The Days & Works of St Benedict Joseph Labre:
An Outline Chronology of His Life
[in progress]

1748 March 26, Tuesday: Born at Amettes, in the Artois, northeastern France, in the Diocese of Boulogne, during the reign of Louis XV and the pontificate of Benedict XIV, the first-born of the fifteen children of Jean Baptiste Labre and his wife, Anne-Barbe Grandsire [or Gransire]. References to his birth on March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation) are in error, as is shown by his still extant baptismal register.

1748 March 27, Wednesday: Baptized in the parish church at Amettes. The still extant register of his baptism, entered on this date, clearly refers to the child as born on the preceding day (i.e., March 26).

1753: Before the end of his fifth year, he has made his first sacramental Confession. At five years of age, he is able to read, and attends the grammar school conducted at Amettes by Francois Joseph Forgeois under the direction of the Vicar of Amettes, the Abbe Francois d'Hanutel.

1761 September 4, Friday: Aged thirteen, he receives the Sacrament of Confirmation from the Bishop of Boulogne, Francois Joseph Gaston de Partry de Pressy, and receives his first Holy Communion.

1764: After four years of private study with his paternal uncle, Francois Joseph Labre, parish priest of Erin, he returns home to Amettes, aged sixteen, to seek his parents' permission to enter the famous Cistercian Abbey of La Trappe. They refuse, and he is sent back to his uncle at Erin for further study.

1766 September 13, Saturday: An epidemic having broken out in the neighborhood of Erin, during which both the Abbe Labre and his nephew, aged eighteen, ministered heroically to the sick and dying, his uncle dies of the disease.

1766 November 1, Saturday: By All Saints' Day, he has returned to his family's home at Amettes, where again he asks his parents' permission to enter monastic life, and is refused a second time. Instead, he is sent for further study under another relative, the Abbe Jacques Joseph Vincent, parish priest of Conteville.

1767, Early Spring: During the Carnival (Quinquagesima Sunday through Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday), toward the end of his nineteenth year, he attends the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, part of the Forty Hours' Devotion, at the Church of the Carmelites in Saint Pol.

1767, Late Spring: During Lent, he attends parish missions at various churches around Conteville. He confesses several times, and consults the missioner priests about his vocation. He also begins to manifest excessive scruples about receiving the Holy Communion.

1767 April: Advised to try his vocation with the nearby Carthusians instead of the Trappists, with his parents' consent, he presents himself, aged nineteen, at the Charterhouse of Val de Sainte Aldegonde at longuenesse in the Diocese of Saint Omer, where he is briefly received as a guest. The monastery, which has recently sustained a serious fire, is not in a financial position to accept any candidates, and the Prior, Dom Cyril Piefort, refers him to another Charterhouse, Our Lady of the Meadow at Neuville-sous-Montreuil in the Diocese of Boulogne.

1767 Late May: He applies for admission to the Charterhouse of Our Lady of the Meadow at Neuville-sous-Montreuil, but is refused by the Prior, Dom Michel Pater, because he is not yet twenty years old, and has not studied dialectic (logic) or plaintchant. For the next four months, in order to remedy the deficiency, he attends a school at Ligny-les-Aire conducted by the Abbe Joseph Adrien Dufour.

1767 October 6, Tuesday: On the Feast of Saint Bruno, the Founder of the Carthusians, he presents himself again at the Charterhouse at Neuville, and this time is received, along with a friend named Hidoux whom he has persuaded to enter monastic life. After a few weeks, he is dismissed as unsuited to the life, and sent home to Amettes.

1767 Late October-Early November: He arrives home at Amettes, but very soon sets out again on foot, bound for the Cistercian Abbey of La Trappe at Mortagne.

1767 November 25, Wednesday: He reaches La Trappe at Mortagne on foot, and asks for admission to the Cistercian monastery, but is refused by Abbot Theodore Chambon, because the rule requires that candidates be at least twenty-four years old, and he is not yet twenty. Benedict Joseph returns to Amettes, arriving after a month's absence, filthy from the road, and exhausted from fatigue and fasting.

1768, Winter [?]: He is dissuaded from setting out again for La Trappe by the Vicar of Amettes, Jerome Theret, who suggests that instead he write to the Abbot asking to be received by way of exception before he turns twenty-four. The reply from La Trappe is negative.

1768, Early Summer: Around the Feast of Pentecost, he returns briefly to study again under his uncle, the Vicar of Conteville, but he is soon sent home to labor on his family's farm of approximately forty acres for the ensuing year. During this time, his mother gives birth to the last of her fifteen children, a boy named Augustin, for whom Benedict Joseph serves as godfather.

1769, Summer: He attends another parish mission in the vicinity of Boulogne-sur-Mer, walking there the distance of fifteen leagues. Afterwards, he visits Boulogne in order to consult another priest, Canon Michel Joseph Flamand, a native of Amettes, who urges him to see the Bishop. Bishop de Partz de Pressy advises he remain in the diocese, and try the Carthusians at Neuville again. Benedict Joseph makes a retreat of fifteen days at the diocesan seminary in Boulogne, and the rector of the seminary writes to the Carthusians on his behalf, securing for him another chance to try his vocation at the Charterhouse of Neuville.

1769 August 12, Saturday (or August 16, Wednesday [?]): Benedict Joseph, having bade his family farewell, leaves Amettes for the last time. He will never see his family again in this life. For the third time, he journeys to Neuville-sous-Montreuil to try his vocation with the Carthusians of Our Lady of the Meadow. After six weeks, he is again dismissed as well-intentioned but unsuitable by the Prior, Dom Joseph Henri Cappe (afterwards Procurator of the Grande Chartreuse near Grenoble).

1769 October 2, Monday: On the day he is dismissed from the Charterhouse at Neuville, he writes to his parents from the town of Montreuil the first of his two extant letters, advising them that he will go to La Trappe again, and if not received there he will try the Cistercian Abbey of Sept-Fons in the Diocese of Autun in the Bourbonnais.

1769 mid-October: He reaches La Trappe at Mortagne in Perche, is refused again, and turns his steps toward Sept-Fons near Moulin.

1769 October 28, Saturday: After four weeks of travel on foot, he arrives at Sept-Fons near Moulin, and is received initially as a guest.

1769 November 2, Thursday: On All Souls' Day, he is accepted as a postulant within the cloister.

1769 November 11, Saturday: Two weeks after his arrival, he is clothed as a novice in the Cistercian habit and given the name Brother Urban (Frere Urbain) after the saint of the Apostolic age mentioned by Saint Paul in Romans, and named in the Martyrology for October 28th (the day of his arrival at the Abbey).

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