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On 7 January, 1840, the Fathers Jean Pezant and Jean-André Tripe made their vows in the chapel of Puylata. They entered their names on the ribbon that Peter Chanel had hung around the statue of Our Lady of Fourvière.[1] Colin gave them his blessing and they embraced in a farewell for ever.[2] Colin recounted the events and the departure in a letter to the communities of Belley and used the occasion to introduce special prayers for the missions that became traditional in the Society.[3]

They carried several parcels of letters and were given 29.000 francs from the Propagation of the Faith for Bishop Pompallier. For Poupinel it was an occasion to write on Colin’s behalf to Pompallier. The involvement of the government broadened the Marist missionary horizon: missionaries devote themselves not only to the conversion of the heathens, he wrote, but also to the betterment of their temporal state. For France it is an opportunity to show its loyalty, its generosity and its commitment to promote the civilization of numerous and worthy peoples: the very thoughts Poupinel had heard expressed by government people during his visit to Paris. Poupinel could tell Pompallier of the favourable instructions to naval commanders, of the appointment of a royal commissioner for New Zealand and the general goodwill in Paris for the Oceania missions.[4]

On the way

The two Brothers moved from the Hermitage to their own community in Lyon and made their separate way to Paris where they joined the priests. Both groups travelled by coach and arrived safely in Paris where they lodged as usual with the Missions Étrangères. It was a very cold winter. The rooms had no heating and the water froze in their rooms! Perhaps the reason why the welcome they got was not as warm and hearty as before.[5]

Colin had given the missionaries letters of introduction to various ministries and to the nunciature. Vigneti helped them along and they were well received everywhere.[6] When Colin learned that Soult, minister of Foreign Affairs, had asked them to report to him personally on the progress of the missions and on Maori culture, he had Poupinel rush a letter to Pezant to prevent letters going directly to the government: what was meant for the government should pass unsealed through Marist headquarters.[7] From their hosts they learned of the existence of Roman instructions for missionaries. It was too late to get copies but they informed Colin.[8]

They got the usual letters of recommendation to naval captains and French officials and were given boxes of seeds and vine cuttings. They learned that Lavaud, already the captain of the Aube, was also appointed royal commissioner for New Zealand and that a naval vessel would be stationed permanently in New Zealand to protect the French settlers about to leave for the South Island. They met with Eveillard who still hoped to become French consul in New Zealand one day. They made an attempt to meet with the Picpus Fathers, who were just then getting a group of missionaries on their way and as a result too busy to receive them. As an introduction to the Pacific they bought Les Voyages du Capitaine Dumont d’Urville and books in English.[9]

Having finished their business in Paris they travelled on 16 January with nine large cases to Brest where they arrived the 19th and lodged in the navy hospital until boarding. Even before sailing out into the Ocean, Tripe was seasick and the two Brothers too felt queasy at the rolling of the heavily loaded ship in the harbour. In any case, it gave them time to relax. Pezant wrote two long letters to Colin and Claude-Marie wrote to Champagnat.

As he relaxed, Pezant had time to reflect and he cried at the thought of his mother,

‘old and in poor health. I shall surely not see her again in this life. It tears at my heart. Thanks to God, mother was perfectly resigned and told me to go in peace.(…) The memory of my brothers and sisters who have always done so much for me, pains me very much. I am so sorry I did not tell them I was leaving when I saw them last, (…) but it was better so’.[10]
In spite of Poupinel the Marist head-house still proved not up to the job of fitting out missionaries. Instead of letting each have the necessary clothing made personally (confection clothing and shoes were unknown at the time) there appears to have been a general supply from which clothing and shoes were packed in their cases. The sleeves of Pezant’s shirts were far too long and the shoes were too small!

Handling money also was a problem. They lost count of their expenses and left 230 francs lying in their room at the Missions Étrangères. The brothers proved to have very little in the way of clothing and when departure was delayed again and again, they had to buy warm clothing in Brest, quite expensive but a godsend once they got into the wintry Indian Ocean.[11]


  1. Cf. above p. 32. The ribbon must have been removed from the statue in Fourvière for the occasion. The ceremony took place in Puylata.
  2. Tripe would in fact return to France in 1844 and leave the Society.
  3. CS, doc. 130 [1 & 2].
  4. CS, doc. 126, ‘qui se consacrent à la conversion des infidèles et même à l’amélioration de leur état temporal’.
  5. CS, doc. 134 [9]. The canals may have been frozen over as well, which would explain why they travelled by coach and not by steamer like their confreres six months before.
  6. CS, docs. 127, 128 & 129.
  7. CS, doc. 134 [5] & doc. 135.
  8. CS, doc. 134 [10].
  9. Pezant to Colin, 30.01.40, CS 134 [2]. Unless indicated differently, letters sent during the voyage are in APM 1405/20047.
  10. Pezant to Colin, 30.01.40.
  11. Pezant to Colin, 26.01.40 and 30.01.40. Bertrand to Champagnat, 25.01.40, LO, Clisby014.

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