Perboyre was born at Puech, a hamlet in the diocese of Cahors, France. He became a member of the Congregation of the Mission, better known as Lazarists or Vincentians. Ordained priest in September 1825, he spent the next ten years in his native France, training young candidates in the seminaries of his congregation. He was then sent to China, which at that time was not opened to foreigners. In September 1839 he was betrayed by a new convert and arrested in Hupeh (Hubei) Province. During the nine months he spent in jail, he was tortured; irons were kept at all times around his hands, feet, and neck. Brought several times in front of a tribunal, he always refused to renounce his faith or to reveal the hiding places of Chinese Christians and other missioners. Condemned to death, he was tied to a gibbet and strangled. He was beatified by Leo XIII on November 10, 1899, and canonized by John Paul II on June 2, 1996.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
- Vincentian Varig, Vie du Bienheureux Jean-Gabriel Perboyre (1899: Eng. tr. by Mary Randolph, Blessed John Gabriel Perboyre, Priest of the Congregation of the Mission, 1917); A. Chatelet, Jean Gabriel Perboyre, Martyr (1943); J.-B Etienne, La vie et la mort de M. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre (1842).