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Souvenirs 3





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(1849 – 1854)

S.M.A. 1991

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Cum permissu superiorum[_ _]

Patrick J. Harrington, S.M.A.,

Superior General,

Rome, 25th June, 1991

French edition prepared by an S.M.A. team

Put into present-day English by Bob Hales, S.M.A

The present digital edition was prepared with the kind assistance of Dolores McCrystal and Joan Quinn.

Cover design by Ann McCarthy, Ballinadee



Souvenirs 1 and 2 are based on Marion Bresillac’s journal or his personal diary, but they include many longish reflections and letters added in 1855 when he was preparing his Indian memoirs for publication. (They also exclude some remarks which he considered too rough to print, or maybe unfair). The editing and amplifying job stopped suddenly when he had got to the last entry for 1848…

Africa beckoned. And the next thing we hear, he is busy founding a new society (S.M.A.) and preparing to go to Dahomey. (The blue Diary 1856-1859 covers that period). Obviously, he had not much time to work on his journal after that.

So what we have here in Souvenirs 3 is his “raw” Missionary Journal (1849-1854) without subtraction or addition. To me it reads more quickly and better for that, because his style, I think, got very tangled sometimes when he sat down and consciously improved it for the reading public. This now purely-personal expression of his immediate thoughts and feelings (to God or to himself) reads more naturally and vividly than a “public” effort might be. So I have some hope that Souvenirs 3 will be enjoyed even more than I and 2.

Bob Hales, S.M.A. Translator

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(p 1041)

Working and Waiting in Pondicherry.

Charbonnaux admired the Retreat;

but Contradicted it in the Synod. Mouse.

Pondicherry, 1st January 1849

I did not feel at all like making New Year courtesy calls in Pondicherry, or receiving any. The Europeans never had much time for me. The [European] Prefect Apostolic seems to be rather indisposed towards the Mission at the moment (I don’t know why) and so he was barely polite. I was also quite content to miss any New Year visits or “compliments” from the leading Indians. So, for the whole day, I kept imprisoned in my room. Thus the year began for me with a day of deep Retreat. May 1849 be spent totally for God, in the service of the holy Catholic Church!

31st January

Throughout all this month, I have been extremely busy. Did I perchance achieve any good? Extremely doubtful. At first I had some hope that our meetings in the [Preparatory] Commission and Council [for the Synod] were actually going to succeed in [_doing _]something. That hope is now greatly diminished.

The Synod has by now taken place. But, after the Opening Ceremony in the church (which was very impressive) it achieved almost nothing at all. The mountain heaved and groaned, and gave birth to a tiny mouse. Then we had a [Society] Council. This notably failed to calm the minds and consciences of all the missionaries.

The two meetings were preceded by a Retreat. I was the (p 1042) preacher. I tried my best to inculcate some of the virtues and attitudes we so badly need. The Retreat seemed to make quite an impression. And it might have made some [_lasting _]contribution, too, if it wasn’t publicly contradicted, almost immediately!

It was hardly over when Bishop Charbonnaux launched into some highly unfortunate speeches, in the Synod. With his usual recklessness (or his over-emotional vigour) he managed to knock down just about everything I had been trying to build up. And yet at first he was so taken by my Retreat that he asked permission to copy down all my talks! Afterwards, he couldn’t even see that his speeches were destroying all the effect of my preaching.

The missionaries are going back to their stations [after the Synod] a little less agitated and somewhat less angry than before, no doubt. But they are still not calm enough, not united enough, not clear enough about their present pastoral duty. Certainly not sufficiently clear to ensure that the good work will now go on smoothly, unimpeded by blatant contradictions or by other negative elements.

Bishop Bonnand would like to keep me here a little longer [to try and sort out the caste (etc) situation]. But it would obviously be a waste of his time [and mine]. Everybody is tired [of meetings]. It is time to go.

I have got a bullock-cart constructed [for my return journey]. And I am now only waiting for the arrival of our bullock team from Karumattampatty.

Luquet deteriorating. Pacreau leaving.

Mini-retreat to College.

9 February

I have seen several letters from Bishop Luquet, written to various confreres and to Bishop Bonnand. Truly, this dear friend of mine forgets himself [forgets all his common sense]. The letters are full of anger and irritation; and these emotions cannot easily be combined with wisdom or prudence. They made painful reading. (p 1043) I have written to him about this1. But I fear he will not take my advice very well.

18th February

Fr Pacreau seems to be going from bad to worse. He is asking [to leave Coimbatore] and go back to Pondicherry [Vicariate] or else to Europe. I am writing to him, to try to encourage and console him. But, with a head like his, I fear, anything can happen.

5th March

I am still here, waiting for the bullocks to be sent down by Fr de Gelis. In the meantime, Fr Fages asked me to give a short Retreat at the Colonial College. I was happy to do so. And God in his goodness gave me some happy results there.

I am going to leave within a few days, along with [my new man] Fr Cornevin, and also with Fr Pouplin [of Pondicherry Vicariate]. He is still unwell, and is going to try if the cool air of Ootacamund can help.

En route. No win until Judgment Day.

Leroux’s doubts. Dodged.

Oludupet, 12th March

Here we are, out of Pondicherry at last. My heart is still heavy, my eyes inclined to be tearful. Not because I am sorry to be leaving that city, where so many miserable disagreements are still blocking all the progress we could be making. Rather, because I did not manage to achieve anything while I was there; not even the slight changes which I considered so important (almost (p 1044) essential) for ensuring some minimal progress (very small indeed) at this crucial time.

And so it goes on. The years go by. The work continues [without a plan] without any sign of lasting progress, of real [fundamental] improvement in the pitiable state of Religion in India. No effort ever seems to succeed, to achieve that [radical] kind of improvement.

Still, there are some men of brave heart and clear intelligence, able to see what can and what should be done. But either they die, or they are just not listened to. The only views that are actually heard (in practice anyway) are the timid proposals suggested by “prudence” to cautious men, wise enough in their own way, but without any global vision, without any glimmer of foresight into the future.

I suppose that’s how it has to be, O my God, so that the moment of Grace may not arrive too soon, before its own due time. And, in the meantime, the men of desire [the men of goodwill with fire in their hearts] can always maintain the personal merit of their burning charity. Those great desires, that ardent charity, always seem in practice to result in nothing. Yet, even now, they may really be having their own hidden saving effect, known to You alone, Lord, only to be revealed at the End, before the astonished gaze of humanity.

Ha! I think I can see it now, why the Day of Judgment is so necessary after all! How right and fitting it will be, for the infinite Justice of God, to manifest His rightness even to the good men who ignored it so blindly here below. To show them clearly, at last, what real goodwill, what wisdom, what perfection, what true charity was contained in that policy which they rejected, and in that human heart which they also rejected, and discouraged, and broke! In the man they called “an eccentric, a reckless visionary, a mere dreamer”! Yes indeed, the just men will also need the Day of Judgment, maybe even more than the sinners. It is only right that the unrecognized just man should at last be justified before all the just, before those who so constantly misunderstood him, and sometimes even persecuted him, blindly, out of their own invincibly erroneous conscience!(p 1045)

[We had a long talk] but we parted rather sadly. His main torment now is his troubled conscience. As he sees it, our missionary practice, in trying to accommodate the Gospel to the ways and customs of India, is now in clear opposition to the laws of God. And, more specifically, against the stated laws of the Church, and against the terms of the Oath we have sworn.

If this was true, that radical failure would explain quite a few others. It would be the key to many an insoluble riddle [of recent missionary history]. But it could also become the ruin of every Christian community in India. Weak and timid in the Faith (many of them with hardly any Faith at all) they are the only “Christian communities” we have in this country. So I certainly hope that Fr Leroux’s doubts and fears are greatly exaggerated!

Nevertheless I also have to admit that his fearful reasoning is very strong indeed. And he is not the only one who is scared. Already, before the Synod, some very grave doubts and fears had been formulated, and sent in to Bishop Bonnand, from individuals and from groups. The Bishop had replied to them; but his replies did not seem to me at all adequate or convincing.

It all came up again at a [pre-Synod] Council meeting. A Report was presented, showing why the question demanded the most serious attention, referring back also to the 1844 Synod. There, already, grave anxieties had been expressed about this crucial matter; and it was decided that careful research should be undertaken and that the matter should be thoroughly dealt with. But this never happened. The [1848 Preparatory] Council recommended that this work must be tackled as soon as possible. And, in order to obtain the fullest and most accurate data for it, every missionary must be consulted: asked to state what practices he considers to be morally dubious, with the reasons for and against.

When all the data were assembled, a special Commission composed of prudent and experienced missionaries was to be convened to resolve as many of the doubts as possible and to formulate the remaining ones, to be sent to the Holy See for its decision. The great majority of the Council voted for this procedure. (p 1046) But Bishop Bonnand has refused to proceed with this Enquiry, for fear of stirring up unnecessary or dangerous problems. I must say, this line does not at all convince me. The dangers could be effectively avoided while still meeting the needs of the confreres. And for some of the men, those needs are very urgent indeed; for they are nothing less than burning problems of conscience.

This moral Question seemed to be kept very low in the agenda. But it may turn out to be not quite so unimportant after all. May God enlighten us!

Cholera strikes our Caravan

Singilidurugur, 17th March

Our short stay at Salem was very sad, very unfortunate indeed. We arrived there on the evening of the 15th, in fairly good form. Fr Pouplin was a bit tired [but that was to be expected]. Our people were in great humour. But, just before dawn the next morning, they came and told me they were a bit worried about one man. He had frequent stool and was vomiting all the time. I sent for him, and saw immediately how his eyes were sunken in the sockets. So I had no doubt at all that this was cholera.

I sent for the doctor. I tried to give the man some laudanum and opium [in water]. He vomited it all, two times. The sickness rapidly got worse.

It was barely 7 a.m. when I sent to Fr Cornevin (who was finishing Mass) to bring him Extreme Unction. A few hours later, the man died. He was the father of a family, a good Christian. It was he who brought our bullock team down from Karumattampatty.

This sudden death had a very strong effect on everybody. Fr Pouplin was terrified. The servants were all rather scared. And it is well known that fear is a very good contributing cause for this illness, once it breaks out in a place.

So I got Fr Cornevin to take Fr Pouplin away from Salem as (p 1047) soon as possible, while I stayed behind for the poor man’s burial. .

At 8 p.m., when my cart driver returned from the funeral, I set out for Singilidurugur (about 12 miles beyond Salem) with the driver and a guide. I arrived about midnight at the bungalow, and found our two confreres and the servants still very shaken by the blow. May the Lord graciously receive the poor man’s soul!

Erode, 19th March

This morning Fr Pouplin was so weak, I had serious worries about him. The heat is excessive.

Home again. Cornevin’s fantastic progress in Tamil.

Goa Schism goes on? Leroux now promoting Pariahs!

Karumattampatty; 23rd March

Here we are, home again. The Christians seemed very happy to have me back. Excellent Fr Metral and young Fr Ravel cheered me up a lot.2

Fr Cornevin is now in good health. And (surprise, surprise!) he already knows enough Tamil to be able to hear confessions! This will come in very handy at Easter time.

Before leaving Pondicherry he could barely even read Tamil characters. (He was concentrating almost entirely on English. I had given him a teacher, and already he can speak English quite passably). So he has learnt most of his Tamil en route! In the wayside bungalows, he kept at it steadily, reading and re-reading the Life of St Francis Xavier and the Examination of Conscience!

He has a very good memory, and seems to have a very sound practical judgement and many other good qualities as well. But I’m afraid he is being affected [by the hopeless air of our Indian Missions]. (p 1048) He looks discouraged at times. He does not look happy or contented.

23rd March [evening]

We hear the Archbishop of Goa [Silva Torres OSB] has been officially appointed Archbishop of Palmyra “in partibus infidelium”. A very good move, no doubt; it will keep him out of Goa! But is it a good punishment [for his Schism]? He is also being appointed Coadjutor (with right of succession) to Braga, which is (I believe) the foremost Diocese in Portugal! No doubt, the Holy Father could do no less. But isn’t the Pope also going to be forced (in practice, as the lesser of two evils) to appoint another [Portuguese] Archbishop to Goa, thus enabling them to perpetuate the Schism? Poor old India!

Coimbatore, 15th April

I hear that Fr Leroux has taken on some pariah “disciples” and that his intention is to eventually make seminarians of them, no less! Obviously he is going much too far, too fast. At least in the present situation in India.

Cholera epidemic; Pajean helps out.

Cooling towards Luquet, whom Verolles now Attacks.

16th April

Cholera is making terrible inroads, in several different places. It fell like lightning on Idapaddy just when the Christians were all gathered there (from 30 miles around and more) for the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter.

Fr Pajean happened also to be there at the time, and he was a great help to Fr Gouyon in the crisis. But he lost his catechist there. The wife of Anibu, my own former disciple, died there also. And a great number of Christians from my Vicariate, especially from the village of Chinnamalai. (p 1049)

20th April

I got a letter from Bishop Verolles in Manchuria. He says he wants to counter “some very bad rumours now being spread around”: that he is against Native Clergy. In fact he wants Native Clergy “much more than does Bishop Luquet” about whom he certainly pulls no punches!

30th April

A few days ago, I got one from Bishop Luquet himself. It is fairly unimportant in its content; but the tone betrays a certain ongoing annoyance or irritation which is not at all impressive. I know it is hard to put up with ill-fortune, especially when the only fortune you are after is the hope of doing some good in the world. But this kind of petulance repairs nothing. It spoils many good points and makes us lose a lot of merit. Since he takes [my advice] like that, I see I will just have to reduce the frequency-of my correspondence with that prelate.

Carmelites in Bombay attacked by Fennelly’s paper.

Confreres’ Doubts mentioned to Propaganda.

15th May

In Bombay, church affairs seem to be suffering a lot of [extra embarrassment] from the attitude and behaviour of the Irish clergy towards the Carmelites. Bishop Fennelly of Madras (our own experience with him has rarely been positive) is backing the Irish in the dispute. Not only in private but also publicly, in “his” newspaper, which to me seems quite deplorable.

No doubt there is much room for improvement in the various Carmelite Missions in India. But the Irish Missions in India are even more lamentable. If the Irish ever manage to dominate here (which seems to be their objective) it’s the end of our poor native communities. Archbishop Martini of Verapoly complains a lot about Bishop Fennelly. As far as I can judge from here, I’d say Martini is quite right. (p 1050)

27th May

When I was writing to the S.C. [of Propaganda] I mentioned the moral doubts of several confreres about some of the Indian customs and “rites” authorized by us. These doubts become more and more serious according as I study them in more depth.

Barot defects. Pacreau goes on “leave”.

I have to admit Pajean.

All Three stirring up Subversion far and Wide.

31st May

The month just ended has certainly had its share of sorrows and troubles. Grant at least, Lord, that I did not sin as well as suffering from them; and please accept my suffering as some atonement for any sin I do not know about (and for others which I know all too well, but concerning different matters).

The worst trouble, overshadowing everything else, was the sudden departure of Fr Barot. Already last year, during the Athicode affair, he was determined to leave immediately. Pondicherry was not prepared to accept him, so he was planning to do something even more extreme. [I managed to dissuade him at that time]. But this time, all my efforts failed. I thought I had persuaded him to do a kind of Retreat at Karumattampatty, before deciding to run away and to launch into a very uncertain and perilous future. I was hoping that, during that time of quiet, the Holy Spirit would inspire different ideas and attitudes in him. I then left Karumattampatty myself, largely in order to allow him to be alone with Fr Metral, and to feel more free. But he just went off without a word.

He posted two notes from Avanashi, informing me that he was leaving the Foreign Missions Society!

But (forgetfulness or guile?) neither of the notes is signed.

And now where is he? It seems he has headed for Trichinopoly. Rumour has it that he intends to get employment with a rich Indian, teaching his children. Not a very brilliant request for a European priest. The best thing for him would be to leave India altogether. (p 1051) For obviously he should never have been sent there. In case he turns up at Pondicherry I have written instructing them to pay his passage to Europe, at our expense.

Alas! Try as I may, I cannot manage to regret his departure. Missionaries of his character and temperament never do any good; and usually they do a lot of harm whereas, at home in France, they would make quite passable priests. Why oh why can’t they be more careful in Paris about the young men they decide to send out here! Why can’t they study their vocations a little! Is it sheer negligence by the Seminary Directors? I like to think not. But I have good reason to think there is at least some carelessness in it. And if there is any negligence, apathy or laziness involved, what a terrible responsibility they are bringing down on their heads!

30th June

More trouble brewing for me! An absolute hurricane, Bishop Bonnand warns me.3: Obviously it is missionaries who are behind it. And honestly, I have been searching every fold and corner of my conscience [to see what I may have done, to annoy them so much]. I can find nothing. Not only that; I can’t even see what else I could possibly do for them, to keep them happy.

They see everything skew-wise. If I move to the right, they will say it was to the left (and vice-versa). No attempt to wait and see [how it turns out in reality]. No mutual encouragement to each other, to have some patience, common-sense or moderation. They want everything now! What will all that kind of angry impatience lead to?

Fr Barot is going all around Madurai and Pondicherry Vicariates, telling them all the wrongs I have done to him. (He believes they are all real). (p 1052)

Meanwhile Fr Pacreau is rapidly going from bad to worse. He “has to” go to Trichinopoly “for his retreat”. Then he “has to” go to Nagapattinam, then on to Pondicherry!4 I immediately authorized Trichinopoly and the Retreat. I did not see how I could possibly authorize the rest of the huge itinerary, for I could see no possible good reason for it. But he became so insistent that I saw it would be even worse to refuse him. So I authorized it all in the end, because of his sheer stubborn cussedness. 5

What is he up to? What will he be discussing, with all the people he meets on this long march? God alone knows! For a good start, he is going to Codively where (no doubt) he will work up a good head of steam [against the tyrant] along with Fr Pajean. The visit won’t do him any good. Anyway Pacreau’s company did no good whatsoever to poor Fr Bonjean [that last time]. He is still badly influenced by it.

And now it appears that some very reckless [subversive] correspondence is going around, disturbing the youngest confreres. Fr Cornevin, anyway, seems very shaken and depressed [about it]. Where are we going, Lord!!!

Karumattampatty, 24th July

Although I still have some doubts about Fr Pajean, nevertheless, for a long time now, he has been conducting himself a lot better. Anyway, well enough to oblige me to admit him [belatedly] into the Society. However, if I was completely free, I would refuse to do it just yet. And I believe that, by being stricter about it, I would be rendering a real service to the Society of which I am a member.

But, the way things are now, I believe that such rightful severity would, in fact, do more harm than good. Especially considering the attitude of the missionaries about it and (what is more surprising) the attitude of the Paris Fathers! Let those who are making it morally impossible for me to follow my own judgment in the (p 1053) matter (and to do what is safe and beneficial) let them take on the responsibility for what is likely to happen later on!

Plan for St Michael’s Church, Coimbatore

Coimbatore, 25th July

At last I am going to concentrate on building a church here at Coimbatore city. The foundation stone is still a long way ahead, but I have at least firmly decided on the Church. It will be the first financially considerable project to be undertaken by this Mission. I am setting aside the 10,000 francs bequeathed to us by good Fr Dubois.

Meanwhile, I have been working on a plan. I have just sent the sketch of it to Pondicherry, asking Fr Laouenan to show it to the colonial Engineers and get their views and advice.

This city needs a church that will do some credit to the Catholic Religion. A fine church, though not necessarily huge. It will take at least 50,000 francs to build. We will certainly need the help of the “Propagation de la Foi”.

Well, if the French Republic manages to continue as it is now (not too anti-religious) or if it gives way to some other half reasonable president (or king or emperor or doge) the “Propagation” will recover and survive. And, little by little, we will build our church.

. Take this project under your special protection, O holy Michael Archangel! To you I hope to consecrate it. Take your flaming sword in your hand and show your power here at last, against the countless demons infecting the air of India, which they still seem to hold uncontested in their clutches.

Believe it or not, they are Sending him Back here!

30th July

Fr Barot, finding himself unable (as I think) to get a job (p 1054) elsewhere, and being utterly and incredibly inconsistent in character, now appears to be trying to come back into Coimbatore Vicariate!

Really, when you consider what a noise and a scandal he made about going away for good (after I had tried everything possible to stop him) wouldn’t you think that the door of our Society would by now be permanently closed behind him? Anyway, it is by now morally certain that he will never get rid of his predominant character defects [which were always so blatantly obvious that] he ought never to have been sent on the missions.

Since he was sent here, we just had to do the best we could for him, help him to persevere and do as much good as possible, and try to limit the damage. We did all that. But to take him back, now, should be completely out of the question. [However, I may be just forced to re-admit him].

I would never agree to have him here again if I was completely in charge, free to follow my own judgement and conviction. But Bishop Bonnand seems to be ready to intercede [more forcefully] for him: we’ll soon see.

If I refuse absolutely, I will instantly be accused of heartless cruelty (or maybe something even worse). And the consequences of that could be incalculably bad. So I will, more than likely, be practically forced to accept him here again. I will just have to do it, against all my own convictions, against all the advice of Fr Metral and Fr de Gelis (the only two missionaries at the moment who deserve my confidence). The deadly consequences (if and when they follow) I hereby decline. I may have to carry the pain of them, but I will not carry the responsibility.

Fr Metral in the River. Fr Thivet in the Tiger trap.

Karumattampatty, 15th August

Venerable Fr Metral (for “venerable” is the only word for this highly respected confrere) has just had a very narrow escape. He was crossing a swift river on a bad-tempered horse. The brute threw him off, right in the middle, and the current very nearly (p 1055) swept him away. O. you, his good angel! You know how precious, how necessary he is to us! Guard him and protect him from all evil!

. About the same time, we heard of another (much worse) accident, which happened to Fr Thivet, an apostolic missionary of our Society, the Superior of our Pinang Seminary. Out on a long walk with his students, he got separated from them in the jungle. He fell into a tiger trap, a deep trench specially constructed with a spike sticking up from the floor. ‘

This transfixed him. The students came running. But, without anyone to help them, they were for a long time unable to pull him out. Their amateur efforts only redoubled his agony. For the spear-head was barbed, and they had to use a knife to try and release him. At long last, they lifted him up. But he survived only a few hours.

Fr Thivet, they say, was the kindest and gentlest of characters. And to die the death of a tiger! God so willed it. May his Will be done in all things, for all and in all!

Fr Thivet was a very close friend of our Fr Cornevin, who has been very deeply affected by the news.

Prayer in Illness and Suffering.

[* Pacreau going; Barot coming!*]

Death of Fr Cornevin; maybe lucky!

5th September

I have been through a very serious illness. O my God, I was very near hoping I would die. And anyway, Lord, why do You keep me here on this earth, if I cannot do any good here? But enough! My job is not to ask “why”. Only to suffer and be silent. Yes, to suffer, O my God, just as long and just as much as it may please your adorable Majesty. Not only physical pains (for what are they?) but pains of mind and heart. To suffer even in my honour before men, in my reputation, my ‘character’. To endure the negative judgments of good men, so much more terrible than anything (p 1056) the wicked can pronounce. All wasted suffering? I think not. So, even if the only reason You leave me here, O my God, was just to keep suffering on like this, it would still be a mercy! The day will come when I will understand, much better than now, what a great deal l owe to You for that mercy, that favour!

Coimbatore, 16th September

Fr Pacreau is leaving the Mission, in spite of all that I could say or do for him. On his way back here from Pondicherry he wrote to say that his mind was made up. He was not only quitting India; he was quitting the Society.

When he arrived here I was exceedingly ill. I could just barely say a few words to him. I gathered all my poor strength together, to urge him to think again, and I tried to let him see that all I wanted was his happiness. Nothing doing.

He set out for Ootacamund, just to collect his belongings, and took the road back to Pondicherry. I have written to him again, but it all seems quite useless.

May the good God please not count all this against him, and protect him from all evil.

17th September

On the other hand, Fr Barot is busy pulling all possible strings to try and get back in. I must say, I feel very reluctant to take him. Since I have only two confreres here who are worth consulting, I asked Bishop Bonnand to put some relevant questions [about Barot] to his own Council.

Fr Barot now “repents” his going away. But, soon enough, he will be sincerely repenting his “repentance”. That’s for sure, given his very peculiar mentality. And then the second state will be worse than the first. What am I saying? Is this the first?

25th September

Fr Cornevin is very ill. The symptoms point to smallpox.

Nevertheless, the English doctor who came to see him says there is “no danger” (p 1057).

Karumattampatty, 1st October

I came here to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Rosary, and left Fr de Gelis at Coimbatore to look after Fr Cornevin. He tells me he is now even worse. I am sending Fr Ravel to help him care for the patient.

4th October

Fr Cornevin is dead. God has taken him away from us very fast! His will be done.

Fr Metral went immediately, to help the two young confreres at Coimbatore give our dear departed a fitting burial. It was at Saveriarpalayam, because we have no decent cemetery at Coimbatore; and the exact site of the new church has not yet been fixed.

Fr Cornevin is (probably) a great loss to Coimbatore (provided he managed to get over his tendency to depression), He was a man of talent, of outstanding gifts. Only six months studying Tamil, he could even preach quite well. Indeed he was supposed to come here for the Holy Rosary, to preach the principal sermon!

Unfortunately, it was also to be feared that he would probably get caught up in the turbulent, meddlesome current that is now doing so much damage in these Missions. So, maybe it was in His mercy that God took him out of it all, before he could spoil any of the merit of his missionary sacrifice. He had done nothing bad as yet. He died before making any big mistakes. And I have a quiet confidence that he is now in Heaven. Let us adore and pray.

Over-ruled on Barot and Pacreau. Better to Resign?

Pajean influencing Bonjean.

*Jarrige circulating Barran’s Letter. *

Coimbatore, 10th October

In any normal administration, civil or military, I would at this point feel obliged to just send in my resignation, on the spot, after the outrageous letters I have just received, from Bishop Bonnand and from Paris [about Barot and Pacreau]. (p 1058)When a man has done what he had to do, done what his conscience commanded him (taken the only permissible course) and when he is then censured for it, and over-ruled by his (de facto) Superiors, what does he do? He resigns. Or he might first try to demand a formal withdrawal or apology from them, for the kind of statements they have had the nerve to write to me.

But, in my position, can I even demand that much? Should I? I have my doubts. Maybe I should just stay on silently at my post, for the moment. Maybe I should confine all my protest to a purely internal refusal of consent, so that all the evil which must follow from their outrageous decisions may at least never be imputed to me. In no way do I consent to their carry-on. Let those who are causing it carry its consequences themselves!

13th October

Fr de Gelis has caught the smallpox from Fr Cornevin. He had been vaccinated, so I can hope it won’t be serious. The doctor guarantees it. But still I can’t help worrying. This dear confrere has every good quality you could possibly ask for. May God keep him with us!

14th October

Fr Pajean seems to think I am having things far too easy. He wants to give me some real trouble- himself. Without intending it like that, of course; but he is still quite effectively adding to my burden of pain. How long is this series [of torments] to go on?

As long as You wish, O my God! For ever, if that is your Will! Above all, don’t let me do anything to end it myself, if that was to be done by betraying my duty!

22nd October

Fr Barran [a Paris Director] has written, to Fr Jarrige, a very blundering letter. What Barran says in it is nearly all true. The content is quite correct (anyway it is in line with what I think myself). But the timing! The style, the allusions! It is very counter -productive indeed, and very dangerous. .

Fr Jarrige has now escalated the damage, by actually sending (p 1059) out authenticated copies of the letter! For what good purpose? Evidently, in order to provide ammunition for the Opposition to Bishop Bonnand and myself. What wonderful zeal and prudence! Bishop Bonnand is even more rattled by this unbelievable carry-on than I am myself. What an absolute foul-up!

28th October

Fr Pacreau sailed on the 22nd for Bourbon Island. May the Angels escort him. Wherever he is going, may he be happy anyway.

Bishop [? Bonnand] wrote to me the other day, in a way that has me worried about Fr Bonjean. I hope that this young confrere, who still shows so many good qualities, will not be completely misled [by Fr Pajean etc]. Pajean is going specially to visit him, and that’s bad news. He no longer bothers to keep his remarks within any sort of decent limits. Fr Metral has written several times to him, to give him some advice. But the letters were taken very badly by him. Poor confused missionary!

31st October

And now Bishop Charbonnaux is flaming mad at me, over a confidential letter I wrote to him the other day [telling him that several of my missionaries had got their minds poisoned when visiting his Mission at Bangalore, and had come back to spread the same venom around Coimbatore]. This confidential complaint has put him into such a vile humour that there is no hope whatever of getting him to see reason … So let us just endure it all in silence.

The Line-out against me …

Unable to remedy the Evil, I offer to Resign. (A protest).

I would Walk to Jerusalem, and maybe to a French Monastery.

31st October

Against me, now, I have:

1. Bishop Bonnand. He sometimes shows exaggerated confidence in me, but more often he treats me (p 1060) very harshly. He gets annoyed at the slightest word [of advice]. He exaggerates the points I put to him, and gets them all wrong. In short, I can neither rely on him nor confide in him any more.

2. Bishop Charbonnaux. He has never understood me at all. He has openly combatted me on several occasions. He has turned several confreres completely against me.

