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Chapter six: 1839-1 The separate worlds connect

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In France: renown

Less than three years after the little known loose groups of Marists in the dioceses of Lyon and Belley had been officially recognized as a religious institute of pontifical right, they had drawn national attention. In May 1937 both the Annales de la Propagation de la Foi and L’Ami de la religion told the story of the voyage of Pompallier and his seven companions as far as Tenerife.[1] In January 1838 both publications took their readers to Valparaiso with the sad report of the death of Claude Bret in mid-ocean and the problem the missionaries then faced in having to cross the Pacific.[2] A week later, 3 February, l’Ami announced that les Prëtres Maristes were readying a second group of missionaries.[3] The Annales followed suit in March, mentioning also the possible opening of a procure in California.[4] On 11 September L’Ami de la religion told its readers that Pompallier and his two companions had reached Australia and New Zealand, that English Protestant missionaries had tried to push them out of New Zealand, that they had been helped by a rich local French citizen and that a French naval vessel was about to sail from Sydney to New Zealand to show the flag in their support.[5] In October L’Ami announced the departure of the second group of missionaries from Bordeaux and in November readers of the French paper knew that the Marist missions had been mentioned in the Roman paper Diario. Also in November the Annales published Bishop Pompallier’s letter from Sydney nearly in full. They left out his detailed requests for missionaries but not his complaints about letters not being answered.[6] In January 1839 they published, again in full (eighteen pages!), the first letters from New Zealand from Bishop Pompallier and Fr. Servant.[7]

Not only the Oceania missions attracted the attention of the newspapers. In February 1839 a parish mission in Moidieu near Vienne, in the diocese of Grenoble, that first threatened to collapse through the indifference of the local people, caught the headlines when it became a great success in the hands of four ‘missionaries of the Society of Mary in Lyon’.[8] There were other more casual honourable mentions for the priests, such as Fr. Deschamps preaching in Saint-Vincent. The Marist Brothers got into the paper several times for opening schools in various places. [9]


  1. Pompallier had written to Colin from Tenerife on 18 January and enclosed Claude Bret’s diary; cf. above p. 47. The Annales de la Propagation de la Foi, LII, May 1837, pp. 507-511, gave a summary of Pompallier’s letter and quoted extensively from Bret’s diary, LRO, doc. 1 [51 – 53]. Mention in L’Ami de la religion, 27.04.37 (93), p. 183, Cstud. II, p. 57.
  2. Annales, LVI, January 1838, pp. 235 -238, with a summary of the events and excerpts of Pompallier’s letter of 17 July, 1837 (cf. LRO, doc. 15) that had reached Colin on 13 November, cf. above p. 63. L’Ami carried the news on 25.01.1838, cf. Cstud. II, p. 57.
  3. Cf. Cstud II, p. 57.
  4. Annales, March 1838, p. 319.
  5. L’Ami, 11.09.38 (98), p. 489, cf. Cstud II, p. 58. This news must have been sent in February/March by a correspondent in Sydney, possibly an officer of the Héroïne, i.e. before the ship left for New Zealand. With the rich local French citizen the article probably referred to the baron de Thierry, who, however, was not involved in the events of 22 January at Totara point.
  6. Annales, November 1838, pp. 70 – 76. LRO, doc. 22, dated 23.12.37; cf. above, p. 64f. This is the letter that Colin received around 01.09.1838.
  7. Annales, January 1939, pp. 140-157.
  8. L’Ami, 12.02.39, cf. CS, doc. 57 & 59.
  9. L’Ami mentions Fr. Deschamps in Saint-Vincent (11.03 37). The Marist Brothers are mentioned on 11.10.36; 22.11.38 & 18.12.38. Cf. Cstud. II, pp. 57f.

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