Br Joseph-Xavier

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Br Joseph-Xavier (Joseph- or Jean-Marie Luzy 1807-1873)

First a student then a general handiman at the Minor Seminary of Marboz, joined the Marists at Belley about 1833. Trained as one of Colin's first Joseph Brothers he was nonetheless professed as a Brother of Mary on 26 September 1836 at Belley after the priests' retreat (Register of Coadjutors). Although he joined the other Brothers on retreat at the Hermitage at the beginning of October, he left after only a few days to help make preparations for the journey to Oceania. This might explain both the date and place of his profession.

Pompallier left Joseph-Xavier with Pierre Bataillon on Wallis (Uvea) at the beginning of November 1837. This island, to the west of Samoa and northwest of Tonga, did not enjoy a good reputation at this time (rf Pomp. 18) and only a few years before, the king Lavelua and his warriors, not without provocation, had massacred a party of Tongans who had come to try to establish Christianity there. Not surprisingly, the two Marists did not find the going easy, and their position became still more precarious with Pompallier's continuing failure to return as promised. There was always a strong group opposed to their presence and persecution became systematic after the king's anger was aroused by the first conversions early in 1838. In May 1839 Fr Baty and his group called in to Wallis to check the reliability of rumours they had heard in Tahiti that the two missionaries were either dead or in danger of death. Their visit improved the standing of the two somewhat, but despite the arrival in mid 1840 of reinforcements in the persons of Fr Chevron and Br Attale, their situation was such that news of Chanel's death on Futuna was enough to place it in serious jeopardy once again.

But Bataillon had established a solid foundation for the Church and when Pompallier returned at the end of 1841 in the company of a French warship and stayed several months on Wallis the mission at last met with real and lasting success, Lavelua himself becoming a convert (Pomp. 78-9). When he returned to New Zealand, Pompallier left Viard, his grand Vicar, on Wallis as head of the tropical missions. He also made arrangements on his return to send for Joseph-Xavier who was suffering from elephantiasis of the leg, but it appears that when the Sancta Maria arrived with Marie-Augustin, his replacement, Bataillon decided he could not dispense with him.