3. Some missionaries in Pondicherry: very few are exactly against me, but many of them are rather wary of me; and it wouldn’t take much to turn them into declared adversaries.

4. What is much worse, and much more dangerous: here in my own jurisdiction, I have many missionaries who are now openly opposed to me. By now a few of the younger ones have imbibed the negative attitudes of Fr Pacreau. And Fr Pajean is still there, to keep the pot boiling. Fr Barot is coming back. And, with those two in a Mission, anything can happen. Especially when you have no sanctions whatever, to keep them within bounds. And it is inevitable that some of the new men who come here in the future will be contaminated by their subversion.

In the meantime, everything in the Vicariate is out of order. Nothing works. Impossible to make any progress. No good is being done, only harm. If I had the least degree of force or practical authority at my disposal, I would consider myself totally damned, for allowing things to go on as they are.

In a crazy position like this, what should I do? Wouldn’t the best thing be, to get out of the way? I would have no doubt at all about it, if all the trouble came from me personally (even if I was in no way to blame for it, but it was all due to prejudices, to preconceived attitudes, against me as a person).

But I would be greatly over-simplifying the situation if I concluded that my own personality was the principal cause of the trouble. It may be a factor with a few confreres. But it does not affect the majority, nor the most sensible, nor the holiest confreres. The root of the evil is elsewhere; and it would not go away if I went. It will never go, not until God permits the real underlying trouble to be seen and to be remedied. This consideration is what makes me doubt whether my resignation would indeed be a timely solution to it all. (p 1061)

Nevertheless, I do think that, all things considered, it would still be better that I resign. If that is the Will of God, I should not stand in the way.

Of course, it would be very painful indeed. I never expected to have to leave the Missions; I love them more than ever. I never expected to leave the Society of Foreign Missions; I feel it was the providential grace of God that drew me into it.

I know that my departure will be seen very badly. And my episcopal character will probably make me an outstanding nuisance to everybody. And what can be more humiliating than to know that you are just a nuisance!

Nevertheless, all those considerations must give way before someone’s duty. So if it is my duty to resign, I’m ready.

Anyway, the kind of confusion we are now living in [and trying to work in] is nothing short of a disaster. It seems to me totally incompatible with any effort to establish Christianity among the pagans. It nauseates me to be contributing to this chaotic state of affairs without at least attempting to work at remedying it. But to work at the remedy is to turn too many good people against you; because they just do not see the point.

So isn’t it better to get out, and by that resignation to protest against the evil, the evil which I can do absolutely nothing about by staying on? Wouldn’t that be the loudest possible protest we could shout, addressed straight at those who are more powerful than us [who are in a position to do something about the evil] and who smugly refuse to listen to any words that we merely write?

Very well. I am going to test the water, by [posting] my letter to the S.C [of Propaganda] offering to resign.6 I will send it [open] through the Paris Seminary, to see how they react to it. Then, we will see …

If and when I resign, my intention is [not to create any sensation] but to stay very quiet over there. To bury myself in some (p 1062) monastery or convent where I can serve God and work in some way for Holy Church, unknown to all, in total retreat.

I would like a Benedictine or Dominican house. But if it’s another kind, it doesn’t matter. Anywhere I can get a cell and a few books. That’s the height of my ambition.

If I was completely free, and if the journey would not be “tempting God” I would start off there right now, on foot. Across India, Afghanistan, Persia, Turkey [and down to Jerusalem] to kneel at Calvary. It would be just as well to die there, die of grief, at having seen the dismal state of the Church on the Missions. And if God did not grant me the grace of dying in that holy place (so great a favour that I cannot really expect it) I would go on, all the way to France. There I would knock at the door of some monastery, as I have said.

[But I have to wait and see]. All that idea will need to be well considered and well prepared. I have [in a way, already crossed the Rubicon], made the first hazardous move, in my letter to Propaganda. Or (to be more precise) I have now put it all into the hands of Providence. And God will direct the resulting events according to His own good pleasure.

8th November

Bishop Bonnand did not find out about Fr Pacreau’s travel arrangements until after he had sailed. It was the Bangalore confreres (or at least a few of them) that [secretly] helped him with his passage money. Bishop Bonnand was very hurt and shocked at this news.

Crying Need for structural Reform. The Siam case.

Our Society is obviously very deficient in its structure and organization, especially in its chain of command. An extremely essential thing in any association, you might say, but especially on the missions. There, even a relatively small insubordination can have terrible consequences (and has in fact often caused them). But when I dare to point out this obvious deficiency I am sometimes (p 1063) accused of the wildest “exaggeration”.

People may be inclined to say that all the miserable confusion in this Vicariate (of which, they may also be inclined to conclude, I myself am the principal cause) is only one very special isolated case. God help us! I know only very little of the internal affairs of other Vicariates. But even that little is enough to indicate that it is often much the same with them. And that the root causes of our troubles are [Society-wide], common to us all. Because, from the same causes the same effects must naturally flow.

Only, those effects are not always steady. They can be less or more outrageous [from place to place and from time to time] according to a whole range of variable local circumstances. For example, the time may come (and maybe quite soon) when the Indian Missions will be enjoying a period of relative and momentary peace; while in the Chinese (or Tong-king) Missions everything will be on fire, out of control.

Then those Vicars Apostolic will loudly shout for “reform!” They don’t want to hear about any today; they see no point). And those in India will then say, “Why worry now? The time we needed it is gone”. And the Paris Gentlemen, as always, will of course be still solidly opposed to any and every reform. For they are well away from the confusion, and are only very slightly affected by all that.

And yet, in the past, God knows, God has permitted [in other Vicariates than Coimbatore] such spectacular disorders and such grave crises that you would think the eyes of the most obstinately blind Gentlemen would have to be opened by them. For example, look at what happened in Singapore a few years ago. (I never heard the whole inside story). But especially, look at what is going on, right now, in Bangkok. That one is only too obvious to us all.

[The Siamese rulers suddenly demand that the Christians conform to certain traditional customs]. This big problem crops up quite suddenly, presenting a difficult unprecedented moral case to that Vicariate. A decision has to be taken, immediately. It’s a matter of life or death for the Mission. A savage persecution (p 1064) can easily result, against all the Christians in the country. [What to do?] The opinions of the missionaries are divided. So the Vicar Apostolic himself makes the decision (without prejudice to a thorough examination of the question later on, when there is time to reflect and consult properly about the matter). But the majority of the missionaries “decide” the opposite!

Now, if the missionaries’ decision is followed, the gravest consequences will most certainly result, and will fall on the whole Mission. The very least of those tragedies will be the immediate expulsion of all European missionaries from the Kingdom of Siam. The Vicar Apostolic sticks to his decision. He cannot, he must not, give way to the missionaries. For he believes in conscience that it is morally permissible to do what the Government demands, and thus to save the Mission.

Let us admit that he may, after all, be totally mistaken about this. (He cannot be simply and [_obviously _]wrong, because this is a here-and-now practical case, with a thousand-and-one relevant details to complicate it). What is [the duty of the missionaries in this complex emergency situation? It is quite clear]. However strong their own contrary opinion may be, they are obliged in plain duty to support the decision of their Mission Superior in practice, leaving the moral responsibility for the action on his conscience. And they are obliged to wait obediently (weeks and months if necessary) for an opportunity to sort out the moral truth of the situation (in case it is likely to crop up again).

But no! Those gentlemen had to withdraw immediately en masse from Siam (or rather, they got themselves driven out of the Kingdom). They left the Vicar Apostolic there, all alone, with only a few native priests to help him. One of these, apparently, was of the same moral opinion as the missionaries. But, having more common sense than all of them on this occasion, he declared, “This is still a doubtful case. I’m going to obey my Superior”.

Afterwards, the missionaries did even worse. They wrote joint letters to all our Missions, and to Paris and Rome! In those letters, scant respect was shown to the Vicar Apostolic … So yet another scandal is perpetrated, which could easily have been (p 1065) prevented if there was a little bit of order in our Society. And how is the Siam Mission going to survive? Impossible to predict.

[I have just received one of their “circular” letters]. According to them, it seems obvious that Bishop Pallegoix of Siam was wrong. But their highly irregular procedure invites the suspicion that they are not being altogether impartial about it. That their undisciplined zeal is leading them badly astray. And that they are presenting the events, not as they are, but as they themselves see them, through the heat-haze of their own impetuous ardour.

Acceptance for Barot. Apologies from Paris.

They are completely Out of Order.

20th November

Fr Barot came back a few days ago, and has returned to his former District of Darapuram. He appears to be sorry for his hurried departure, and also a bit annoyed with himself. God grant that all the difficulties and troubles he got himself into will serve as a lasting lesson to him!

We are dealing with him as if nothing at all had happened. And certainly I am prepared to show him no sign whatever of all the pain he has caused me, except maybe an increase of charity and consideration for him.

I did all I could to keep him from leaving: and that was only my duty to him. When he was out, I did my very best to keep him out. I cannot repent of that; it was also my duty [to the Vicariate]. Now that he is in again, I will do all I can to keep and protect him, and help him do as much good and as little harm as possible, to himself and to the Christians.

I still believe that his return was a mistake and a misfortune. But God is able to change evil into good; and I pray Him to do it in this case too.

30th November

And now, lo and behold! The Paris Gentlemen write to me, saying that they now completely approve of everything I did, (p 1066) about Fr Barot. They are sorry they wrote their previous letters. And so on and so forth…

And why couldn’t they have waited for proper information, before writing those rash and insulting letters, putting me completely in the wrong! Why did they broadcast their own rash judgments to other places (as I have good reason to believe they did)!

Anyway, why do they presume to judge those cases at all? Are they the judges over the Bishops of our Society? Are they our Superiors?

Perhaps, indeed, it would not be a bad thing if the Paris Seminary had some kind of superior authority over the Missions. But if so, it would be a regulated and a lawful authority. And, no doubt, it would be regulated in such a way as to prevent this kind of rash interference by them; regulated to produce some good without too many bad side-effects.

But in the present messy state of affairs, this “authority” of theirs does not even exist, lawfully. The de facto superior-ship exercised by the Seminary is a dis-order; nothing else. And from a disorder you cannot expect to get much order, or harmony, can you?

New Collector. Bombay Mess.

30th November

It seems the new Collector, replacing Mr …7 is a notorious fanatic, outstandingly hostile to everything Catholic. Our relations with the Government are going to be even worse than before. I have as yet had very little to do with the new man, Mr Thomas, but enough to tell me that our fears are only too well founded. (p 1067)

17th December

The Bombay affair seems to be going from bad to worse. Archbishop Martini is going there, along with Bishop Fontanova of Mangalore. The latter writes to me: “I think Bishop Whelan8 will soon be recalled to Rome for a “redde rationem” [to render an account]. We have no more information”.


(p 1069)

Early Tonsure saved Pondicherry Seminary.

Realism about Numbers says:

No separate Major Seminary yet.

Karumattampatty, 8th January 1850

In Pondicherry [the caste-and-customs Revolt is over]. The storm has at last given way to a welcome calm. The Seminary/College has completely recovered from the shock [and is making good progress]. Both as a Seminary and as an Indian College, it is giving great hopes and encouragement.

Everyone now seems to recognize that what really saved the Seminary [during the Revolt] was the fact that several of the students had been tonsured as clerics before the storm blew up. Those new clerics all stood firm; they made none of the prevailing mistakes. The ones we lost (some of them very promising boys indeed) were all non-clerics at the time. If only they had been tonsured already, they too would have persevered. For not even one of the merely-tonsured boys defected (at least, none because of the Revolt).

In fact it is very probable that, without that fairly good solid number of already-promoted clerics in the place, the whole Seminary would have gone overboard; and we would have had to start again from nothing. (I am not the only one to say this; my testimony, on its own, could perhaps be suspected of bias!).

Bishop Bonnand himself was aware of this [cleric] factor at the time. Indeed, immediately before the storm broke out, he quickly gave Tonsure to three boys, purely in order to avoid losing them in the struggle, and in order to fortify the other clerics by (p 1070) increasing their core group. This shrewd move of his had excellent results, as it turned out.

But now, today, they seem to be thinking far too big in Pondicherry. Fr Godelle tells me they would like to separate the theologians completely from the rest, and to have a Major Seminary distinct from the “minor” one. A very good thing, of course, in itself. But will that “Major Seminary” be viable? Are there enough clerics for it? Will there ever be enough?

Let us suppose that the work of Native Clergy goes ahead, even as well as it possibly can. Even so, the number of priests ‘is always going to be limited. And it will have to be limited, for several reasons. (Indeed it will probably be quite a long time before that upper limit is going to be even approached).

For one thing, no systematic provision is being planned, even yet, for the maintenance of the future priests. The changes necessary for ensuring [their local self-sufficiency] are of such a drastic kind that nobody in the Pondicherry administration is capable of facing them. Neither Bishop Bonnand nor Fr Dupuis nor Fr Lehodey has really got the message, even now.

Well, if they continue with the present system of maintaining those priests by means of a [_viatique _][quarterly allowance] out of the Paris subsidy, they won’t get very far. [They won’t be able to maintain very many]. The increasing financial burden on the Mission will soon discourage the Vicar Apostolic (or his successor) from increasing the number of clergy any further. (Anyway, it’s an extremely foolish system, because it means you are basing the continued existence of a permanent class [clergy] upon a very unpredictable future). [The endless continuation of foreign aid].

Even if we suppose that this problem [of maintenance) will soon be properly understood, and properly solved, the final number of priests will still have to be quite limited. Why? The Vicariate of Pondicherry cannot usefully employ more than about sixty priests, in the present state-of-development of its Christian communities (which will hardly change significantly during the rest of the century). Even to have sixty will presuppose that many of those priests will be employed in work other than pastoral. (p 1071)

Now, out of sixty priests, not more than two (on average) will be expected to die [or retire] every year. Therefore [since you have a “ceiling” of sixty] you cannot plan to have much more than two ordinations every year. Say you have four years of Major Seminary; that means about eight major seminarians only. (Of course, these are average figures; the actual number in the Seminary would sometimes be up to ten or twelve, sometimes down to one or two).

The point is, an institution as small as that does not look like a viable operation to me, as a separate Major Seminary. Much better to have only one Seminary, and just to organize it in such a way that the major seminarians are separated more systematically from the other students than they are now.

That is what I have replied to Fr Godelle, who wrote asking my advice.

Siam again. Ravel. Directors holding my Resignation?

All write to Dissuade me; Reasons FOR.

18th January

Now comes a reply (printed!) from Bishop Pallegoix of Siam, refuting the allegations made against him in the letters sent around by his missionaries last year. Those gentlemen have already promised a refutation of the refutation. How wonderful! How edifying!9

21st January

Some very sinister rumours have been started, this time about Fr Ravel. They say he was guilty of grave infringements of caste law; he even ate some food prepared by pariahs!

These rumours created a terrible crisis in the seminary. The servants were intensely worked-up about it. (And probably some others as well). I wrote to Fr Ravel, advising him to be extremely (p 1072) careful.

This young missionary has given no trouble whatsoever up to now; nothing but good and encouraging reports about him. He replied, informing me exactly, about what he had done [and not done]. I am hopeful that this latest scare will go no further.

Lucky it was Fr Ravel (so pious, so correct, so prudent)!

What if it was some other missionary [like Barot or Pajean, for example] who had chanced to get involved in that particular caste problem? We might be having a revolution on our hands right now!

6th February

I still do not know if the Paris Fathers have sent on my [resignation] letter to the S.C. in Rome.

All the Directors have written to me in common, strongly dissuading me from such a move. Not only that; Fr Langlois [Superior] has written personally, and so has Fr Legregeois, Fr Tesson says my letter filled him with “consternation”, etc., etc.“10

20th March

[There has been a Society-wide consultation to decide if MEP should set up a Procure in Rome] and confide it to Bishop Luquet. He got very few votes in Coimbatore Vicariate!

30th March

Bishop Bonnand is still having a lot of trouble from a few of his missionaries.

9th April

I’m afraid it is very probable, from all the latest reports, that poor Fr Pacreau has died at sea. I pray we may soon have better news! (p 1073)

Coimbatore, 6th May

Those letters from our Paris Fathers (and especially from Fr Langlois, so venerable, holy and devoted to the Missions) contain a lot of good reasons for re-thinking [about my resignation].

On the other hand, I am more and more reluctant to continue taking an active [and leading] part in a set -up that seems so destructive, so utterly deplorable.

But what is more, my moral doubts about [caste etc] are now becoming extremely serious. These doubts, now being widely raised, about the lawfulness of our whole missionary policy and practice (by which we authorize certain Indian customs, and even publicly conform to parts of them ourselves) seem more and more weighty, well-founded and terrifying to our consciences.

I must get an Answer, India unable, Rome unlikely.

Won’t start a War. Consult whom?

[What ought I to do, about those doubts?] Just put up with them? Stay in them [but try to ignore them? Just get on with my work? An ordinary missionary might be able to take that line]. But is it possible, morally, for a Bishop?

I have to try to get clear of them. [They must be resolved].

But how? [Not by the Church in India, certainly]. In the present confused state of the unfortunate Indian Vicariates, those questions will never be properly tackled. Even the mere raising of them is a dangerous problem. [Opinions are explosively polarized]. Missionaries on one “side” can instantly get into a rage or a passion at the mere mention of the opposing view. They get so hot that they unthinkingly begin to treat anyone from the “other side” as a deadly enemy. [So much for a local solution].

Write to Rome about those questions? But what will Propaganda in fact do then? [Two possibilities]:

1. They will probably be circumvented by the party [of the Jesuits and our own] senior missionaries. For, apart from all the quite serious reasons these have on their side, they appear to (p 1074) possess the “authority” that goes with the greater number.

So, Rome will probably say nothing in the end, but will just let things continue to drift as they are drifting now.

2. But perhaps Rome will be impressed with the reasons put forward by the younger missionaries for objecting to our traditional practice. And maybe Rome will actually begin to deal with those moral difficulties.

1. In the first hypothesis [we will just be back to square one]. Our consciences will not be any more sure than they are today. [Neither party will have won). I myself do not belong to any party (as a party). I am merely looking [desperately] for the truth. But I do have to agree that there are serious reasons for fearing that our present practice cannot be right.

Of course I am naturally more sympathetic towards the “older” party. Theirs is the practical policy that I have always been following, ever since I came to India. It’s the one I am still following, now. In fact it’s the only one I authorize “in praxi”.’ Why? Because “preasumptio stat pro possidenti”.11 Because, if the [new] party have their way, it will mean the destruction of all our [Tamil] Christian communities. Indeed nobody can even foresee how our holy Religion could survive it, in these parts.

But, although I heartily wish and desire that the traditional “side” was correct, I cannot but recognize that the opposing side is based on very powerful reasoning indeed. I am therefore faced with a real practical doubt. How can I lawfully decide to just “stay” in it and do nothing?

2. In the second hypothesis (i.e. if the Holy See decides to tackle the question) how can It do so except through the Bishops and apostolic workers on the spot, here in India? At least It will have to start with them.

Now, that is immediately going to create a terrible split (1075) among us. All the age-old wounds will be re-opened, all the old antipathies revived. [The Jesuits will fight to the bitter end]. What they have done to Bishop Luquet, what Fr Bertrand has written against him, what their partisans have been writing (just recently, In Europe), all these tactics show the kind of fight it is likely to be. They will maintain their traditional [caste] policy to the death. Anyone who raises his head, even if only to cast some doubt on it, will immediately be targeted as an “enemy”.

Nowadays, the Jesuits have invented a new tactic. [Guilt by implied association]. Since the anti-Catholic writers in the past have so often used the word “Jesuit” to mean “Catholic”; since (according to those writers) to fight “the Jesuits” is about the same as fighting the clergy, the Pope or the whole Church, [the Jesuits have now given it all a wonderful new twist, to their own advantage]. They make use of it (or others do it for them) to rabidly promote and defend everything Jesuit, everything that they stand for, everywhere. (But it should be possible to examine one of their policies calmly before deciding to swallow it whole.

What if someone has the audacity to think differently from the Jesuits on some particular point or other? He must be one of their “enemies”. Therefore he is “anti-clerical” or “sacrilegious” or even “revolutionary” or “a Red!” Who knows? Maybe he is a heretic! Now that is the kind of thing that lies in wait for me, if I raise my voice too loud.

[About the Jesuit policy on caste and customs, it is roughly the same as our own traditional policy. We got it from them]. At the moment, I regard it as being more probably good than probably bad “ab extrinsequo”. 12 But I am in real doubt about it “ab intrinsequo”, Nevertheless [no matter how sincere and respectful I am about it] if I dare to stick my neck out, and to voice my real concern, I am going to expose myself to some extremely vicious sniping and cross-fire. (p 1076)

Does this mean that I should be deterred, by the likely consequences, from continuing to look for the truth? Or from standing up for the truth if I find it? God forbid!

But all those considerations still strongly suggest one thing to me: that I myself am not the man chosen by Providence to start up [the necessary debate about] those moral questions. [I am no good at this kind of warfare]. And the part I have already played in all the previous miserable quarrels about Bishop Luquet [and Native Clergy] has made me even less suitable, now, for the role of [controversialist with them].

Nevertheless, to go on quietly, for much longer, in this terrible state of moral doubt is just impossible. So what’s left? [Nothing]. To resign.

All the same, I would be very glad of an opportunity to consult some wise and experienced man, before [going any further], before writing again about all this to the S.C But who? Bishop Bonnand? I would just get myself into a painfully useless wrangle of correspondence. The Madurai Jesuit Fathers? Unthinkable! Not mentionable there.

So my idea, now, is to go to Verapoly to visit Archbishop Martini, as soon as he is back from Bombay. Probably Bishop Fontanova will also be at Verapoly by then. I will talk frankly with them about all this tangled affair. Bishop Fontanova informs me that Archbishop Martini will soon be back.

Invitation to Verapoly. (Fennelly again).

Coimbatore a Vicariate.

Sub-division fatal without Co-ordination. Pius IX no help.

10th June

Yesterday I received the final Brief, the official List of Faculties, etc’, erecting the provicariate of Coimbatore into an [autonomous] Vicariate Apostolic.13 This would be a step in the right (p 1077) direction, provided it was sustained and followed up by the [_other _]necessary moves which the Holy See should be making, in order to instil some order, harmony and cohesion into the various administrations of the Church in India.

What great hopes we had, back in 1845! Alas, they have all collapsed, with the fall of Bishop Luquet and the death of Gregory XVI. Politics have swept Pius IX into their turbulent whirlpool; he probably has no chance at all to turn his attention to the Missions. And how will it be, if the political trials of the Holy See are going to continue for years, or for a century! The Missions will suffer greatly, a hundred times more than all the [normal] inevitable troubles in a [normal] country (organized ecclesiastically the way it ought to be).

[The essential thing is lacking: local autonomy]. It matters little whether we are called “Vicars Apostolic” or “diocesan Bishops”, provided we only had some [trustworthy machinery in India] whereby (in close unity with the See of Peter) we could still handle our own Indian problems without being obliged to have recourse continually to Rome for the most petty and detailed decisions.

All local details ought to be regulated and decided locally, by the Bishops of India in council (whether in an actual meeting or by some other arrangement).

More of those isolated Bishops, never meeting (or meeting only in passing or on big “social” occasions) are not much use to India. Increasing their number [e.g. Coimbatore] is even likely to add to the danger (of confusion] if there is no overall framework for co-ordination. If some such arrangement is not set up soon, then the erecting of those new Vicariates (each entirely separate in its interests, without any structural links with its neighbours) is going to do a lot more harm than good.

Rome is much too far away for any kind of detailed Rome based administration to work. And yet, at the moment, that is just what Rome is trying to operate here: direct rule; detailed supervision of each separate Vicariate.

When the Holy See [divided up the old Vicariates] in 1845, everybody rejoiced. I myself was delighted, more than anyone (p 1078) else (except for their choice of a Bishop for Coimbatore!).

But then we all assumed that the sub-division was only the first step [towards a complete re-organization]. If I thought, then, that it was also going to be the last, I would not have rejoiced at all. I would have been extremely disappointed and worried about the future.

But, even up to now, there is no sign whatsoever that Propaganda is working according to a Master Plan for the over-all regeneration of the Indian Missions. So I wonder: is their recent ‘ finalization of the new Vicariates really a step in the right direction? I want to hope so; but I have my doubts.

I hear a lot of praise for Pius IX; and it would be very rash of me to decide he doesn’t deserve it. All the same, I cannot help regretting that he is obliged by circumstances to get so involved in local politics, and that the universal Church has to suffer so much as a result.

As far as our own Missions are concerned, they still remember Gregory XVI with tears. During all his life, he did so much for us, and even up to the eve of his death! If the Missions were asked, “Which of these was a great man?” they would all cry “Gregory!” and not Pius.

Let us just hope that the S.C. of Propaganda [will still do its job], inspired [in a general way] by the Pope (who has to be the source and guiding spirit behind all progress everywhere in the Church). Let us hope that Propaganda will, at long last, try to envisage an over-all harmonizing structure for our poor confused Missions! Otherwise, the new Bishops are just so many new dangers to unity.

What do we need them for, anyway? What am I doing [in Coimbatore] that any competent missionary could not do? Just let one or two missionaries have faculties to give Confirmation, and you will soon see (in the present set-up) how nobody will notice that we’re a Bishop short! And if they are there merely for Ordinations, I fail to see why we need ten Bishops in South-East India, with our one or two priests (at the most) every year! (p 1079)

To Kerala. Fr Charles. Too many Priests here

Two Rites. Carmelites’ views on Tamils.

Ignorance of Languages. My letter “passed” •

Verapoly 12th August

For more than two weeks, now, I have been here, in the friendly company of Archbishop Martini, Bishop Bacinelli, and their few Carmelite missionaries.

The journey from Coimbatore had nothing unusual about it, apart from the almost continual rain we had to endure after Palghat (while all the Eastern side was suffocating in a totally rainless furnace). I had two young clerics travelling with me; and I was taking them for “class” along the route. I was very pleased at the easy way they dropped their caste customs. (More about that later).

At Arunadukarai I met Fr Charles [Carmelite] who had come there to meet me, along with Fr Puccinelli SJ. Fr Charles is just about the most charming man I have ever met, cultured, urbane and saintly. Yet even he was pushed out of Bombay by the Vicar Apostolic [Bishop Whelan]. It’s incredible! (He is a brother of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem).

With two good companions like Charles and Puccinelli, the 18 hours’ journey on the rivers (and in the bungalow where we stopped to rest) was most enjoyable.

Having made this journey three years ago, I knew the country-side already. This time, however, we stopped a moment to visit the ruins of Cranganore, or rather the site of the city; for there’s nothing left, not even ruins. When we arrived at Verapoly, their Lordships welcomed us with their customary gracious hospitality.

My present stay is giving me a much more complete idea of this Mission than I was able to form in 1847 (when I came for Bishop Bacinelli’s consecration), both the good side and the bad side of things. Alas, it isn’t all a rose garden, although the religious development is incomparably greater than in our own Missions. One of the main troubles here [believe it or not] is too many priests! And it is difficult to keep down the numbers, because of (p 1080) the traditions of the country and because of the presence of the Nestorian heresy. For any persistent clerics who are refused ordination can easily run to the Nestorian Bishop in Cochin.

[The system here is that] clerics are presented for ordination by the “patron” of their local church, where they were enrolled when they first became junior clerics. They then come forward for the traditional examination [or “scrutiny”] for Ordination, whenever they are ready. (This was also the system in many ancient Churches; but it has of course completely disappeared in today’s France).

Everybody knows that there are [at least] two Rites [on the South-West Coast of India]. The Latin Rite was introduced by the Portuguese [in the 16th century). The Syriac Rite was what the Portuguese met when they came here, among the numerous Nestorian Christians of this country. Most of these were then converted from their heresy; but the Portuguese were not able to abolish their Rite (although they appear to have tried everything they could to do so). Benedict XIV had not yet made his Ordinances [of toleration]. So the Church authorities of the day tried their best to gradually weaken the ancient Syriac liturgy and ceremonies, hoping that they would eventually give way entirely to the Latin Rite.

In the famous Synod of Diamper [1599] Archbishop Menezes of Goa imposed a correction of the Nestorian elements in the Syriac Rite, and other [unnecessary] changes as well. This modified liturgy is now called the Syro-Malabar Rite. It exists only in this corner of the world.

The Portuguese changed many venerable customs of great antiquity. For example, in the Syriac missals, the awesome Words of Consecration were never written down (a relic of the very ancient “inner mystery” of the early Christians). Each priest had to know the Words by heart. Also, there was no high Elevation after the Consecration. These elements were introduced by the Portuguese; Latin-style vestments were imposed; etc., etc.

One of the most unfortunate things about the missionaries in the Vicariate of Verapoly, a real problem, is [their ignorance of (p 1081) the relevant languages]. For example, none of the Carmelites knows Syriac. Not one of them can even read it. And this total ignorance has been going on (apparently) for a very long time! So none of the missionaries can know for sure whether the priests are observing the rubrics or following the words of the approved Missal in Syriac. The Archbishop has to depend on some “examiners” taken from among the Indian priests; and he knows they cannot be trusted entirely about this.

The Carmelites here may be excused, perhaps, because (it seems) there are so few volunteers in their Order for the Missions. Although I believe, myself, that our having too many missionaries is one of the main causes of our troubles, yet even I have to say that, in Verapoly, the missionaries are far too few.

