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Br Marie-Nizier to Fr Poupinel, Villa Maria (Sydney), 24 March 1872



In this letter Marie-Nizier expresses his continuing uncertainty about his future. Although, with Bataillon away in Europe and Elloy insistently encouraging him to return to the field of his labours in the missions [2], the brother is not sure that his health will support it.

The matter of his sister’s photo raises once again the question of the origin of the one of himself preserved in the AFM (rf L 147). It is certainly possible that the former may have been used in helping reconstruct the faded image in one of the brother’s own photos, especially if brother and sister bore a close resemblance. Chanel’s portrait , after all, was made from his likeness to his sister.

Joly had invited the school brothers to stay at Villa Maria while their residence was set in order. On March 6 he and Ludovic, the superior, presented plans for the house and the school to the archbishop for his approval. But work was slow in getting under way and they did not move into their new quarters until early in April (rf Doyle 40,42).

The translation was made from a photocopy of the original in the APM. In Ronzon’s edition of the letters, it can be found on pages 141-2.

Text of the Letter

Reverend Father,
I should reproach myself for negligence for putting off to another time this letter thanking you for your fine letter of the 24 February last, which I received on the 18 March, vigil of the beautiful feast of St Joseph. I was a bit surprised to see how long it took to get here, but I couldn’t find any particular reason for that. I was looking forward to it, and at the same time a little apprehensive about receiving it. You understand why, as I find myself totally confused about where I should be going. The explanations you were so considerate to give me on the various points in my letter are very clear, but the painful impression I have been under for more than six months has not yet entirely disappeared. But that is not all that extraordinary.
Fr Joly has no doubt informed you of the repeated requests of Mgr Elloy for me to return to Futuna, if I so wish, now that Mgr Bataillon has gone. As you cannot doubt, I have accepted this offer with pleasure. I simply observed to Fr Joly that I would like to put off my departure for some time to see if the change of climate involved would have any effect, good or bad, on my sickness, or if it will continue the way it has been for more than 20 months. If it were not for that, it is most likely I would have accompanied Fr Padel who left on the 21 of this month on the Rotumah[1] for Samoa via Tonga. There he will take advantage of the first favourable opportunity to go to Wallis. If I can leave, it will probably be on the Wild Wave which is now sailing around the islands.
I beseech you, my Rev Father, to be good enough to say at least one Holy Mass to Our Lady for my intentions, and so that Mary, if that is God’s holy will, will remove the obstacles preventing me from returning to my old post. I believe there is none other at present than my infirmity.
It is already quite a long time since Sr St Ambroise sent me her photograph. There is a copy for you but I am not sending it to you because you are very close to the printer (A. Fatalot. Photographer. 49 Rue de l’Imperatrice, Lyon). I have written to him. Fr Grezel has taken my letter and hopes he will deliver it himself.
The four Brothers for St Patricks arrived here at the end of February, but since they didn’t have what they needed to move into their new post, they are still waiting at Villa Maria. May the good God deign to bless their future work.
Accept, my Reverend Father, the expression of profound respect with which I have the honour of being
Your very humble and obedient servant.
Br Marie-Nizier. Cat.
PS. I have been very sorry to hear of the serious illness of dear Br J(ean) B(aptiste) you told me of. I fervently pray that the good God will give him back his health so he can use it again for his greater glory and the good of the Institute.
(You will no doubt learn that Mr Ellis’ mother has just died after I believe a night and day of illness).[2]


  1. underlined in the text.
  2. Eyre Goulburn Ellis was a Sydney barrister, a good friend of the Marists and their solicitor (rf Hosie 83-4). This note was penned along the margin of the first page of the letter.

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