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Fr Sage to Fr Poupinel, Apia. 15 May 1870

VFLM 223 – 224


In a letter to Br Louis-Marie, Poupinel informs him of the death of Abraham in Samoa: “The misfortune I foresaw for our Mission of Central Oceania has happened: our good Brother Abraham died in Apia 14 May last. Here is what Fr Sage wrote me on the subject in a letter I received yesterday… I wanted to pass on to you without delay, my Reverend and very dear Brother Superior General, the news of the death of this good religious.

Brother Abraham, during the eleven years he spent in our Missions, was distinguished for his piety, his obedience, his charity, and his devotion. His death had to be holy, full of edification. We can say with Fr Sage: it is to be envied. The prayers of your Congregation will be united with ours for the repose of the soul of this excellent Brother we are mourning for. I will announce this sad news to the parents of dear Br Abraham and to Mgr Elloy, who will be sadly affected by it.”

None of this made its way into the Circulars, which simply announce the brother’s death, under the date 22 May, in the obituary list included in the circular of 16 January 1871 (CSG 4: 198). But the extracts from Sage’s letter and Poupinel’s commentary were reproduced in the biography of Louis-Marie published in Lyon in 1907, from which this translation was made.

Joseph Sage (1821-1876), professed in the Society in 1848, came out to Oceania in 1849. A founding member of the Rotuma mission, he came to Apia in 1853 and remained in Samoa for the rest of his life. Procurator for the vicariate of Central Oceania, he also founded the school for catechists.

Text of the Letter

Yesterday, at 2 in the afternoon, our good Brother Abraham died in my arms and in those of Br Lucien. For months, I would almost say years, he had been dragging himself about rather than walking. The least hasty movement, a piece of news, a slight emotion, would give him the face of a corpse. Better than we, he saw himself dying, and he kept conscious up to the end. He was very well prepared. Last Sunday, because of the feast of the patronage of Saint Joseph, he dragged himself as far as the church to assist at my Mass; on his return he asserted that it was the last Mass he would attend. He had already received the last sacraments. He wanted to die on a Saturday, and he obtained this favour. Moreover he died during the month of Mary, at first vespers of the octave of St Joseph’s Patronage. That is something to be envied.
He leaves a great gap at Apia. He was a Brother who never needed pushing to work. Often it was necessary to restrain him. He died victim of his devotion and his obedience. In Mgr Bataillon’s absence, we were unable to get him to agree on a change of air, or to go to Sydney for a few months, in accordance with the doctor’s advice.

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