Belgian Jesuit translator of the Bengali Bible dies

Light of truth

Jesuit Father Christian Mignon, a Belgian missio-nary who translated the Bible into the local language for people in the Indian state of West Bengal has died. He was 93.

Father Mignon translated the Bengali Catholic Bible, popularly known as the “Mangalbarta (Good News) Bible.”

The Bible is commonly read by the Bengali Catholic people today both in West Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh which uses the same language. Father Mignon’s translation of the Bible is also used in the local Catholic Church’s liturgy.

Father Christian Mignon, came to the Bengal mission at the age of 25. He was to make a unique contribution to religious life in Bengal, translating the Bible into Bengali over a 40-year period. The task, in which he was helped by Hindu poet and teacher, Sajal Banerjea, was comple-ted in 2003.

He had previously translated liturgical texts after the Second Vatican Council, which opened the way to the use of local languages in the Mass.

Earlier, Father Mignon, told that when the Second Vatican Council had taken a momentous decision to replace Latin with local languages for liturgy, the then Jesuit provincial had told him to start at once, and he got down to the job of becoming a Bible translator.

Born in Belgium, Father Mignon entered the Society of Jesus in 1942. Wanting to commit his life to work as a missionary, he arrived in India in 1949 where he spent his initial years teaching at St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta (now Kolkata).

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