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Br Joseph-Xavier to Fr Poupinel, Villa Maria, 28 December 1871



On 25 December, three new missionaries, Pierre Janin, Pierre David, and Charles Kirk arrived in Sydney. They brought with them news of the Society’s general chapter, begun in August 1870 but interrupted by the war. It did not recommence until January 1872. They also informed Joly that Poupinel had taken up his former position of procurator for the missions in Lyon and would not be returning to Oceania. In 1872 the chapter elected him assistant general. Although his successor in Sydney had not yet been named, it was Joly who was eventually appointed. Joseph’s reaction to the news was a general one throughout Marist Oceania [2].

Also in Sydney at this time was Bataillon. Taking advantage of the admiral’s offer, he had made a last tour of his missions on a naval vessel which took him as far as New Caledonia in October. From there he had taken ship to Sydney on the first stage of his journey to Rome in early 1872. One of the things he did in Sydney was to sell Clydesdale for 75000 francs (3000 pounds sterling). While this sum was considerably below the amount invested in its purchase and upkeep, the Marists considered him fortunate to have found a buyer (Hosie 181).

Circulars and books were arriving for the brothers at the procure from St Genis-Laval, but not in enough numbers for the six PFM now in residence [9]. The circulars would probably not have included those of 1870 which were largely concerned with the call-up of brothers for the war with Prussia and its consequences. The ‘book of meditations’ is undoubtedly the work of Jean-Baptiste containing ‘meditations on the Passion, the names of Our Lord, and the feasts of paschaltide’ published during 1870. Avit has a somewhat critical evaluation of it in the Annales (3. 102).

The translation has been made from a copy of the original in the APM. The brother’s handwriting noticeably deteriorates from now on, and the following December it is Marie-Nizier who has to write his letter for him (rf L 214).

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Father,
Fathers Germin [sic] and companions arrived Christmas day at 3 in the afternoon. The ship was 3 days late. The telegraph gave us their names from King George’s Sound on 21st December. You have heard that the preceding mail brought us nothing. All was at the bottom of the sea.
The news which Fr Jolly [sic] announced to us Tuesday morning at the altar before Mass: I have to go to Sydney today. Here is some news that will cause you much grief: Fr Poupinel is not coming back, and his successor has not yet been named. I leave you to imagine what grief that caused me. Still I put a brave face on it. Some wanted to make me sad; my response was a short one: I knew that, I was told yesterday, I was not surprised, and that was the end of that. Since the good God does not wish us to see one another again in this world, let’s hope it is in the next. And I hope that with the help of your prayers I will see you again. In the meantime I wish you a very good and happy new year with many even better ones to come.
I have just lost an eye. I don’t know why or how. Six or eight months ago I noticed, or someone pointed out to me, that I had a little black spot under the pupil of my right eye. It wasn’t giving me any trouble. Dr Laure told me it was nothing, a little vein he would remove in a few days. It happened as he said, but it must have come back within a fortnight. But I didn’t notice it and I didn’t go to see him. My legs are still giving me trouble and as well I have already had two attacks of the puke which causes me considerable pain. It is better now.
I haven’t received any letters from Marboz for a long time. I don’t know if there were any letters for me in the mail which was lost.
Nothing new at Villa Maria, unless for Mr and Mrs Troscot [sic] who live in Jaimes Staneur’s [sic] house and he is staying in the school house.[1]
The bishop of Enos has sold his Clydesdale. I don’t know when he is leaving.
Since you are responsible for the missions, try to send with some large candlesticks, more candle stocks and that the candles for the stations can fit there. I have not received the consignment I was told about yet, but it doesn’t matter.
If you kindly thank the good Father Yardin on my behalf for the trouble he has taken for me and the problems I have caused him, I would be very much obliged.
When my sister gives you some money for me, you can send me what you consider would be useful and would please me. You could also pay for the books I have been sent from St Genis. When the last ones came, there were only 2 for everyone. People were not happy. The book of meditations, the circulars, each prefers to have one of his own.
I will say nothing about the sister. She is writing to you. Fathers Germin [sic] and David will give you news of a [….][2] at Lane Cove. Farewell, my Reverend Father, pray for me. I will do what I can on my side. I salute you in the holy hearts of J.M.J.
Your very humble and obedient servant,
Luzy. Br J.X.


  1. Joseph usually has several spellings for the names of lay people associated with Villa Maria who feature in his letters. Mrs Truscott(?) is the donor for Victor’s grave (L 206) and Staneur is probably the Stanner of L 198.
  2. indecipherable

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