Moreover, the Carmelites seem completely unaware of any grave obligation to learn and speak Malayali, the language of the people. There are a few honourable exceptions. Fr Charles, my travelling companion, is studying it seriously and is able to speak a little already, even though he is quite new in this particular country. Unless I am very much mistaken, that worthy religious is destined to do a great deal of good in this Vicariate.

The Latin-Rite priests are generally the best trained and supervised; they are consequently better than the Syriac priests, in general. Nearly all (if not quite everyone) of them has had to go through Verapoly Seminary. This institution seems to leave quite a lot of room for improvement; but it is about as good as you could expect, given the fewness of the missionaries and of the hours they can give to it.

Many other things require improving in this Vicariate ‘. And when you see how things really are, here, you have to admit the possibility that the complaints now being made against the Carmelites in other places may not be completely without foundation

For example, if the Carmelites in Bombay are putting the same amount of effort into learning English as they expend here for Malayali, then it is obvious that the English (and .half-English) Catholics in Bombay must naturally be highly unimpressed by (p 1082) them. Nevertheless, no degree of incompetence would seem enough to excuse the outrageous behaviour of the new Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Whelan, towards them. He appears to be a man of more than Irish eccentricity.

Anyway, he has now been recalled to Rome, apparently in order to give an account of himself; and Archbishop Martini thinks he will not be coming back. The Holy See has sent an Apostolic Administrator to take over. He is Bishop Hartmann [a Swiss Capuchin who is] Vicar Apostolic of Patna. Everybody speaks well of him.

As for the [moral] questions which I was very anxious to discuss with the Carmelites, we had many a long talk about them, and also around the subject. In general these Fathers consider our tolerations and authorizations [of Hindu and caste customs] in Tamil country to be more than extraordinary [in fact quite unbelievable]. They are within inches of considering us guilty [of paganism] ourselves, only to be excused (possibly) by good faith or invincible ignorance! They wonder (quite seriously) if there is a single genuine Christian in all our Missions.

I know very well that those remarks of theirs are not to be immediately taken as conclusive. That is always the first reaction of every new missionary to our dear Missions. But soon he begins to modify his instant appraisal. Well, these Carmelites are precisely at that first-impression stage, since they have never worked in the area. And Archbishop Martini (the only one to even visit our Missions) was only travelling around, sight-seeing.

Nevertheless, their views are not to be easily ignored, either, being the almost-unanimous opinions of strangers [or neighbours with no axe to grind] with no vested interests in the matter.

Finally, Archbishop Martini (the only one to whom I showed my draft letter to Propaganda) approves of it entirely. So I will write it to them [and see what they do about it] entrusting myself into the hands of Divine Providence, to do with me as It shall please. (p 1083)

The two Boys, the Beef and the Bishop

_15th August _

As I said, I was very pleased with my two young Tamil clerics because of the easy way [they adapted to the no-caste customs of Kerala]. Today, however [was a bit too much for them]. They felt an extreme reluctance to eat with the Keralan seminarians today [as they had been eating since we came. For today was a Feast Day] and there was beef! And even the mere [_idea _]of eating that meat is enough to nauseate any of our caste Indians.

Before we came here, I knew what they would be up against; so I did not make them come. [For their coming could be very [_dangerous _]for them in the future]. If they left the seminary afterwards, they could be in very serious trouble, one day, over this trip. All it would take would be a single spiteful informer. They could be accused, before all their caste, of having shared meals with the Keralans. And that could bring [something very like social excommunication] down on their heads.

So I pretended I did not want to take them with me to Kerala at all. But they begged and implored me to let them come along. They so much wanted to see the marvels they had heard of in that country, especially the marvels of Christianity!

“All right!” I said, “but on one condition. That you will do everything like the Malayali seminarians. You will be living with them; you will sit with them at table. You will eat like them, even the same food. I don’t want anyone there to think that my clerics seem to be avoiding or despising other clerics. I don’t want anyone to say you are half-pagans, because of your vain observances. So, you are quite free not to come. But if you do come, you will eat with the seminarians while we are at Verapoly, and with the priests when we are in the other places”.

They accepted those conditions. And, up to today, they have kept them perfectly. Indeed, the Carmelites were quite amazed at them [for they know the score]. Whenever one of our missionaries (for example) happens to come this way, they see how his servants and “disciples” (etc) carryon: they always cook their own food in some corner, apart; they always have to get new pots, etc. In a word they carefully observe all the caste taboos. (p 1084)

My own students had no such antics. [They fitted in perfectly]. On one occasion, they even donned black soutanes, and socks, and shoes of leather! “Res miranda”! Amazing!

But, before lunch time today [they cracked]. They came to me.14 “The refectory is crawling with cow meat. What can we do?”

“Here’s some money for you. Slip out and buy some [vadai] or rice-cakes and go and eat them somewhere, quietly, so that you won’t be too hungry. But be in that refectory for lunch. You can eat some plain rice (if there is no other curry but beef). I can’t expect you to eat that, since it would only make you violently sick”.

[*“Come to Pondicherry as my Coadjutor.” No, thanks! *]

20th August

Another confidential letter from Bishop Bonnand, trying to make me agree to go to Pondicherry [as Bishop]. Apparently, His Lordship has not yet lost all hopes of moving to Coimbatore and having me put into his place there. But the definitive separation of our Vicariates has complicated things for him; so he has had to think up a new arrangement.

His new proposal is: “Allow them to appoint you Coadjutor in Pondicherry. I promise that I will give you complete freedom of action in running the Vicariate”. 15

I replied:” “I thank you very much for your kind offer and for the confidence shown in me. To be “demoted” from Vicar Apostolic to Coadjutor would be no problem. In fact I like it much better (or dislike it much less) than your former idea [of simply promoting me to be Vicar Apostolic of Pondicherry]. Because you will still be Vicar Apostolic there, as is only right and proper from every point of view…

“At the same time, I still feel very reluctant to take on the (p 1085) administration of Pondicherry. Things are far too complicated over there; the missionaries are too badly divided. There are so many prejudices against me that I doubt if I could get anything at all worth-while done there.

“Therefore, I beg you, if you do need a Coadjutor (I cannot see any use for one myself) please look elsewhere for him.

“Finally, I hope and pray that the good God will always protect me from ever being made Bishop in Pondicherry, as long as things are in their present state. Which probably means: not in our life-time.”

Architect Bacinelli. Disappointed Jesuit Puccinelli.

*Rome must stop Warning. Terrible journey home. *

25th August

Bishop Bacinelli of Quilon (who is staying here in Verapoly for health reasons) is an excellent architect. He has very kindly agreed to put the finishing touches on the Plan for the Coimbatore church. I hope to lay the foundations very soon.

30th August

Fr Puccinelli, though a Jesuit, is one of those who cannot quite approve of our Mission policy [towards caste etc.; which is the same as the Jesuits’ own]. And I think he is out of line with his Madurai confreres on many other points as well. Nevertheless, he dares not speak out too clearly, for fear of displeasing his Superiors. So, his conversation tends to be rather peculiar at times. Every now and then, some of his real thinking slips out; but it is instantly corrected [by the proper party line]. I imagine that, if he was ever asked whether he would like [a job outside of India] and to go back to Rome for it, he wouldn’t wait to be asked a second time!

“Ah! If I knew what the Mission in India was really like, I would never have volunteered, or said “eamus et moriamur” that day!”

For when they heard, at the Roman College, about the (p 1086) sudden deaths of so many Fathers by cholera in 1845-46, he was (apparently) the one who cried out “Let us go and die with them”. This saying became famous in the Society, and gained many new volunteers for Madurai, as is reported by Joly in his “Histoire de la Compagnie de Jesus” [six volumes].

Alas! Pucinelli is not the only missionary whom pastoral work in India has reduced to near-despair, mainly because of the morally-dubious way we are obliged to operate, as regards the caste customs.

It is highly important, it is vital [to stop the messing] and to decide this thing clearly, one way or the other. Either that we are entitled, in all conscience and honesty, to continue with the line we have always been pursuing. (And if we can continue, we should). Or else that this line is incompatible with the Gospel. (And then we would all drop it, immediately).

Coimbatore, 5th September

Here we are, back from Verapoly. The journey was frightful, because of the rains. When crossing the Mountains, we had to get down and start walking. Our bullocks could not move the loaded cart. Then, as there was not a single bungalow or halting place before Vadaikkanchery, we just had to keep slogging along in the mud, while the rain pelted down on our bent backs, for twelve or fifteen long miles. All my people were sick as a result. As for myself, I was only tired out; God be praised!

The poor Weavers, starved by English Capitalism.

Action for Them.

Karumattampatty, 1st October

Our Christians are scattering, dying away, every day, driven out by sheer destitution. It is the “Schedar” caste especially (the weavers of cheap cloth) who are the worst hit. This caste is very numerous among my Christians, especially around Karurnattampatty. Theirs was the biggest community in the whole Vicariate; but it is going down and down…(p 1087)

Time after time, these poor people have migrated, have come back again, and have been forced to go away again. During each migration, several die on the road, of hunger. Whole families have died. Eventually, many others end up by settling permanently in Mysore (especially) so that this once-numerous caste of Catholics is shrinking visibly in this locality.

The underlying cause of the recurring famine is the new competition from Europe. The traders here buy the raw cotton in bulk, ship it to England; and there it is machine-woven and re-imported as cloth that is cheaper (or no dearer) and much prettier than the cloth hand-woven here by our poor weavers.

The damage to India is irreversible. For the English are not going to stop their business because of any social disaster. Not as long as Britannia rules the waves. And our benighted Indians are not going to change their traditional job or their production methods by one single iota. They would all die of starvation before even thinking of it. If you suggest any change to them, they just laugh. And if you try to explain to them why their present trouble can only get worse and worse, and that they must change their occupation or their methods, they just do not understand what you are talking about.

It might, however, be possible to entice many of them, gradually, into farming, if the taxes on land were not so high, out of all proportion. But, under the “paternal” government of the English Company, even the long-practising farmer can barely earn enough of the cheapest food to keep body and soul together. Are these poor weavers doomed to disappear totally, then? Yes, that is their future. And they are not the only caste or trade like that in India!

Their extermination will have two main causes. First, the absurdly static division-of-labour enforced by their countless castes and sub-castes. Second, the tyrannical and heartless administration of the English. On the surface, it looks very mild, fair, just, even philanthropical! It fools all new-comers, and all who do not know [the inner working of the system] and the real conditions of the people. (p 1088)

But could we not do something at least, to slow down their extinction, to lessen their suffering? At least for our own brother Christians?

With great difficulty. But there is one way that might be feasible, at least for some years. (Maybe longer; maybe up to a century! And, in the meantime, many things could change).

It is this! To buy great quantities of cotton ourselves. Get the jobless Christians to spin it, and the weavers to weave it (in the periods when they have no normal work). And then sell it [elsewhere] at the current price.

At present prices, you would not lose too much in those transactions, as long as you could be sure of finding a market. Obviously, there would be no certainty about that, especially if people were trying to keep all the Indian weavers working. (The only feasible way to do that would be to stop all the English cotton mills).

But if we limited our efforts to the few thousand Christian weavers, there could still be a sufficient market, either in India itself or in Senegal (blue cloths) or in some other country where there is a need for very cheap stuff.

It would only require an initial expenditure of a few thousand rupees. And, for this good work to be lawfully undertaken by us missionaries, it would have to be clearly and visibly a work of social charity, not a commercial, profit-making enterprise.

Ah! What hundreds of Christians would owe their lives to it!

For, in this year alone, I am convinced that more than sixty weavers’ children have died, in the Karumattampatty community alone, died of hunger and destitution, either soon after they were born, or by miscarriages caused by the malnutrition of their mothers! The terrible evidence is plainly there to see, in our Mission registers.

I have made my first efforts towards the good social work mentioned above. But the trial run was not very successful. I would need a business-man who was prepared to take all my textiles at a reasonable price. M. Poulin at Pondicherry would almost (p 1089) be ready to do this for me. But he would require me, on my side, to guarantee delivery of a fixed quantity of cloth every year. However, if~ I took on that commitment, it would be very like engaging in business or commerce [the "negotium" specifically forbidden in Canon Law]. I would also probably be obliged to make a profit at times [to counter-balance the bad years] and to engage in a kind of huge money gamble. Which would hardly be suitable for a Bishop. We will see what we can do.

Letter of Resignation (2nd). Vicariate Retreat (useless).

Fr Perceval; no English; protest to Paris.

2nd October

Last month [September 16th] I wrote to the S.C. [of Propaganda]. I posted it direct to them. [Briefly, I said]. 16

My conscience is against [continuing] in the doubt (which to me seems quite solidly founded) about our toleration of many [non-Christian] religious customs here. I see that an open discussion of these moral problems [is necessary; but it] would be very difficult, and not without serious danger to Charity among the various missionary bodies in India. Therefore, for my part, I would much prefer not to even get involved in such disputes.

At the same time [if I stay here] I cannot [in conscience] remain silent and passive about these [unavoidable moral problems]. For I cannot decently continue in this moral doubt [and do nothing to clarify it].

Therefore it seems to me that the best thing [the only thing left] that I can do is to resign, and to retire quietly to a monastery or religious house. I am ready to enter any house designated by the Sacred Congregation. (p 1090)

Coimbatore, 15th October

After the [Holy Rosary] Feast in Karumattampatty, we had a Retreat for all the missionaries. It was mostly a bad experience, very far from satisfactory. Nobody gave any practical preaching. The only things we did in common were the devotions in the chapel. Anyway, the heat was overpowering. Obviously, this is not the best time of the year for the Coimbatore Retreat.

A few days before the “Retreat” young Fr Perceval arrived.

20th October

This Fr Perceval seems to have many marvellous qualities.

Moreover, he has experience. He exercised the sacred ministry [about three] years in France, before entering our Society. That is a huge advantage.

From what I have seen up to now, the difference between candidates like him (already ordained) and those trained entirely for the priesthood in our Paris Seminary, is vast. It makes you wonder, quite seriously, if it is a good thing to accept any non priests at all, or if it is always a bad idea.

Unfortunately, this new confrere does not know any English. What is worse, they actually stopped him from learning it in Paris! After all the times I had written to those gentlemen, about the great usefulness of English for all missionaries coming here! I told them that, as soon as anyone was appointed here, he should immediately be given a teacher of English. At the very least, he should be given the necessary books, and be told to study English during the voyage, instead of Tamil. [My letters have had no apparent effect whatever].

Utter contempt for our opinions? Or maybe they just don’t read our letters? No; it isn’t exactly contempt, I believe, but mere apathy, carelessness, indifference about their own practical obligations to the Missions.

I remember, one day when I was in Paris, they received a thick bundle of letters from a certain Mission. One of the Directors opened them, glanced through them, and almost immediately [asked me to] pass them on to one of his colleagues. Astonished at the speed and efficiency of his reading, I remarked (p 1091)

“You’ve read all those letters already!”

“Diagonally ha-ha!” he replied.

So, today, I wrote a fairly stiff note to those Gentlemen. I asked them if they were reading my letters [about English] diagonally!

De Gelis, Pajean and the Collector; I must do Nothing.

Fennelly wants Statistics! Church delayed.

New House In Ooty (but not a big Sanitarium for All).

21st October

We’ve just had a nasty collision with the Collector, and it is not going to improve his attitude towards us. (You must know that, in our situation here, a Collector is much more important than a King).

In a certain dispute [about a boundary ditch] Fr de Gelis (usually so sensible and careful) made an obvious mistake. He was definitely wrong, at least in the procedure he adopted. [That would not have mattered very much]. But Fr Pajean had to go along and “defend” him in the Collector’s [office], using very unsuitable and even positively insulting language. Is that the way to obtain progress?

As a result, Fr de Gelis was almost ignominiously shouted down [by the Collector]. And all of us must by now be considered [among the English] to be very peculiar people indeed. For they will naturally assume that we all (at least most of us) are condoning and supporting dear Fr de Gelis’s unusual blunder and (what is worse) Fr Pajean’s unfortunate language. Without his intervention, I would quite simply have gone and apologised for Fr de Gelis’s blunder. [But now things have gone too far for that].

It would have been quite simple to apologise and explain. He had done nothing dishonourable, and had thought he was within his rights; which was quite understandable and excusable, seeing he was here such a short time. (He had tried to prevent the neighbouring market-gardener from making use of “our” boundary trench). (p 1092)

But [there was another consideration too]: the attitude of my missionaries. If I “let down” Fr de Gelis, I could be certain to have them all lined up against me, except Fr Metral. Perhaps even including Fr de Gelis himself, who up to now has never been anything but a great consolation to me. And they would all say (without exception) that if I had only kept out of it, Fr de Gelis would eventually have “won”.

So I did keep out of it. The consequences [in our relations with the Government] may yet become far-reaching and painful. But, whatever they are, they won’t be worse than turning all the missionaries against me!

20th November

Some serious reasons prevent me from going ahead immediately with the foundations of the Coimbatore church. I am very much inclined to follow the advice of Fr Bonjean, and build a church at Ootacamund [instead] now. It will have to be built sooner or later. I am going up the Mountains for a month, fairly soon, and then we will see.

1st December

The Bishop of Madras writes, asking for the statistics of my Vicariate, including Name of Missionary, Post held, etc., etc. He “needs” it all, to print in his Ordo! What business has he, putting things in his Ordo that have absolutely nothing to do with his Vicariate? Unless it will help to bolster up his [British-inspired pseudo-position] as “sole Catholic Bishop in the whole Presidency of Madras”!17 The English already like to speak of him as that. And even some Catholics (English and Irish especially) have the same idea. Those [pretentious notions] could turn dangerous. I did not even reply.

Ootacamund, 30th December

As I have already described them, the Nilgiris are wonderful (p 1093) mountains and plateaux between Coimbatore and Mysore, on which you can breathe real European air, without any of the dangerous side-effects that go with the coldness of high places in every latitude. No fevers especially (those terrible maladies of the cool, wooded regions of tropical countries).

So Ootacamund has quickly become a health resort as well as a holiday resort for the wealthy English, who have made it into an earthly paradise for themselves (but a cold hell for the Indians, and a kind of shameful purgatory for us, because we haven’t the money to live “properly” there). And yet some of us have to live there, because of the numerous Catholic community that has grown up there, following the English occupation.

However “it’s an ill wind that blows no good”. We hope to build a relatively decent mission house there, to replace the present shanty. And [this is the “good”] it will at the same time be a convalescent home for sick or tired-out missionaries of the Vicariate.

I wanted to make it a general sanitarium for all the Indian Missions. All I required was a modest contribution from each of the Vicars Apostolic towards a bigger building. It wouldn’t have cost each Bishop very much; and he would have a wonderful place to send his sick missionaries, to regain their health and strength in the good mountain air. Wouldn’t that have been some slight start towards fraternal cooperation?

But the Bishops of the various nationalities and congregations were not big enough to see the opportunity. They haven’t enough unity or vision to welcome it. Apart from Archbishop Martini, not one of them even replied. And, for the thing to work, I would have needed some co-operation from them all (or nearly all).

I think the Jesuits would probably have agreed. But, before putting it to them, I had first of all to obtain the agreement of Pondicherry and Madras (the two big ones). So, when these replied with a totally negative silence, I had to drop the whole idea of a (p 1094) common sanitarium.18 So now we will just try to build an ordinary house, to meet our own needs only. (Of course we will be quite ready to give hospitality, as far as we are able, to other missionaries who may ask for accommodation there). It won’t be very big, but it will be enough for two or three (or maybe four) confreres to stay there in some comfort. “Peace be to this house, and to all who will live in it!“19


(p 1095)

What’s he up to? Fennelly. Report ordered.

Tiger skin. Tesson.

Coimbatore, 20th January 1851

Bishop Canoz [SJ, Madurai] is going to Rome. May the Angels escort him safe! One of the “duties” he will probably be seeing to, no doubt, will be to combat Bishop Luquet and myself there. [May the right Angel win]. If he is right, may his good Angel give him victory. If the truth is on our side, may our good Angel prevail! And may the two Angels work hard, with all the great Truths common to him and to me, in order to preserve peace and charity between us. Pure spirits, enjoying the intuitive Vision of Truth Himself, would hardly want to work for anything less!

30th January

The Madras [Catholic] newspaper is getting more and more outrageous in its “editorials” about Bombay. How can Bishop Fennelly attack the worthy Bishop Hartmann in public like that? (Of course, it’s all “indirect”). Really, his Irish partisan spirit is taking him overboard! To us anyway, his behaviour seems very discreditable indeed. Oh, who will deliver us [all] from this “party” disease? How it can blind us! Certainly, it would be a lot better for the Missions if there wasn’t a single Irishman in India! If they manage to dominate here, we’ll soon even be sorry after the Portuguese! (p 1096)

5th February

Propaganda has replied surprisingly quickly to my letters. They are granting all my requests, except my request to resign. They have ordered me to write them a detailed Account of every missionary practice, here [in Coimbatore] and elsewhere, that seems to me contrary to the Gospel or to the Oath which we have taken [against certain Indian customs]. So, in a way, the great Debate is on, as of now! What will be the final outcome of my Account? I just do not know. I cannot even envisage the end result.

Whatever the outcome, O my God, I pray You now, do not let my pen (or my tongue) be ever led astray by too much feeling. I will just try to write down, impartially, what I see, what I hear, what I really think. I will simply state everything I know, in good faith, without any caginess, without any mental reservations about it. Having done that, I will place it all in Your hands, O my God, as well as all my own future, my whole person, my honour before men, my own peace of mind. I have sent a copy of [Propaganda’s] letter to Archbishop Martini, asking his advice.

25th February

Fr Pajean will surely go down in history, like Nimrod, as “a mighty hunter”! He has just sent me a most magnificent tiger skin. But it wasn’t he that killed the monster, however.

At the moment, the tigers are a terrible menace in his District. They have devoured a great number of people. One day, recently, Fr Pajean was travelling from one of his villages to the next. He was accompanied by a well-armed escort. They suddenly saw a huge tiger. [They froze]. Then they crept forward, with great respect and caution. [They came nearer]. He was dead! But only just; for he was still perfectly fresh. However, his wounds were not very recent; for there were no hunters at all in the vicinity. [He must have come a long way] dying of his numerous bullet wounds, now to be seen in the skin.

Fr Pajean had him skinned, and he has sent me the pelt, along with a small dappled deer (live). (p 1097)


Karumattampatty, 25th March

My letter about Fr Perceval [and teaching no English in the Paris Seminary, and reading missionaries’ letters “diagonally”] has severely shocked Fr Tesson. For he has replied with unusually [vigorous language]. I am going to tell him I’m sure he is sorry already for some of the expressions he has used (without [_asking _]him to apologise for them).

Uncle de Gaja dead. Felicie engaged.

Coimbatore, 26th March

Two very serious items of news from home: the death of my excellent Uncle de Gaja [my mother’s brother]; and the engagement of my younger sister, Felicie.

Uncle de Gaja was my god-father, and he was always like another father to me. He was an upright man, always just, sincere, loyal. Very talented, capable of great things, worthy of the highest office. A highly political man, utterly devoted to the sacred cause of the Bourbons.

But this did not in the least prevent him from being an excellent family man, a refuge for all those in trouble, a selfless consoler of the widow and the orphan, a father to the poor and a good friend to the priests.

However, one thing was lacking, for him to be perfect. He was not much of a practising Catholic. He respected Religion. He loved his Faith. He always stood up for it. But he did not frequent the Sacraments. (How many good honest men there are like that in France!)

God did not permit that his many private virtues (maybe purely natural ones) should go without their reward. The Lord granted him the best one of all: he came to his senses before he died. As soon as he became seriously ill (even though everyone was very hopeful that he would soon recover) he himself sent for the cure of Fanjeaux (a town near the chateau of Lascourtines where he lay dying). He received all the Last Sacraments and fulfilled all his duties with full consciousness and a great spirit of (p 1098) Faith.

His final self-understanding gives me hope that the last actions of his life will be a source of endless blessing, not only to the local people who were edified by them (escorting the Holy Viaticum in procession to the chateau) but especially to my dear uncle himself.

I hear that my “little” sister Felicie is going to marry M. Melchior de Ranchin de Saissac. Well, that’s the way of the world, O my God, and all Your laws must be fulfilled. Your physical laws never fail; but we often contradict your moral laws. Grant that we may always be faithful to them, O my God, we and all those near and dear to us!

Reply about the proposed definition of the Immaculate Conception

Karumattampatty, 13th May

It was only today that I sent on my reply to the Holy Father’s questionnaire about the Immaculate Conception. [Sent out on the 2nd February 1849], it arrived here only a few months ago, because of a mistake in the post.

Prayers have been organized according to the Holy Father’s request, and the opinions of the priests and people have been consulted. All were in favour of this pious belief. As for myself, I felt obliged to reply as follows:

I have no doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary, our glorious Mother, was conceived without sin. But I can see no good reason, at this time, for declaring it an article of faith.

You will not hold it against me, I pray, dearest Mother. For it certainly was not in order to take from your glory that I replied like that.

O, may she be loved and glorified forever, she who had the unique honour of bearing the incarnate Word in her womb! May she be celebrated throughout all the world! And if the Holy Father judges timely what seems rather untimely to us, [well and good]. We will believe the same as him, the same as the whole (p 1099) Catholic world. We will believe as an article of faith what we already believe as a beloved truth.

Bold Fr Mehay and the Rules

1st June .

A few days ago, I had a pleasant surprise. Who turns up at the Mission but the bold Fr Mehay! He was on a short rest from his hard mission work, and had taken a trip this way. He was in great form; couldn’t be friendlier. Never before did I appreciate him so well, this worthy confrere, and all his remarkable gifts.

Unfortunately, he is famous among those who have, in the past, given quite a few headaches to their Superiors. And certainly he has his own share of eccentricities. (Sure, that’s almost normal, anyway, for a missionary!). But equally certain is his great talent; this man is gifted with lots of rare and precious qualities.

He is an outstanding example of the kind of waste which our defective organization leads to. He (and many other talented, independent-minded men like him) has never come anywhere near his true potential, never accomplished half the good he seemed born to achieve. Indeed, such men have caused quite a lot of real harm [and confusion] in their generous efforts to do good [on their own].

But whose fault is that? Theirs alone? Not at all! (Or anyway, much less than what people usually blame them for). [They get no organizational support or guidance]. They [just push ahead on their own uncharted paths], led on by the force of events, [playing it completely by ear] and completely undirected by our Rules (whose lack of foresight in these matters is quite incredible).

My long Expose of tolerated Customs

13th June

As ordered by the S. C. [of Propaganda] I have written them (p 1100) a long “letter” on all the Customs we are still tolerating here.20

I explained them all in detail (as far as I know about them), taking every possible precaution to include no statement except what was quite certain, and to exaggerate nothing. I did not discuss anything [about the morality of our tolerations]; I just described them as accurately as I possibly could. It’s an expose, not a discussion.

The discussion about the morality will come later, if the S.C. decides that the matter should be pursued further. But if it is to be satisfactory (and actually satisfy everybody concerned) it should not be a discussion with one person only.

[However, I could not leave out all mention of moral reasoning]. A mere expose [of those Indian Customs would have been in fact unfair]. It would inevitably have turned the members of the Sacred Congregation against tolerating those Customs, if I didn’t at the same time [point out something else]: that it is not without good reasons that these Customs are being tolerated here. [So I listed the reasons]. Without this, 1 would have been working in favour of one “side” only; which 1 do not want to do!

To avoid this bias, 1 preceded my expose of the Customs with a series of Propositions giving the essential reasons for our tolerations.

May Heaven bless this work of mine, and make it serve nothing but the victory of the truth [whatever that may be]! May [Providence] ward off the inevitable dangers which these kinds of [very intricate] questions always have (hidden) inside them!

1 would have greatly preferred not to go so far into the maze at all. I wanted to simply resign, and leave to others [better qualified] what is much too deep for me. But they wouldn’t let me. [I had to go into it]. May God’s Will alone be done! May the truth alone prevail. (p 1101)

Bishop of Jaffna calls. Pajean invited along.

Malhaire has English. Tesson apologises.

Bruniere in Manchuria and Pacreau at Sea: Ravel’s funeral!

Coimbatore, 30th June

Bishop Bettachini of Jaffna [Oratorian] called here a few days ago, on his way to Verapoly. He arrived, just before his letter, while 1 was away, in Karumattampatty. 1 came back immediately. I greatly enjoyed his company, during the two days he spent here. He strongly invited me to come and see the island of Ceylon. And as 1 have long wanted to go there, 1 may as well take the opportunity.

For it seems that the Christians there [are very interesting].

They are in a kind of half-way position between our own caste-ridden Christians and the completely caste-free Christians of [Kerala]. Moreover, the Church in Ceylon has special problems of its own, and also special achievements, which cannot be seen elsewhere.

So 1 have decided to make the journey. 1 have written to Fr Pajean asking if he would like to go along with me. By this 1 hope to give him a much-needed break, and also to show him that 1 am willing to let bygones be bygones. For he seems, now, to be really trying to behave himself.

Karumattampatty, 1st July

Fr Malhaire [another new missionary] has just arrived from Paris. He knows English well [for a change]. He seems a cheerful young man; but he also seems to be very childish.

