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Charles Nacquart
1617 to 1650
Catholic
Madagascar

Charles Nacquart was a French Catholic missionary in Madagascar. He was born in a village near Soissons and entered the mission congregation known as the Lazarists founded by Vincent de Paul. He was educated at Saint Lazarus Seminary in Paris and at the Lazarists' residence near Tours before being appointed to Madagascar. The East India Company had asked the mission to send priests to the French colony of Fort-Dauphin (present-day Faradofay, or Tolagnaro, according to the former Malagasy name). Nacquart and his fellow Lazarist Nicolas Gondrée arrived in December 1648 together with Etienne de Flacourt, director of the company and commander of the colony, with whom Nacquart's relationship was often irksome, making his task more difficult. The two Lazarists had been preceded by a priest, Bellebarbe, chaplain to the commander, but it was thanks to the help of a colonist, François Grandchamp, that their knowledge of the Malagasy people and language improved. During his eighteen-month stay in Madagascar, Nacquart established good relations with the Malagasy princes and religious leaders, whom he cautiously tried to convert, but concentrated his efforts on teaching and baptizing children. He traveled around the area and made plans for extending the mission work, including building the first large church, whose foundation stone was laid in February 1650. He prepared a handbook for teaching the faith and was probably the principal author of the first catechism in Malagasy, published in 1657, seven years after his death in Fort-Dauphin. He also wrote the first account of that area of Madagascar in his report to his superior (February 5, 1650), which reached Vincent de Paul after Nacquart's death.

Yvette Ranjeva Rabetafika


Bibliography:

Charles Nacquart, Petit catechism avec les prières du matin et du soir (1657). Jules Chavanon, Une ancienne relation sur Madagascar (1650) (1897; contains Nacquart's letter of February 5, 1650); Etienne de Flacourt, ed., Histoire de la grande isle Madagascar (1658; 1995); Henri Froideveaux, Les Lazaristes à Madagascar au XVIIème siècle (n.d.);Ludwig Munthe et al., Le catéchisme malgache de 1657 (1987); Modeste Rakotondrabe, Les premiers catéchismes en langue malgache (1990).


This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.