Béthanie and Nazareth

French Secrets from a British Colony

(伯大尼與納匝肋:英國殖民地上的法國遺珍 )

Alain Le Pichon

ISBN : 978-988-9943-80-6

History Distributed for The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts

November 2006

200 pages, 8.5″ x 11.5″, illustrations throughout

  • HK$250.00

Béthanie and Nazareth are two of Hong Kong’s best-kept secrets. Now for the first time, the fascinating stories of these former French Mission foundations are brought to life by historian Alain Le Pichon. The text is extensively illustrated with previously unpublished historic photographs from the French Mission archives in Paris, and contemporary images by renowned architectural photographer Virgile Simon Bertrand.

Béthanie was Hong Kong’s first sanatorium. Built by the French Mission in 1875, it operated for a century on a hilltop surrounded by dairy pastures at Pokfulam. Nazareth, its sister building nearby, became the French Mission’s linguistic and printing headquarters in Asia, publishing thousands of titles in dozens of Asian languages between 1894 and 1956.

Alain Le Pichon was born and educated in France. After graduating from the Ecole Normale Supérieure at St Cloud, he went on to teach at Eton. He then joined an English merchant-bank in the City and later on Wall Street. He now lives in Hong Kong and Paris and teaches British History at the Sorbonne. He has written extensively on British traders in the East. His recent China Trade and Empire was published for the British Academy. It is the first edition of letters written during the period 1825-1843 by the founders of Jardine, Matheson & Co. This latest work - Béthanie and Nazareth: French Secrets from a British Colony - recalls the presence and activities of the French missionaries in Hong Kong. It adds a colourful chapter in the history of foreigners’ contributions to the development of Hong Kong.

“Alain’s prose is spiced with vignettes of the missionary Fathers and the idiosyncrasies of missionary life. He illuminates their personalities with amusing anecdotes and quotations from letters written home to France, while the broader history of Asia unfolds around them. The result is quite a ‘page-turner’.” —Prof. Anna Pao Sohmen

“What a wonderful journey with my confrères in the early days of Hong Kong! Many thanks to Alain Le Pichon for his time-consuming historical research.” —Fr Emile Louis Tisserand, Missions Étrangères de Paris in Hong Kong

“It is a masterpiece by both a scholar and an artist. Prof. Le Pichon has spared no effort in researching the history of Béthanie and the people working there. His artistic way of presenting the subject is admirable.” —Fr Louis Ha, Archivist, Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong