An important letter of Prince-Abbot Joseph III

On 19 June 1925, Prince-Abbot Joseph III wrote to the future Prince-Abbot Edmond I, then Grand Chancellor-General of the Order of the Crown of Thorns. His letter is important in that it discusses some of the details of Prince-Abbot Joseph III’s formal ceremony of reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church and also in that it reaffirms the closeness between the two men, such that Prince-Abbot Joseph III was moved to write of “my most sincere and faithful friend for ever”.

The first paragraph of the letter details assistance that had been sent to Prince-Abbot Joseph III, most likely of a financial nature. It is a myth that Prince-Abbot Joseph III was living in abject poverty before his reconciliation with Rome. He was always able to provide for himself, but was in constant need of more funding for his mission work. It appears that he was given an annuity from the American Catholic Church, based in Chicago, of which he had formerly been Primate, but was initially not able to access this from his new home in Versailles, hence the appeal for funds. He was also to receive a generous Papal pension.

At the end of the letter the signature of Georges Panchaud is found under that of Prince-Abbot Joseph III. Panchaud was the nephew of the Prince-Abbot and lived with his uncle at Versailles.

The three-page letter is reproduced below (click each page for a larger version) with a transcript following:


19b19c[Seal of the Order of the Crown of Thorns]

Versailles, the 19th June 1925

To Monseigneur Barwell Walker
Grand Chancellor General
C[hivalrous] & R[eligious] Order of the Crown of Thorns
La Porte, USA

My dear and sincere Friend,

First I must reply to your kind and sincere letter of June 22. I have received your most welcome offer, who came in the right time to help me in this rainy days. Many, many thanks.

In your letter July the 7th you ask me if I was received in to the Church of Rome. I will say Yes, I was received, with all respect and great consideration after 12 days of retraite in the Home and Chapel of the Fathers of the Fraternity Sacerdotal by His Excellency the Papal Nuncio of Paris in the presence of 12 dignitary. The ceremony was imposing, strictly private full of charity and of the spirit of God.

Through the kindness of the Holy Father I have to my disposal and use a pavillon of 5 rooms, and a very large garden for Georges to work and amuse. This is in the City of Versailles, near a monastery of Cistercians, from time to time I visit the Abbot and he always return the visit to me with large baskets of vegetable or fruits. I am a free man in that papal pavillon and do what I want, visiting Paris or others city if it please me.

Again 3 or 4 months of forebearance and then I will receive more regularly my Chicago money etc. etc. May be Dr. Slade will paid me. Will you in charitable way give him my new address.

Concerning my situation in France, I like to say more to you but please wait and do not stop to correspond with me. You are my Chancellor General and my most sincere and faithfull friend for ever.

Your last letter to me shows your noble Christian spirit. God will certainly reward you. Thanks for your comfortable words in your letter. Don’t be discouraged. We will meet again. God is good.

Believe me dear Monseigneur Yours affectionately old friend, +Mar Timotheus Archbishop Vilatte.

Strictly Private letter never to be publish in news papers,

My address: Monseigneur J.R. Vilatte Archevêque
19, rue de Pont Colbert,

Respectuous salutations of Georges.