From Marist Studies
Jump to: navigation, search

February 1846 - Father Xavier Montrouzier to his brother, Henri Montrouzier. SJ, San Cristobal

Translated by Natalie Keen, May 2013

From the copy, APM OMM 208 Montrouzier.

Three sheets comprising 12 pages , ten handwritten, 11th blank, 12th with Poupinel annotation only.

(in Poupinel’s hand) San Cristobal February 1846 * Letter from Fr Montrouzier to his Jesuit brother
J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
To Rev. Fr. Montrouzier of the Jesuit Order.
San Cristobal, February 1846
All in the name of Mary
My dear brother
You must be complaining about my silence, or at least at the brevity of my letters. Well, this time I’m going to make up to you for it and you’ll be the one in the family to get the most details: only I shall beg you not to insist on any great succession of ideas nor meticulous care in the choice of words, because I write to you hurriedly and at intervals, like all the missionaries, moreover, as you yourself will do if the Good Lord sends you to bring the Gospel to the unbelievers.
We left Sydney on 23 October on the Marian Watson, a handsome schooner purpose-built for passengers, with a light breeze which soon launched us into open sea. In the morning in the cathedral, the blessing of the most Holy Sacrament had been given to bring down on our heads the graces from on high and, at the moment of departure Bishop Polding, Bishop Pompallier, Doctor Gregory, Vicar General, many priests and ordinary lay people warmly shook our hands and asked Heaven to protect us. Moreover at the top of a mast was displayed a flag with a shining cross so that everything, on this occasion, had an air of religion, of Catholicism.
Sea-sickness soon made itself felt. Bishop Epalle especially suffered a great deal. Nevertheless after a week, everyone was up and about. We were heading for New Caledonia which we were to visit first of all and to bring help to the missionaries. The wind was favourable at first but then it was so completely contrary that we had to tack almost continuously for two weeks which, along with the difficulty of finding the entrance to Ballade harbour, hidden among banks of coral, meant we were unable to anchor until 17 November. We weren’t entirely easy at the moment we landed; we had been told rather worrying things about Bishop Douarre and his companions; and these rumours, vague it is true but to which the New Caledonians’ reputation for savagery gave at least some credibility, surely gave us cause for a measure of trepidation. The concerns didn’t last long. Scarcely had the boat come quite close to the shoreline when we saw natives approaching and heard their shouts; there were only a few of them and they offered us some coconuts; we let them come on board. We questioned them immediately. They replied that the aligni epicopo (chief bishop) was in a different tribe from theirs but close enough for us to be able to reach there before nightfall; it was then 3 o’clock. Moreover they seemed very friendly towards us and showed us a high degree of respect when we told them that we too had with us an aligni epicopo, and they urged us to go to their compound adding that Goa, their chief, would welcome us. They decided to launch a row boat with several oarsmen, the ship’s second officer who knew a few words of the language and two priests. When the group was some distance from shore, they saw clearly that they had not been misled. Goa and his tribe went out to meet them, water up to the waist; then showing them his territory and his dwellings, he seemed to be telling them to come, that it was all at their disposal. They urged him to come to the ship. He took no second bidding and came on board with a kind of stately bearing. In front of him one of his subjects carried a spear, and when he spoke the whole group fell silent. The captain of our schooner welcomed him most cordially; he gave him a meal, gave him a bed in the common room and presented him with a red handkerchief and cap so that the next day, he left well disposed towards us. We got to the place which we had been told was near the mission station and Bishop Epalle was led off there. A few hours later he brought to us Bishop Douarre, Reverend Father Rougeyron and Brother Jean ,[1] all of whom we embraced with a joy that can be felt but which is impossible to describe.
After chatting together for a moment or two about France, the Society, Bishop Douarre stated that he didn’t intend us to be cooped up in the ship for the few moments of our stay but rather that we should go ashore for our meals and even sleep there, that is if we didn’t feel averse to sleeping on a bit of hay, in a native’s hut. You can imagine, dear Henri, that this last consideration didn’t prevent our accepting his friendly suggestion and indeed we lost no time in following him, happy finally to set foot on a beach where protégés of Mary had begun to preach Jesus and His worthy Mother. After walking for almost three quarters of an hour, along a small path cut through a fairly large area of open country, among a crowd of natives, several of whom were humming church tunes such as that of the hymn Jesu dulcis memoria, we arrived at the missionaries’ house and there we had the comfort of paying homage to the most holy sacrament; then we embraced good Brother Blaise whom we hadn’t yet seen.
That was when we learned in detail of the obstacles that Bishop Douarre had had to overcome in getting established and the triumphs with which God had finally crowned his dangers and hardships. Once dropped on the shore by the government vessel which had built him a small hut, he had had to defend himself from the attacks of the natives who had tried to burn down his dwelling, thrown stones at him, threatened him with their spears and stolen from him excessively. On the other hand , as well as the works which are an essential prerequisite of every new mission and to repair the exhaustion involved in cutting down trees and dragging them along, in doing carpentry as well as finding his way through unexplored country, often he had no food or had only well below his needs; and along with all that, he’d had to learn a totally new language. God who tests his servants but never too far will eventually take pity on him. Without putting an end to all his physical hardships, He had tempered them with indescribable joys. Following the initial instructions, a few minds had been opened to the truth and a few hearts to goodness. While we were in New Caledonia, four hundred had been baptised and several catechumens prepared. Among them, there were two who by reason of their sharp mind and fervour Bishop intended should become catechists; and I swear to you, dear brother, that nothing was more beautiful than to see the progress that grace had made in their souls. Tifi, [2] that’s the name of the first young aligni (chief) who renounced this title to follow the missionaries delighted me by his openness, his kindness and his enthusiasm. Are you a Christian? I asked him one day - Christian, he replied, no, not yet; but I can’t wait to be! You see, I have baptism in my heart, just like the chief bishop, I carry it in my heart. As we were leaving, hearing that we were going among natives who could possibly kill us, he indicated that he wanted to follow us to obtain the crown of martyrdom and asked only for the time to go and say goodbye to his mother. Michel, as we called the second one, a more mature young man, charmed me with his enthusiasm. He was the “enfant terrible” of the Gospel, and one day we heard him getting into a great rage with some natives who were working on a Sunday.
And then God had also lessened the sufferings and the dangers faced by Bishop Douarre, and Captain Bérard, from Montpellier, through the welcome he had given our missionaries and the respect he accorded their bishop had sufficiently increased their influence over the natives to leave them nothing more to fear, and through the provisions he had left them had insured them against any long term suffering. At the time when all that was being related to us, by all accounts the mission in New Caledonia was on the road to success. To God alone be the glory! He alone has brought about this blessed change.
And now, dear brother. I’m going to tell you about New Caledonia from a physical point of view. From what I have learned from Bishop Douarre and from what I have seen, this island is largely mountainous though it has a few quite extensive flat areas sufficient to provide food for medium-sized settlements. One can see only a small amount of vegetation there but the considerable quantity of clay there along with the lime from the coral could easily form fairly good grassland. The quartz, mica and garnet-coloured stones are very common there, lead sulphate is not rare either, nor is serpentine which the natives use to make themselves axes. And finally our missionaries have found a slate mine and have heard talk of the existence of a volcano. For my part, I think I’ve seen sure signs of the presence of iron and copper in New Caledonia. That’s enough of geology and mineralogy.