Coimbatore, 1st July

[On getting back here, 1 found a letter awaiting me] from Fr Tesson. He says that, yes indeed, he is sorry for the letter he wrote me (a while back) about my [diagonal] complaints. This is only what I would expect, from an excellent confrere like Fr Tesson. (p 1102)


For a long time, we had been worried about Fr de la Bruniere [who was missing in Manchuria]. It is now confirmed that he was killed [in a massacre] in the unexplored North of the country.

It is also confirmed, beyond any doubt, that Fr Pacreau died at sea.

Alas, the first man died at his post, whereas the second… ? O my God, how swift and terrible are Your judgments! Nevertheless, Fr Pacreau was not without a genuine holiness. It was only his stubborn head [and his paranoia] that led him so much astray. The Lord will understand, and have pity on him.

20th July

Fr Ravel has actually had a funeral in his District! And it was a higher-caste man! Inside the church and all! It’s a marvellous break-through. Who could believe it [in] India?21 [Or who, outside India, could believe it was so marvellous?’[’

Old Fr Jarrige’s U-Turn. My own more Balanced position.

So much for “long experience”!

21st July

His Lordship of Pondicherry does not seem at all pleased with my long “letter” to Rome [about the tolerated Customs]. His Lordship of Mysore, however, seems to be much less annoyed at me. Probably because he himself is [not far from holding the same position as myself], even more so: not far from concluding that we are definitely on the wrong road (about Caste and many other things). So he was [surprisingly mild in his comments about my letter].

But the biggest surprise of all is Fr Jarrige [the ultimate old timer] who in the past was always the first [to shoot down any (p 1103)“new-fangled” ideas, like Luquet’s and mine], and to call us “reckless innovators”, “crazy extremists” and I don’t know what else besides. He was the very man who wrote the famous Pondicherry “Coutumier” [to instruct the new missionary on the best way to tolerate and compromise with the various caste (and other) customs of the Christians];22 Well, believe it or not, [Jarrige has turned completely around]. He now has more scruples about those Customs than almost anybody else!

They say he is a theologian. I never saw any signs of it myself. But if he was, his theological qualifications would only lend more weight [now] to our doubts. Anyway, theologian or no theologian [he certainly has one very important qualification): experience! He is one of the most senior men in all our three Vicariates. [And he is very widely travelled].

He has been stationed in more parts of [Tamil] country than anybody else. He has been the trusted right-hand man of several Vicars Apostolic, over the years. He has been [Vicar General] in all our three Vicariates: in Pondicherry for a long time, here in Coimbatore (before I came) and now in Mysore. He has earned the confidence of Propaganda itself; it was he they sent to Ceylon, during some difficult times in the Church there.

Even though this dear confrere may be (as I. think) rather narrow in his judgments and somewhat lacking in over-all vision, yet you cannot deny that he has brains and ability, as well as all his long experience.

Well, look where he is at, now [after all his years as a rock solid traditionalist]! The recent wide-spread protests and objections [against our traditional “caste” policy] have at last awakened him from his dogmatic slumber. He has been obliged [for the first time] to really study several [of those moral] questions, and to take a hard look at the [traditional] practical solution (which he had formerly assumed to be correct, but which he had never reached by any personal logical conclusion). He accepted it only because this “solution” had always been our practical guide (p 1104) [for more than a century] ever since [the Jesuits] finally decided to obey Cardinal de Tournon’s Decree.23

Now this is what Fr Jarrige had to write, just recently, to his Bishop, Mgr Charbonnaux:

“Up to this day (i.e. for the last thirty years) I have been following [our traditional caste policy] in good faith. But now, after examining it closely … I cannot [continue].

“Those [Indian customs and] ceremonies now cause such disquiet [to my conscience] that I have to [inform you, as follows]:

“If Your Lordship (whose authority is the only thing that keeps me still working here) does not change our policy, if you do not want to re-examine and prohibit those fearful ceremonies, then [I will be forced to take action to save my own soul] … I do not want to be lost … I will (with great regret) have to resign from the Mission.”

There it is (I said to myself). [A complete turn-around]. Two years ago … What am 1 saying? Two months ago, this same Fr Jarrige (with all his thirty years of experience behind him) would have [taken a very different line about my letter to Rome]. He would be hotly supporting Bishop Bonnand in calling me “reckless”, maybe even “stubborn and subversive”. He would join in with some of the others in calling me “a mere enemy of the Jesuits”. 24 Just because I said that those [caste and customs] questions contained doubts, grave doubts. And that we cannot just leave them at that, without actively looking for a solution.

But today, Fr Jarrige (having added only two short months to his thirty years) has [suddenly come round to my way of thinking] .. He has, indeed, gone much farther than me. Too far, in my opinion. He is demanding that his Bishop should instantly solve those questions for him, by outright official prohibitions! (p 1105)

I say [and I am not alone] that there is a real doubt [about our policy]. I do not say that it is certainly wrong. Therefore I simply conclude that the question must be studied, with the most serious attention, and with all its many implications in mind. Not by isolated individuals, however, but by all of us together. Not by attacks on other peoples’ diverging views but by sincere and respectful dialogue, giving full credit to their values, in all honesty and good faith.

And I say that the final decision must come [not from anyone here but] from the Holy See, which alone has enough authority to decide those very grave questions. But the Holy See must be consulted honestly and fairly, by giving It the fullest possible information. It must not be [lobbied or] asked to please leave us (one “side” of us) in peace, by our emphasizing only the pastoral disasters (all too real) which would follow from a Roman decision against our present practice.

I say that, in the meantime, [_we must all continue with our traditional practice. _]Because “in dubio praesumptio stat pro possidenti”. [In doubt, the policy which has long been in practice on the ground must be presumed to be correct, until further orders].

But, in this context, I would like to renew a reflection (which I think 1 already made somewhere else) about “long experience”. Certainly, in many cases, the authority of long experience is very great. But there are other cases where it has almost no value at all. And there are a few [very important] cases where the citing of “long experience” is positively dangerous.

Paradoxical? It is easily solved if we think about it. For, when we say “long experience”, we are generally inclined to concentrate more on the “length” of the time than on the quality of the “experience”. Now there are certain sorts of things which do [not _]make themselves any clearer by mere longer acquaintance. And there are certain men who can get no more out of ten or twenty years of “experience” than others get out of ten or twenty _weeks.

Hence it often happens that we wrongly dignify a mere long stretch of time by the value-word of “experience”. True experience is always valuable. But how can we recognize the “true” (p 1106) kind? Ay, there’s the rub! That is why we must not lean too much on “long experience” when it comes to deep questions which are beyond the scope of ordinary minds.

If Fr Jarrige had died a year ago (for example) he would now be cited by our opponents [the hard-line traditionalists] as “a great authority” on all things Indian, because of his “long experience” here. We (who knew the man) would refuse to accept that authority. Our refusal would then be attacked as a further proof of our temerity, our complete lack of respect for our seniors, our ridiculous self-confidence … So much for the judgment of men! [So much for long experience!]

Bettachini a hot Italian Rebel! Ominous for Rome.

Distinctly cool Reception at Jesuit HQ, Trichy.

Karumattampatty, end of July

Here we are, on the march for the Island of Ceylon! The Bishop of Jaffna came back via Coimbatore, according to plan. He was not at all impressed by Verapoly. He had already heard its praises sung, by missionaries from Pondicherry or Nagapattinam. They, of course, were comparing it with our [Tamil] Missions, and so they thought it was wonderful. But Bishop Bettachini was comparing it with Ceylon; and he still thinks Jaffna is much, much better. Well, let’s go and see!

I couldn’t have a more agreeable companion for my journey. The Bishop is a good, simple man, sometimes just a bit too simple. This does not prevent him, however, from having his fair share of nationalistic prejudices.

How funny it is, to hear a modern Italian boasting about the valiant feats of the ancient Romans! And really believing that the Italians are “still” the most famous warriors in the whole world! If they really set out to conquer the whole place again, it is not the “flimsy” armies of the “frivolous” French or the over-rated cannons of the “heretical” English Navy that would stop them! After all, are not the Italians the direct descendants, the same conquering (p 1107) breed, as the Roman victors over the Gaulish hordes and the Carthaginian fleets?

Truly, it was laughable; and I’m afraid I did laugh a bit. But I quickly stopped, because I saw it was going to be taken very badly; and the subject was on the point of switching suddenly from fleets and bayonets to ecclesiology, with myself figuring prominently as a French Gallican heretic!

“Gallican? Me? I’m the least Gallican man in France! I know only too well that it’s the Achilles’ heel of the French Church, the main cause of all our troubles, even political (which only very few Frenchmen are able to see). “

But my sincere profession of Roman Catholicism did not let me off the hook. To any good Italian, I was still obviously a French Gallican. I had met this kind of Italian prejudice before, and I had already sadly concluded that [even missionaries are incurably nationalistic]. The French ones remain Frenchmen, the English remain Englishmen, the Spanish remain Spaniards and, yes, the Italian ones remain Italians to the hilt. The only advantage they have is that they are from nearer Rome, so that the customs they follow and introduce in the missions are more likely to be universal or Catholic; although they often slip in a few local (merely Italian) ones as well; and a few Oratorian or other religious-order customs too! But never did I encounter so much fervent nationalistic “valiantness” as I did from His Lordship of Jaffna!

But what was not so funny, in my encounters with Italians in general, was [their apparent attitude to the Holy See]. I think I have sensed a highly critical attitude, even in some worthy priests and Bishops; so it must be very predominant among the laity. They are convinced that, if Italy is not [a nation and] the Number One Nation, it is all the fault of the Church. The present political situation of the Roman Church is the only thing preventing the [Italians] from being exactly the same as the Romans in the times of the all-conquering Scipios and Caesars!

True, those good Italian priests, religious and Bishops always put their Religion first. But (they say) if it could be done without harming Religion, they would be all for [drastic political] change. They admit (at least that’s what I gathered from them) (p 1108) that, in the present situation in Italy, any sudden significant change could turn disastrous for Religion. So, when they talk about [immediate Independence and Italian unity] it is mostly only speculation and wishful thinking.

But isn’t it obvious that such intense speculating and wishing must [in the future] greatly influence practical politics! And if such talk is only able to surprise and disappoint us when it comes from a few rare Italian missionaries far from their homeland, what impression will it be making on the minds of the Italian population in Italy itself? Especially when it is often repeated (as feel it must be) by so many priests and bishops at home, who may be much less virtuous and far more fanatically patriotic! If the clergy can get so hot about it, what must the temperature of the laity be?

Rome, and the Pontiff who presides at Rome, are not at all near the end of their troubles! [They are only starting].

Needless to say, when I perceived so much blazing fire in the simple soul of Bishop Bettachini (a most unmilitary man) I quickly turned the conversation to other topics. And I firmly resolved never to make any allusion to “Rome” or “Roman” again unless, perhaps, it was strictly architectural, or rubrical, or pomp and-ceremonial!

Trichinopoly, end of July

After only a few of the “usual” accidents, we arrived at [the Jesuit palace in] Trichinopoly and were welcomed fairly well. But nobody talked anything remotely concerning business with me; and they barely mentioned Bishop Canoz (who is now at Rome but expected back quite soon). It looks like the watch-word is: “be extremely cautious with him!” (p 1109)

Conversation with a Saintly Jesuit. Cinema 1851. Tanjore.

Near thing with a Scorpion.

Nagapattinam, August 1851

Here in front of me is the most beautiful single [work of landscape and architecture] I have seen so far in India. And we can enjoy it to the full, for we are camped right on the scene, under the sky, on the flat roof of the public “bungalow”, which used to be a palace of the former King of Nagapattinam.

But, before talking about this lovely spot, let me recall our lunch [on the way here] with Rev Father [Chardon de Ranquet S1, near Tanjore]. I will not describe the local Catholic community there, for it was just about the same as any fairly big Indian community. But I cannot forget the profound edification given to us by that good Jesuit missionary, radiating unconsciously the saintliness which most assuredly dwells in his noble soul.

[I said we had “lunch”. Well, it wasn’t much of a lunch; but we certainly had a good appetite for it!] And it certainly wasn’t out of affectation that he kept us so hungry until mid-day. [He just did not have any food in his house]. He had sent urgently to Tanjore for supplies; but his people had not yet arrived back. They were not used to such strange orders from him; for he usually eats hardly anything but plain rice himself. So they did not know how to get good food quickly. However, we did get a modest lunch in the end, well seasoned [by hunger] and by his simply pious and genuinely humble conversation.

Don’t bother asking this Father for the latest news in the outside world. He doesn’t even know whether the outside world is still there. The latest news? All he knows is the latest goings-on in his local community. His family? Totally forgotten it. All he can say is, he used to have three brothers. One was very unlucky, because he inherited all the family fortune and is very rich; the other two have the happiness of being Jesuits also.

“Where are they now?” I asked him. (For you have to [_ask _]him for any information like that. He’d never think it interesting enough to mention it himself. And his reply is so slow and laconic (p 1110) that you feel he has had to drag it up out of the recesses of his memory).

“Oh? One is working in this Vicariate. The other..?”

(I do believe he just did not have a clue).

“It must be nice to have a brother so near. Where is he?” “At (such-and-such a) District.”

“Is he well?”

“Must be. I haven’t heard he was sick.” “Doesn’t he ever write?”

“A few times since we came to India. Four, I think.” (I am not quite sure of this particular answer of his).

“How long have you been in India?”

“Ten years. Or is it twelve? I think he has been longer in this ministry than me. “

“Not a very busy correspondence. Others might say it is rather too infrequent, and that you don’t care much about your brother?”

“Oh (he smiles) we do love each other. We spent all our boyhood and youth together. We always had only one heart, one mind; and religious links have only bound us together more closely. But we have lots of other things to do now, besides writing letters to each other. “

“And when did you see him last?” “Not since we came to India.”

“What? Your own brother is in India, in the same Vicariate, and you’ve never met him?”

“No. Never happened to meet.”

“But you often have Society gatherings, don’t you? I remember, at the consecration of Bishop Canoz, I saw more than twenty Jesuits. And you have Retreats, Meetings and so forth?”

“True enough. But things so happened that my brother and myself were never at the same one.”

“But … if you asked permission to go and see him, would you be refused?”

“Certainly not. But what use would that be, to the Mission?

When the two of us came to India, was it in order to be visiting each other?”

At these words, I gave up. I did not pursue my fascinated (p 1111) (and impertinent) questioning any further. The conversation was in substance, as I have just written, though of course I cannot remember all the exact words. Such was the mortification of that Reverend Father [totally dead to all the things of this passing world]!

[The evidence of his holy detachment, as I said, had to be dragged out of him by my rather persistent questioning]. But there was one thing which he was delighted to talk about: his [visual-aid] pictures. Because these were a great means for doing good to the people; and maybe he hoped that we, also, could put the idea into practice, in our own Missions.

He was a fairly competent artist, and had made a series of “transparent” pictures, quite big scenes. These were visual allegorical explanations of the doctrines of Faith. Each picture was designed to illustrate a sermon (or the sermon was designed to explain the picture).

For example, there was one about Bad Confession. A priest sitting behind a confession screen (merely a cloth draped over a frame, which is the usual “confessional” in the villages). An Indian kneeling at confession. Out of his mouth was dropping a horrible selection of dirty toads, bats, lizards etc. But one ugly reptile was still stuck in his mouth, only half-way out. The Devil was hovering in front of him, trying to “shoo” the reptile back in again..!

The Rev Father usually gave his sermons and picture-shows at night, when the transparent picture [with a light behind it] was at its most effective.

He assured me that this type of preaching had great effect. (And other Fathers I met said the same). I can well believe it. For, even in Europe, such methods used to be very impressive, especially in backward areas, on the occasion of a village Retreat, Mission, etc. Nevertheless, I don’t think it should proliferate too much. As an extraordinary “gimmick” now and then, excellent. Nothing against it. But to make it into the ordinary or principal method of preaching is to take it much too far. And I think the good Rev Father was heading towards that extreme.

We said goodbye to him in the afternoon, and went in to (p 1112) Tanjore, the royal capital of the rich Thanjuvar Kingdom. The ex-King is still living in his Palace, and has permission to travel up to a mile from it, well “escorted” by British troops. The citizens are still allowed to imagine that they still have a Great King [Maharaja]. This title was once necessary, in order to distinguish him from the scores of “little” kings all around. (This “bungalow” we are now camping on was the petty palace of one of them).

We did not go into the centre of Tanjore, for the church is in the outskirts, and we arrived only at sunset. We only saw in the distance the great Temple gateway Tower [gopuram] which must be one of the most spectacular of its kind anywhere.

As for the Jesuit church, it is only a huge “pandal” [shed].

For they hope to take over the original church again, some day. It has fallen into the hands of the [Goa] schismatics, and they still hang on to it. It looked fairly big.

Anyway, we had to leave again next morning. The Tanjore Jesuit Father was not able to tell us very much about this station; for he had a terrible migraine all the time we were there. Before we left that morning, I had to say a special “thank you” to my Guardian Angel for a timely warning. In the little corner where I went to rest that might, there was a huge scorpion of the type whose sting is fatal; and he was likely to have become my bed-fellow if my Angel hadn’t pointed him out in time!

[*Nagapattinam. Frozen out of Jesuit College (and “seminary”), we Move to “bungalow” Roof near Temple Tank. Collector. *]

From Tanjore to here, nothing very exciting to report. But there was! The continual, amazing spectacle of this huge [inland delta] shining abundantly with water and green rice-fields, in this totally rain-less season! For the whole Kingdom of Tanjore is watered by the countless branches of the Cavery, subdivided by an infinity of irrigation canals and ditches. Because the Cavery (with its many tributaries) rising in the Western Ghats, replenishes itself during the Western Monsoon, while all the East (from Coimbatore to Tanjore to the Coromandel Coast) is aridly awaiting the (p1113) Eastern Monsoon before even getting a drop of rain. So the Cavery is full and overflowing in the dry season! A real miracle for the poor people of Tanjore. No wonder they say the River is truly a God, and one of the greatest!

These poor people seem to be even more superstitious than my own people around Coimbatore. Anyway, their faces were much better daubed with “sandanam”, with “mangel”, with cowdung, and all the rest. But [Nagapattinam] where we are now, seems to beat all. Is this because of their magnificent Temple and its artificial Lake [or Tank] which are now shining splendidly before our eyes?

Anyway, the Monkeys here seem to be more especially Sacred, more highly respected [and more totally spoilt]. The impudent rascals come right up beside us and plunder our provisions! They show no sign of fear whatever, probably because [no matter what they do] they are always perfectly safe from their devout worshippers here. I asked the bungalow keeper why all the roofs around were dotted with little spikes. “The Monkeys”, he explained. “If it wasn’t for those spikes, they would climb up and scatter all the tiles”.

Just now, as I write, the huge Tank in front of us is reverberating with the ear-splitting chants of the people adoring the little temple in the middle, built on a central island which would be a most charming sight if only it had some other purpose. The people are up to their waists in the water, letting out great roars; but I don’t think their god can quite hear them. Other crowds of them are busy performing their ritual purifications. Others are just enjoying a dip.

This vast square Tank has four spacious Quays all around it. These are lined, on one side, by a row of very fine houses, on another by “our” palace, on a third by buildings which [I cannot see from here] and which I was unable to study yesterday, in the dusk. And on the fourth by the great Temple. It looks a very beautiful one, to judge by the facade, which is now reflected in the Lake.

When we arrived here yesterday evening, we were told there (p1114) was “no room”. There was, indeed, none for us. If we were English, there would be plenty of room. But, for wretched ‘Romish’ priests, the roof is quite good enough, isn’t it?

“Who are occupying all the rooms?”

“The Tanjore Collector.”

“And what is the great man doing here? Has he come to perform his devotions at the Temple?”

“More or less.”

“What? Isn’t he a Christian?” (At least nominally). “Oh, yes sir. But … “

But the noble English Company sometimes requires its officials [to be locally diplomatic] and to perform services unworthy of a Christian. And I only wish that the other European powers were, not equally guilty. The French do the same.

The great Collector was here (I was told) to inspect the repairs to the Temple, repairs being made in the name of a so-called Christian Government, and by its orders!

Let us be fair, however. Although such actions are certainly unworthy of a Christian nation and a disgrace to a great empire, it must be said in their favour that the English are not consistently supporting paganism. But neither are they consistently against it, as any truly Christian power ought to be. None of today’s governments are able to see that, if God has given them some power and strength, it is mainly for the sake of the spread of Religion. Even the Catholic powers fail to see this duty. And if their governments have almost completely forgotten their obligations in this regard, how can we expect a heretical government to remember them? What can you expect from Christians who make a mockery of the Bible which they pretend to read every day, such as the English!

If, in order to make Money, it became necessary to go flat out on their bellies before Indian idols of wood and silver, they’d do it! English Collectors have been known, in the past, to lend a helping hand to pull the processional Carts [“thers”]25 upon which horrible idols sat in triumph. But, to be fair, they only did so when it was “necessary”. It helped to subjugate the people more thoroughly [by “pacifying” them]. Therefore it was quite legitimate … Devil’s logic! (p1115).

Today, however, it is no longer necessary; so they don’t do it. There is no longer any danger in neglecting to publicly fawn on paganism; so they don’t fawn on it. [Quite the contrary]. It is now possible to make Money out of paganism by quietly looting the Temples; so they loot as much as they can get away with. But gently does it! Better to take over the Temple’s maintenance, and use some of the Temple’s revenues for keeping the Devil’s Churches in good repair. To the English, that’s a very good business proposition, an excellent arrangement: neat, simple, profitable and even “just”.

And indeed, doesn’t our own French government think it only “right and just” to use public money to help maintain the religion of the Jews, the Protestants, the Turks of Algiers and, yes, the Hindu Temples of Pondicherry! So why blame the English? I am not singling them out; I condemn everyone who does the same. I merely comment on the fact that, on such and such a day, the Chief Collector of Tanjore was engaged in inspecting maintenance work on the walls of a Temple dedicated to Siva or Vishnu!

We weren’t long [at the Jesuit house] in Nagapattinam before we saw that we had better get out of it as quickly as we possibly could. We got a very bad reception from the start. Fr Saint-Cyr is in charge here, and he is (I suppose) one of the most convinced of my personal opponents. Is that why we got such a bad welcome; or is it something in the Jesuit Rule? (For it seems that Nagapattinam is very strong on the Rule, whereas in Trichinopoly they are a bit more free-and-easy). I don’t know for sure. All I know is, they couldn’t have been more thoroughly unwelcoming unless they came right out and said: “You are a big [_nuisance _]to all of us here!”

The Jesuits have a huge magnificent College here. Right next to it is a miserable shack where a few Malabari [Kerala] Indians study by themselves. This can be called either a “school” or a “seminary” according as required. However, there is not a single [tonsured] cleric in it. And they seem quite determined never to have one.

The big College is for Europeans “in principle”; but at the (p1116) moment it is occupied by “topas” or descendants of Europeans from Ceylon. Unfortunately, this College does not seem to be going very well. At the moment the [public oral] examinations are being held, and the Prizegiving will be in a few days’ time. [Many people have been invited to the examinations]. But not me. Are they afraid I might see too much? Or make an “unfair” comparison with Pondicherry College-Seminary? Anyway, nobody has even asked me if I would like to attend.

They tried to look disappointed when we told them we were in a hurry to be moving on. “A pity you won’t be here for the Prizegiving!”. But in fact they seemed quite relieved. [So we got out]. And now we are going to set sail for the island of Manar at the first available opportunity.

*Island of Mannar. European and Indian Priests compared. *

_On board, Port of Mannar, August 1851 _

Our crew is entirely Indian, and so is the captain of this coaster. He is a Mannar Christian, and he seemed very happy to have us on board. Our craft is a European-style brig; and I was very surprised and impressed by the efficiency of the crew. I did not think Indians could maintain and handle such a ship so expertly, completely on their own.

The sea route along the Indian coast to Ceylon is fairly tricky; but it is much less dangerous with an Indian captain than with a European one. For the Indians know the way so well, they can navigate it without maps, and maybe even without compass.

So we spent a quite relaxing night at sea, lying on sail-cloth, under a kind of tent. Almost immediately after dawn, we could make out the Island of Mannar. We expect to arrive in a few hours, and to celebrate Mass there …

[We have arrived]. They have dropped anchor, and they have fired their small cannons, to let the islanders know there is a Bishop on board! (p1117).

[_[Mannar, some days later] _]

The island of Mannar is famous in the books about St Francis Xavier. If we are to take the authors literally, the Christians here must be very degenerate. But when you know India, you see that a lot of the things they wrote was erroneous or highly exaggerated; and you tend to take all their details and evaluations with a big pinch of salt.

On the other hand, it would not be too surprising if Mannar had degenerated a lot, over the years, for that’s the way with many things in this imperfect world. Certainly the Christian religion has gone down a lot in India itself, compared to what it was at its peak. And why should these islanders be an exception?

The Christians are still very numerous here. They are free of caste ideas. But at the moment they are sympathetic towards the Schism, because they like the priests from Goa. Certainly, they prefer them to the European missionaries. And are they so wrong? Technically, yes. But more than that I certainly would not venture to say.

However, two of those schismatic priests are doing a lot of harm here, trying to get the Christians to revolt against the European priests. But the majority of the people still externally obey the missionaries.

The present single missionary was awaiting us on the beach, along with a huge crowd of Christians, led by a processional Cross and holding numerous Banners up. After resting a while at the mission, we visited the various churches. They were all fine buildings, each with an equally good priest’s residence, whose only fault was its rather over-costly appearance.

Obviously, the main trouble in this island is the absence of a native [island-born] clergy. “But those black priests are useless!” That’s what you hear so often [about the Goa priests]. Alas, what have you ever done [to make them useful], to make good priests of them? If only, instead of just trying to expel them, you had put some work into educating them!

Better still if, instead of bringing them all in from Goa, you had worked at having real local priests; you would certainly have (p1118) a much sounder clergy here by now.

And anyway, isn’t it rather peculiar, to be always hearing the same tune [about the Goa priests] blaming them [with endless surprise] for the usual defects of the [Goanese] population that they come from. No doubt, we must do our best to remedy some of those defects. But since they are inherent [in their culture] why be so [_surprised _]at them? To demand their total eradication is to demand the impossible.

Haven’t we [Europeans] got our own [inherent defects] as well? Ah! but that’s different! Our own inherent defects don’t shock us half as much, because we’re so inherently European. But [let me tell you] they shock the Indians! A lot more than they shock ourselves. And a lot more than any [Indian] faults, which horrify us so much, but which [they _]find much less scandalous, in priests who are more like themselves. Indeed, some of those faults are common to both of us. But here they have a somewhat different “turn” given to them. They are “Indian-style” defects. And _we look at them with [European magnifying spectacles]. That’s our trouble.

So don’t let us always cry out so loud about their faults. For I am very convinced that, taking us all in all, we missionaries have just as many faults ourselves, in number. As for the gravity of the respective faults, they will be less or more heavy according as we use a European or an Indian weighing-scales.

[When it comes to qualities] what the Indian clergy usually lack the most is energy. Also, those outstanding virtues which you will always find among a [_few _]of the missionaries (though you would seek in vain among the majority for them). Also, a high standard of theological and ecclesiastical learning; for this is very difficult to acquire so far away from the main centres.

[That lacuna of higher studies is what is going to delay the complete autonomy of the Indian clergy for a long time to come]. No matter how perfect they become in other ways, they will still require some over-all direction by Europeans. [Bishops, etc.]. To deny the need for that is to go too far too fast (it seems to me). To demand more [than a very general European supervision] is to make a serious and a dangerous mistake. (p1119).

Unfortunately, that [colonial-minded] error is so rampant among so many missionaries nowadays that it is likely to continue for a very long time here, if not for ever. [They will continue to depend on importing more missionaries, and to neglect the normal development of the Native Clergy towards autonomy]. And they will continue to be very surprised to see the Catholic Religion declining (or failing anyway to put down new roots and to spread out new branches).

On this island, the Christians would need five or six black parish clergy. They have one white missionary; and they detest him.

*Crossing to Ceylon. Mighty Reception. *

*Mary’s “funeral”. Tamil sermon by Pajean. *

_Jaffna, 12th August _

From Manna to Jaffna, the sea is very shallow. No big ship could navigate through it. In fact, at low tide (etc.) a man could walk across; and the water would be only up to his waist, at the deepest. So we took a very small light craft at Mannar; and there we flew, skimming across to the newly “episcopal” city of Jaffna, The Bishop [Bettachini] had prepared a most fantastic unexpected Reception, specially for me.

We arrived just at night-fall. [He had that planned too]. From the Port, all along the water-front (more than half a mile) to the church, there was nothing but beautiful fireworks, lanterns, illuminated “arcs-de-triomphe”. Bishop Bettachini went away quietly to his house in a separate carriage from mine, leaving the whole guard-of-honour to me.

The “clergy” (just three missionaries) put on their vestments at the church entrance, where I found all the episcopal regalia laid out ready for me. I did not want to use them all; but they insisted. “Bishop’s orders”, they said.

