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19 November 1847 − Father Etienne Chaurain to Father Victor Poupinel, Sydney

Translated by Mary Williamson, March 2014.

Based on the document sent, APM OP 458 Pro-procuratores.

Sheet of paper forming four pages, three of which are written on, the fourth having only the address and the annotation of Poupinel.

[p.4 Address
Mister • Mister Poupinel procurator • Montée Saint Barthélemy 4 • Lyon.

[in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Sydney 19th November 1847 • Reverend Father Chaurain

Sydney 19th November 1847

To Reverend Father Poupinel.

My Very Reverend Father,
On 10th of this month I received your letter of 28th May 1847. It gave me such great pleasure; it is such a long time since we received direct communication from Lyon. The missionaries who are in Sydney at the moment have been constantly asking me for news of the French Society and I hardly know how to reply.
I am particularly grateful for your news about the allocation for 1846 for the procurator’s office, about the Society of Mary in France, about the trip made by the Superior General to Rome with Fr Dubreul and finally about my family. Fathers Rougeyron [1] and Roudaire had the greatest pleasure in learning of the arrival in France of Bishop Douarre and the elevation of New Caledonia to an apostolic curacy.
The subject matter of the masses that you have been kind enough to pass on to us has been equally well received and I hope that most of them will have been undertaken so that we can start to receive the benefits. Several missionaries will perhaps be happy to come to our aid. So kindly help us in this way as often as you can.
In a word, your letters could not be more interesting. Please be a bit more generous with them.
Here at the moment we are fully occupied with building the framework of a portable house for the men from Caledonia, who are keen to return there at the first possible opportunity.
Would you please tell Bishop Douarre that all is not lost where his curacy is concerned. His Lordship still has two genuine apostolic missionaries in Fathers Rougeyron and Roudaire. Brothers Auguste and Bertrand are also motivated by the most genuine of beliefs, despite the adversities that they have suffered. They all hope to profit from the first available opportunity to go back to the territory where they have worked and suffered. The preparations for their departure are already well advanced and I think that if the French brig, the Anonyme returns from the Solomons within two months, it will find them ready to leave with them. Nevertheless, I feel obliged to tell you that the news we receive from Caledonia is far from reassuring. Only three weeks ago the natives from a tribe neighbouring that of the Isle of Pines massacred the Captain and eight sailors from a small English ship that was gathering sandalwood. I even think Bishop Douarre knows the ship owner and the name of the ship. His Lordship must still recall Mr “Kettle” and the Vangard. Such, my Father, are the people that God has bequeathed to us: “Sanguis martyrum, semen christianorum”. [2] I certainly believe I can predict (though I do not think I have any particular talent for prediction) that the Society of Mary will suffer several more martyrs before God can touch the hearts and subdue the brutality of these savages. Fiat voluntas Dei.
Whilst awaiting the fulfilment of God’s plan, we are taking all the precautions that we feel will be helpful, so that the lives of the missionaries will be exposed to as little danger as possible. The house that I am having built at the moment (the Brothers are doing most of it) will, we hope, be fireproof.
I have received no news of the Arche d’Alliance since she left Samoa. I have just received some letters from Father Pradel, which came from Upolu, via several ships coming from the Islands. I can rest assured that all the Central missions continue to prosper. At the moment my most frequent correspondence comes from the gentlemen in New Zealand. Reverend Fathers Forest and Léon do not give me a moment’s peace and by each ship arriving from New Zealand they send me more orders; you would say that these good gentlemen are short of everything, or at least that everything is exceedingly expensive in Auckland. I think it is in working with these men that I have learned to “juggle” business affairs. I’m sure that you will say that this word (la triture) is not a proper French word; nevertheless it expresses very well what I am wanting to say!
The good Father Germain might well be annoyed that I have not yet sent a bundle of letters of at least twenty pages; but just tell this dear friend of the procurator that the pounds have completely vauorni ? My heart and I no longer know how to write letters unless it is to demand some Bills of Exchange, or else acknowledge reception of them.
Tell him also that besides my tasks as Procurator and curate of two parishes, I am still filling the role of father of a family, required to provide food and care for fifteen people. I could still add a few more things, but I think that I would be best to stop here; it would make it seem as though I was making up stories similar to those he once told me about the Furrasque [ ?].

I also found it very interesting to hear of the elevation of Mr Chapel (another classmate) to the exalted rank of Professor of Holy Scripture and a beginner in Hebrew; it seems that we are all going to become gentlemen of renown !!!! They say that, two years ago, Father Vidal preached like an angel. He should at least preach like an archangel now that he is making his voice heard in the Capital! − Fathers Rougeyron and Roudaire, his fellow countrymen, wish me to express to him, with you as their intermediary, their respectful affection and they remain, with me,
In Jesus and Mary,
Your very humble and obedient
servants and colleagues,
Etienne Chaurain, priest,
on behalf of everyone.
Post Script. Would you kindly remember me to all the gentlemen of Puylata and especially Fathers Lagniet and Girard ….. and if you are able, extend my respects and best wishes to Fathers Epalle, Favre and Dussurget and to my very dear childhood friend Montagnon de Saint Just. − etc. −
Tell Miss Monavon that I really need her to pray for me if she wants me to survive and if we are to meet again in Heaven ! − ! − ! −!
[In the margin on an angle 14]
I would long ago have replied to Reverend Dubreul’s letter if I was not waiting, day after day, for a second letter that he said would be sent eight days after the one I received….. And here I am more than a month later, waiting in vain.
[In the margin on an angle 15]
I have not spoken to you about the draft drawn on your account in the name of Mr Marziou. Please let me know of any difficulties you might have had, in case you did have some. (ad meliorem instructionem )


  1. the author has no doubt missed out the other name: add: and Roudaire
  2. 2. Cf. Tertullian, Apologetique, 50, 13: “Semen est sanguis Christianorum”.

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