As regards botany, this island offers many interesting plants. So besides the coconut palm, breadfruit, banana tree, sugar cane, yams, taro, we see a tree that I’ve also seen near Botany Bay during my time in New Holland and which Linné calls melalema lemodendron which, like the willow, has scented leaves and a bark which flakes off ever more finely so that finally it is no more than a silky gauze which the Australians use as a wrap for new-born children. Another tree with beautiful bright green leaves , large white flowers and red fruit which I recognised as belonging to the Apocynum family but which without books I haven’t been able to establish precisely. A third tree relatively unremarkable for its shape, leaves or flowers but which has the characteristic feature of releasing from its top perfectly round, flexible branches which drop straight down to the ground and taking root, form new trees. ----- The dolichos ruberosus, climbing plant of the Leguminosae family which the natives call Yalé and of which they eat the roots, similar in shape and thickness to the dahlia and with a rather nice flavour when cooked; some myrtaceae, orchids, ferns that I don’t think we find in France; a type of nut, really belonging to the suglander family, of which I have seen the flower and tasted the fruit that I found very good; a number of conifers, one of which yields a product which could, I think, make a very light varnish; finally a hibiscus with beautiful yellow flowers; some most unusual mosses and lichens.
As for zoology, New Caledonia also has its rich variety. It is true that it has no quadrupeds, but on the other hand what wealth of birds, fish, molluscs, insects and zoophytes! The beautiful sultan hen, parrots and budgerigars, pigeons, ducks, kingfishers with white necks, large birds of prey such as falcons, crows, magpies, a bird I haven’t seen but with a cry like the barking of a dog which I have heard, another unfamiliar to me but which I observe is of the sparrow family, with velvety black feathers; that’s how many beings give life to the forests. As regards fish, I’ve seen only the jumping blenny which abounds in the deep marshes and which is notable in that it lives as well out of water as in it; but I’ve been told there were many others including the reds which are poisonous enough to make you sick for two or three weeks if you eat them. Moreover there are many sharks on the coast, and as we were leaving just near the shore we saw some, one almost as long as our rowboat. I’ve found in New Caledonia a type of small crab which covers the shallows where the sea comes in, a beautiful coral-red colour, and which all have one leg longer than the other; crayfish. flame-red nautilus, cowries, cones, arches, dragonflies of several types, mosquitos by the thousands; then corals, madrepores, sponges of every shape. No dangerous snakes are known there and I’ve seen only one black and white striped snake which seemed harmless to me although the natives, when they saw me attack it tried to stop me calling out “tabou”! Besides, don’t forget, brother, that all this is the result of only brief observations, such as one can make in a week but enough nevertheless to indicate the existence of plenty of scientifically interesting things.
Before leaving the subject of New Caledonia, I will try to give you an idea of its inhabitants and how they live. The natives are black but not like the African negroes; it’s a darker colour than that of the Bohemians, some remnants of whom are in our south but along those lines. They are medium tall, limbs pretty well shaped, their hair woolly in some cases and in others like our own but almost always yellowish as a result of the ashes with which the hair is covered in childhood; they go around almost completely naked. Their homes have rightly been compared with beehives as one sees them with straw canopies in some countries; they are not short of stability nor of a certain charm but having only one very narrow opening for a door they are not sufficiently ventilated and if there are many occupants, it is stifling for them. The noticeable furnishings consist of a large clay pot in which they cook their food and a few empty coconuts used to keep water in. They are poorly off for provisions. Coconut palms are rarer here than in the other islands and they are too lazy to cultivate large plantations; and so they frequently suffer hunger which often spurs them on to the point where they are made to eat molluscs, the tough and foul flesh of which fills one with distaste, or even those poisonous fish I have already mentioned to you. It is certain furthermore that at times they feed on human flesh. Warfare is common among them; so they all have strong and effective arms that they handle skilfully. I’ve seen amongst them spears, clubs and axes the construction of which is intriguing; it’s a piece of polished serpentine or better still iron ground on a stone, with a handle of naturally-curved wood, all of which copies pretty closely our adzes in France. For their sea journeys, they have dugouts without any frills but fairly sturdy. They consist of two hollow tree trunks placed some distance from one another and joined together by a piece of crude floor on which they raise a small mast with a mat for a sail when there is a little wind. New Caledonians don’t seem keen on games or parties. In general they are melancholy, not very animated and easy-going. As for their religion, we’ve not yet discovered any sign of vocation or cult or any very clear beliefs. Some elementary knowledge of the immortality of the soul which in the next life will have rewards aplenty and faith in the spirits, that’s all we’ve established; but perhaps further research will be more rewarding. You’ll be well able to judge that morality doesn’t loom large in their lives. At the same time, the unfaithful wife is punished pitilessly; her husband splits open her skull. The language of these natives is difficult as they rarely speak clearly; and yet already our missionaries are speaking it well enough to be understood. And they have been there only two years.
