BISHOP FORTUNATUS HENRI CAUMONT
1871 – 1930
Our Founder, Bishop Fortunatus Henri Caumont, was a dynamic personality and a born leader, infused with a powerful experience of God’s love. The experience he had of the love of God set him ablaze to share this same love with the downtrodden, the lost and the forsaken.
This great man, Fortunatus Henri Caumont, was born at Tours, France, on December 10, 1871, to Monsieur Salvat Caumont and Madame Pauline Caumont. He became a priest in 1896 and came to India in 1897 to serve the people of Rajputana.
Fr. Fortunatus Henri Caumont was gifted with a remarkable intelligence, an affectionate nature, keen foresight, and strength of character. He had a great desire to help the poor and needy, particularly women and girls who were the sick and suffering, deprived of their rights. He realized that only women could reach out to them and so, when approached by a band of committed and enthusiastic young women desiring to give themselves to the service of God, he founded the Congregation of the Mission Sisters of Ajmer on April 26, 1911, and took it upon himself to take care of their spiritual growth.
In 1913, Monseigneur Fortunatus Henri Caumont was made the first Bishop of Ajmer. A great visionary and in every sense a prophet, he saw the need for medical aid, mainly for the tribals and women. After obtaining special permission from the Holy Father, Pope St.Pius X, he sent Sister Mary Soares to train as a doctor in 1917. Sr. Mary qualified as a Doctor in May 1921 and became the first lady religious Doctor in the world.
Bishop Fortunatus Henri Caumont’s aim was to liberate women through education and empower them to take their rightful place in society. He first started a school St Imelda’s School for poor girls. In 1913 he opened an orphanage for unwanted and unloved girls. Moved by the plight of women and girls veiled in purdah who were denied education, he set up the Sophia School in May 16, 1919. His compassion for the oppressed and disadvantaged was evident in his opening of many primary schools and dispensaries in nearby villages. He also encouraged the Sisters to cater for the Rawats and the Bhils in distant villages.
In his great love for his people and his zeal to be with them, he used to often travel from one village to another, regardless of his health. On a visit to Jhabua on horseback, he suffered a massive heart attack. On April 4, 1930, he brea
thed his soul into the hands of his Maker with the last words, “Jesus, I love You without reserve, Amen. Alleluia.”
His mortal remains were brought to Ajmer and laid to rest in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. This great man continues to live on in us, his Mission Sisters.