Mythologie du Trésor de Rennes, 1974, pages 83-84
Providing Information that Émile Hoffet was living in Holland at the time when he was allegedly visited by Bérenger Saunière in Paris.
Did Abbé Hoffet actually exist? Yes, he did. But our learned exegetes have erred in calling him Abbé Hoffet. They should have referred to him as Father Hoffet, because he was never a member of the secular clergy but was actually a missionary father with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, whose house was formerly located in Rue de Petrograd in Paris.
A native of Alsace, he was born in Schiltigheim on 11 May 1873, when that town was still part of Germany. His father was probably a Lutheran, as his family had produced several Protestant pastors, but his mother Sophie Feisthammel was a Catholic. She made sure that her son was baptised in Paris. That was in 1884, the same year that he began studying at the Maîtrise de Montmartre. He continued his studies at the Junioriat or Petit Séminaire de Notre-Dame de Sion in Meurthe-et-Moselle, where the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate prepared youngsters who were destined to follow a religious vocation in their Order. He entered the Novitiate at Saint-Gerlach in the Province of Limburg in the Netherlands and took the habit on 14 August 1892. He professed his Perpetual Oblation in Liège on 15 August 1894, and it was there that he was ordained priest on 10 June 1898.
His life was that of a missionary: in Corsica, then in the Midi, and then Northern France. He also taught at the Juniorat de Notre-Dame-des-Lumières in the Vaucluse, spent a year in Rome in 1903-1904, taught for a further year at the Grand Séminaire of Ajaccio and then, between 1905 and 1908, served as editor of the Order's journal, ‘Petites Annales’. He moved to Paris in 1914. The members of the Order were dispersed as a result of the outbreak of war, after which all of them lived in private houses. He himself lived at Number 7 Rue Blanche, which fell within the Parish of La Trinité. In 1919 he was authorised to say Mass at the parish church there and did so for several years, but in 1923 the Order re-established itself in France and set up a house in Paris. Father Hoffet retired there in 1945 and died in March 1946 in his 73rd year.
He wrote a great deal on religious history, especially journal articles. Besides these he published only a couple of pamphlets. He was however renowned for his linguistic accomplishments, and maintained close links with eminent men, especially leading specialists and Professors from the Sorbonne. He left a stack of disorganised notes in Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit. It might have been supposed that these would have been forwarded to the archive of the Order's mother-house in Rome for safekeeping, as is usual with the work of those of its members who have passed on, but sadly they have not been found.
In any case, priests who knew Father Hoffet and used to visit him have stated that he was never very interested in the Merovingians, and that it was not possible for him to have been consulted in 1892, as that was the year he completed his studies in Rhetoric and donned the habit as a Novice in the Netherlands (*). Only two of the statements to be found in the Lobineau papers therefore seem to be correct: he certainly did live at Number 7 Rue Blanche, and he did have a reputation as a linguist. The rest is pure invention.
(*) We would like to thank, in particular, Father Laurent Béringer, director of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Paris, and Father Perbal of Rome, without whose kind assistance we would not have been able to find out anything at all about Father Hoffet.