Founder of the Congregation of the Priests of St. Mary (Bonalists); moral theologian; b. Villefranche–de–Rouerque, Aug. 15, 1600; d. Agde, Aug. 9,1653. Bonal did his classical, philosophical, theological, and legal studies in Cahors at the Jesuit college and the university. He was ordained at Lombes in 1624 and received a doctorate in theology from the University of Toulouse in 1626.
He exercised the ministry at Villefranche, where his spiritual energy attracted other priests to work with him. This was the nucleus of the congregation whose spirit was that of St. Francis de Sales. They followed the common life as early as 1631 at the chapel of Our Lady of Pity in Villefranche. Vincent de Paul, Father Bourdoise, and Jane Frances de Chantal advised Bonal in the drawing up of the Constitutions, which were completed in 1637 and given episcopal approval in 1648. Papal and royal approval came in 1665 and 1678. Mission preaching, retreats for laity and priests, and seminary teaching constituted the congregation's apostolate. The activities of the community spread during Bonal's lifetime to Foix, Aleth, and Toulouse, where he established a seminary-college called Caraman in 1651. The following year a seminary project at Agde was frustrated by an epidemic. At the same time episcopal approval of his rule was given by Charles Augustus de Sales, third successor and nephew of Francis de Sales.
After Bonal's death in 1653, his work was carried on successfully for another 60 years, but vocations became so meager that in 1723 the seminary at Villefranche was entrusted to the Lazarists; the Toulouse seminary suffered the same fate in 1752. This process continued until the congregation was finally absorbed by the Congregation of the Mission.
Bibliography: There is a MS biography of Bonal by a priest of his congregation in the seminary of Sainte-Sulpice. É. m. faillon, Vie de M. Olier 2 v. (4th ed. Paris 1873) 362–364. l. bertrand, Bibliothèque Sulpicienne (Paris 1900) 1:214–215. b. mayran, Raymond Bonal dans les Diocèses de Pamier et d'Alet (Foix 1914). e. mangenot, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 1903–50) 2:956–957.
[j. j. smith]