From Marist Studies
Jump to: navigation, search

21 August 1847 – Bishop Jean-Georges Collomb to Father Victor Poupinel, New Caledonia

Based on the document sent, APM OMM 411 Collomb.

Small leaf of paper, measuring 207x160mm folded to form four written pages, the fourth page carrying an annotation by Poupinel.

Translated by Mary Williamson, June 2011.

[in Poupinel’s handwriting]: New Caledonia 21st August 1847. Bishop Collomb, Bishop of Antiphelles.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam
Dei Genitricis honorem

Aboard the warship “Brillante”, port of Ballade, 21st August 1847.

To the Reverend Procurator General of Missions.
My Reverend Father,
It has pleased our Heavenly Master to induct me early, even before I start the mission, an embarrassment of the sort that I wished, above all, to avoid. Although I do not think there was any fault on my part for which I can be held responsible, the mission in Melanesia suddenly finds itself without any current resources and deeply in debt.
I estimate at twenty thousand francs the actual losses we suffered on 18th and 19th July of this year; but considering the consequences of this loss, at least as it seems to me, I would have preferred to carry a discount of 50,000 francs on a possible future allocation of 80,000 to 100,00 francs.
Mr Marceau in Sydney had put the brig Anonyme at my disposal; I expected to find her at Ballade, but when I arrived here on 29th June, I learned that she had already left on 26th May to go and get fresh supplies in Sydney.
On 16th of this month, she arrived back, but it cost us an advance of £700 sterling or 17,500 francs, the amount of a draft that the Rev. Fr Chaurain felt he could make on our account from the Very Reverend Superior General.
This same Rev. Fr Chaurain [1] gave the procurator’s office in Sydney a bond of £100 sterling or 2,500 francs, advanced by Mr Joubert for the extra expenses incurred by the Anonyme.
Now I have in hand a small supply of provisions that the Anonyme brought for the mission in New Caledonia: the Brillante is lending me and the crew of the Anonyme enough supplies for six months. I cannot tell yet what the sum total of this double debt will be.
The former workman, Br Prosper, is asking me for a written promise to pay his parents the sum of a thousand francs, if this has not yet been paid to them. This was promised to him, in their favour, in December 1844 by Bishop Epalle. Prosper doubts if it has been payed, as his parents have not written to him about it. We are agreed that he will not be able to ask for this money, except in the case where he can provide evidence (either from himself or his parents) that his parents have not yet received it.
As you can see, my Reverend Father, our mission, more than ever, needs the generosity of the central councils for the work of the Propagation of the Faith. I do not need to beg either you or the Very Reverend Father to work zealously to obtain for us sums that are somewhat relative to our needs. These needs will concern you even more when it is a question of coming to the aid of colleagues who have been ill for nearly two years. I cannot wait to be able to relieve their symptoms of the fever or at least improve their conditions. Alas! I fear that the deaths of some of them will precede my arrival at their bedsides.
You will learn the details of the events in New Caledonia from the extract from my diary, which I am sending to the Very Reverend Father for the two central councils and also more briefly by reading the report signed by the Fathers and myself. [2]. I hope the Rev. Fr will deem it appropriate to present it to the councils.
What a disappointment for Rev. Fr Roudaire who came from Samoa on the corvette to establish himself here! On the subject of this good Father, he informed us that Br Gérard died in Upolu on Holy Thursday, in an atmosphere of deep devotion and, above all, faith in the Holy Virgin.
If my episcopate is such a heavy burden for me, at least the insignia of my office do not weigh as heavily: Bishop without a mitre or a cross. I carry on stripped of everything, not even having another pair of shoes or other underwear, except that lent to me out of charity. Praise the Lord. I am happy with that, I fear only judgement from on High. Pray to him to pardon me, lead me, give me strength and finally save me.
Please give my affectionate greetings to my dear Fr Maîtrepierre, the Rev. Fathers Eymard, Chojlletoon, Colin the elder, Séon and Gérard, [3] my novitiate companion and to all our other dear colleagues: May they all pray for us! May many of them come to join us.
A greeting, in passing, to Mr and Mrs Dercis please: their son is probably in a more tranquil situation than me.
As for you, my dear and Reverend Father, always take good care of yourself, in the interests of our missions;
Ever your affectionate servant in the Lord,
Jean-Georges, Bishop of Antiphelles,
Vicar apostolic of Melanesia and Micronesia.


  1. Etienne Chaurain, Marist missionary, was then Procurator in Sydney (c.f. doc. 648, ∫ 1-5; 649, ∫ 15; 656, ∫ 8)
  2. c.f. doc. 651.
  3. Séon and Gérard are probably Etiénne Séon and Claude Gérard.

Previous Letter List of 1847 Letters Next letter