PISAI joins the grief of the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) for the loss of Father Jean Fontaine, who died on 1 May 2021 in Tunis.
Jean Fontaine was 84 years old, 59 of which were spent as a missionary in Tunisia, Yemen and France. Born on 2 December 1936 in Saint-André-lez-Lille, in the Hauts-de-France region, after having obtained a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he left in 1955 for Algeria as a novice for the White Fathers. In Tunisia and Algeria, his first years were taken up with formation until his priestly ordination on 30 June 1962. In November of the same year Jean Fontaine began his studies in Arabic and Islam at La Manouba, on the outskirts of Tunis, in what was then called the Pontifical Institute for Oriental Studies (today PISAI). He belonged to the generation of students who lived through the transfer of the Institute to Rome in 1964, where he earned his licentiate in Arabic and Islamic Studies in June 1965. In 1968 he obtained a license in Arabic from the University of Tunis and finally a doctorate from the University of Aix-en-Provence in 1977. Between the late 70's and the beginning of the 80's he taught at PISAI as visiting lecturer.
Considered an expert in Maghrebian literature, and especially Tunisian, Jean Fontaine worked for many years at IBLA (Institut des Belles Lettres) in Tunis.
A fruitful writer, he is the author of numerous works, among which we remember: Le roman tunisien a 100 ans (1906-2006) (Tunis 2009); Bourguiba dans le roman tunisien (Tunis 2015); Bréviaire des prisonniers étrangers en Tunisie (Tunis 2012); Du côté des salafistes en Tunisie (Tunis 2016); e Solidaire aller… retour (Tunis 2020).
While we ask the Lord to welcome him into his Kingdom we are in communion of prayer and hope with the whole family of Jean Fontaine, the White Fathers, the Diocese of Tunis and all his friends in Tunisia.
For a recent testimony by Jean Fontaine about his life in IBLA, see: http://www.peresblancs.org/jean_fontaine2.htm