Paul Buchsenschultz’s religious convictions led him to work in Madagascar as a member of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission, or NMS (Norwegian Missionary Society).
The son of Pastor Geoffroy Buchsenschutz, Paul was born in Paris on August 24, 1877. He studied at the Protestant Theological Seminary in Paris from 1897 to 1901, and then spent a few semesters in England, Germany, and Norway (1901-1902). Just like his father, he was especially interested in Norwegian missionary work, and he was sent to Madagascar by the NMS in 1903 to work in a joint Norwegian-Malagasy Lutheran missionary venture.
His first assignment was to direct the Teacher’s Training College of Antsirabe, from 1903 to 1906. He then worked as a missionary among the Bara, and lived in Ihosy, from 1906 to 1908. He also directed the Teacher’s Training College in Fianarantsoa from 1906 to 1909, while he was in charge of the missionary district there. He then returned to Antsirabe and had several responsibilities: the Teacher’s Training College, and the leprosarium of the NMS. With few interruptions, he remained there from 1909 to 1941. In 1914, he married Jeanne Mathiot, in France. In addition to helping him in his ministry, she directed the Boys School in Antsirabe, among other things.
Held in high esteem by his Norwegian colleagues, whose language he had learned, Buchsenschutz was twice elected superintendant of the mission in Antananarivo (1935-1937, and 1941-1948). Since he was of French nationality, it was easier for him to interact with the colonial authorities at that time, especially during the very delicate time of the Second World War (1939-1945), and of the Rebellion (1947-1948).
In 1948, after his final return to Europe, Paul Buchsenschutz was decorated with the Medal of Saint Olav by the King of Norway, on account of his distinguished service to the Norwegian mission to Madagascar. He retired in France and died on October 18, 1951, in Chagey (Haute-Saône).
O. Chr. Dahl, L. Molet
La Mission luthérienne à Madagascar [The Lutheran Mission to Madagascar]. Antananarivo, 1938.
This article, which is reprinted here by permission, is from Hommes et Destins: Dictionnaire biographique d’Outre-Mer [People and Destinies: Overseas Biographical Dictionary] vol. 3, published in 1977 by the Académie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer (15, rue la Pérouse, 75116 Paris, France). All rights reserved.