Let’s leave New Caledonia, my dear brother, and make for the Solomon Islands about which those explorers who have written about it up till now say simply that they know almost nothing about it. We left Bishop Douarre on 24 November, accompanied by natives who told Father Rougeyron: those priests there are our friends because they are your brothers; so how is it that they would want to leave us? ---And at once we got into deep water to avoid the coral reefs. We thought we were safe when the next day about 10 o’clock in the evening the ship’s first officer let out a shout. The captain came running; he went pale with fright: we’d come very close to a reef and the wind was fierce. We tacked; another rock appeared, we sailed diagonally. Another reef in front of us; I was on the bridge; I saw everything. It was dreadful; I thought that the moment to appear before God had come; I made my act of contrition and then I set about saying the memorare; then I took off to bed!....The danger lasted till three in the morning, and afterwards they assured us that if we had hit the rock, we would all have been immediately swamped. Poor human life! What can it rely on? And man, constantly threatened by dangers, won’t stand ready and wastes his time on trifles of the moment when eternity can snatch him up at any instant. I assure you, my dear Henri, that the sight of the dangers to which they are continuously exposed is no small grace accorded the missionaries for this assuredly puts them in a position where the judge makes sure they don’t sin: Memorare novissima tua et in aeternum non peccatis. [3]
On 1 December we arrived at the farthest point of our mission. Bishop Epalle immediately claimed possession in the name of the most Blessed Virgin as he tossed over a few medals of the Immaculate Conception and said a few prayers. We would have preferred to give this action some solemnity but the presence of a totally Protestant crew stopped us arranging a ceremony they wouldn’t have understood and which might have been the occasion of blasphemy on their part; it all passed off without fuss or noise. On the second, we dropped anchor at San Cristobal on the southeast coast and the Bishop went ashore to see if it might be possible to set up a mission station at least later on, because for the moment his single goal - was to establish in a central area from which he could extend and there he was at one of the farthest points of his vicariate. How surprised we were, my dear Henri, when we saw at close range the natives of the Solomon Islands who had been described to us as wild animals, unable to be tamed and whom the captain of our ship feared to the extent that he had had some boarding nets prepared, a huge shelf of ropes rising several feet above the bow of the ship forming a sort of wall, and for several days the crew had been busy moulding bullets, preparing cartridges and sharpening cutlasses! The natives looked quite friendly. They flocked to us bringing yams, taros, coconuts and they seemed quite happy with the iron, glass beads and bottles we gave them in exchange. They even showed fairness and generosity to the extent that we felt almost angry with those who seemed to insist on maligning them. Nevertheless for a number of reasons we had to leave them but we didn’t then know God’s plans for these people.
