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Queen Marie-Amélie de Bourbon
Pompallier returned from Rome around 5 August, did confirmations in Lyon, presided at a profession ceremony of the Marist Sisters in Belley on the 16th, and left for Paris with Champagnat on 25 August. As a bishop he was in a good position to introduce Champagnat to various officials to obtain government approval for the institute of the teaching Brothers. He also wanted to find out how to book a passage to Oceania and made contacts with government people in connection with the Oceania mission. He had an audience with Queen Marie-Amélie.[1]

If Father Coudrin, the founder and the superior general of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts (Picpus) had not already heard in some other way, of the erection of the new vicariate in Oceania, or of the appointment of Pompallier, he would have read it in the newspaper.[2] In any case, he had offered Pompallier the hospitality of their head-house in Paris. Pompallier however preferred to stay at the Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP). Unlike the Picpus house it was situated in central Paris. The day after Pompallier arrived Fr. Coudrin came into town to see him.

Coudrin himself was at that time arranging the departure of four of his men to Eastern Oceania via Valparaiso. It is inconceivable that Pompallier would not, at that stage, have been told of the disadvantages of going via that same route to Western Oceania, but the pressure of Roman thinking, the advantages of joining with an experienced organization and the prospect of seeing the successful mission of the Gambier Islands, made the choice easy. They booked the eight Marists together with the four Picpus missionaries on the Delphine, the same ship that had taken Bishop Rouchouze two years earlier to Valparaiso. Pompallier visited the Picpus community the next day. On 4 September he went there again to administer confirmations at the Sisters’ boarding school, a week later he celebrated a pontifical Mass in their church and on 13 September he presided at the prize giving.[3]


In August and September the eight new missionaries, the oldest thirty-five, the youngest eighteen, said good-bye to their families. They said farewell with the prospect of never seeing them again. As Pierre Bataillon ended his first letter to Jean-Claude Colin: ‘we meet again with God, in heaven: A Dieu!... au ciel!!!’.[4] The surviving documents give us a glimpse of how some of them coped.

Pompallier left Paris on 14 September, and given that it took three days to travel between Paris and Lyon he must have gone nearly straight to the retreat in Belley that started on 20 September. After the professions in Belley he may have visited his family in Vourles, but on 4 October he consecrated the new chapel at the Hermitage, where he made a great impression on the many visitors, who all wanted to say personally good-bye, donating gifts ranging from five, six and eight golden napoléons to notes of five hundred and a thousand francs. He left Lyon on 8 October for Paris. Parting does not seem to have been particularly painful. He had a portrait made of himself for his mother and wrote to her from Le Havre.[5]

Peter Chanel had a difficult time. Several of his friends raised objections, and, typical for the gentle and impressionable man that he was, he wavered. The superior of the Marist Sisters, Jeanne-Marie Chavoin, who had often supported him when he was superior of the College, got him over the moment of anxiety with ‘a few energetic words about priests who grow mouldy in the midst of comfort and do nothing for God`s glory’. He said good-bye to his sister Françoise, now Sister Saint-Dominique. Their last words were short and simple: ‘good-bye sister’, ‘good-bye brother’. After he left, she cried. They were very close. From Le Havre he began his letter with the touching words: ‘Just a short letter between the two of us’.[6]

Taking leave of his widowed mother was even more difficult. He went home on Saturday 1 October and had ample time to talk with her and the rest of family. The next day he sang the High Mass in the parish, and preached in two Masses. In a later letter he described his mother as resigned. Father Terrier, the parish priest, received Peter and his mother for dinner and they talked until Vespers. She then left to prepare things for the next day, thinking he would still be there. But he could not face it. Without warning her, he left. She did not read or write so he could not write to her personally. From le Havre he wrote to Terrier asking him and another friend to help his mother to be courageous. He admits he should have asked her blessing. He asks Terrier to take his place with her (tenez ma place auprès d`elle) and to be her secretary. Writing a few days later to Françoise he explained to her as well, expecting her to excuse him to his mother. Another way of saying good-bye, he wrote, would have been just too hard on both of them.[7]

For Claude Bret too it was not easy. Knowing how difficult the departure of their only child would be for his parents, he asked the advice of Bishop Devie who encouraged him to go ahead. He then went to see his parents, to ask their consent. They were quite reluctant, but in the end while his mother cried, his father could only say: ‘It is not up to me to give you permission for what the Lord calls you to’. His special friend Claude-Marie Chavas undertook to take his place with his parents. Still, shoemaker Bret entered enough into the spirit of the thing to take all the missionaries’ foot measurements, so he could send them new shoes. By the time they got to Valparaiso Chanel was happy to be able to order ten pairs for each of them![8]

