Father Alexandre Pocquet, professor of theology at the General College of Ayuthaya, wrote of Bishop Louis Laneau (1637-1396): “This man, born for study, was perhaps one of the greatest learned bishops of his time”.
As soon as he arrived in Siam in 1664, Father Laneau learned to read and write Siamese, Cochinchinese and Portuguese, demonstrating a certain facility in the field of language.
Appointed Bishop of Metellopolis and Vicar Apostolic of Nanking and Siam in 1673, he immediately understood the necessity of using the local language to transmit the content of the faith, and therefore undertook numerous translations: catechism books, dictionaries, prayer books, demonstrations on the falsity of the Siamese religion… In all, no less than 26 titles, some of them in several volumes, were composed by Bishop Laneau, in Siamese, Pali and Peguan.
In 1684, Bishop Laneau translated the entirety of the four Gospels into Siamese, in two volumes of 532 pages. Preserved at the IRFA, these two precious documents testify to the priority that Bishop Laneau gave to the diffusion of the faith through the local written language.
In the first volume, a loose leaf has been inserted: it is the phonetic transcription of a part of the Gospel by Bishop Laneau.[IRFA, archives, 1073 & 1074]