We made our way towards Isabelle, hugging the southeast coast of Guadacanal. On the 12th we arrived and at once were surrounded by dugouts with rowers who seemed to us more lively and noisier than at San Cristobal. However the gestures of friendship and the commercial proposals they put to us made us feel optimistic about them. We anchored about midday; at 4 o’clock, the Bishop was already visiting our friends; but showing us a place about two leagues away, they went on to say that bad fellows lived there who would kill us if we went to where they live. At least, that’s what we understood. We told this to the Bishop who thought that the word matemate they had used possibly meant a sickness caused by fever and was the sign of an unhealthy area or else that the natives were only talking like this because of hostile feelings. The visiting continued. On the evening of the 14th, we made other comments to the Bishop. We had seen bracelets, necklaces, belts made of human teeth and they’d told us enough to ensure we no longer doubted that the natives were cannibals. But what’s more, since no one showed any reluctance about remaining there, it was decided to see anyway if we might find a place for a base. On the 15th, the Bishop returned late, wet to the bone and overcome by exhaustion.
On the 16th, having got up later than usual, he made his meditation which he preferred should come before his office and went off. He had two noteworthy sayings at the time: If I listened only to nature, I will let myself off fatigue duty today.....and I’ll come back early. He surely wasn’t wrong; at 11 o’clock, he was brought back to us covered in his own blood, with five axe blows to the head, two spear thrusts and bruised all over. Four days later, we were burying his mortal remains in an isolated corner of an uninhabited island, and were trembling too at the possible loss of our Father provincial,[4] who had been hit as well in this attack with two club strikes. The tribe which had been described as ill-disposed was responsible for it all. After surrounding the group on the foray, they had suddenly attacked them and it was only with some difficulty that Reverend Father Chaurain had been able to recover the body of his bishop. The ship’s second officer had also been wounded. You can understand, my dear Henri, what a blow the death of the Bishop was for us. We were young soldiers, going into battle for the first time and our captain fell on the field of honour. If God hadn’t supported us, we would have lost all courage. But Mary came to our aid and what now surprises me is the calmness which prevailed in our decisions despite our sadness. It was then that I well understood the power of the state of grace.
We continued our visits as if nothing had happened; but looking back carefully on it all, we thought it was too dangerous to take upon ourselves the responsibility of exposing a whole mission establishment to the risks. (Dangers which will disappear quite soon when as a result of contact arranged with the natives of the various islands, they’ll learn what we’re about and when we can speak a little of their language.) We also recalled that our Divine Saviour had told his apostles to flee from persecution and we picked up once more the San Cristobal route, this time following along the northwest coast of Guadacanal.
We arrived on the northwest coast on the 28th among a tribe in which there were three natives who, having been in Sydney, knew English and understood something of European ways. This was a great advantage for us; but God didn’t want us there. Besides the fact that there was little possibility of setting up a station there which could provide for 12 people, the anchorage was so bad that the captain refused to stay there. And so we left, but we took with us one of the natives who had been in Sydney.
On 2 January as we made our way along the coast, we saw a bay which looked to us like a port. I was sent to examine it and in fact I found a magnificent docking area, closed in on all sides where there could be no risk in anchoring. Then I saw all around it a fair-sized village, two smaller ones and plantations which seemed to me to suggest a very sizeable population. The Blessed Virgin had kept this spot for us which we also from then on called Sainte Marie. Hardly had I appreciated my discovery when we landed and this is where we are now and where as I write to you the Saviour’s cross has begun to shine on the Solomon Islands.
You probably want to know, my dear Henri, how we set about the job of establishing a base. I’m going to tell you. First of all we gave a good welcome to the natives, taking care above all to win the goodwill of their chief called Maimara, a dear old man whom we had seen as we first went through and who had won us over with his kindness. Then by means of our interpreter, we told them that we were coming to live among them, not to plunder their resources but rather to give them clothes and iron. Thus far, things went well; but when we had chosen a site where we could be independent and wanted to purchase it, problems began to arise. There were endless discussions with each one adding his thoughts and the natives seemed distrustful of our planned settlement which, I concede, must have seemed a bit unusual to them. Moreover as ownership was not very precise, a thousand claimants came forward, some saying they owned the far end, others the trees and all of whom insisted on retaining these last mentioned if they gave up the land. Finally agreement was reached and our interpreter announced to us, with considerable self-importance, that we could begin our work.