So, crozier in hand, I entered the church, amidst about 3,000 lights. Never saw the like, even in India. The people were packed like sardines in the huge church. I gave the episcopal blessing, and (p1120) Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. The Latin singing could have been a bit more robust. Three missionaries, half-dead with fatigue; what were those few voices in such a crowd? So the “Tantum ergo” was miserably thin and feeble. Apart from that, the whole ceremony was very fine and orderly. No messing or confusion whatever. ..

Such was our triumphal entry, last night, into Jaffna. May the good God reward Bishop Bettachini for all the trouble he took, and the cordial Reception by which he honoured me!

_14th August _

Bishop Bettachini insists that I [and not he] must officiate at the Pontifical Mass tomorrow, the Feast of the Assumption, the principal Feast at Jaffna. But cholera is raging in the area; and one of the three missionaries has had to go out about 25 miles to a village [on a sick call]. This is going to make the ceremony less solemn tomorrow.

_Later _

But what’s that? Who is that big sad bell tolling for? Even while the whole church is full of lights and they are singing the Litanies at the end of the Novena! ..

Yes, it’s a [_funeral! _]They are going to bury … Wait for it! .. the Blessed Virgin Mary! ..

[Well, maybe it makes a kind of queer sense]. Isn’t tomorrow the Assumption, the “resurrection” of Mary? So, just like we first of all have Good Friday, before Easter Sunday, so we must now mourn for her passing, this evening, before the Assumption! …

“Come and see the Procession!” And there it was, Mary’s Tomb, being solemnly carried along by the Twelve Apostles! The priests do not take any part in this highly peculiar procession. But I went to watch it all the same.

_15th August _

The [Tamils] are the same everywhere. Fr Pajean preached at the High Mass (or rather at the principal Mass; for it wasn’t sung; and there were only two priests along with me). In the (p1121) after

noon, the head Christians came round, to thank the missionaries for their efforts in celebrating the Feast so well. Then they saw Fr Pajean.

“At long last, Father, we can say we have heard a proper sermon in Tamil. For, you see, these Fathers here are very good Fathers; but they do not know our language”. (!)

Not exactly a compliment for the missionaries. But everyone knows that, to them, it’s no insult. And, to Fr Pajean, it was not to be taken as being rigorously and exactly true, but only as a nice compliment.

However, I do think that Fr Pajean is the best at Tamil in our Vicariate just now. One of our younger missionaries will one day pass him out; he is probably better, already, at “book” Tamil. But Fr Pajean still speaks it more fluently.

[*Missionaries “having to” Do it All themselves (e.g. Finance). *]

_16th August _

The city of Jaffna is full of fine big rich churches; but empty of priests. What they really need here is at least twenty black priests and just one white priest to direct things. A native clergy is an obvious crying need; but neither Bishop Bettachini nor anyone else here seems to notice it, or to think of doing anything practical in that direction.

“I’m thinking about it”, he told me. But I’m afraid that this was only said out of politeness, because he knows I’m a “fanatic” on that issue. His missionaries seem totally unconcerned. It’s extremely depressing to see. What other country could be a more fertile soil for a great Native Clergy, with no caste nonsense to hinder it, with thousands of Christians, with so many self-sufficient churches already built? I just do not understand their attitude. It’s completely beyond my comprehension. (p1122)

_17th August _

The Bishop’s House is a fine building, on a magnificent site, next to a most impressive church. The income there is enough for two priests at least. Fr Semeria, of the Oblates of Marseille (OMI) is in charge of the church, assisted by an OMI confrere. Another very fine church [not so far away] is managed by Fr Mola, a diocesan priest from the Milan area. Several other fine rich churches in the city have no priest at all. Someone goes now and then, for Mass or for the Patron’s Feast.

The finances and property of those churches are mostly being managed by the local Christians themselves, a situation very annoying to the Fathers. And indeed the “system” is open to a lot of abuses. But it is only natural to have such a system, when there are so few priests. The Fathers are trying to take away the management [entirely _]from the people (instead-of just gradually regularizing it). They are trying hard to abolish _all the abuses at once (instead of correcting a few now, and a few others later on, whenever an opportunity arises). Thereby, they are running the risk of abolishing not only the abuses but also the respect and affection which the people have always had for their priests. Their present policy seems to me a major mistake.

This [heavy-handed] approach is not only to be seen here in Jaffna. It is a very common mistake, whenever European priests are taking over from the Goanese. And it is not the least deadly effective way of alienating all the people. [And why do we do it?] Because it is humiliating for a European to have to haggle and calculate accounts along with Blacks! “We must show them who’s the Boss”, I was told. The missionaries do not see that, to the people, they look very much more like despots, and sometimes like unjust despots, all out for money. (p1123)

[*Doubly wrong Strategy: *]

[*driving Goans; neglecting Local Clergy. *]

So there they are [in all their lone glory]: Two or three foreign priests who can barely stammer out a few words of Tamil, with 7,000 Christians and five huge churches to look after! And they will be very surprised if they count them all in ten years’ time, and find only 5,000 or 4,000. They will be astonished, no doubt; but they will still be blaming it all on “those Black priests” who were here before them.

But those priests (with all their faults) would at least have kept the entire Christian community together. And they could also have allowed the missionaries [to be real missionaries] and to extend the Community by preaching to the Gentiles, by printing good books, establishing colleges, Seminaries, hospitals etc. In short, by doing all the evangelizing works which missionaries alone can do, because of their special talents and their financial backing.

But these notions of mine are so far removed from the ideas of present-day missionaries in general that, really, I ought not to be so surprised or disappointed at seeing no sign of such ordinary good strategy, here in Jaffna. Sometimes, in chatting with them, you might imagine that, yes, they are thinking seriously about it. But, seeing them in action, you know it was pure theorizing. And yet they are first-class priests, truly zealous workers. And having some success too. Not long ago, things were a lot worse here; so they are greatly encouraged by the evident progress they are making.

“Things were a lot worse before”. Why? Very simple. [The previous pastors were foreign missionaries from Goa, who stayed on far too long}. Here is a truth which should be absolutely self-evident to anyone who reflects: missionaries are not made for maintenance. They are not capable, over long periods [certainly not up to a century] of maintaining a very big Christian community at a satisfactory level. The only way they could do it would be to delegate most of the detailed parish work to local priests. (p1124)

Well, suppose they still tried to do it all by the essentially-defective system of using foreign missionaries alone; and that the missionaries here in Ceylon were all Indians from Goa. Suppose, moreover, that those black missionaries were not only expected to be the cures (the detailed ordinary pastors of the people); they were also expected to be the only missionaries to the pagans! How would it be likely to end up?

Note well that those Indian missionaries were still foreigners here. They had all the handicaps of European missionaries, plus the apathy and fatalism inherent in the Indian character, plus unavoidable ignorance. (I mean the lack of a thorough education, which was impossible to obtain here, even by a very intelligent individual with plenty of books at his disposal). Was it surprising that such a badly thought-out “Mission” was bound to collapse eventually, and to end up in an intolerable mess?

Such was the recent history of the Ceylon Mission, up to a few short years ago, when the Holy See sent in a couple of European missionaries. When they saw the actual situation here, they let out yells of consternation. And they had cause. But they did not see the real cause of the trouble. They said it was all because of “those black priests”. They didn’t say “black foreign missionaries”, which was the reality. For there wasn’t a single Ceylonese among them, and there still isn’t. They were all missionaries and religious from Goa. Religious who came here only because the pickings were richer. (There were exceptions, as the venerable and generally respected Vicar Apostolic of Colombo testifies). But most of them (vow of poverty and all) were intent only on making a nice little personal fortune to take back home to Goa.

So the immediate conclusion was: “Drive them out, those black priests!” A conclusion which was doubly erroneous. For it can eventually reduce the Ceylon Mission to an empty shell: very impressive on the outside; wonderful statistics for Propaganda; glorious opportunities for a few over-worked missionaries to work themselves into the ground (while never coming near the minimum standard of pastoral care). But very sad, very disastrous, when you look beneath the surface. (p1125)

Doubly erroneous. The “black priests” will all go. And no real native priests will be there to replace them. Maybe, in twenty or thirty years, they will get round to thinking about it. But no sign of that today.

*Fr Mola. The OMI coming in to Ceylon. Jaffna city. *

_Jaffna, 18th August _

Fr Mola is one of the most distinguished missionaries I ever came across. Unfortunately, he will probably be the last of his kind. He doesn’t belong to any missionary Society; and this Vicariate seems to have stopped recruiting individual diocesan priests like him. It will now probably depend entirely on the Marseille Oblates (OMI).

It is by pure chance that the Oblates happen to be here. (Or rather, pure Providence. For it is God, in His mercy or His justice, who permits all those happenings). Poor Bishop Bettachini was going around Europe, desperately looking for workers. He happened to call at Marseille. He spoke of his trouble to the Bishop, Eugene de Mazenod, the Founder of the Oblates.26 Bishop de Mazenod promised to do his best to help him. But Bishop Bettachini continued to look around everywhere for priests. (He never guessed, I suppose, that de Mazenod’s “help” was going to amount to a complete take-over of the Ceylon Missions). Eventually he found three excellent priests in Milan area (for I hear the other two are very good also). But now they are out on a limb; for they don’t belong to the OMI, who seem ready to take over all this Mission, and maybe the whole island of Ceylon. For they have recently come in to Colombo as well, to the great annoyance (I am told) of the Vicar Apostolic and his Coadjutor.

Nevertheless [in spite of all the grousing] it seems a good idea (p1126) for Ceylon to be made into a real Mission like the other ones. And, in the present mess, it is a great advantage to have missionaries all belonging to one religious Order or pious Society taking it on. So in itself it is not a bad thing at all, provided the Oblates (still unknown and untested here) are able to respond to the challenge.

I only regret that a man like Fr Mola (so learned, pious, zealous and respected) will now be a bit “out of it”, will not be in such a good position for doing good as if he belonged to the Society that is going to take over the reins.

The Oblate Superior here is Fr Semeria, a zealous and distinguished priest also, but not quite up to the level of Fr Mola. And he seemed to me to be in slightly too much of a hurry to become the Vicar Apostolic (or anyway to have an OMI man in charge). Two other OMI confreres we met in the area left us very favourably impressed also. [Fr Semeria showed us all around the place in the Mission’s carriage ]27

_19th August _

The city of Jaffna is very beautiful, compared to our Indian shanty towns. The old Fort is almost empty, for the English seem now to have no fears whatever of an attack from the Northern side. They have only a very small garrison here, just in case.

The hinterland is pleasant, but not fertile for rice. Mostly coconut and palm trees. (Unlike our South Indian palms, they are very good for construction work). Many of the Christians are fishermen. They give one-tenth of their catch to the Church; quite a considerable source of revenue.

We hope to leave in a few days for Trincomallee, and from there to Kandy. But they are advising us against that, for (they say) the Trincomallee-Kandy “road” is very dangerous, or even impossible. We will see …(p1127) Sailing (tilted) to Trincomallee. Reception by Angels.

_Trincomallee, 21st August _

Good Fr Cassinelli [an Italian diocesan priest] is in charge here. He gave me a very courteous and a very picturesque reception.

From Jaffna we had travelled to Point Pedro, and visited a small Christian community near the port, in charge of an OMI priest. A coasting brig happened to call, and they agreed to take us to Trincomallee for 50 rupees. (A simple “toui” [canoe] would cost at least 30. It would also be extremely uncomfortable, and might even take several days for the short crossing). We took the brig. Her crew was entirely Indian.

The wind was not all the time favourable; and during the night, we were forced out to sea. My servant was petrified with fear. I wasn’t exactly scared myself; but I did feel that our ship was tilted very peculiarly to one side.

“What are you doing?” I asked our skipper. “Are you trying to make her capsize?”

“Don’t worry”, he told me. “Nothing wrong. We just did not bring enough “gnanam” with us”.

Gnanam? Wisdom, sense, balance! Not enough common sense on board? This was not at all reassuring! But then he explained: gnanam is also the nautical term for ballast. And how fitting that is! Isn’t it the ballast that steadies a ship, gives it poise and balance, makes it move along sensibly instead of tossing giddily about?

The captain’s explanation did not entirely remove my concern, however, during the rest of the night. But with dawn the fine weather came back, and we were able to coast peacefully once again, along the shore of the Perfumed Island. But I had to admit that this title was somewhat over-poetic; and it is not true that you can smell the spices even from out at sea!

About four in the evening, the big mast above the Trincomallee Fort ran up a signal flag, to show that we had permission to enter. This outer Fort dominates the sea-approaches from an imposing height. But now the wind blew from the land again, and we very nearly failed to make harbour that night. (p1128)

However, we eventually got in, about seven. “Looks like the health Officer is not coming tonight”, we said to each other, getting ready for another uncomfortable night aboard. Then we saw him coming (for a purely formal inspection) in Fr Vistarini’s boat. “Come on!” shouted the good Father. “They’re all waiting for you”. So we jumped down into his fine big craft. All the oarsmen scrambled to kiss my ring. For they were all Catholics.

Then off they swung, in unison, chanting Tamil hymns in honour of St Thomas or St Anthony. An uncountable crowd of Christians was waiting for us on the beach, in the light of countless torches. At their head was the other friendly and courteous Italian diocesan priest, Fr Cassinelli. We got into a carriage, and the crowd all followed us, along under several elegantly decorated and illuminated Arches. Before we came to the church, the Angels welcomed us also. There they were, swinging from one side to the other of a long narrow street, moving by means of strings; a bit awkwardly for angels, but the poor Indians thought they were only fantastic.

After the blessing, we were led in to an excellent supper. Not like our Mission where, after this kind of nocturnal effort, all you can expect is a little plate of cold rice, and then a bed-less, chair-less and (what is worse) air-less room.

Certainly, these Fathers have the principal merit of being missionary (the sacrifice of fatherland, family and friends; and the countless other privations of a voluntary exile, which are so difficult to imagine for anyone who hasn’t faced them). But they do not have the extra merit of poverty.

[*British Navy H.Q., Trincomallee. Poor France! *]

_22ndAugust _

Trincomallee is one of the most strategic positions in “the Indies”. The French knew that well, at the time when they were still able to be something around here, the time they had good hopes of dominating this part of the world. They captured this strong-point, lost it again, captured it again, etc … Ah! when will France (p1129) regain her lost glory? Above all, when will she come and help Religion by her power, help the only true Civilisation? Help the missionaries to free so many peoples from the clutches of Satan, from the harsh oppression of his rule? England will never have that glory anyway; for her favourite God is Mammon. And yet it is the English flag that flies serenely over all these seas, proudly sheltering all these peoples under the shadow of her “protection”.

There are few good havens in these parts; but Trincomallee has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. It’s a double harbour. The outer one has easy access and is very safe in ordinary weather. The inner harbour is a kind of maximum-security lake, completely enclosed by high mountains, and joined to the sea only by a narrow channel. The biggest ships are completely at ease there, however; it can hold hundreds of them without crowding!

So Trincomallee is “home” to the entire British Navy, for the Indian Ocean, the China Seas and wherever her warships are needed, to protect England’s vast possessions and her flourishing, widespread commerce. Here she maintains a huge Naval Dockyard for repairing and refitting the warships, along with a mighty ammunition Arsenal and an extensive provisions Depot.

We have just visited this remarkable Depot, and also a floating Hospital (on an unmasted battleship). If we had come a few days earlier (we were told) we’d have seen an entire Commodore’s Fleet in the harbour. But it has just set sail; and the provisions are now “a bit low”.

On the long quays and in the Arsenal’s courtyards, we saw several thousands of old cannons, now obsolete. There were old Portuguese cannons, Dutch ones, etc. (And French ones too, I am sure!). An inner Fort stands guard over the entrance to the Navy Harbour. There are always two Regiments garrisoning the two Forts, one English and one Malay.

The naval and military aspects are the most striking. But Trincomallee city itself is also impressive, very neat and fine. Wide streets and roads facilitate driving in the whole area. But the level country around is not very extensive. Before you know where you are, you come up against the foothills of the (p1130) mountains. These seem cool and green [after the plain] and well shaded with their fantastic vegetation.

Five Days South through the Deep Forest

23rd August

Yes, we are going to venture into the forests in the interior of Ceylon. [It was not an easy decision to make]. Some people told us the road was very bad, dangerous, impossible! Others assured us it was quite feasible, a good road, easy! From all these contradictory opinions, I came to the conclusion that the road is neither easy nor impossible; and that is what the most sensible looking of our many advisers actually said.

Anyway, I am confident that our good Angels will protect us from all dangers along the way.

  • * *

Matellai, 28th August

At long last, we have come out of the deep forest and have met men that look like ordinary men, houses that look like ordinary houses, here at the town of Matellai (20 miles from Kandy) after five days wandering in the bowels of the earth or inside the interminable Forest, only glimpsing the sky at rare intervals, above small gaps or clearings.

Day 1: To the first “mansion house”. We have to pay!

Nothing very remarkable to report the first day. In the evening we came to a miserable public bungalow, or rather a “mansion house” as the English here call them. We spent a restful night there. But in the morning, we were very surprised at having to pay for the accommodation! So the [direct-rule] English Government is less generous than the rapacious English Company [which “owns” India]? Well, don’t be in too much of a hurry to praise the Company for its free bungalows. It’s probably only long-sighted (p 1131) cunning, or enlightened greed, that makes them rent-free in India.

2. Into Elephant country. Buddha’s Dam. Two English hunters.

Leave the so-called mansion house and push on, into the dense Forest, home of the countless elephants of Ceylon! Our guides and carriers were not at all eager to encounter one of those monsters.

“It’s all very well now”, said a carrier. ‘We are travelling with a Bishop; and no elephant would want to squash a Bishop, would he? But, on our way back, we’ll be on our own … !”

I didn’t like this kind of defeatist talk. It had a visible effect on the morale of the other carriers. They tended to hang back behind us whenever possible. And we had to hurry. For it was a long, long way to the next “mansion house”.

This is a hunting lodge for English elephant (etc.) hunters, built on the shore of a huge artificial Lake created by the ancient Kings, who had built a wide strong Dam here. It is still quite intact, although it seems to have got no maintenance whatsoever in the meantime. The constructing of this massive wall of immense stone blocks is lost in the mists of time. Since such a gigantic work is obviously beyond the strength of any mere mortals, the local inhabitants have inevitably concluded that it was the work of none other than the Buddha himself.

We reached the Dam (and the mansion house) only after a long squelchy struggle through a big swamp. We found two English officers there before us, relaxing amidst their hunting trophies: deerskins, elephants’ ears, crocodiles’ dentures … They barely nodded at us; but afterwards they sent us a leg of venison and some coconuts.

3. Close encounters with Elephants. Over-night in a “Post Office”.

Next morning at dawn, we were on our poor ponies again.

Before we had advanced a mile, our carriers [in front of us] let out a yell of terror and came back running for their lives. “Elephant! Elephant!” We stopped, looked and listened… Nothing… Fr Pajean fired a few shots in the air, to scare it off (if it was there) or (p 1132) rather, to hint to it that it should please let us pass. We did go forward at last, and saw no sign of it. But it could quite easily be there all the time in the bush, a few yards away. For we couldn’t see two yards beyond the roadside trees.

At about 10 a.m. however, because of the ups-and-downs of the terrain, we were able to see another elephant quite clearly, about forty yards in front of us, right in the middle of the “road”. One of our people squealed “elephant!” And there he was, calmly looking at us, completely immobile except for his trunk, which was swinging slowly right, left, right, left, like a huge pendulum. We ourselves stood still also, and stared back at him … [Stalemate] … At last Fr Pajean fired off a few more shots. Then (maybe because of the worrying bangs, or maybe because he just decided he had looked long enough at us) he took four steps forward, turned into the Forest, and was lost to sight.

It was now afternoon, and no sign of a mansion house. At last we came to the site of the next one. But it was no longer there. It had been swept away in a flooded torrent. There was a little “post office” shack nearby. The inhabitants of this jungle cabin welcomed us very cheerfully, and we spent the night there.

4. Postmaster’s Catholic wife. Follow the torch until 10 p.m.

Today had to be a very long trek, unless we wanted to spend the night out in the wild Forest, which would certainly be most unwise.

About the half-way stage, we came to a small village. The “post master” was a poor “tapa”, a Protestant. But his wife was a Catholic. She was very glad to see us, for she probably had not seen a priest for years and years. She asked for confession, and I was very happy to oblige. Meanwhile, they insisted on cooking a chicken for us. Poor woman! May God pity her in her total isolation!

Meanwhile, night was coming, and we were still very far from the mansion house. [We pushed on] and came to another village, after sunset. Fr Pajean tried to make some of the villagers accompany us to our destination. They refused. Promises, threats, money, all were useless. To camp out here seemed to be (p 1133) about as dangerous as to go forward into the dark forest. The people looked unfriendly; and anyway their few little huts were already overcrowded (with two or three people and some hens in each). By bluff and persuasion, Fr Pajean at last got the makings of a torch out of them, and we decided to move on. It soon became pitch dark, and we lighted the torch. And there we all were, in a “crocodile” formation, all linked together, edging nervously forward through the trees. A pile of fresh elephant dung encountered on the path (more than once) did not do anything to improve our nerves. The “mansion house” seemed to be receding in front of us. We didn’t reach it in fact until 10 p.m. Flattened with fatigue, we all dropped where we stood, and did not even think of cooking any supper until next morning.

5. Friendly Monks in a Temple Cave. Ruined barracks.

Matellai and the bold Fr Reinaud.

Impossible to make an early start that morning. Anyway, we heard that this place had something very remarkable in it. We stayed on until noon, to rest and restore ourselves a little.

Into the rocky side of the nearby mountain is sculpted a famous Sanctuary of Buddha, served by numerous priests, whose community-dwelling can be seen at the foot of the mountain. To reach the Sanctuary, we climbed up the steep slopes, and then up a long walk-way cut into the rock. One of the Buddhist priests guided us, a humble, smiling man, brimming over with goodwill and honesty. Unfortunately, he did not speak Tamil; and hardly anyone in our company could speak even a few words of Sinhalese. So we had to communicate by signs.

The Buddhist’s friendly attitude astonished me, as I was so long accustomed to the rude contempt for all foreigners consistently shown by the devotees of Vishnu, Siva etc., especially in all “religious”” areas. [Our guide brought us right up to the sanctuary and requested his colleagues inside, just once, to admit us]. These, instead of halting us abruptly as being “impure” or “profane” (or instead of hiding sullenly behind the closed doors of the Sanctuary) came out immediately to welcome us, called all the rest out to meet us, and opened the doors wide for us. (p 1134)

The temple (or sanctuary) was basically a big wall built across the mouth of the huge cave, with many dividing walls inside. There were several big rooms, and many small cells for the priests on duty. We went into the bigger rooms, expecting to see the usual mess of clotted oil in front of some monstrous or obscene idols. But everything was spotlessly clean. There was only a benign statue of Buddha in each, sometimes on a kind of altar, or in a niche protected by a silk curtain. One of the statues was colossal: the Buddha lying; on a couch, his head calmly resting on one hand propped on a cushion. The statue was about forty feet in length. The ceilings were decorated with paintings (all quite decent) in fresh and vivid colours. How they are able to resist the dampness of the cave is a technical secret (I was told) known only to the monks. From a special spot in the ceiling, spring water drips continually down into a container. Naturally, this is holy water.

Going down the mountain, we saw the half-destroyed Barracks of an English garrison sent to repress an attempted rebellion here, only a few years ago. The sanctuary was supposed to be the epicentre of the small revolt, since it harboured the man whom the Sinhalese wanted to make their king. Strange, because there were no towns or big villages to be seen nearby. But it seems there are very many people living inside the surrounding forest.

We set out for Matellai about noon, and arrived at the mansion house here towards evening. That was a few hours ago (and I have since been writing down [a reminder of] our long trek through the forest). Our hardships are now all over, and we are enjoying the company of excellent Fr Reinaud, who has come out here to meet us.28

I knew this man only by reputation; and now his physical appearance certainly lives up to it. A rather handsome man, his face is very striking. No scissors were ever allowed near his long hair, which hangs down in swirling ringlets over his shoulders. No razor (p 1135) ever dared to touch his magnificent moustaches or his ferocious beard, which sweeps down to below his chest, long and thick broad and majestic. An original, then, this Fr Reinaud! Highly eccentric, they say; and I can well believe it. But highly talented, very witty and strongly zealous too. We will get to know him better in the next two or three days…

British Rule better than Company’s. Kandy’s amenities.

Kandy, 2nd September

This is a really beautiful city. It seems that most of its beauty is due to the. English making it a head-quarters of their colony. Before that, it was just an ugly Indian-style big town. But by now it would be an outstanding small city by any standards, even in Europe. And every day it seems to have some new amenity, improvement or sanitation added to it.

It must be said that the native population here is much better treated by the [direct-rule] English Government than is the Indian population now groaning under the monstrous exploitation of the Trading Company.

Here, English justice is something real, [something more than a mere farce]. The welfare of the people seems to have [_some _]small place in the planning of the colonial officers and magistrates (even though they are paid much less than the enormous, scandalous sums earned by the Company’s officials).

Ceylon is too big, and too thinly populated, for the Government to be able to cover the whole island with its useful amenities (even if that was a priority). The interior is still almost untouched. (The “road” we have been travelling this last week or so is sufficient proof of that. It just barely allows the foresters to transport out the costly ebony and satinwood logs, and the other precious timber that abounds in the virgin forest).

Around Kandy, however, things are very, very different.

The roads are magnificent, the streets are wide and clean, the houses elegantly constructed, the people evidently at their ease. (p 1136) Surrounded by spectacular mountains, under a gentle blue sky, the city enjoys a delightful climate for most of the year.

The Army barracks (always containing a European Regiment), the Governor’s Palace (rarely occupied by him), the Protestant Temple (and all the public buildings) are really beautiful. Or at least they are always spacious, well-built and “comfortable” in the universal English manner.

The avenues, the squares, the public parks and gardens, are delightful to see, tastefully planned, resplendent with rich local flora and with many European flowers and plants as well. These acclimatize easily; and their more modest tints do not seem to be outshone too loudly by the more spectacular tropical beauties all around them.

In the suburbs the rich [tea] planters have their villas, and there they show off their luxury to great effect. Two miles out, there are the excellent Botanical Gardens, much better kept than Montpellier or Toulon! Not as impressive, of course, as Paris, but much more colourful because the collections of tropical plants and flowers can be displayed [in the open] with all their dazzling splendour.

All these sights we have been visiting during the last three days. Tomorrow we are leaving for Colombo. By what form of transport? Palanquin? Horseback? Palanquin is out of date in Ceylon. (That’s real progress, from the humanitarian point of view). To hire a horse would be far too expensive, and anyway it would take too long. Everything here is very dear [compared to India]. A horse would cost us a shilling (half a rupee) a mile; and it’s 72 miles to Colombo! Moreover, we would have to stay the nights somewhere; and the inns are very expensive and very bad. [So, neither of those modes of transport will suit].

What we will use is a regular stage-coach! (Haven’t seen one for ten years). This one will be drawn by good horses and will take only ten hours, stopping an hour for lunch! Is this Asia? The fare is a bit steep (25 rupees) and the lunch is more than 80 francs. But it is still a lot cheaper, faster and easier than on horseback. So, the stage-coach it will be! (p 1137)

Reinaud, serving Catholics (Tamil, Irish) would prefer Buddhists. (Possibilities there).

A layman’s princely hospitality.

But I see I haven’t said a word, yet, about our holy Religion here in Kandy. This outstanding centre could provide a wonderful opportunity for reaching the pagans of Ceylon. Even the Buddhist monks could be contacted, Fr Reinaud thinks; and they could then bring in the whole Sinhalese population!

There is a very fine Temple here. The priests [or monks] are very numerous, and they enjoy a very high reputation which (up to a point) is well deserved. These monks are not half-wild “pussari” [Hindu religious], incapable of listening to anything new, incapable of any reasonable response, incapable above all of understanding anything [foreign]. The monks are in error, of course; but they do not seem like men closed to the truth. And the Truth has probably never been put to them in a suitable way so far. Fr Reinaud would like very much to get involved in this work. But he has neither the time nor the means required.

As for the Goa priests, they are quite incapable of taking it on, and will hardly ever be capable (even if they were numerous enough). The only hope would be European missionaries. And Fr Reinaud, although by title he is “an apostolic missionary” is in fact nothing more than a cure or chaplain to already-converted Indians (as in deed are most of the “missionaries” in India itself today). The pastoral care of the numerous Catholic community here, plus the majority of the European soldiers (usually more Irish than English) takes up all of Fr Reinaud’s time.

That pastoral ministry would require at least two parish clergy, ordinary men but pastoral men, knowing and liking their own flock, known and liked by them. Instead, only one extraordinary man (Fr Reinaud) is stuck with this “boring” job (almost unbearable to a missionary like him, with a far different vocation than that of a cure). Fr Reinaud, with his impetuous spirit and his indomitable driving initiative, is hardly appreciated at all by his parishioners. He has no empathy with them, nor they with him. In this narrow situation all his wide knowledge, his talent for (p 1138) writing, his outstanding eloquence, his fantastic language ability (French and incredibly fluent English, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, Tamil, Sinhalese and more) are all rendered almost useless.

So he is not happy in the job. He complains a lot. (And I seem to have heard that the people complain a lot about him). Probably (up to a point) he has good reason for complaint. And I suppose (because he is such a square peg in a round hole) he gives good reason too, for the complaints made against him. .

