Br Joseph-Xavier to Fr Poupinel, Villa Maria, 26 January 1871
The Marists were devastated by the disaster which had befallen their country and affected their families in various ways. But they received unexpected support in Sydney from their Irish co-religionists . In a letter to Poupinel of 18 April, Monnier declares, “Our Irish are continuing to weep and fight. The women weep and men knock down [in English] anyone who would poke fun at our misfortunes or stand up for Prussia” (rf Hosie 219). France’s difficulties, moreover, had other repercussions for Catholics everywhere. With the withdrawal of French troops from Rome, Victor Emmanuel and his Piedmontese army took advantage of the opportunity to remove the final obstacle to the unification of Italy. The fall of Rome on 20 September 1870 signalled the end of the Papal states, and Pius IX became by his own choice, ‘the prisoner of the Vatican.’ Joseph’s ‘Romains’ , the two islanders studying at Propaganda, however, would not have been seriously affected by the changes on the political scene.
On January 18, Elloy and his party arrived in Sydney. Two of the priests, Jacques Garnier and Charles le Forestier, were almost immediately diverted to New Caledonia. The rest left Sydney for Samoa on February 15 on the brig ‘Wide Wave’, travelling via the islands of Tonga [Annales de l’ Etablissement d’Apia 1871-1897, MBAA].
Of the items of local news, the most important is the opening of the new chapel on 12 February . This had cost the Marists considerably in terms of both money and time. Reference has already been made to the loss of the stained glass windows at sea (rf L 198). But the builder, Louis Pichelin, talented but capricious, had also played his part. Whatever his reasons for leaving for France early in January, it seems he left the Society shortly afterwards (rf Hosie 216). The French merchant and shipping agent, Didier Numa Joubert, was a neighbour of the Marists on Hunters Hill (Hosie 82).
The translation was made from a photocopy of the original in the APM (OP 458.1).
Text of the Letter
- Reverend Father,
- The news you have sent us has pleased us very much. But the English telegraph gives us very bad news. It is true that most comes from Prussia. I have had a double pleasure learning that there was a second Janne d’arc [sic], 1st that she would be able to deliver France, 2nd that she is from my department. May the good God be blessed for that.
- I haven’t had any news from Marboz. I think my sister is desolated like most poor mothers, especially if her two sons have left. Nor do I know what you would have been able to do to settle all the affairs. If anyway, my revd Father, you learn news of them, you would please me by passing it on to me.
- Mgr Elloy has arrived with his little troupe, all well. The two priests for New Caldonia didn’t waste any time at the procure. They arrived on the 18th and left on Saturday 21st of January. Monsignor and his entourage will leave in about a fortnight on the Waidde Waf [sic].
- The Irish are desolated to see the French being often beaten. But like us they live in hope. Here is some news of the country. A new steamboat company. Mr Joubert (Numa) has acquired a boat which makes the crossing from his place to Sydney and back again. He is already proposing to buy another.
- Our chapel is coming on. Mgr will bless it on Sunday week. Brother Louis will not see it completed. He left nearly a fortnight ago to go and see you since the very Reverend Father General was asking for him to build churches.
- Everyone at the procure is well. I myself was not ill when the fathers arrived.
- The two Romains have sent me their portraits. I do not know what they are doing now. May the good God and the Blessed Virgin keep them safe. I pray to God for them and for you, My Rev. Father, as well as for our v. holy father, for France and for Rome.
- Receive my greetings, my revd father, in the holy hearts of J.M.J.
- Your very humble and obedient servant,
- Brother Joseph Marie X. ne Luzy SM.
- PS. It does nothing but rain. The fruit, the vines are already flooded.
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