We didn’t waste a moment and after burying a few medals and saying a few prayers, we began to cut down the trees which covered the site of our future home. This was on 6 January. From that day on up to the present time, when because of a slight indisposition I’m not working and thus making the most of to write to you, we’ve not stopped moving earth, going off looking for timber and preparing it, work quite as hard as you’d want, which we perhaps couldn’t have managed without the support of the natives, especially those of the Maimara tribe which has always seemed devoted to us. And besides, my dear brother, don’t imagine that this work is such that it could be too much for us. Grace surely eases anything that might be difficult in the work and just the thought that it is closely tied up with the spiritual success of the mission, saving us from being dependent on the natives, is a powerful incentive to maintaining a deep peace and an unfailing calmness of soul, even though one is soaked with sweat, drenched with rain and feeling one’s hands are covered with blisters. After all, wouldn’t it be a small price to pay for heaven and the joy of obtaining it for others, if by these small sacrifices, we arrived there one day followed by a few natives?
I don’t want to hide anything from you, my dear Henri, because if your Superiors send you to the mission fields one day, a favour I wish for you, your soul must be prepared for the trials. And so I’ll tell you that we have had some fairly formidable trials. Our interpreter has left us and we’ve had to give up the advantages we were hoping for in studying the language with him and then we’ve had a few scary experiences. The tribes of the Toros, enemies of the Oné tribe, of which Maimara is the chief, came several times seemingly to help us but in fact with the intention of stealing from us which was easy for them at the start when we had no shelter and they could take advantage of meal times to steal from us. Fortunately we have always been warned by our friends and we’ve been able to remain on our guard but even so, those were pretty hard moments for us being always anxious. The natives are like children. They can’t hatch a plot without someone letting the secret out. They betray one another. What’s more, the Maimara tribe never seems to have had any but good intentions towards us and we are dealing only with them at present. Those doubtfully disposed are very far away. God has protected us and now, with a solid dwelling, we have less to fear. Besides we have welcomed these tribes, we’ve given them materials and possibly their feelings have changed. Should they be unchanged, they will do no more harm than God will allow and not a hair of our head will fall without His say-so. [5] That is a most comforting thought for us and one which I’m sure would make us work wonders if well imprinted on our soul, because for a missionary there is no lack of grounds for humility and the obvious realisation that one is nothing, but as for absolute trust in God, it doesn’t always come as easily; and with humility and trust, what is there that cannot be achieved?
Now, my dear Henri, I am going to tell you a bit about the inhabitants and the country that God has given me to share. The natives are dark or rather sallow bordering on dark, of medium height, hair sometimes woolly and sometimes like our own. Their teeth are quite black through the use of betel nut. Their nose is flat, their lips slightly prominent, their eyes generally lack-lustre, their facial angle more developed than that of the negroes I saw at the Cape of Good Hope. They go about quite naked, but they decorate their bodies with ornaments, almost always made of sea-shells or the teeth of dogs, pigs and fish. Mentally they are big children, ridiculously vain. They will proudly wear suspended from the neck a piece of broken plate, like Maimara to whom we have given one of these precious fragments. They seem very light-fingered and we know from experience just how clever they are at theft. It comes naturally to the natives. What’s more I believe them to be hospitable people and among themselves those of the same tribe follow pretty well the practice of sharing goods. They also seem cunning and their chief has the whole bearing of a politician. He always has some gift ready for the ship’s captain or the Reverend Father Provincial. The natives’ food consists of fish, taro, yam, coconut, banana, breadfruit and a few other less useful fruits. They have their own way of cooking and types of cake which they have shared with us and which are not too bad. Sometimes they can get hold of a tortoise. Apart from this food, they have the betel which they use daily, possibly needed given the type of food they eat and which is a bitter nut they chew with leaves of the pepper plant and powdered and slaked lime. As soon as the lime touches the juice from the betel and the pepper, it turns blood red and it is this which gives the horrible colour to their mouth and lips.
