BIGANDET, Paul-Ambroise. Malans (Doubs) 13.8.1813 — Rangoon 19.4.1894. French Catholic Missionary and Buddhist Scholar. Fifty years in Burma. Educated in Besancon and at the seminary of Missions Etrangères in Paris (two years there). In 1837 ordained as priest and sent as missionary to Malacca, later moved to Burma. From 1852 (or 1846) Titular Bishop of Ramatha and Administrator of Pegu and Ava (soon after the British annexation of Lower Burma). But Cath.Hier. claims that he was 1866-70 in western Thailand and only then in Burma – yet the book 1858 based on Burmese sources and printed in Rangoon shows that he was already familiar with Burma. In 1870 he visited the Council in Vatican and obtained independence for Burman Mission, which was now divided into two vicariates, and Bigandet was nominated the Vicar-Apostolic of Southern Burma, an office he held until his death. When Buddhism was still poorly known in the West, his works were important source of information.
Publications: The Life or Legend of Gaudama, the Buddha of the Burmese. Rangoon 1858, 2nd enl. & rev. ed. 538 p. R. 1866, 4th ed. 287+334 p. L. 1911-12, French transl. P. 1878.
– Mémoire sur les Phongie, ou religieux bouddhistes appelés aussi Talapoins. 1865.
– An outline of the history of the Catholic Burmese mission. Rangoon 1887, also French transl.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; R. Limousin-Lamothe, D.B.F. 6, 1954, 425; www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/bbiga.html; *J.-M. Suchet, Un missionnaire franc-comtois, Mgr. Bigandet. 1894.
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