Pieter Benoit attended the minor seminary in Roeselare between 1834 and 1840 and later studied at the major seminary in Bruges until 1842. From October 1842 onwards until August 1846 he was the classroom teacher of the fifth form Latin class at the Dune college, where he had known Gezelle as a pupil. The Dune college was was an annex of the major seminary on the Potterierei, later to be renamed Saint Leo’s college. When the Dune college moved to the Noordzandstraat in Brugge in October 1845 under the name Saint Louis’ college, Benoit remained at the major seminary to prepare himself to priesthood. He was ordained priest on May 29th, 1847 and left for Salford, Manchester on September 27th, 1847. At first he was a curate, and later pastored the St Augustine’s church in Salford. In 1851 he was canon-penitentiary and secretary to Mgr Turner, bishop of Salford, in 1854 vicar-general and in 1855 grand vicar of the Salford diocese. In 1872 he succeeded Herbert Vaughan as rector of the missionary Holcombe House at Mill Hill near London. He is relevant to the study of Gezelle because around 1860 he regularly insisted on Gezelle’s coming to England. Gezelle hesitated and Benoit engaged a good friend of the Bruges bishop Malou, monseigneur Turner, to convince Malou that Gezelle would be an excellent missionary for England. However, Faict did not allow him to leave, but sent him to the English College in Bruges, together with Algar (September 1860).
Letter of P. Benoit to G. Gezelle
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