Ah, what a hopeless organization we have, in the Catholic Missions! [What a criminally stupid misuse of manpower]! Is it beyond repair or remedy, O my God? Is it just an inherent part of the fallen nature of things? You alone know.

[I said there are plenty of Catholics in Kandy]. But they are not native. They all came up from Colombo, after the English captured it. There are also Tamils, who came down here as labourers in the plantations. And, as I said, there are usually very many Irish soldiers. .

The church is adequate, but not very impressive. Fr Reinaud is improving it little by little. He hopes eventually to make “a new church” of it. Some of the furnishings, candle-sticks etc. are quite magnificent. For many of the Catholics are well off. No shortage of money here. Just one example [of the lay people’s generosity]: all my expenses here were paid by just one Catholic, who insisted on doing it.

When I saw that Fr Reinaud was spending money recklessly, paying for the best of everything [journeys, meals etc.] I had to object (in a friendly way of course) that there was no need for all this; and in fact it was embarrassing. He then let me into the mystery. “I suppose you were a bit shocked, to think I’d have a house furnished and equipped like this, and money to entertain my guests in such a style. But none of those stylish things belong to me. I don’t pay for a single item that we have had, during these days. [It must all seem a bit much]. But I have no right or authority to reduce it”. For, day after day, we were being served splendid meals in silver dishes, with magnificent table-ware and varied wines, etc. Everything, in a word, according to the “ordinary” daily style of a very rich English planter. But completely at variance (p 1139) (thank God) with the ordinary style of a Catholic missionary.

Split among the good Monks; an Opportunity. But who? The Buddha’s Tooth, the Key, and the House of Lords.

Some more about Buddhism in Ceylon. Their priests [Monks are trained in noviciates, something like our own seminaries .They always seem extremely modest and humble. They live entirely on alms received as they go about on foot, always dressed the same .way (a long yellow robe) holding a fan in one hand (specially designed in the Rule, forwarding off the sight of women). They observe strict chastity and (believe it or not) they are never even rumoured to be guilty of any misbehaviour in that line. (I was told this by several people). True, they are still free to marry. But if they do, they must leave the monastery.

Every Buddhist temple has its own priests and novices (or disciples or clerics) living in or near it. At the moment the Buddhists are split into two groups: the strict observance’ and the half-Brahmin variety introduced long ago by the Tamil Kings.

. In order to weed out those abuses, the most zealous of the priests got together and sent a delegation to Siam (or was it Tibet?) to study the pure Buddhist law. After many years of training, they came back with Sacred Books which varied in some important points from those already in Ceylon. These are the points they are now divided about.

Would this not be a favourable time to get to know them, to start a religious dialogue, and to let them see that[_ neither_] camp has got it right! But who can do it? Where is the Apostle of this nation? Nobody, not even one, since Francis Xavier? Ah! I have met many missionaries who are called “apostolic”. But one real Apostle I have yet to see!

Anyway, the Buddhist Temple at Kandy is one of the most venerated in the world, because they have a most wonderful Relic, a real Tooth of the Buddha himself! This relic is kept inside (p 1140) the holiest of all the holy sanctuaries, locked in a silver tabernacle covered with priceless jewels and precious stones of incalculable value. The noble English have surrounded this inner sanctuary with a massive iron grille, locked with several keys, of which they themselves hold the master key. All this, of course, in order to “protect” the precious Treasure from being stolen! But there’s more to it than that. According to public opinion among the pagans, the holder of this Key is the real Master of the Island. The English take care to foster this pagan view, and to go along with it. This may require them, every now and again, to take a direct part in the cult of the Buddha … Ah! But look at all the Money involved!

In order to maintain the fiction that they are still a Christian nation and in order to mislead other nations about it, they will continue to have periodic Questions asked in the House of Lords, about this sacrilegious participation in pagan worship. And they will continue to hold the Key [until they have completely “pacified” Ceylon and] until there is no longer the slightest chance of a rebellion. Then they can begin to loot the Treasure, quietly. [When this has been thoroughly done] the English Prime Minister will reply [to the noble Lord] that, yes, it is quite unfitting for a Christian nation to tolerate this unfortunate abuse for a moment longer. And he will declare that Her Majesty’s Government is generously renouncing all its rights over that Temple!

Ceylon: painful Transition from Black to White.

Lost opportunity .

Colombo, 5th September

There are two Bishops here now, a black one and a white one. The first, Don Cajetano Antonio29 is an Oratorian (of (p 1141) St Philip Neri’s Order) from Goa. These religious have long been in charge of Ceylon Mission [the whole Island]. I have already mentioned those unfortunate Indian missionaries. Foreigners in Ceylon, their religious life seems to have got very relaxed indeed; very far below the mark. They were repeatedly reported to the Holy See. Nevertheless, there are some very worthy individuals among them. One of these is the old Bishop himself. Even the’ European missionaries can find nothing but good to say about him, as a priest.

However, he greatly mistrusts the whites. (And it’s certainly mutual). Hard to blame him, when he sees his own priests being pushed aside, gradually and steadily, until soon there will not be a single Goa Oratorian left in Ceylon. “All to the good!” will be the unanimous verdict of the white missionaries. Maybe so. But this good old Bishop is not obliged to believe it.

Isn’t it enough for those missionaries that the poor Bishop makes no counter-attack? [How would they behave if the shoe was on the other foot?] How would the Jesuits, the Marists, the Picpucians (and even the OMI who have only just arrived) how would they take it, if other missionaries were to come in and replace them willy-nilly (even granted that it was “all for the best”)? No doubt, they would never want to stand in the way of progress. But would they easily be persuaded that progress required their removal from the scene? No! For the sake of “the good of Ceylon” they would raise heaven and hell in order not to be driven out.

But the Indians, less energetic than us when it comes to doing good, are also less energetic when it comes to doing the thoroughly wrong thing. And their resistance, although it can be quite tenacious, is usually less destructive than our kind. With a bit of wisdom or prudence, it can usually be controlled. So we have to hope that the very natural anger of those Goa priests (who are not all as virtuous as Bishop Cajetano) will not have all the dismal consequences which are now being foreseen. A few of the priests, however, have already defected to the Schism. Let us only hope that the others will have more patience, and that they will all eventually die in peace of mind, in union with the Holy See. Given the present mess on the Missions, and the deterioration of (p 1142) the Goa clergy, that’s about the most that can be expected from those poor priests.

It was only a few years ago that European missionaries began to move into Ceylon. But very soon [1845] one of them [Fr Bettachini] was appointed Coadjutor Bishop to Mgr Cajetano. Then, a few of the best posts were given to white missionaries. Then [1847] a second European coadjutor was given (or imposed) on Colombo. [Then, in 1849, Jaffna was cut off, and the original Vicariate of Ceylon was renamed “Colombo”. Bishop Bettachini was made Vicar Apostolic of the north].

And now a whole new religious Congregation, the Oblates, is moving in. They are already up in Jaffna, and have practically taken over the Vicariate. Now, just a few days ago, four of them have come in to Colombo. They are at present with the Coadjutor, where I am staying myself. For I couldn’t in all decency go and knock at the door of the black Bishop. He would naturally be very suspicious of me, as another white missionary! I only paid a courtesy visit to him; and he returned the visit. There our polite gestures ended.

Meanwhile, the position of Bishop Bravi (the second Coadjutor here) is most painful. He has to be extremely cautious and diplomatic with the old Bishop, and even more so with the old priests in his “palace”. They all continue to live in the ancient House of their Order, next to their principal church. There they continue to keep up the illusion that they are still in charge of the Vicariate. The old Vicar Apostolic refuses to give any delegated powers or faculties to his Coadjutor, who is living very poorly, like a simple missionary, on the small income of a local church where he works, along with one of his own priests.

He is hoping, this year, that the “Propagation de la Foi” will send him some help. This will be very useful and necessary to him, now, in his exceptional and peculiar position. But to keep on sending it automatically to Ceylon afterwards would, in my opinion, be counter-productive. For if the European missionaries manage to dig in, and if they act like other Missions and turn themselves into cures and administrators of the big churches, they (p 1143) will soon have a new problem (not encountered in our Indian Missions). They will be too rich.

But what about the churches and Christians in Colombo? The churches are magnificent. They are so beautiful, so richly decorated, that they would stand out, even in Europe. The Christians are very numerous; and they have many good points, many precious qualities. But they seem to be steeped in ignorance as well. And so many abuses have crept into the Community over the years that I do not think they are really much better now than Christians in India.

The European missionaries will correct some of those faults. But they will occasion some new ones themselves. The high tide has been missed in this Community. As a Mission, it is declining. [And if it continues to operate as a mere Mission] it will go down even more. It should have been developed [when the time was ripe] into a Local Church. But the time for doing that has now passed by. Will the opportunity ever come again? Sometimes, it never does! [There is a tide in the affairs of men… ].

Colombo, 7th September

Colombo is a very big city, and a very beautiful one. Business and commerce are very brisk here. The English maintain two Regiments, European and Malay. Churches are very plentiful, far more so than the Christians require. They are very fine rich churches. But many of them have no priest.

The countryside seems fertile, well cultivated. As you know, there are big plantations here, of cinnamon [and other spices] which form a very important part of the economy.

I’d like to have visited Pointe de Galle, and maybe some other localities. But that would mostly have been mere tourism and curiosity, not telling me much more about the condition of our holy Religion here, which is the only thing that really interests me in this wide world. On this aspect, I have already seen nearly everything I set out to see. The rest would be waste of time and money; for travel here is very expensive.

So we are sailing home tomorrow, putting ourselves under (p 1144) the protection of the Star of the Sea, the Virgin Mary, whose birth-day we will be celebrating. Ave Maris stella…”

Back to India. Illness. Reception attended.

Pessimism in Extremis.

Nagapattinam Port, 9th September

A very quick and easy crossing, thank God. We lifted anchor in Colombo at ten in the morning. By five that evening we are passing Adam’s Bridge.30 And now, at nine this morning, we have already sighted Nagapattinam! Apart from a violent headache tormenting me just now, all is well.

  • * *

Tranquebar, 15th October

The last [six weeks] have been rich and fertile in trials and tribulations. I was hoping to be back in Karumattampatty for the Holy Rosary Feast there. But man proposes, God disposes. That headache on board turned into a serious illness as I was leaving the ship. [That was more than a month ago] and I have not yet fully recovered. But anyway we are going to take the road [for Coimbatore] tomorrow. Only, I will have to go by palanquin instead of bullock cart.

Here I will try to summarize the events of those [lost] six weeks. Almost as soon as we disembarked, the headache (a terrible kind, such as I have very rarely experienced) completely stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t make another step. I sent to the Jesuit Fathers, and they quickly sent a carriage for me. When we got there, all I could do was fall down on a mat. I cancelled my (p 1145) planned departure for Karaikal the next day.

But soon after that, what arrives but an urgent letter from Fr Richon: they are all expecting me at Karaikal. He has made all preparations for a big Reception tomorrow with a Guard of Honour from the Government, etc., etc. My God!..

Anyone who has had to receive those official Receptions will know what a pain they can be [even when you are well]. But how much more painful it is, for those who have carefully prepared one of them, to be let down at the last moment, embarrassed, totally disappointed, after wasting all their time, efforts and money! No; apart from absolute physical impossibility, it is not feasible, in all decency, to let people, down like that or to decline such public honours unexpectedly. Anyway, in spite of our pride and vanity, they are fairly harmless exercises, provided (of course) you are able to see through such empty fooleries of this world [and don’t begin to take them seriously].

My headache continued just as fierce as ever. But I still resolved to be at Karaikal on the 11th; and I was. The Indians put on a very fine show, but I was able to see very little of it. I could barely reach the platform (some distance from the church) and manage to sit straight for the duration. Immediately after the blessing, I went to lie down. The pain was even worse. This was a real, serious illness.

I remember almost hoping “This is it!” that You were calling me to Yourself! And anyway, Lord, what am I doing any longer on this earth where You are so poorly served, so weakly loved! Why prolong the agony of seeing your Church being so damaged, with no chance to repair anything? In these lands here, especially, O my God, You barely have one or two genuine worshippers. The Devil still rules here. Your Cross has not won much ground from him. Why keep my eyes alive to see those overwhelming abominations, my ears alive to hear those continuous blasphemies, my voice alive only to helplessly lament them!

Ah, enough of this, Lord quite enough! Leave this poor body to disintegrate, but. leave :my soul free to fly away to where You are truly loved, praised and blessed by countless legions of (p 1146) Angels, by our Fathers in the Faith, by those few Indian saints which these regions maybe have produced and added to the Company of the Elect!

Nevertheless, Lord, may your Will be accomplished, and not ours, now and forever!

The Voltairean French Doctor. The good Danish man.

Excellent Fr Richon quickly went for the Colony’s Doctor. But the doctor was one of our anti-clerical “philosophes”, He was not so well himself. And a [_philosophe _]is not going to go too much out of his way to help a mere priest who is ill.

“But he’s a Bishop! He’s a fellow-countryman!”

“Indeed? And what is his official status with our Government?… None, I see. In short, he’s just a mere calotin [a sneaking, snivelling priest] of the worst possible kind!”

So the Doctor did not come.31

Fr Richon then went straight to the Governor, asking him to use his authority to get a foreign doctor to attend me. But the Governor, like most of the present administration in Karaikal, showed he was not worthy of the name of Frenchman. For they are nearly all anti-clerical, anti-Christian, anti-Catholic Frenchmen, specially picked and sent here to “represent” the great Christian Catholic French nation; or rather to thoroughly disgrace her overseas. To disgrace her in the religious field as she has already been thoroughly disgraced [thanks to her bureaucrats] on the field of battle in these same lands which she was once called to regenerate!

People of France, may the shame and disgrace of your so-called “representatives” never fall on you! But are you completely innocent yourselves, allowing people like that to represent you? (p 1147)

Left on his own in a territory where European individuals are often quite helpless without some official backing (even in matters of life and death) Fr Richon was on the point of calling in an unemployed [and possibly useless] doctor from Tranquebar. At this point the French colonial Medical Officer deigned to make his appearance.

In the intervening three days, I had got much worse. The illness had made inroads which could probably have easily- been stopped if proper, intelligent treatment had been given from the start. A raging fever had taken over. And the doctor (not deliberately but out of the revulsion and confusion he possibly felt at having to treat a priest) got it all wrong, and gave the wrong treatment (at least in my layman’s opinion). So he made me suffer a lot more. But he still had to be well paid for his heroic efforts; that was only legitimate compensation! He did not come again. He declared that the danger was past. And, to prove it, he sent me a huge chemist’s bill!

I soon began, in fact, to drag myself around. But this was quickly followed by a relapse which seemed even worse than the first attack. To hand myself over again to the tender mercies of that unworthy son of Aesculapius32 was a bit too much. Instead I ordered a palanquin, to take me here to Tranquebar, and I surrendered myself into the hands of a poor Danish doctor (the one we were going to call to Karaikal). And I have no regrets. This good man (heretic and all) gave me instant treatment, intelligent and continual care. I recovered very quickly, considering the feverish complications, accompanied by gastritis and aggravated by the absurd treatment of the French doctor. I will not mention his name here, in case any Frenchmen should ever come to read my diary later on. I am sure they would not be very impressed by his performance. [I bear no grudge against him]. I only pray that one day he may be converted and become more worthy [of his profession and] of his Christian motherland. (p 1148)

Fr Lazare’s fine Church.

Karaikal, a ridiculous French enclave.

Mayavuram, 17th October

I came here hoping to meet Fr Lazare, the excellent Indian priest I have already mentioned several times before.33 This is now his central station. But he has had to go to Kumbakonam on some business: and I hope to go and meet him there tomorrow.

He is building a very fine church here. It is not yet finished. [The important thing is that] he asked hardly any help from the Procure in Pondicherry for it; certainly a lot less than what the local Christians have given towards it. As to the over-all state of his community, I can’t say much, without information from the good Father himself. But [since we have nothing better to do] being here all alone, let’s say something about Karaikal and Tranquebar [those two non-English enclaves].

Karaikal, a French possession, is a fairly big Indian city, extremely unremarkable. On the outskirts there are a few European-style houses. The French and other Europeans here are generally not very well off. They live a very humble life compared to the English in India. This humility, however, has not made them religious. For, to tell the truth, it is not humility at all, but only humiliation.

The Government officials are generally anti-clericals, as in Pondicherry. They are classical nit-picking bureaucrats, very big on “proper procedure”, capable of arguing for hours and writing reams of paper-work over a mere petty transaction of 20 francs. In a word they spend most of their office hours trying to multiply work in order to disguise their own complete nullity and insignificance. Their pettiness and self-importance only succeed in making the Indians hate and despise France all the more.

As regards their behaviour outside, it is a deadly bad example to the Indians, and has succeeded in making the Karaikal (p 1149) Catholics generally most detestable. This contagion, so deplorable in Pondicherry, is even worse in Karaikal, because the Catholics are so few in comparison; and most of them are involved more or less closely with the infected breed of civil servants.

If Solomon was still alive, I think he would want to add one more” category, to complete his list of utterly useless and ridiculous classes encumbering the face of the earth: a caste-ridden Indian revolutionary philosophe! An Indian of middle caste who is also a rabid disciple of Voltaire and Rousseau! [If he is also a Catholic] he would prefer to revolt against the Pope rather than let one pariah into the central nave of “his” church, rather than let him darken the threshold of his house. He would hurry home for a panic-stricken ritual bath, if he ever chanced to be polluted by accidental contact with one of them! In short, a thorough-going caste Indian spouting Liberty, Fraternity, Equality and the Rights of Man!

The Karaikal church receives some government aid. But it did not look at all beautiful (especially after Jaffna and Colombo).

Nevertheless, God managed to have a few faithful honest servants even in Sodom before the fire fell from heaven. And the tireless zeal of Fr Richon (that good priest and confrere) also manages to find some consolation there, and to do some good, in this most unpromising soil for a missionary. May the good God crown his steadfast fidelity with success!

Pondicherry could easily follow Tranquebar; English effortless Control after French fussy Bureaucracy?

Tranquebar was a Danish possession up to a few years ago. It was a pretty little city, well built and stoutly encircled with good fortifications. But in more recent times, the Danish commerce, once so flourishing, fell into continual decline. So they sold the (p 1150) trading-post to the English.

Life immediately came to a stand-still, especially in the Danish government quarters. It’s just a silent ghost town. Deserted streets. Great empty houses. Just a few unhappy descendants of the former “masters” remain, living on in a sort of half life in those former palaces, going about in shabby suits and formerly-black top-hats. The walls of those fine houses are already green with mould or tumbling down into ruin.

The same thing would happen to Pondicherry as soon as one shot was ever exchanged between France and England. The only difference is: the English would not have any bastions to knock down and raze (as they are doing just now at Tranquebar).

The French Justice of the Peace, the Court of First Instance and the High Court and all, would instantly disappear. Henceforth, a local thazildar [magistrate] would settle all palavers. (And maybe not a bit worse than before!).

Instead of several Companies of Sepoys [Indian troops] in spectacular red pantaloons and monkey-like headgear, there would merely be a dozen “pions” with copper [sheriff] badges, to keep all the law and order required.

Instead of the Governor, the City Manager, the Councillors and the whole French administrative rigmarole, there would be one English sub-Collector; finish. And he would come round only for two months in the year. And every day, he would spend about twelve hours lying down (on his bed or his long deck-chair), four hours at table, two strolling or riding out, and two or three more doing nothing!

And (because one extreme is as bad as another) the Indians would not be much worse off. For if there is too little of justice, law and judges in English India, there is certainly far too much of fuss, formality and tribunals in French India (if our few miserable possessions can be so called).(p1151)

*Tranquebar, Heresy and the Colossus *

But, to get back to Tranquebar, the city is now very wretched, at least for the European section and for the more-or less legitimate descendants of the former Europeans.

The Catholic church here has always been looked after by priests from Mylapore [near Madras] or from Goa. Which means that, today, it is schismatic. Under the Danish occupation, Bishop Bonnand managed, with great trouble, to obtain permission for a small chapel there. It took a long time; but he got it anyway. And, little by little, all the Catholics came over to us and deserted the schismatics. But then, less than two years ago, during some Feast, something or other happened, to offend their caste taboos. And they all went back again to Schism! So much for the type of Catholics we have in Tranquebar!

There is also a certain number of Protestants, more or less Lutheran, thanks to the Danish Government, which has the dubious distinction of being the first to import heresy into this long-suffering country. The famous Tamil works of Fr Beschi [1680- 1747] were addressed against the Protestantism in Tranquebar.

May their heresy collapse now, along with the foreign power that introduced and sustained it! And may the same heresy (whether in the form of Established Church of England, Wesleyans, Dissidents or whatever) equally promptly collapse!

But who will make England collapse, the colossal Power sustaining all those heresies? Or rather, who will make her leave her heresies and take on the cause of Truth? What can possibly do it? Nothing less than your own almighty Power, O my God. Say but the word and England will be converted. Or else she will go down, like the Colossus of Rhodes, leaving nothing behind but the vague memory of her colossal empire.

*Disappointed with Judge friend. The Jupiter puddle. *

_Near Kumbakonam, 20th October _

The Christians of Kumbakonam are rather few; but they are (p1152) rich. They gave us a perfect reception. The cure, Fr Depommier, did everything he could think of to make us welcome. But I was amazed and disappointed by Judge Alagwiya Pillai [my esteemed companion of a few years ago]. He barely came to greet me, just as I was leaving, giving a rather lame excuse that he was “indisposed”. What has happened to the excellent spirit he had in Coimbatore? I have always considered him the most sensible and well-informed Indian I know. 34Anyway, they say he is still a very good Christian.

The most remarkable thing in the huge city of Kumbakonam (a completely Hindu city, sunk to the deepest level of paganism) is a famous Feast celebrated every time the planet Jupiter comes round to a certain conjunction. From far and near, they all come to it. The most essential thing to do during the Feast is to jump into a certain Sacred Lake which has the power of washing away all your sins. But you must do it at the exact moment of the planet’s conjunction if you want to gain the full effect. Thousands of pilgrims are there, waiting on the edge. The Head Brahmin is standing by, ready to signal that Moment, to the nearest minute and second! Then they all rush forward immediately and jump into the semi-swamp, at great risk of being drowned, suffocated, or crushed to death. There are several casualties at every Feast. But nobody mourns them. They are the top winners, since they have all gone straight up into heaven from the purifying lake!

Recently, the English have brought a bit of order into the shambles, by reducing the flow of water to the lake, in advance of the Day, and by sending in some police “pions”.

That’s where they are at, those poor pagans!

[* Home. Take on Quilon? --No. S.C. praise Expose. *]

_Karumattampatty, 3rd November _

Here I am at last, back in Karumattarnpatty. I am not too (p1153) worn-out by the long journey; rather, it has almost completely restored me. May my good Angel be always thanked by me, for the continual protection given me during those long journeys! Angel of Karumattampatty, I salute you also!

_4th November _

When I was at Karaikal I received a letter from Fr Tesson.

He told me the Carmelites are giving up two of their Vicariates, Quilon and Mangalore, and want to retain only Bombay and Verapoly. The S.C. are offering to confide the two Vicariates to us. This would be “easy” if Mysore would be prepared to take on Mangalore and if I could take on Quilon.

It is becoming extremely obvious that Coimbatore will hardly ever be viable unless it extends its territory somewhat. Our Christians here are too few; and they are getting fewer every day, by destitution and emigration, because of the nature of their work. [Weaving, etc].

But I do not think at all that Quilon is the answer. Our two Vicariates are far too different. The two peoples have nothing in common, no understanding or empathy whatsoever. Other manners, other customs and habits. Even the fundamental principles underlying the original conversion of the two Communities are poles apart.

Therefore, more than likely, I will have to say No. However, before giving any reply at all, I will write to Archbishop Martini, asking if this information is correct (that the Carmelites themselves want to pull out). For, as a good neighbour, I do not want him to wonder if I am involved in some intrigue against them.

_Coimbatore, 15thNovember _

Here’s a letter from Propaganda! They say they are very satisfied with my long account of the customs and ceremonies we are tolerating in India. They will soon make similar enquiries among all the other Vicars Apostolic of this country.

Please, O my God, bring this very grave question to a good conclusion! (p1154)

_20th November _

Bishop Bonnand and Bishop Charbonnaux wrote to ask me about Quilon and Mangalore. I have replied definitely about Quilon: I do not think any good can be expected from joining it to Coimbatore. As to Mangalore-Mysore, I do not know enough to have any opinion. If our Society wants to accept the two [western] Vicariates as distinct Missions, I would have no objection.

*Blamed for S.C. circular. Let each state his System fairly. *

Let Rome decide, neither Hastily nor Lazily.

[* (Later, I resign). *]

_8th December _

So here comes the Circular from Propaganda to all Bishops in India, asking each of them to prepare an expose (something like the one I did) and also to indicate his own way of seeing and thinking [morally] about those grave matters.

This letter comes out very strong indeed [against any participation in paganism]. And the tone seems to presuppose already that we are in the wrong; that we have no moral right to act as we are doing (at least in some of the cases).

Bishop Charbonnaux says it’s “a thunder-bolt”. Bishop Bonnand blames me for the Circular, presuming that I must have written inexact or exaggerated information to Rome!

All this only confirms my own conviction that we cannot go on like this much longer. We must clarify those extremely divisive and dangerous questions, once and for all.

They may (or may not) have some right to imagine that I have given wrong or exaggerated information; I myself know that I did not. And I also know that we can never have an easy conscience if we willfully continue on in the morally-doubtful situation we have got ourselves into.

Bishop Charbonnaux now seems to be going at it head down; there is talk of a Pastoral Letter absolutely forbidding certain [tolerated] customs and severely modifying others. Even (p1155) substituting a few new ones, etc. This [bull-headed reaction] seems to take things much too far too fast.

I say “Let us wait!” For the S.C does not actually condemn any specific Custom in their Circular. It is talking only in general. And those men who already maintain that our present policy is blame-free need not feel at all hit by any of those vague generalities.

So, let them all set out their own system as perfectly as they can. Even, let us help them to do it. For all we want is [not victory but] the truth in all this. [We have taken no sides]. Only, we will not allow anyone, in his certitude of innocence, [to “improve” the evidence] by adding or omitting anything himself.

By taking this line, O my God, do I risk offending You in any way? Certainly I risk offending several of my confreres. Maybe the two extremes of them will accuse me of being “our opponent”. Precisely because I want the reasons for [_both _]opinions to be fully brought out and strongly defended. So that the Truth alone may prevail in the end!

In order to arrive at the full truth, the Sacred Congregation should not go too fast. But neither should It dawdle on the [correct] slow process which It now appears to have initiated: an impartial, exhaustive exploration of the whole issue, determined to withhold judgment until such time as everybody is fully persuaded that the Sacred Congregation indeed has all the facts.

Two things are now to be feared: 1. As soon as the S.C. has got to the truth, It may feel bound to declare [and enforce] it immediately, before all the various evangelizing workers in India are fully persuaded that, yes, Propaganda has now obtained full information, and has seriously studied all the implications. If that [premature ruling] is made, I do not hesitate to forecast that [there will be trouble]. In spite of the respect which all our missionaries now have for the Holy See, it will [_not _]be the end of the matter.

2. A second thing is even more to be feared: the Sacred Congregation, influenced by the personal authority of Bishop Bonnand and [the power] of the Jesuits [may decide to do nothing, to (p1156) let sleeping dogs lie]. So it leaves things just as they were before. Perhaps, It even prefers to conclude that what I wrote was “exaggerated”. If that kind of thing happens, I will have no alternative left but to resign. And, come what may, I will do it. It will be my duty.

[*Resist Fennelly and the Irish take-over. *]

[*Martini changing? *]

_10th December _

A few days ago I received a letter from Bishop Fennelly in Madras, asking me “officially” for a whole ream of information and statistics “to be forwarded to the Government”! I decided that it was my duty to ignore this officious demand.

To allow Bishop Fennelly to be the sole channel of communication with the Madras Government is not without serious dangers. [Look at the facts]: The Irish propensity to usurp the whole

ecclesiastical administration in India. The presumption by the Government (and by many of the English, including some Catholics) that the authority of the Vicar Apostolic of Madras extends over the whole Presidency of Madras [nearly all South India]. The trouble we have already had with certain [Irish] priests (one, to my own knowledge) who claim to have jurisdiction “from Bishop Fennelly” in our territory (because he was a military chaplain in it)! All these are very bad signs indeed.

So look out! If you liked the Portuguese Schism, you will just love the English one. (Or maybe the Irish Schism)! Then, for sure, the last state of India will be worse than the first.

I know very well that the present Vicar Apostolic of Madras, Bishop Fennelly, is very far from thinking such destructive thoughts. But political trends can be stronger than persons. What about his successors?…

I do know that, even now, we can get nothing done with the Madras Government except through the mediation of “their” Vicar Apostolic. This anomaly could have really serious consequences later on. (p1157)

And I fail to see why certain Vicars Apostolic [like Bishop Bonnand] who could have stood up to the usurpation right at the start, did not do so. [We couldn’t get our confreres paid as chaplains except through Bishop Fennelly. So what?]. Much better to have no salaries at all than to submit to that humiliating and [_dangerous _]pressure.

