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Br Claude-Marie to Fr Poupinel, Nelson, 2 May 1860



The previous year, Emery had written (L 141) that Poupinel, displeased with the initial version of Jean-Baptiste’s life of Champagnat, had not sent copies on to the missions. The points objected to were confined to the first volume which appeared some months before the second. It seems that by this time the corrections had been made, and so Claude-Marie and his confreres were able to receive the two volumes (cf. O.M. 2 p 764). Through his mother, a Chirat, he was a second cousin of the Founder (cf. Ronzon, FMO pp 41-2), but although Avit in the Annales (1: 5) mentions several other of Champagnat’s relatives who joined his congregation, he does not include Claude-Marie, probably because, with the brother so long away from France, he was not aware of the relationship. The portrait he mentions [1] is doubtless the one made by Ravery on the day of his death (Life, p 249, 1989 Eng. Ed.). Francois received it in February 1841 and lithograph copies were made. Some 50,000 were printed in 1860, according to Louis-Marie’s December circular (CSG. 3, 32), but we have no evidence that any reached the brothers of Oceania.

Claude-Marie also mentions the visit of new Marists on their way to Wellington from Sydney [2]. One of these was Jean-Baptiste Chataigner (1821-1901), professed in the Society in 1847, who had just arrived in the Pacific, the other, Pierre Michel, withdrawn from Fiji for health reasons. Chataigner was destined for Christchurch, while Michel came a few months later to help Garin in Nelson. Claude-Marie himself had been hoping for the opportunity to return to the Hermitage, perhaps in the company of Rocher who had gone back to France for a holiday the previous year. It would appear, anyway, that the person he does not name in [3] was someone well known to Poupinel. Of the brothers mentioned, Emery was at Clydesdale and Joseph still at Villa Maria.

The translation was made from a photocopy of the original in the APM (Villa Maria files) made by Jessie Munro in June/July 2003.

Text of the Letter

Very revd Father,
I am very grateful to you for the two volumes of the life of our saintly founder which you have been good enough to send me. I received them with much joy as well as your little letter included with them. I knew our good and venerable Superior well. I even had the honour of being a relative of his. So it will be very agreeable for me to read of the times and other aspects of a life which was employed in such heroic good works. I would very much like his portrait; I don’t know if it is available.
We had the indescribable pleasure on 20th April of seeing our new Fathers. It appears they had a speedy and magnificent voyage. And after a stay here of a day and a half they departed the afternoon of the 21st for Wellington. By steamship is the best and shortest way of sending our priests.
I was somewhat annoyed to learn that several French warships left Sydney for France a few months ago, and that I had once again been forgotten. It would have been such a good opportunity for me and I would have had the company of ….leaving on the “Provencale”. May the good God’s will be done. Perhaps in the end my turn will come when I will be allowed to return to the beautiful dear Hermitage which I left so imprudently and after which I have sighed for so long.
While awaiting that desired day, I pray you, very rev. Father, to let me know how I can obtain: 6 linen shirts, 12 pocket handkerchiefs, also linen but coloured, and 6 pairs of stockings of wool with feet lining. It may be that you have all that at the procure, arrived from France. That would be a good thing because in that case one is sure of getting something good and strong. Otherwise if you have to buy it here, you will get something worthless and, even then, it will be very expensive. Please write me a few lines to tell me what I should do for that.
I am repeating the order with a little addition:
1. 6 good shirts, in linen.
2. 12 pocket handkerchiefs, in linen, coloured.
3. 6 pairs of stockings, woolen, lined at the feet.
4. 2 night caps.
Be good enough to present my sincere good wishes to the very dear brothers Emery, Joseph, etc. etc. I ask them, these dear confreres, to say many prayers for me, especially during this good month of May, to our good Mother, so that I may have the happiness one day of being with them at the feet of her they love so much!!! And you, my good father, I like to think that you won’t forget me. Redouble your prayers and remembrances, I beg you, at the holy sacrifice, for I am very miserable, more miserable than you imagine.
Believe me to be, always and everywhere, very rev. father superior,
Your very humble and obedient servant
Brother Claude-Marie

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