Aloïs Vandemaele was born in Zwevegem as son of a baker. He studied at the minor seminary in Roeselare, where he befriended Guido Gezelle, four years older than him, who was a student there, too (school year 1849-1850). As Gezelle left for the major seminary in Bruges, Vandemaele started corresponding with him from the minor seminar in Roeselare, his first known letter dating from 15 December 1850. At that moment Vandemaele was 16 years old. He and Gezelle were schoolmates by consequence. After his term at the major seminary Gezelle returned to the minor seminary as a teacher, one of his students being Aloïs Vandemaele during the schoolyear 1854-1855. On 1 October 1856 Vandemaele started studying at the major seminary in Bruges and as a seminarian he became a member of Gezelle’s Confraternity.
On 1 October 1859 Vandemaele became a teacher of physics and mathematics at the college of Saint Louis in Bruges, and on 17 December 1859 he was ordained priest. On 10 April 1861 he started to work as a teacher of Latin, English and mathematics at the college of Saint Joseph in Tielt, from where he tried, with Gezelle’s help, to bring in English students, in order to allow his students to practise English conversation, but also to send the English students on to the English seminary in Bruges after their studies in Tielt, so that they could be ordained priest and sent back to England to spread catholic faith there.
On 22 April 1868 he became curate in Oostrozebeke (Saint Amand’s church) and on 24 May, 1871 in Poperinge. He was subsequently transferred to Kortrijk where he became director of the Paulienen congregation and prison chaplain. On 26 October 1878 he had his first appointment as a parish priest in Oostduinkerke (Saint Nicholas’ church) and on 6 February 1889 he became parish priest in Lauwe, where he resigned on 23 February 1900.
The church of Lauwe
Online Edition of the Gezelle Letters
Here you can find the digitized letters next to the full searchable text. The letters are enriched with biographical and contextual information.