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Guillaume de Félice - Bolbec (1827-1839)

Starting in the summer of 1828, de Félice became the third pastor of the Reformed Church of Bolbec, in Normandy. A Spartan establishment, the church was built in the 1780s and inaugurated in 1797 to accommodate a somewhat battle-hardened protestant congregation that had had its previous two churches demolished and sealed respectively. Added in the 1850’s, the church now has a splendid neo-classical, columned façade, leading onto its original whitewashed and wood-panelled interior.

Guillaume de Felice inscribed on a stele

Here, de Félice became one of the principle contributors to major publications, such as “le Semeur” [The Sower], a socio-political journal, “La Presse” [The Press] (a major French newpaper), as well as the “Archives de Christianisme” [Archives of Christianity], and the American newspaper, the New York Observer, the latter he continued with for the rest of his life. As well as these, he had seven works published, including a book,  two articles (1, 2), three sermons (1, 2, 3) and a translation.

An already notable figure in the Church, his sermons gained more public attention, some being recorded. Of the more notable ones that remain, one was published by the evangelist Napoléon Roussel in the 1835 “Galerie de quelques Prédicateurs de l’Église Réformée de France” [Gallery of some of the preachers of the Reformed Church of France]. Titled “Le Joug de Christ” [the yoke of Christ] it refers to chapter 11 of the book of Matthew, where Jesus describes to his followers:

28. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Wishing to move closer to politics, which he thought were suited to him, in 1839 de Félice decided to move to teach at the famous faculty of theology in Montauban, near Toulouse.

His somewhat bemused colleague and friend Jean Pédézert recorded his passionate leaving statement:

“Truth, justice, progress, public welfare, public morals, the march of civilization, the Gospel entering the ideas and mores of a people. In doing more politics, one does more religion!”

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