Edmond Houtave, son of Josephus Houtave, city secretary, and Marie Van Iseghem, attended secondary school at the College of Saint Louis in Bruges. In 1858 he wrote the poem "De prijsdeeling" (The Award Ceremony) for the college’s award ceremony. The poem was published in De Katholyke Zondag (August 28th, 1858). In 1859 he started studying philosophy at the minor seminary in Roeselare, where Guido Gezelle was his teacher. He was a wonderful student.
After attending the major seminary in Bruges he was ordained priest on December 19th, 1863. After a short period as a teacher at the College of Saint Louis in Bruges (10.01.1864-28.12.1864) he started teaching at the college of Ypres, and became its principal on 28 April, 1869. His successor as a principal was Hugo Verriest. On January 18th, 1877 Houtave became the spiritual director of the Ierse Dames (Irish Ladies) in Ypres. On August 7th, 1878 he was appointed director of the Sint-Juliaansgesticht (Saint Julian’s hospital - a psychiatric institution) in Bruges, and on October 26th, 1885 he became parish priest in Sint-Eloois-Winkel, and subsequently pastor-dean in Diksmuide on June 20th, 1892. On June 29th, 1895 he returned to Bruges where he held various ecclesiastical offices : titular canon, vicar general, examinator prosynodalis, member of the episcopal council, chairman of the committee for monasterial affairs and spiritual director of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Bruges. On June 19th, 1907 he became canon-cantor in the chapter of the Saint Saviour’s cathedral in Bruges.
The fact that Edmond Houtave was made a knight in the order of Leopold in his lifetime proves that he was a most meritorious man. Guido Gezelle dedicated his poem Een wijzer woord (A Wiser Word) to him and also wrote other poems in which Houtave is mentioned (e.g. De bisschop onzen Deken nam) (The Bishop Took Our Dean).
Manuscript of Gezelle's poem "Een wijzer woord. Aan E. Houtave" ( A Word More Wise. To E. Houtave)
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.