As for me, unless I get a specific order from the Holy See, I am determined never to cooperate with this nonsense.

_30th December _

Archbishop Martini is going to Rome. It would be very good news, if this venerable prelate continued to be a good neighbour, as he always appeared to be, up to now.

But I did not like the way he replied (or instructed the reply) to certain letters of mine, in which I showed complete trust in him, a sincere desire to work together, true interest, friendship, respect and everything. I’m afraid now that he, also, is going to be an opponent in the future. In what? How? Why? To know all that, I would need to be a prophet. .. What are men, after all?



*I write Rome to ‘Cool It’. Bonjean’s Ooty house. *

[*Lefeuvre fed-up. Vachal a martyr. *]

*Pajean plotting with Jaffna. *

_Coimbatore, 12th January 1852 _

I have just written again to the Sacred Congregation about the Indian [caste and custom] issues. I reminded them that these can have very grave practical implications indeed. Let there be no illusions about the consequences of a decision enforcing more strictly correct Christian behaviour: it would be a terrible blow to our Christian communities [and many of them would not even survive it]. I begged them, once again, to take plenty of time. And to use a procedure which will make it evident to all [the missionaries here] that Rome is indeed examining and considering the Question from every point of view, and with all its implications and consequences in mind.

_Ootacamund, 20th January _

[As soon as I arrived here and saw the new house] I began to repent sincerely that I had let Fr Bonjean go ahead and finish it in my absence. It has many flaws; and it has cost a lot more than it is worth. Fr Bonjean is still very zealous. But his zeal is the sort that cannot take advice or direction; and so it mixes a lot of mistakes and imperfections into its good actions.

Fr Lefeuvre, a young missionary only recently arrived, seems to be already totally fed up with India. I’d be greatly (p1160) surprised if this young man ever had anything missionary in him,

apart from the name.35

_Ootacamund, 21st January _

There goes one of my Paris Noviciate classmates with the palm of martyrdom in his hand! For he has died for the Faith, at the hands of its enemies. Therefore (It must be hoped) he has gone straight to Heaven. .

Lucky Vachal36 It’s you that has received the best prize! If you are now in His presence (the Lamb slain for the sins of the world) pray to Him for me. By the merits of his Blood, may one drop of yours be granted, to wash away my sins.

_Coimbatore, 20th February _

For years now, Fr Pajean has seemed to be very restless, always wanting to be somewhere else. But his behaviour and performance had been much more satisfactory [last year) and I wanted to do something to show him that I had completely forgotten the past; and also to give him a much-needed break from his work. So that is why I took him along with me to Jaffna and on through Ceylon.

That special kindness and consideration is likely to cost me dear. When he was at Jaffna he must have spoken to Fr Semeria (I don’t know what he said or didn’t say) and asked that unsuspecting and imprudent man to take him into his Order (the OMI). Neither of them said a word about it to me, either in Jaffna or afterwards. I had not the remotest suspicion of this underhand intrigue going on.

Then, what did I receive but a letter from Bishop Bettachini.

He was “delighted” to hear that Fr Pajean was planning to come again to Jaffna, “not as a passing visitor but to stay”! He asked me for all relevant information about Pajean, to see if there was any (p1161) obstacle to accepting him!

Amazed at this sudden revelation, and amazed especially at their naive “delight” about it, I quickly wrote back to His Lordship. I begged him to reflect, and not to take advantage of Pajean’s weakness, his temptation to discouragement. Such temptations often arise and trouble the heart of a missionary [for a while]. How destructive it would be if they were actively facilitated [by the authorities)! And the temptations would greatly proliferate if missionaries saw that they could quite easily change from one Mission to another. Neither of the Missions would gain from a situation of easy transfers like that.

Therefore I could not consent to Fr Pajean departing for a neighbouring Mission. It could set a disastrous example for others in Coimbatore to follow. Especially when this Mission is so poor, so remote and uncomfortable, so lacking in obvious spiritual or missionary consolations.

I was naturally expecting that His Lordship of Jaffna would do nothing further about it until he had received my reply; and then he would write an honest, friendly letter to Fr Pajean, but making it very clear to him that there was no chance whatsoever.

How wrong I was! Just two days later (before my letter could possibly have arrived) I got more news. Fr Pajean wrote to me that he had already received letters [of acceptance] from Bishop Bettachini and Fr Semeria. All he needed now was my permission to leave! Truly, I would not have thought there was so much naive imprudence in the world!

I wrote to Fr Pajean, trying to reason with him as gently as possible. But I also wrote to Fr Semeria, a strong letter, letting him see how greatly he had offended me. 37

When I came back here [to Coimbatore] I had a few talks with Fr Pajean, which showed me that Fr Semeria’s behaviour was even more out of line than I had thought. The only result of all this is that Fr Pajean is by now very annoyed with me indeed. (p1162) The poor man imagines that, once he was over in Jaffna, everything in the garden would be rosy. (I would give him at most two years there). In the meantime, he is all set to return to leading the Coimbatore Opposition (a post which he seemed to have abandoned for a time last year).

He has formally requested to return to Europe in two years’ time, if I have not given him permission for Jaffna by then. That permission cannot be granted without serious danger to this Mission. It would be far, far better if he took himself off to Europe immediately. For now I fear he will go all out to do us twice as much damage as he ever did before. I cannot do anything to prevent him from infecting the young confreres with his bad attitude. And I have no power whatsoever to dismiss him or send him home. Well, let the evil consequences of that fall on the people who have tied our hands, leaving us no come-back whatsoever in the Rule!

*Goa Schism in Karumattampatty and Dindigul districts. *

*Fr Semeria hits back. Prayer for OMI’s great Future. *

20th February l

Very big trouble lies in wait for Karumattampatty District, and then (maybe) for the whole Vicariate. One village, in rebellion against Fr Metral, called in the Ootacamund schismatic priest. He promptly arrived, and was received with full honours by the village, aided by a [bigger] neighbouring village which has always kept up its affection for the West coast priests. It seems there are secret understandings with other villages too.

May the good Virgin hurry to our aid!

On another front, Fr Perceval has got into a nasty fight with the schismatic priest at Dindigul, who is being supported by the majority of the Catholics in a pariah village in the District. Ah, wretched Goa schism! (p1163)

[_Coimbatore, 30th [March?] _]

Fr Semeria has replied to me in a rather unfitting way. I am very disappointed in him, for it makes me fear that this new Order (OMI) is not all that I had been hoping. Still, I like to think that Fr Semeria is only one man. And that the OMI will one day be a great consolation and edification to the Church. I pray the Lord for that with all my heart.

Meanwhile Fr Pajean is giving me more and more trouble.

*The caste Conservatives and the moral Radicals. *

*Impossible to Hold a Sane middle Line. *

*I again offer to Resign. *

_26th April _

[I have written to Propaganda, as I said, to proceed slowly on the Caste and Customs investigation, with all deliberate and [_evident _]thoroughness.] But Bishop Bonnand will be doing all he can to [_stop _]the investigation entirely. The Jesuits will be doing the same. Meanwhile, the split between the missionaries is getting worse and worse.

My own, stirred up beyond all proportion by the reckless speeches of a few, are now behaving in such an [outrageously anti-caste] way that the Vicariate is like a powder-keg, just waiting for a spark to explode it.

I keep telling them that, until such time as the Holy See makes a decision, we can (and we must) keep to the practical line traced out by our predecessors. To do otherwise will be to produce a sure and certain evil for the sake of a problematic righteousness. Even if [objectively] we might be [morally] wrong in keeping to our [traditional] line, it could only be a material wrongness for us, since there is still a real doubt. (Obviously and certainly there is a doubt, seeing that missionary opinions are so divided).

If, on the other hand, we take a [more dangerously strict line than we [have _]to we will thereby be sinning _formally. And we will really have to answer to God for the terrible [pastoral] (p1164) consequences which must inevitably result [from our insults to caste and customs].

Finally, as head of this Mission, as Vicar Apostolic, I do not

authorize or permit any innovation [any change from our traditional policy] at this time.

But when I say all these things (myself or through others) I can observe that several of my missionaries pay no heed to them whatsoever. I am told (almost in so many words) that I am a perjurer of the Oath I have taken. They say I am trying to “interpret away” the Constitution of Benedict XIV, which it is explicitly forbidden to interpret at all. And other equally respectful remarks!

But at the same time I am regarded [by the other side] as a “supporter” of the “moralistic fanatics” here and in Pondicherry Vicariate. In vain do I reply that, yes indeed, I recognize that there are some stubborn fanatics in the “reform” party. But there are some of them in the other [pro-customs] party as well. That even fanatics can sometimes be right, by accident. We have to forget their excesses for a moment, and look only at their arguments. [If they are correct, we recognize them]. And if they are weak, we refute them.

I propose that [the objectors to my policy] get together, and let us work on it. I ask for a discussion, a meeting. Nothing doing! Nothing doing from one side; nothing from the other. Or rather, afflictions from one side; other afflictions from the other. Ha! Just what I foresaw [a few years ago] when I sent in my first offer to resign, to purely and simply quit, and not to be forced to go into those Questions at all. Because [if I stayed on here] my conscience would not allow me to just leave those Matters alone, to leave them just stay in doubt [without an honest attempt to solve them]. And because, from my previous knowledge of some of the characters we have in these Missions, I could easily foresee how any such attempt was likely to turn out: very stormy; and with no great hope of a safe harbour in the end. [Plenty of heat; no light].

Since that is precisely what has, in fact, now happened, I am going to renew my offer of resignation to the S.C. Heaven grant that [in the end] it may be all for the glory of our good Master! (p1165)

*Transfer to help Pajean. *

[*Good Retreat (Bonjean). Decent Meeting. *]

*No authority, no Spiritual Support for Young Missionaries. *

_16th May _

Fr Pajean is still suffering [from some illness?] in his present Mission. I am offering him a new post. I hope he will at least see that, by doing this, I am only trying to help him. But alas! I greatly fear that he will see nothing of the kind.

_Karumattampatty, 3rd July _

In the midst of the cruellest afflictions, the Lord sometimes has some moments of delightful consolation ready for us. Such was the Retreat we were granted, all together, these last few days. Fr Bonjean was the preacher, and he spoke like an angel. Everything went very well; most edifying. All my missionaries took part, except Fr Pajean. After the Retreat we had a general meeting, at which everything went very decently.

Ah, my God, why can’t we have some more of this, some various ongoing methods, to continually instill some of Your Mind into the minds of our young missionaries! They arrive here (usually) so full of good will, still imbued with the pious ideas they were given at the Seminary. But no sooner are they here than they are left entirely on their own, without a Rule, without any framework of felt obligations, [without guidance]. For the Vicar Apostolic can hardly give them a word of advice without irritating them. After they have got together a few times with certain older confreres, they can hardly recognize him any more as their Superior. So any counselling given to them becomes a pure waste of time. Any mild suggestion becomes an intolerable annoyance to them. An order … better not risk it! With this kind of attitude, even their ordinary Christian virtues are frequently endangered. And there are hardly any opportunities at all for renewing ourselves.

In my six years here, I was only able to organize three Retreats to help them. The first two were almost completely useless, because I had too much opposition to be able to hold a proper (p1166) Retreat (like this last one, which was such a joy to our hearts). This one was really good, very good, excellent! My only regret is that I can see no method by which the good effect of it can be followed up and maintained.

Now we are all going to scatter again, to our various stations.

And, very soon no doubt, the dismal [subversive] correspondence will start up again, to revive all the old complaints and discontents. And I have no guarantee that, even in twelve months’ time, we will be able to have everybody here together again, to heal the wounds of the year!

But anyway, Lord, be You blessed and praised for all the good You have worked for us in this Retreat!

*Restructuring the Society, the only Way Out. *

[*I will Risk the Rebuffs. Failing, I will Resign (2nd reason). *]

_Coimbatore, 25th July _

The more I reflect, the more I am convinced that all our troubles ultimately come from the deficiencies of the Rules in our Society of Foreign Missions, so dear to me, so precious, but so hopelessly organized. The remedy for these deficiencies seems quite impossible. (Not to find the remedy, but to apply it). Because, in order to remedy the faults, you have to work within the present Rule; and this is designed in such a way that it effectively blocks any improvement. 38

A possible way out would be [a coup d’etat from above], a solution imposed by the authority of the Holy See [to wrench us forcibly out of our helplessness]. But what hope is there of obtaining that, when everybody would immediately accuse me of [treason or of] reckless meddling [if I wrote in about our helpless condition]! And the Sacred Congregation would most probably believe them!

Very well; I will make my protest by resigning! This will cost (p1167) my heart a great deal, a lot more than anything else I have ever had to sacrifice to the Lord, over all the past ten years [since I left my home and joined the Society]. But I will not shrink from this new sacrifice, O my God.

After the [moral] question of the rites and customs of India, the main cause of my resignation will be the deplorable state of our Society.

Nevertheless, let us work on at it, try everything, right to the end. I am going to write, now, to all the principal Vicars Apostolic of the Society [who are supposed to be its “Superior”]. I will propose one way out of our [organizational mess]. This [restructuring] could still be successful without violating the Rules (though admittedly by a very long and roundabout way). I will not tell them that I have resolved to resign [if this attempt fails] and if I then see that any real improvement in the situation is indeed impossible.

I have no great hopes that they will see the point, or will even understand the reason for my concern; [but I have to try]. I will then have tried everything possible (and maybe the impossible as well). Then, if there is still no progress, it won’t be for want of sincere efforts by one man at least.

This [restructuring] plan would take time. But time is always a necessary factor in any good achievement. It will certainly take sacrifices and pain, even to attempt. For these I offer myself.

They won’t want to see me [troubling them], O my God. I could risk being rejected by them all. But You will graciously accept the offer I am making you, of those [risks and] sacrifices.

*On visitation. Cooperative parents of Girls. *

[*Fr Marie-Xavier! *]

_Darapuram 13th August _

This is one of the most miserable Districts in my Vicariate.

Once upon a time, there were plenty of Catholics here. But today [most of them] are either extinct or scattered elsewhere. Up to recently, no missionary went here except maybe once a year, hurriedly visiting the little villages still extant, where the survivors (p1168) were not much more than nominal Christians anyway.

About four years ago, I stationed a missionary in this District. Since then, he has mostly been occupied with building etc. Getting land, building a house, laying foundations for some kind of a decent church; that’s about all that has been achieved here so far.

Fr Perceval is very keen on Indian rockets and Music; and he organized a very big show to welcome me. It fell very flat. But no matter! He has a good heart, and that’s worth all the rest. He has many other good qualities too.

_Madatakulam, 18th August _

There are some very peculiar Christians here. Formerly, they would bring some pagan little-girls for baptism, every now and again. Each girl had been given to a Christian family, to marry a son. All very well; doubly so, in fact.

But now we find out that many of the Christians’ own girls are gone missing. They have been given to pagans! And not only do they marry them [outside the Church] without bothering to get a dispensation; but even before the “marriage” they have to drop every sign of Christianity and become in fact pagan girls. The missionary made very strong protests to the parents about this carry on.

“But Father (they explained) what’s wrong with that? It’s only fair exchange. They give us girls. Mustn’t we do the same for them? We demand that their girls become Christians, in order to enter our families. Haven’t they an equal right to demand that our girls become pagans, in order to join theirs?”

Poor people! Alas, there are plenty of Europeans who would see nothing at all wrong with their reasoning. Many of our best philosophes would find it absolutely logical, conclusive. Among our French judges, several would rule in favour of it. Indeed, isn’t it a similar kind of reasoning that makes some of our French Catholics accuse the Church of injustice, in the conditions It demands for mixed marriages? Isn’t it because they want to be “fairer than the Church” that they agree to an unnatural division in their future family: that the girls will be Catholic and the boys (p1169) non-Catholic! The two extremes [ancient and modern paganism] coincide.

_Nerrur, 25th August _

This is a small Christian community of pariahs living on the bank of the Cavery. Across the River is another pariah community belonging to Pondicherry Vicariate.

We were here at Nerrur in the middle of the night, trying to sleep in our “house”, a 10 foot by 10 shack, with swarms of “carea” insects chewing the straw roof above us and continually raining down on us as well. Suddenly I was startled awake by a voice outside calling “Monseigneur! Monseigneur!”

Who was it but my very first disciple, good Marie-Xavier!39 (He is now a priest, and a very good priest too). He happened to be in the village across the River, and he came over to meet me. (Excellent Fr Borderaux (whom I met at Karaikal) was with him). As soon as he heard we were really here, he had to cross over immediately [in the middle of the night] to join us!

And there we were [next day at lunch] sitting around our “table” composed of Mass boxes and travelling bags etc. From this tiny joyful palace of our reunion, all sadness was totally banished.

*The loads, the Outraged Coolies and the Boycotted Christians. *

*The Children, the 2 Bullocks and the Old Woman. *

_Chinnamallee, 7th September _

The Christians here are supposed to be fairly good. Yet, when the letter announcing the Bishop’s visitation arrived, they were all getting ready to go away on a pilgrimage to Vellenkali, a very famous Church, now under the schismatics. Apparently (p1170) there was no malice at all in that; they had promised a pilgrimage; and they had to carry it out, hadn’t they?

Moreover, this village is [_very _]caste-ridden. They are all

weavers by caste, and they do not possess a single square yard of land of their own. So they have to depend entirely on their customers, the surrounding pagans. Therefore they are meticulous to the last degree in keeping to all caste rules. Their tight situation, every now and then, gets them into some peculiar fixes.

A few years ago, the missionary was on his visitation. He left this caste village for Caroor, where the Catholics were pariah. Without taking this factor into account, the Chinnamallee Christians gave the missionary some pagan coolies to carry his loads there. When the coolies got to Caroor, they saw that the missionary was heading for the pariah quarter! They couldn’t believe their eyes … But yes, ‘twas true! No doubting it…! At this point, they immediately dropped their loads and refused to put a foot into that pollution. They ran away home in horror.

“Could you believe it!” they gasped, as their fellow villagers gathered round. “That guru who was here with us yesterday! We thought he was such a good man. But he’s nothing but a … He’s a


“No! Not possible!” “I tell you. It’s a fact!”

And they told them the terrible adventure. Immediately the whole pagan caste assembled. They declared the Christians to have lost all rank, to be out-castes, because of their [remote] participation in this obscenity. This meant: no barber; no washerman etc.[_ No water from the village wells._] So, for a very long time, the Christians had to go around unshaved and unshorn, in unwashed clothes. They had to go several miles every day for a pot of water.

That disastrous mistake has not been forgotten, to this day.

And [while I was here myself] I saw another accidental offense very nearly re-activating all the pagans’ distrust and spite against the poor Christians.

One evening, we went out for a stroll, just to get out of that airless Indian hut (doorless and windowless) where you feel you are almost suffocating. A swarm of children followed us, running, (p1171) laughing .and frolicking around us, till we came near a field, with a deep wide well, irrigating the land by means of an ancient contraption: a huge leather sack, raised up full and afterwards lowered back into the well by means of a pulley and a rope drawn by bullocks continually advancing away and backing in again.

The bullocks, scared by the children’s hubbub, suddenly backed towards the well, just when the sack was half-way up, heavy and full of water. Down it went, knocking the bullocks off their .balance, on to the wooden platform where the pulley was, and right through the planks, into the well! And there they were, suspended [by the rope harness] on the side of the cliff of rocks lining the well. Their driver (who was dragged back with them) managed to hang on to the rocks, and to climb up to the top.

With great presence of mind, he quickly cut the harness ropes which were strangling the bullocks. They jumped free, one almost on to the wall; the other down, down into the well, bumping from rock to rock until it hit the water, where it was drowned. It all happened much faster than I can tell it.

Then an old woman came forward (she must be the owner or minder of the bullocks) tearing her hair, tearing off her clothes, beating her bare breasts with frightful thumps, and screaming:

“Woe! Woe! Woe! Who is this foreign guru, coming here to

bring us all this bad luck? What harm have we done him that he should do this to us? Is this the sort of God he is bringing us, supposed to be better than our own gods? [Away with his God!] Look what he has done to us now!…” And many other curses and blasphemies on the same general theme.

To try and talk sense to her just then would be a complete waste of tune. The bullock on top was still struggling for his life, and would probably be able to hang on until help arrived. I left the scene while she was still blaspheming away at full stretch. But the Christians were terrified. “What will they do to us now?” they asked themselves. “They will blame our priests for this, and revenge it all on us.”

Next morning, I learnt that the bullock was all right. He only had a few sprains and scratches. I sent for the woman. She did not refuse my invitation. And, to show her that the Christian gurus (p1172) were not so wicked, I passed her a rupee. This seemed to console her considerably. And I hope that the Christians will escape retribution this time, anyway.

*SC. refuses Resignation. Paris exhorts. *

[*People ill-treated. *]

*I request Permission to go to Rome and Tell them Why. *

_Coimbatore, 1st November _

The S.C., having consulted the Paris Fathers, has refused to accept my resignation. Those Fathers have written me several friendly and encouraging letters, to talk me out of my decision.40

In spite of all that, I still think I must insist on it. For the Holy See has done or said nothing about the customs (etc) business to make me change my mind. Bishop Bonnand continues to be in total opposition to me [on that issue]. The missionaries here are going from bad to worse. Our Christians, under a pastoral administration continuing like this, can only perish.

More and more, I hear of [missionaries] annoying the people unnecessarily, insulting and humiliating them, beating and ill treating them, in all kinds of situations (even completely apart from caste or customs dilemmas).

If these poor Christians come to me for justice or support (and they do come freely to me, because they know that I like them) I can do nothing to defend or support them. To try to do anything would only enrage and mentally unhinge the missionary concerned. For he intends to be always the master, and can never agree (or even suspect) that he is simply being a tyrant.

In such an intolerable situation [and nothing to be done about it] can I continue? [Can I continue to preside over this (p1173) hopeless shambles?] No! Therefore I will insist on resigning. I will keep on warning the S.C. that I cannot agree to stay on. That if Propaganda still refuses to listen, I will appeal directly to the Holy Father. But that, before going that far, I am asking the S.C. for permission to go to Rome and tell them face to face.41

Out of all this, Lord, may something come that can contribute the most to your glory!

[*No to their short-sighted Cleverness in choosing Paris Directors. Barran. *]

_Ootacamund, 19th November _

There are some complaints (and probably not without some reason) about the way Fr Tesson is looking after our financial affairs. At Pondicherry they would like to simply push him aside by giving him an “assistant”, none other than Fr Pouplin. I believe that Mysore also tends to like that same idea.

But to their proposal about this, sent to me just now, I am replying: I cannot agree to it. Let us suppose that Fr Pouplin will indeed do better when he goes there. Will that last? Most certainly not. For the Paris Gentlemen have too little to do, for the Missions, to be able to look after it properly. (Far too little, although they always make out they are terribly over-worked). Fr Pouplin won’t be long learning their style.

And anyway, what outstanding qualities [or qualifications] has Fr Pouplin, to be a Director? A Procurator, let it pass! But a Director!.. Why can’t we see that, if we send someone to Paris he should be capable of being a good Director? We should [_not _]send any other kind of man.

We complain a lot about the Paris Seminary. But isn’t it our own fault (the fault of the Missions) if it is so useless (if it responds so poorly to our needs) especially in the formation of the (p1174) aspirants?

Who, in fact, do we usually send to Paris to be Procurators

or Directors? Men fed up with the Missions (though otherwise quite respectable). Or sick confreres, who need to retire. “In this way (we fool ourselves) we avoid losing a good, active, devoted missionary; and we get some work out of a man who would be leaving the Missions anyway”.

Wonderful reasoning! What a wonderful clever system for keeping up a predominantly apostolic spirit in the Paris Seminary, and for handing it on alive to the young aspirants! What a wonderful method of choosing the Seminary Council, and of putting in well-informed, prudent, devoted men, worthy to be Superiors over the whole Society and the Missions! Because, de facto, they have made themselves the Superiors. (And I believe this situation ought to be made legal (with all the necessary safeguards) if we ever want our body [our corps, our Society] to have a head on it. For where else but at the Paris Seminary can that head be?).

Our Paris Seminary ought to be [recognized as] an executive branch of Propaganda. But [to gain that kind of recognition, the Missions will have to send much better representatives there as Directors]. Not people that they will afterwards be sorry for sending. Directors should be chosen as carefully as Vicars Apostolic. Instead of “choosing” a missionary who wants to go back to Europe anyway, we should regard such a feeble attitude as an absolute obstacle to the job!

[All this ought to be self-evident]. But who will want to see it?

_Coimbatore, 10th December _

When the Holy See consulted those Gentlemen in Paris [a while back, about my resignation] Fr Barran actually wrote to me! It was the first time I ever got a letter from him, ever since he was made Superior. He has been Superior now for over a year, in place of the venerable Fr Langlois. (That great missionary has been promoted to a better life, after a long life here below, filled with great achievements and spent entirely in the service of the Missions). (p1175)

Out here, we are kept so poorly informed about events in the Paris Seminary, that we barely knew if Fr Barran was the Superior or not. In fact we wouldn’t know it at all if we hadn’t read it in the French newspapers! Fr Langlois is irreplaceable.

*The Kings, the Republic, the Empire and the Future. *

_20 December _

So there’s France, proclaimed an Empire once again! For a long time now, it was only nominally a Republic. Did the real Republic last even one year? I doubt it. A Republic is not workable in France.

As for an “Empire”, I don’t think that is what is required either, from the point of view of [social] justice, good order and the total public welfare. However, it’s better than a “Republic”.

Moreover, it seems that Providence has endowed Louis Napoleon with many good qualities which make him less useless to be at the head of the Government than some other··”Emperor”.

Anyway, the legitimists [strict Royalists] seem [quite unfit to rule]. They still do not seem to have grasped the real causes of the fall of the Bourbons and the disintegration of France. [Gallicanism]. So it may indeed be that God has rejected them for good. Because all power comes from God.

The “legitimacy” of a King [his divine right to rule] is not automatic. It depends on the choice of God. Normally. God shows his choice through the ordinary means of following out the laws and customs governing various kingdoms He does not give miraculous signs.

But every now and then in history, God allows the force of national events to break down the laws: for they have been abused [by the rulers]. Then there is a Revolution. Sometimes (p1176) peaceful, but sometimes terrible and merciless. For God is able to use even the energy of the wicked for His own ends. He does this especially when He wants to try, and to purify, the Faith of his servants, when they have richly deserved to be rejected but have not yet absolutely guaranteed their own rejection. For God is patient in his Justice.

Then there occurs a complex political situation, during which the ancient Law is not yet completely abolished, and the modern laws are not yet completely legitimate. They are [_made _]legitimate [only gradually] by the sheer force of Events dragging [the whole population into the future] without their ever having formally, decisively and culpably thrown down the justness of the ancient Law.

But if the [personifications of the ancient Law], those who hold the royal titles by right of succession, still do not listen to the voice of God, which speaks so loudly and terribly [in those historic Events and Revolutions] then at last God allows all their ancient titles to perish for ever. He allows the modern laws to be written into the hearts of the people, although at first those laws had nothing going for them except the sheer necessity of saving the Fatherland [from chaos and invasion].

Thus it is that one dynasty gives way to another; a Kingdom gives way to a Republic, then to an Empire, then to some other political System. And Time (the First Minister in God’s Department of Planet Earth, as M. de Maistre suggests) at last takes over the new country. Because Time finally and completely 1egitimises what was at first [only an upheaval] whose only legitimacy was the sheer force of historic Events.

At the moment, the positions of the different parties in France seem to me to be [the intermediate, complicated stage]. Louis Napoleon is not yet “legitimate”. But he can govern legitimately.

The old-time Legitimists can still legitimately claim the right to protest. But this right they are continually eroding day by day. Louis XIV started this process of erosion [with his Four Gallican (p1177) Articles].42 Then, under Louis XV (the least worthy of France’s Kings) and under his successor [Louis XVI] the “divine right” became looser and looser in their flabby hands; they richly deserved to have it snatched away from them.

For their royal titles [long before .1789] had become an empty sham; because of their own rationalism and impiety. And God permitted that they should be thrown down, walked on, covered with .their own blood! Surely that should have been sufficient warning to the subsequent Royalists, when they took over those ancient rights again [after the Revolution and Napoleon]. They should have restored the ancient Law to its pristine purity and removed the [later] lies and sacrileges from it. ‘

Not a bit of it! Those same flaws and impieties were the very thing they highlighted [on their new Royal Arms]. The bloody daubs of the Revolution were retained in their “noble” Constitution, along with the earlier scrawls and unjust innovations traced there by the Bourbons and their blind supporters before [1789] scratching out the ancient [Christian] Charters in a quiet Revolution of the Rich, unjust and anti-Christian, of which they themselves were the guilty authors.

Heaven was angered.by [the Bourbons’ stubborn blindness].A second warning was given [in the 1830 Revolution]. A new eruption swept them from their throne again. The cause of that eruption? They look for it everywhere except where it can easily be found. [Their betrayal of Catholicism].

Even if Henri V [the legitimists’ “King”] were to come back upon the throne of his ancestors (a throne which he does not seem even yet to have totally lost in law) nothing indicates [any real hope of repentance]. No real hope that the France of Charlemagne and Saint Louis [and their right-thinking successors] would return. And they are the prototypes, the models, of what God expects a King of France to be!

