out that they were Catholic missionaries and expelled them, so that they could remain in Lhasa only one month (26.1.–26.2.). In eight months they travelled to Macao and from there to Europe, arriving in January 1847. Huc wrote the famous account their travels. After a few months in Paris and at home in Jura Gabet went to Rome. He was given an audience with the pope, but was not confirmed in the bishop’s title, in partibus infidelium, which he had been given during his travels. Back in Paris he asked to be sent to Si-Wang, but was sent instead, apparently on grounds of his failing health (a difficult rheumatism), to Brazilia. From 1848 he lived in Rio de Janeiro and died there of yellow fever. One gets the impression that there is a lot to be read between the lines of this official biography.

Publications: With Huc: Tibetan Journey (see under Huc).

– “Rapports sur la Mission en Tartarie, Mongolie, Tibet, 1842, 1847”, Annales de la propagation de la foi 19-20, 1847-48; Coup d’œil sur l’état des missions de Chine présenté au Saint-Père le pape Pie IX. 84 p. Poissy 1848, réédition Valmonde 1999.

With Huc: Lettres de Chine et d’ailleurs 1835–1860. Éd. établie par Jacqueline Thevenet. 461 p. P. 2005.

Sources: F. Marouis, D.B.F. 14, 1979, 1487-1489; *P. Pelliot, “Le voyage de MM. Gabet et Huc à Lhasa”, TP 24, 1925-26, 133-178; Wikipedia (see also French version).

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