Their dwellings are simple sheds, covered with palm leaves and often decorated with carvings and paintings. As for the type of work they do, it’s worth taking a good look at it. They make themselves attractive household utensils out of wood , studded with selected shells and armour like clubs, spears and bows, one look at which is frightening. But where they display their greatest skill is in their small craft. I’ve seen some which could hold twenty men with ease and everything in them radiates refinement. They also have dances and a type of music.
Their country, though mountainous, provides resources. It has wood for dyeing and probably there are spices there. Besides, the nature lover would find enough there to slake his curiosity and even just in the variety of parrots he encounters there, he could make new discoveries. There are also many wonderful insects and plants I believe new to France. Later I’ll be able to spend time on all this, at the moment it is not possible.
What can I say to you, my dear Henri, about the state of these people religiously speaking? Alas, nothing very comforting, but very useful if it can prompt a prayer, one more sacrifice on their behalf. They are in horrifying darkness. Totally absorbed by material things, they see nothing beyond this. The yams and coconuts which feed them are all they want. The neighbouring tribe which(causes them trouble - that’s where their hatred lies. Apart from that, there is no raising of the mind and heart to God. And then what faults they have! I don’t have the courage to list them. Ah! even were I only a philosopher, I assure you that I won’t try to bring these poor creatures back to the truth for I believe this impossible for human strength; but I move on in the name of Him who has promised to be always with his apostles[6] and whose faith has conquered the world. And so I have some hope. Were it not my lot to carry out even the least good work and to live out my life without baptising one single infidel, I shall still always regard as boundless the grace that God has given me of seeing what happiness there is in being born in the bosom of the Catholic church. No, I don’t believe that our non-believers shrink at the sight of a native given over to all the whims of nature without crying out. Poor human reason, how pale its brightness by comparison with that of faith or rather how gloomy you are in the eye of the torch of religion.
Goodbye my dear brother, goodbye, keep me much in your prayers for I am in desperate need of them. Every day I realise that I am not up to my calling. Thousands of worthwhile opportunities arise and I miss the chance to make the most of them. It’s only later that I realise my stupidity. Self esteem is always with me and more to be feared than the natives with their spears and arrows. It robs me of many precious graces and turns them into weapons against me. And so pray, I say again, offer many prayers for me. Moreover, you owe me a small something in fairness because I do not forget you. On Wednesdays and Saturdays I say the rosary for Gabriel, Auguste Ronet and you and at Mass I commend you to God with all my heart. I beseech him to make you a worthy child of Saint Ignatius and to engrave in your heart those magnificent words which are the cry of your venerable Society: To the greater glory of God. It is truly necessary for some of mankind to adopt this cry. Hell, the world, the flesh have their masters who work for them alone and the master of heaven and earth would not have his devoted servants. I can tell you, my dear Henri, that I often contemplated that during the journey out as I watched all the difficult things the sailors undertook for the world and I believe we should blush to undertake so few of them for God. Farewell, I wouldn’t end this at all if I went on listening to me and it’s time to end this letter.
With much love from deep in the heart of Jesus and Mary
Your affectionate brother Xavier Montrouzier
Society of Mary


  1. Should read: Jean (Taragnat) (cf. doc.470, § 4)
  2. Should undoubtedly read: Fifi (spelling of this name found elsewhere in Montrouzier’s letters, doc. 451, § 7; 531, § 4, 6).
  3. Cf. Si 7.40: In omnibus operibus tuis memorare novissima tua, et in aeternum non peccabis. (TOB: Si: Si 7.36: Whatever you do, remember your end and you will never sin.)
  4. Jean-Pierre Frémont (cf. doc. 451, § 23; 469, § 5; also doc. 448, § 12).
  5. Cf. Lk 21:18.
  6. Cf. Mt 28:20.