Josef Förster

De primo infideles adeundi animo

(The life of Remedius Prutký, a Franciscan missionary, before his departure to Ethiopia in 1751)


The paper is an attempt to reconstruct the early career of Remedius Prutký (1713-1770), a Franciscan missionary and the autor of the Itinerarium missionum apostolicarum, on the basis of archival documents in the Archivio Storico di Propaganda Fide in Rome. Prutký’s career is typical of Bohemian Franciscan missionaries in the Upper Egypt in the 1st half of the 18th century, who largely contributed to the efforts of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, but whose life and extensive literary work are still understudied.

The first part of the paper focuses on Prutký’s life before his departure to Rome (1713-1749). After the correction of some widespread mistakes concerning his biographical data (the dates of birth, death, ordination, study etc.) there follows a description of his time in San Pietro di Montorio, a Roman Fraciscan convent, where he was prepared for his service as a missionary. This was a place where catholic missionaries on their way to the Middle East, the Balcan Peninsula or Russia received vitally important training for their mission. Some subjects, like Arabic, are specially noted and examination procedures are described.

The second part focuses on Prutký’s every day life and missionary (as well as medical) activities in the Upper Egypt. His literary works written after he arrived to a hospice in Girga (especially those on medical and liturgical topics) are elaborated in more detail. In 1751, after the uprising of the Coptic clergy against the catholic missionaries, one significant period in Prutký’s life comes to a close as he starts a new mission in Ethiopia.