For Catherin Servant also, taking leave of his parents was far from easy. On 23 June he wrote to his parents: ‘I understand how big a sacrifice it is, and how painful to nature. My heart does not allow me to underestimate what your heart feels towards me. Don`t forget that the absence of a little time does not take away the love we have for each other … I know there is criticism from people, and not everybody will understand that it can also be a source of happiness for parents to give their son to go and win souls in far away countries’.[9] Two years later, in Hokianga, New Zealand, he still hears in his heart his dear father and mother tell him that nothing is lacking from their happiness, except his absence. Your son left you for good reasons, he answers, and he is happier than he can tell you.[10]

For Bataillon leaving was somehow less dramatic. His mother had died when he was quite small and he had been cared for by his elder sister Françoise. ‘I can`t say that I found leaving France all that difficult, and if I had to do it again, it would have been even less so. Don`t imagine that it is impossible to be a missionary. Just get on the road!’, he wrote later to his friend Étienne Séon. With a large family around him, dad seems to have made himself comfortable enough. Pierre kept writing regularly, urging him in nearly each letter to lead a good christian life. Some years later, Pierre invited him to come to Wallis where he could enjoy a kava drink under the coconut trees every evening![11]

Joseph Luzy left Belley in the beginning of September to stay with his family and say good-bye. When the day came, taking leave of his mother turned into a dramatic experience. She was so much overcome by grief that she fainted in the arms of the neighbours! At which he quickly walked off.[12] Before leaving he wrote an emotional letter to his family, followed by a more cheerful, even enthusiastic one, once he got on the way.[13]

Brother Marie-Nizier Delorme had already taken leave of his parents, when, just before leaving for Paris, it became clear he would not be allowed to leave the country without the written permission of his father. Nor had he passed the selection for military service. So he had to rush home to get the necessary documents from his father and from the mayor of Saint-Laurent; all in so much of a hurry, as he later told himself, that Chanel forgot to give him money to pay the toll required to cross the bridge at La Mulatière. The guard let him through and could not believe his eyes when the young man came back the next day to pay the two centimes![14]


  1. Farrell, op. cit. p. 183, mistakenly puts the departure of Pompallier and Champagnat for Paris on 12 August. Cf. LC, docs. 67, 75, 83. On 24 June, Cholleton had been at a loss as to where and how to arrange bookings, which indicates that at that time nothing had been done yet regarding the journey. Cf. CS, doc. 3 [7].
  2. L’Ami de la Religion, 13.08 had mentioned Pompallier as bishop of the new vicariate. Cf. Colin Studies II, p. 57.
  3. Pompallier, op. cit., p. 10. On Pompallier in Paris, cf. H. Lucas, Mémoires sur la Congrégation des Sacrés Coeurs de Jésus et de Marie, X, p. 260. By kindness of Fr. André Mark, SS.CC. On his subsequent visit, cf. below, p. 38.
  4. LRO, doc. 2 [7].
  5. OM I, doc. 401, Lettres Luzy, to his parents, 08.10.36. Wiltgen, op. cit., p. 128. LC, doc. 132. Farrell, op. cit., p. 185, puts the consecration of the chapel on the 7th, which is unlikely as he left Lyon on the 8th. On the time needed to travel from Lyon to Paris, cf. LC, 67. The Pompallier family owned a large estate at Vourles, where, in 1816 or a bit later, his mother Françoise went to live with her second husband Jean-Marie Solichon, their four children, and the three of her first marriage. François, as he was called in the family, considered Vourles his home. CS, doc. 8; LRO, docs. 7 [19]; 12 [5]; 16 [2]
  6. RMJ doc. 105 [1] & [3] . EC, doc. 27 [9 & 10], doc. 31 [1 & 3], doc. 35 [4], doc. 57 [1]. Kerr, op. cit., pp. 303f.
  7. Kerr, op. cit., p. 304. EC, doc. 27 [10], doc. 36 [5], doc. 57 [1].
  8. OM II, doc. 732 [14]. Maurey, op. cit. Bret, p. 5f. EC, doc. 36 [5]. Bret continued making shoes for the missionaries for many years, cf. Brother Sauveur to Colin, 02.08.48, LRO, doc. 740.
  9. APM, personal file.
  10. LRO, doc. 25 [1].
  11. Bataillon to Séon, LRO, doc. 19 [1 & 9], 23.06.1836. Qu`on ne se figure pas que ce soit la mer à boire que d`être missionnaire. Later letters to his father: vivez en bon chrétien, songez à votre âme, (15.08.41). En songeant sérieusement au salut de votre âme (12.05.42). APM, personal file
  12. Journal of Brother Joseph-Xavier Luzy, p. 5. APM, personal file. Ronzon, FMO, p.11.
  13. Lettres Luzy, resp. 20.09.36 & 08.10.36. APM, personal file.
  14. Ronzon, Delorme, p. 28f.

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