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2 April 1848 − Father Grégoire Villien to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Based on the document sent, APM OP 458.2 Mission. trans. (1845-1860).

Translated by Mary Williamson, July 2014

Sheet of paper, the front side written on, the reverse side having only the address. The writer presents this document as the “follow-up” no doubt of the preceding letter, dated 2nd April 1848.

Mr Colin junior • Lyon, montée Saint Barthélemy, No.4 • France.
[Post marks]
PAID [S]HIP LETTER SYDNEY [- -] AP − COLO[NIES] &Cc.ART.13 − SV 6 AU 6 1848 − ANGL. BOULOGNE 28 AOUT 48 − [- -]

Follow up.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph.

I learned, on arriving in Sydney, of the arrival here of the brig; it had come from Woodlark, it [- -] [- - ] us, as we had suspected, of the calamitous destruction caused by the natives of the Solomons; but we learned also that this island of Woodlark, as far as healthy living conditions are concerned, is no better than San Cristobal. Our colleagues and Brothers, not excepting the Vicar Apostolic, are stricken with a fever so virulent that I fear some will have already succumbed. Every day I wait impatiently for the corvette Arianne,which left Tahiti in November 1847 to carry the necessary help to Bishop Collomb. The long delay is because of the unfavourable season; I hope nevertheless that she will have been more fortunate than the Arche d’Alliance and above all less depleted in her supplies; she will bring us more recent news of the state of health of our missionaries, their mission , the customs of the natives and also of the advantages and disadvantages of Woodlark. This island, 15 leagues long by 4 leagues wide is situated at 151° longitude east by 9° latitude south, not far east of New Guinea. If I have not left Sydney when the Arianne arrives I will write to you again about this mission. Despite the setbacks and the extreme difficulties of my last passage, I expect to leave soon on Mr Marceau’s brig the Anonyme, which is still working for Bishop Collomb. I commend to your paternal solicitude, to your prayers, to those of the Society and to all your colleagues this luckless mission which has yet to begin; do not forget either, your lowly servant. We can only hope that after our trials, success will come; God has his plan.
We have just received letters from Europe, written in the month of [- - - - ]; they inform us of the departure of new missionaries, all of whom are destined to join us; [1]. They will partly fill the void left by those gathered in by death and will reignite our courage. We learned also of the promising success and rapid progress of our Society; this news was a great consolation to us.

Our Lordships, the archbishop and the bishop of Chambéry and of Tarentaise having shown a lively interest in us all when we left, I would ask you if you would be so kind as to pass on this current and any other letters that you judge to be the least badly written. Please do the same for Fr Girard, vicar general of Chambéry, Fr Martinet and Fr .Chevray.
Your very devoted and obedient child,
Grégoire Villien, Society of Mary.


  1. The third group of Marist missionaries left from Marseille on 23rd October 1847. Of the fourteen members of the group, there were only Fathers Eugène Ducrettet and Pierre Trapenard who went to the Solomans

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