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29 September 1847 – Father Xavier Montrouzier to his brother Father Henri Montrouzier, S.J., Woodlark

Based on the document sent, APM ONC 208 Montrouzier ( to his family ).

Translated by Mary Williamson, October 2011.

One sheet of paper written on both sides


My dear Henri,
The Bishop, our vicar apostolic, has arrived at last, but our troubles, for all that, are not over. To start with, he brought us some disastrous news. The mission in New Caledonia has been destroyed and he himself came close to being killed by the natives. Then he decided that it was necessary for us to leave San Cristobal, where the savages made it difficult for us to get our belongings on board. We even had to give up the idea of taking all our possessions, which, added to the losses we suffered in New Caledonia, did not improve the financial position of our mission. – We finally set sail, no further ahead than when we left France, except for a certain amount of suffering. At the moment we are on a small island discovered recently by an English captain who, after the name of his ship, called it Woodlark (alouettte des bois) and it is not yet marked on the charts. It is situated at 9º 7’ 49” latitude and 151’ longitude. We found a good port there, which we have named Port of the Nativity, as we entered it on 15th September, within the week of that festival. The captain who discovered it and who is now in Sydney gave us accurate instructions and up till now we have found everything exactly as he informed us. The future will enlighten us as to whether God is satisfied with our past sufferings and if He wishes to grant us some peaceful days. May His holy will be done! He is the master: happy is he who is tested here of earth, so as to be spared in the after life.
Gabriel will pass on to you the details that I have sent him on the events in New Caledonia. I have suggested he do this. They will distress you, but you will nevertheless find some things for which to praise God.
Pray for me often. I am in the trouble spot and sometimes I lack the heart for it. I let myself go and I say: Transeat a me calix iste. [1]. Ah! If you only knew just how holy, humble, mortified, and detached from everything a missionary must be, you would not cease to tremble for me. Then, there is one thought that sometimes overwhelms me, that is, that at any moment it might be necessary to make serious decisions, upon which depend the salvation of an island. The responsibility, it is true, weighs on the Bishop, but also falls to a certain extent on the priests that he consults. In a word, I assure you that it is not uncommon for me to suffer real anxieties at the thought of God’s judgement and at the realisation of my obligations and my tribulations.
Bishop Collomb who, following the death of Bishop Epalle has become our Vicar Apostolic, comes with all the qualities which seem appropriate to assure the success of the mission. Doctor in Theology and canon law, he has, which is even better, much more piety than science and I expect to gain great benefits from my dealings with him, which will be very satisfying. The two other Fathers and I, already worn out with the fever, cannot yet help him very much, but we must be brave! Perhaps the climate of Woodlark will be healthier than that of San Cristobal.
Goodbye. I embrace you in the holy love of Jesus and Mary.
Your loving brother,
Xavier Montrousier
Missionary apostolic
Woodlark, Port of the Nativity, 29th September 1847.


  1. Mt 26.39: Pater mi, si possibile est, transeat a me calyx iste; verumtamen non sicut ego volo, sed sicut tu. ( “My father, if it is possible let this cup to pass me by! However not as I wish, but as You wish!”)

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