HOSTEN, Henri. Ramscapelle, West Flanders 26.3.1873 — Brussels 16.4.1935. S.J. Father. Belgian Missionary Scholar in India. After Apostolic Church in Turnhout joined the Jesuit Order. Suspected of consumption he was in 1893 sent to Kandy to die there, but recovered quickly and started teacher’s work in Ceylon. In 1900 came to India and 1906 ordained priest in Kurseong. For a while he worked at Shembaganur near Kodaikanal and became interested in prehistoric archaeology. Now he also started learning Portuguese. Soon he was transferred to Calcutta Archdiocese and worked there as teacher for 29 years, at St. Xavier’s and from 1917 at St. Joseph’s in Darjeeling. From 1920 he was allowed to fully concentrate on his historical studies. Retired because of health problems and returned to his native Flanders in 1931.
Hosten’s main interest as a scholar lied in the early history of mission in India, both by Jesuits and the apostle Thomas. These he discussed in numerous articles, often in a rather controversial vein which was said to be characteristic to him. In Calcutta he found Monserrate’s forgotten manuscript. He was active in denouncing Sadhu Sundar Singh.
Publications: “Pahāṛiā Burial-Customs (British Sikkim)”, Anthropos 4, 1909, 669-683.
– Edited the Memoirs of Father Monserrate: “Mongolicae Legationis Commentarius; or, the First Jesuit Mission to Akbar”, MASB 3:9, 1914, 534-689, translated the same in The Catholic Herald of India, Calcutta 1920-21.
– Edited: “Le Bhâgavata. D’après un texte Sen Tamoul. Nouvelle traduction de Maridas Poullé de Pondichéry (1793–1795), edité par le Père H.H.”, Revue historique de l’Inde française 4:1, 1920, 22+235+21 p.
– “St. Thomas and San Thomé, Mylapore”, JASB N. S. 19, 1923, 153-236.
– Antiquities from San Thome and Mylapore. 27+590 p. Madras 1936.
– Many articles in JASB, Bengal Past and Present, JUPHS, The Catholic Herald of India, The Examiner, etc.
Sources: *F. Eelen, “Life and works of Fr. H.H.”, Antiquities from Sau Thome. 1936, xvii–xxvi; *Éd. Hambye, “Edward Douglas Maclagan and H.H.: The Golden Jubilee of ‘The Jesuits and the Great Mogul’ 1932-1982”, ICHR 17, 1983, 67-72; J. van Manen, JASB 3:2, 1936, 217-219; defective bibliography in www.goethals.in/collections/felixrajarticles/Hhosten.htm; French Wikipédia.
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