So God has abandoned the Bourbons. Perhaps He really (p1178) wants a new dynasty, with completely different principles from those of our latest unfortunate Kings?

And now [the dynasty of Napoleon seems to have succeeded the Bourbon dynasty]. But is it truly the family line that God has chosen, to take the place of the long line of Kings who once made France so illustrious? Perhaps it is; or will be if it manages to make itself worthy.

Louis Napoleon seems to understand a part of his glorious mission; but only a part so far. [Will he be the first of a great new Dynasty? It all depends]. On whether he will decide to openly embrace the eternal principles of [social] justice, and the great Principles of the alliance which the Mercy and Wisdom of God once made with France, demanding that she be worthy of her great mission to the nations. Or whether he will give in to “political realism” and to mediocre modern “philosophical” policies. [Depending on his choice], he will either enable his sons to reign after him; or he will go down after a brief day in power.

All indications point to [the modern and ephemeral] outcome. If the Prince Royal (son of an adulterer in the judgment of the Church, but “legitimate” by farce of a sacrilegious law) happens to succeed him, [then it is all over]. I have no doubt that the Dynasty of Napoleon will come to an abrupt end, long before it has acquired the solid authority which only centuries can give.



*Pajean and Lefeuvre now Hopeless. *

*My logical Rebel Bullies. *

_Coimbatore, 30th January 1853 _

. Fr Pajean is getting worse and worse. And the poor Christians are the first to feel the edge of his bad humour. Any attempt to advise or direct him is now quite useless. Unfortunately he appears [also] to be having a big influence over the dim and narrow mind of his. Palghat. neighbour] Fr Lefeuvre. Thus, the Palghat community is going just as badly, now, as it was going outstandingly well under the excellent Fr Ravel.

I tried to give a few useful hints to Lefeuvre. He replied with some crude remarks which would be very surprising coming from a “hardened campaigner” but which are unbelievable coming from a young missionary! I asked him to come here and stay with me for a few days. But I was wasting my time. He started off by making .bad excuses; then he went on to invent bad arguments against it; and finally he ended the discussion with downright refusal and bad insults!

There goes another young missionary; lost, more than likely!

How sad it all is, O my God!

_1st February _

I am busy here, supervising work on the big Coimbatore church. But I don’t know who will finish it!

Things are getting worse and worse. I see myself more and more certainly obliged, by absolute necessity, to leave this country. And yet nobody loves it more than I do. Nobody likes the (p1180) poor Indians more. And I still have the consolation of knowing that there are very few Europeans now in India who are more beloved by the people.

But what can I do to help them? [I cannot even save them] from the beatings they get from [some of my own men] who now feel themselves obliged to double the strokes. This is literal!

From time immemorial, it has been “the custom” for missionaries in India to order some small number of slaps on the hand for certain offenders. This simple method was successfully employed to put an end to certain kinds of palavers, to settle family disputes, to solidify reconciliations, etc. 43Without going into the rightness or wrongness of such a method in theory [it has to be said that it worked]. It is certain that those small corporal punishments, administered with discernment and moderation by old and respected missionaries, used to do quite a lot of good.

But it is easy to imagine how quickly this “custom” could be abused. And how dangerous [and resented] it could become, in the hands of young and inexperienced missionaries, especially the sort who [know it all in advance and] never want to listen to advice from their superiors. And how will it end if those same missionaries are, moreover, detested and despised for another reason, i.e. that they go out of their way to shock and insult the customs of the people, even the best and most harmless traditions!

Well, that is exactly what prevails in some places here at the moment. And those poor misguided missionaries are not satisfied to have the slaps dished out [officially] by the Catechist. [They cannot bother to wait for that]. No! they have to take the [five tailed] rope into their own hands and beat the people themselves!

And it is no longer only a few exceptional and isolated cases that are treated like this, but a whole section of a village, or a whole “party” in a dispute, or sometimes a whole group of people who have actually done nothing at all! Those poor benighted (p1181) missionaries sometimes haven’t a clue about the real situation in the community; but they still have it all neatly summed up beforehand. And there is no hesitation, and no appeal against their instant condemnations.

There is a traditional [instrument for the old corporal punishment: a five-tailed] rope. But that’s not painful enough. Now we have a few missionaries who take their [leather] shoe and use it to beat [or kick?] people with! In the mind of the Indians, this is about the worst insult that could be inflicted on anyone, a disgrace so bad that it falls, not only on the victim, but on to his whole caste as well! That punishment (if such an outrageous excess can be dignified by such a judicial name) therefore strikes at the innocent [and the absent] as well as at the “guilty”.

In vain have I formally told a certain missionary that I am explicitly and totally forbidding this “punishment” The same prohibition has also been brought to the attention of some others; but equally in vain! Those gentlemen have a divine right to beat whoever they think fit. Their will is sovereign. And I have no right to forbid anything, or to order anything.

Am I their Superior? [They have no religious Superior]. Because they have not taken any vows. [Especially, no vow of obedience]. Am I their Bishop? Even less so, if possible. I am only a Vicar Apostolic. Ergo, therefore: my commands have no validity [or theological authority] behind them!

Ah! Fortunately there are some missionaries who are not quite so expert in this type of logic. For if they were all qualified in it, I would certainly have to get out immediately, if not sooner! A consummation devoutly to be wished (I expect) by those young [egalitarian] “speechifiers”.

For already they say I am “ruining the whole Vicariate” [undermining law and order] because I do not back them up in front of the people when these come to complain (e.g.) that in such and-such a village so-many people have been summarily beaten and insulted! [By even listening to the people, I encourage them to be disobedient; my reasoning is all wrong].

Fortunately, [as I said, I am not quite alone in this reasoning And] (p1182)] the others who reason “all wrong” with me happen to be the holiest missionaries in the Vicariate; some of them are saints. These are the very ones who say Mass every day, who are quiet and gentle in their conduct and speech. When they are with their confreres, they do not have enough talent to talk all the time about “myself” and to boast how “I” stood up to “the self-appointed Superior” and “told him where to get off”! So, if 1 have to be “all wrong” 1 prefer to be all wrong in the company of those gentle people than along with the others. Poor, poor country!

*Work on at the Coimbatore Church, even if I can’t Stay. *

*Desperate Prayer for Dying Fr Metral. *

2nd February

1 started the preceding item about the big new Church now being built in Coimbatore city; but … “I don’t know who will finish it. Then 1 let myself be side-tracked into one of my most painful problems at the moment [the rough and tyrannical behaviour of several of my missionaries].

Yes indeed; work has started on the Church. 1 have been thinking out the Plan over the last two years. It will be a decent Church, worthy of the name. If we can finish it. Well, it certainly can be finished, in two or three years from now, if the “Propagation de la Foi” continues its present rate of help.

But who will be finishing it? [Most probably, not me]. For things are going so badly now that [I am only just barely hanging on]. 1 am anxiously and impatiently waiting for Rome’s reply [to my repeated offer of resignation and my request to at least go and explain myself]. And 1 hope that Rome, in the end, will grant my request; for it is clearly only sheer necessity that has forced me to make it.

But in the meantime, let us work on [at the Church etc.] as if we were to be here for the rest of our life! For who knows if God will not call me tomorrow? And if He does, 1 will be very annoyed with myself if He doesn’t find me at my work. For, at the present time, this work is my duty. (p1183)

_Coimbatore, 30th March _

O my God! [What have You now against my poor Indians?] What have they done to You? Do You now want to snatch away Fr Metral from them, the only one of my priests they can (in some respects) call their true pastor! Or is it that You want to call this good holy missionary to Yourself already, and crown him early in Heaven? Ah! Wait a little longer, Lord! He will agree, that dear saintly confrere. He will consent to postpone the one Object of all his desires, to work on for a few more days down here, in this deserted vineyard.

For what will happen to us if he dies? Ah! Look, Lord! I know I have a few other good missionaries. Some of them are very good priests. A few of them have even got some prudence and common sense. They even like the Indians a little. But You know the Indians do not like them. And can You blame them? They [cannot _]like them. For they don’t really know them yet. And (alas) they know too many others who show they don’t like them at all, not with the kind of love that befits a true pastor. So how could the sheep love and trust _any of those foreign shepherds?

[They will mistrust even the best young missionaries]. And will they be so wrong, after all their previous experience? The young men [I have in mind] to take Fr Metral’s place are not yet experienced or formed enough. The voice of the other [harsh] shepherds will scare the sheep away; for they have already felt too many slaps [and kicks] and blows from them. They have not yet known the tender, loving care [which my best missionaries can give them in the future].

Ah! Please, then, leave Fr Metral with us a little while, O my God! Tell that cruel fever to go away. With a single all-powerful word, restore his strength, so exhausted by fasting, mortifications, vigils and labours. Give him back to us, Lord! Send him back here! For already he seems to be floating free of this earth, ready to flyaway to Heaven. Restore him to us! Let Yourself be moved by the violence of my prayer, I beg you. I beg You in the name of those few chosen ones whom You must have selected among our unfortunate Christians. Good Virgin, please help me to send these heart-broken prayers up to the Eternal Throne! (p1184)

[*Charbonnaux on a Solo to Rome: disunity. Metral to Ooty. *]

*Forced to cancel our Retreat. *

_1st April _

Bishop Charbonnaux is going to Rome. [I hear this just now]. Not a word has he written to me beforehand about it. Not a hint.

May the angels protect him on his journey. May he bring back some bit of benefit to Religion in India!

But why so secretive? Why could he not consult with his fellow-Bishops, to give us all a chance to benefit? Aren’t those secret journeys, planned behind each others’ backs, another sign of our rampant disunity, of our lack of mutual understanding, so important for any real progress!

I suppose he was afraid Bishop Bonnand and myself would be annoyed at his going to Rome [and maybe obtaining an instant condemnation of our traditional pastoral practice]. For my part, I would have no objection at all, provided he was going there for the common good, bringing Rome an up-to-date impartial account of everything we are doing [and authorizing] in these Missions; and if his journey was designed to strengthen the links between us, and give some [cohesion _]to our activities. Bishop Charbonnaux would be very competent to speak for us, _if he had first made an effort to bring us together.

But now, acting on his own, he can very easily fall into his usual exaggerated style of language, which will be very convincing because he himself will firmly believe it is the whole truth. He will easily impress [the Romans] because they do not know his style. They will be charmed by his eloquence and brilliance, especially the outstanding qualities of heart which he undoubtedly has. But anyway, the Lord will be there too, watching over his Church. He will not allow them to judge everything on one man’s report alone.

He just sent me a note [at the last moment] informing me of his imminent departure. I had no time to write more than a few lines in reply; and I still do not know whether they will get to Madras before he leaves. (p1185)

_15th May _

God in his goodness has left Fr Metral with us, up to now.

But the dear confrere is still very ill. Even if he does not succumb, it is greatly to be feared that he will never recover his former strength again. He has been (almost) to the end of the road several times now; and those repeated relapses are bound to weaken a body already worn out by over-work.

I have sent him up the Mountain to try and recover his health. May the Lord command the cool fresh elements up there (which He has created out on their own, up above the burning plains of South India) to restore and repair all the ravages of the fever!

_30th May _

I was looking forward to the Annual Retreat, laid down in our Rule, hoping for some consolations and encouragements, at least similar to those the Lord bestowed on us last year, if not quite equal to them. I had already announced the time and the place; and Fr Barot had already prepared the talks.

But now, several missionaries have failed to welcome the call, or to reply to it at all. Others have replied with no interest or enthusiasm whatever. Everything indicates a lot of probable absentees. And here, where we are so few, even the absence of one or two is very noticeable. Last year, even the absence of one [Fr Pa jean] had a very bad effect on morale. This year, the absence of several (even if only two) would be a complete scandal.

Seeing this, I have postponed the Retreat indefinitely. So, for anything like consolations and encouragements, we will only have to get them direct from You, O my God, you who console us at all times by your grace!

*Disaffection at Ooty, etc. REVOLT in Palghat. *

*I stop a Boycott in Karumattampatty. *

_lIth June _

Things are very bad in Palghat District. They are no better in Athikode. The missionaries in those two Districts [Lefeuvre and (p1186) Pajean] seem to be cooperating perfectly for the better provocation of the people and the more complete alienation of the Christians from us all.

For the misbehaviour of one missionary, especially when he annoys the Indians by breaking their caste taboos, can affect their whole future attitude to all missionaries.

The missionaries on the Mountain also (though less righteously “independent-minded”) have made several caste blunders, out of mere imprudence and owing to lack of complete inner conviction about their strict obligation to keep exactly to the line laid down by Superiors. The effect of those blunders on the Catholics is only disastrous. [Fortunately, the schismatic priests are not there just now, and do not see their opportunity]. If they knew the present mood of our Catholics, they could sweep the place, just by coming in at the right time.

[In Dindigul District also, the situation is nerve-racking].

The rebellious Catholics in Puddur are in close and frequent contact with the schismatic Dindigul priest. This could easily lead to a [much wider] catastrophe. Because the present Palghat troubles actually started up when some Catholic families there went away to ask the Dindigul priest to do a wedding for them. Of course those Catholics were very wrong [according to law] in acting like that. But the missionaries entirely over-reacted, with severe punishments out of all proportion to the offense. And they gave other [hostile] elements a golden opportunity to start an all-out revolt against the priests. [This they immediately did; and the revolt is now on].

The thing has now gone to the extent of physical violence [sticks and stones, etc]. One of the two missionaries has had his arm severely injured by a flying stone. This kind of thing is unheard-of, almost unbelievable, among Indian Christians. To even think of throwing stones at a priest, they must really have been driven to it, by extreme anger and contempt. It is away beyond what comes easy or natural to an Indian.

_15th June _

What I wrote a few days ago [about the misbehaviour of one missionary affecting the Indians’ attitude to all] has been verified (p1187) and confirmed a lot quicker than I was expecting. Our two missionaries in Karurnattarnpatty [Seminary and District] are really prudent and holy men, ready to make themselves “all things to all men in order to win them for Jesus Christ”, ready to observe all Indian customs as far as they possibly can observe them in conscience. But the Indians have failed [to distinguish these men from the arrogant, colonial type] or to appreciate their true value. And now, because of the people’s renewed suspicion of us all, those two good missionaries have been put through a humiliating [boycott] which could have very serious consequences.

A rumour was started that the servant of one of them had done something or other against caste. Immediately the whole caste assembled. They decreed that none of the caste can henceforth serve the two Fathers in any way, under pain of excommunication (being driven out of the; caste). An order was then sent out to all the servants [in the: Mission/Seminary] to leave immediately, or be similarly “excommunicated’‘.

So there were our two confreres, completely on their own, without cook or gardener or cow-man or anybody, for themselves or for the students. They were reduced to doing all those jobs themselves. Fortunately, some of the other castes were not directly “infected” by the original “outrage”. (For such it was, in any Indian hypothesis).

Now [there was something extremely fishy behind all this instant boycott]. Even if the “guilty” servant had actually committed the original “crime” (which was doubtful) his action was personal. There was no need to stir up the whole caste against the [other _]servants. Obviously, they were just looking for an excuse and an opportunity to make a big protest against the general behaviour of _all the missionaries, by treating them as [untouchables or] as “people who do not respect themselves”.

Apparently, also, this was only the first move against us. If it worked, all the other castes were going to be forced to do the same. We would then be forced to consider taking on pariah servants. The Christians would warn us against that. They would threaten a “kalaham” [a general revolt] against us, and force us to sue for peace. And part of the “treaty” would have to be a compromise by us, to observe caste “properly” (i.e. to observe certain (p1188) customs which we are not permitted [by Rome].

Fortunately, I have still some influence left with the Karumattampatty Christians. Fortunately also, the good attitude of the two confreres there allowed me to intervene directly and personally, to settle the thing before it went too far. I hurried out there immediately, before the revolt could have time to gain ground. I called the caste heads together, made them see reason, obtained an apology, and got one of the servants reinstated immediately [for a start]. Today, the thing seems to be finished. It will not go any further, provided both sides restrain themselves.

A vague rumour was also put out, concerning another important village in Karumattampatty District. The people hinted that they were getting ready to go over to the Schism. I think this is only bluff. But the schismatic priests do have a lot of latent support, nearly everywhere. And the Palghat christians are very much prepared to go over. All these factors could have been used for stirring up a General Revolt on this occasion. We are on a fine big powder-barrel now. All we need is one good spark…

*Pajean and Lefeuvre reject my Letter to the People. *

[*(Ravel to the Rescue). *]

*A nerveless Society retains those Two. *

_20th July _

When I arrived back from Karumattampatty and the Cook ( etc) Palaver, I met a very big joint letter from all the Palghat christians, complaining and screaming about the harsh way they were being treated by “the missionary in this place” [Fr Lefeuvre]. Not only that; but “the missionary from a completely different District (Fr Pajean) comes in here and judges cases, and punishes people, in the name of his colleague”44. (p1189)

The letter exuded extreme anger and indignation. And, this time, it was the pariahs (usually very devoted to us) who complained the loudest.

What to do? Into that District I could not go, and settle the matter myself, as in Karumattampatty. There would probably be [a public confrontation between me and the two missionaries], a resounding scandal. So I had to be satisfied with sending a letter to the Christians, to try and calm them down a little. But I sent it to them through the District missionary, along with a copy for himself. So he could study it carefully, weigh the implications, and then try to coax or cajole them into a reconciliation.

[This might be possible with the Christians]. But some missionaries are a lot harder and tougher to deal with than the people. The two got together (as they always do) about my letter. They must have stayed up until twelve or two o’clock, working out a “fitting” reply. First of all (they said) they were utterly shocked that I should even write at all to the rebellious Christians, to those “riff-raff”, those “scoundrels”, etc., etc. Then they concentrated on a few expressions in my letter, and strenuously objected to them, in a very sarcastic and insulting way. Finally they concluded (with more insults and threats) that never would they deliver my stupid letter to the people.

Now, what to do? In any normal place, I would just hurl a suspension at their heads. But out here! Here, it would only create more trouble.

Nevertheless, I could not in conscience sit idly by and watch a whole District of Christians jump overboard. So I sent for Fr Ravel, who had been.in that District up to a year ago, and doing so very well there. I told him the whole situation, let him read their letter, and asked him what could be done.

I did not want to order him into the melee, to go to the rescue of the Christians. I knew his position would be most painful and awkward vis-a-vis his confreres. But Fr Ravel did not need an order. A wish is enough for him. Moreover, it was he himself who had first warned me about the dangerous situation there, two weeks ago. “If this thing isn’t settled quickly, the whole caste community can go over to the Schism; and most of the pariahs will (p1190) go Protestant”.45

So he set out [on his mission of reconciliation]. He had some success, thank God, with the Christians. They appear to have calmed down, for the moment at least. But no such luck with his own two confreres!

He had instructions to go ahead and read out my letter to the Christians, if the District missionary was prepared to obey my orders [implied in it. But he was not prepared to cooperate]. So Fr Ravel could only [improvise and] tell the Christians that I had received their letter, and that I had sent him to speak to them.

Those two gentlemen have been behaving in such an impossible manner that they ought to be immediately recalled and kicked out of the Society, if the Society had the least bit of nerve left or any muscle or discipline at all.

But the only weapon I have here now is endurance. May the Lord render it victorious Himself!

_23rd July _

I had a letter from Bishop Canoz [SJ] today! He has been back from Europe several months now, but this was the first sign of life from him.

*Bishop Bonnand’s friendly Visit. *

*Pain at my Resignation Secret. *

*Permission to go to Rome. He tries to Dissuade me. *

[_23rd July [later] _]

Bishop Bonnand is to make a pastoral visitation of Salem District [bordering Coimbatore]. He is coming here to see me. I am expecting him tomorrow. (p1191)

[_ [27th] July _]

Bishop Bonnand stayed only three days. He was quite friendly; but we hardly talked at all about anything important. Just ordinary conversations and lesser matters.

However, I read out my letters to Rome for him [my expose of caste and customs, etc.]. And he lent me a copy of a Jesuit “dissertation” justifying caste divisions [in the Church] and proving that we can and must tolerate them. [This document was counterproductive]. It only aggravated my doubts [about our policy].

I did not think I should tell His Lordship now about my decision to go to Rome to insist on my resignation, if [I saw that] those Questions were not going to be clarified. [I hate having to be so secretive because] I cannot help liking this holy Bishop. [He has done a lot of things that hurt me very much] but only on those occasions where I was not able to spend enough time in putting my point of view to him. Whenever he really understood my position, we have always agreed.

_1st August _

I have just received a letter from Fr Tesson. He says the Cardinal Prefect [of Propaganda] has granted me permission to go to Rome as requested.

_15th August _

I wrote to Bishop Bonnand to tell him of my decision to go to Rome. He replied with a very severe letter disapproving this move. I then wrote revealing my long-kept secret (about my previous attempts to resign). Nobody in India knows anything about it. I asked him to keep it to himself.

_29th August _

Bishop Bonnand has replied to my revelation of the 15th with a cry of pain. He piles up arguments on arguments to prove that I should drop the whole idea. He also seems to be very annoyed by certain passages in my letter. (p1192)

[*Joyful Celebration for a new Church. Three-way Comparison. *]

_Codively, 8th September _

More than three years ago, we started a new church here in Codively, to replace the little chapel built in haste by Fr Dubois when he came into this region and was trying to revive the Christians beaten down by the Persecution of Tippu Sahid [1784]. His little building is falling into ruin along with the old rickety “priest’s house”. This has now been renovated. It is still far from palatial, but it is habitable anyway.

I came here yesterday, to solemnly bless the new church, which (for the country) is quite beautiful. The Christians, beside themselves with joy, came out 4 miles to meet me, as far as Sattiamangalam (a small ruined city). On the journey back to the Church, there was never a pause in the fireworks, the rockets or the music.

This morning, we did the Blessing, with all possible pomp and ceremony (considering I had only two missionaries and two seminarians with me). But (for this part of the country) it was only “magnificent”. Afterwards, we had a Procession of all the Statues, each carried on a beautifully decorated Float, to the sound of Music, the bangs of Fireworks, the whistling of Rockets (this time in broad daylight) all around the new Church and in by the front door. When all statues were properly placed and the Church thoroughly embellished, I celebrated High Mass amidst a densely-packed crowd of Christians from all the various villages of the District.

In the evening I had to receive delegations of the head Christians, discuss several local affairs, and (especially and longest) to hear the confessions of all those not yet confirmed.

It is now eight o’clock, and we are tired; so we will soon retire and try to sleep. But not the people! They have prepared one of their traditional [holy shows] or sacred comedies. It is due to start soon; and probably will not finish until dawn. We’ll be lucky if we get a wink of sleep tonight, amidst the rattle of drums and the howls, blasts and squeaks of clarinets, horns, trumpets etc. Those instruments [of torture] have not stopped even once since they (p1193) started, about 6 a.m. today; and they certainly won’t stop before 6 tomorrow morning!

Anyway, God be praised! The Indian method of praising Him seems to us very strange, extraordinary, even somewhat ridiculous. But to God, so patient and indulgent towards our childishness, it will (I am confident) be rather acceptable. We sometimes laugh at those performances, we Europeans. But what about our own big festivals, our great national occasions, our pomp and circumstance, even our best cathedrals, our mightiest symphonies? How funny and childish they must all seem, compared with the peerless Music of the Angels and the sublime majesty of the Heavenly Liturgy! Poor earthlings that we are, don’t let us despise or laugh at the other earthlings so confidently!

*A ruined City. And farmland Ruined by English Taxes. *

*Our tyrannical Republicans and our undisciplined Gospellers. *

_Coimbatore, 13th September _

[A word about Codively and the lost glory of Sattiamangalam]. It was once a remarkable city; and Christianity was held in some honour there. The old-time Jesuits wrote a lot about that Community. Today there is not a single Christian left in it. During Tippu’s Wars [against the English] the Christians here were persecuted. They fled into the surrounding country. And their descendants are to be seen today in the majority of the local Christians, scattered in many small villages all over the present District of Codively.

These Christians are generally very poor now. They are buried or lost in the huge pagan population. So it is very difficult for them to live a full Catholic life. Some of them seem to be very devoted to the Church. But even these lack instruction.

I went to visit two neighbouring villages: Akarai-Codiveli (“the-Codiveli-across-the-river”)and Sinna-Codiveli (“little Codiveli”). Here, the village-head is supposed to be “very rich”. And I suppose he is (if, in the country of the blind, the one-eyed (p1194) man is king). What is more, he is a good man, and does a lot of good works locally.

For the rest, the whole countryside is poor, even miserable.

From Sattiamangalam back to Coimbatore, nothing to be seen but uncultivated fields, all the way. And yet some of them look quite arable. But as long as the present English system lasts, that’s the way it’s going to be. [For the English taxes make ordinary fairly-good land too uneconomic to cultivate). Very soon, the only farmed land to be seen will be artificially-irrigated fields. These, with their two (or even three) crops a year, can barely manage [to pay the taxes) and provide a living for the owner. (In a very good year, he might even make a small profit).

As for ordinary land, the present taxes would swallow up the whole of the produce (and maybe more). The farmer might actually have to borrow money in order to pay them! So they all will have to abandon agriculture entirely. And since the farmers (a whole numerous class of people) have no other trade to live on, it logically follows that the entire population languishes, suffers, weakens, and noticeably dies out.

Such is the paternal and philanthropic government of the English Company!

_15th September _

Now here’s an unbelievable new “development” in the Vicariate. Worse than unbelievable! Some of our young missionaries are not even content with being supreme Judges in all possible cases (religious, domestic and civil). They now have to be Legislators, original law makers, as well! Supreme legislators! Universal reformers!

Thus, the Codiveli Christians are even now groaning under the new harsh yoke of the new arbitrary “code of laws” invented and imposed by one of our youngest missionaries! A great lover of Liberty; for himself! And more than a shade Republican. This (in Codiveli as well as everywhere else) means: a great contempt for all long-established laws, and the instant fabrication of new ones, to the clear benefit of the law-maker and the utter scorn of the people. (You have to flatter the mob in Europe; no need to (p1195) flatter them here yet).

This missionary (like some others) is a very sincere “democrat”. And he embarks on this “reform” with a kind of fanatical good faith, led on by his own fluency in big words and [revolutionary slogans) which conveniently hide the fact that all his new laws are dictated by irate passion and by sheer ignorance about the people. “Liberty, fraternity, Progress, enlightenment” are now very much a la mode, here as in France. But among our own most republican missionaries, the most favourite slogan of all is: “the Purity of the Gospel”!

This same Purity, which they demand from the people, is also very convenient for their own Liberty. For one thing, it allows them to eat whatever they like. [Beef, for example]. They no longer have to restrict themselves by a whole range of stupid and pagan Indian customs. They can logically ignore all local Indian ideas of common decency and politeness. And so it is that the least evangelical among them is always the strongest in demanding “the perfection of the Gospel”. Where are we at, O my God!

[*Last High Mass in Karumattampatty? *]

[*Sum-up. A prayer. *]

_Karumattampatty, 2nd October _

Today is the seventh anniversary of my consecration. I came out here, as usual, to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Rosary at Karumattampatty, where I was made a Bishop.

We are very far, no doubt, from what we ought to be by now.

And (still more painful to admit) we are very far from achieving the sort of progress we [_could _]have achieved in the last seven years. Could have, if only the Work of the Missions [and its organization] was all that it should be, if our Society was all that it should be, if we ourselves were all that we should be!

[This morning] I could not keep the tears from my eyes, as I tried to read the opening psalms. For the thought hit me as I entered the church: this is likely to be the very last time I come here to this church for a pontifical High Mass! (p1196)

It’s the same church as that Day in 1846, the same walls. But very different now, with the [beautiful decoration inside], with the new buildings all around it, and in the way it is served and looked after.

O my God! Why must I leave? Why must I quit a Mission I love so much? You alone can see into my heart; and I have the hope that, one day, You yourself will tell me clearly that indeed it was [all done for You], that my only ultimate motivation in resigning was the glory of your Name and the honour of your Church. It is a sacrifice, O my God, a sacrifice I make to You, a sacrifice known to You alone. Because other men (even good men) will think very differently about it when they hear. They will say I was inconsistent, fed-up, maybe even selfish or too abundantly self-opinionated.

As for me, O my God, I only hope that, out of the many humiliations which surely lie ahead, You will know how to draw out some benefit, some progress for the Church on the Missions. And that will be enough for me.

[*Missionary bungling and the Syro-Malabar Church *]

_4th October _

A Syriac Rite priest named Antoniswamy has come to the Karumattampatty Feast, accompanied by two other priests (he seems to be their superior) and six disciples or “seminarians”. He left again this morning, for Trichinopoly or Pondicherry. He seems to be making collections for some new monastery or other; but it’s all a bit obscure.

He showed me several papers and testimonials, but nothing to indicate his present standing with the Vicariate Apostolic of Verapoly, where he belongs. From some of his remarks, however, I could gather that he is not on very good terms with Bishop Bacinelli (who is in charge of the Vicariate during Archbishop Martini's absence in Rome). And I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was one of the ring-leaders of a certain movement going on (p1197) among the numerous Syriac- Rite priests in [Kerala]. They have written to Rome demanding a Bishop of their own.

I had heard of this movement; and this Fr Antoni told me more about it. All in all, he seems to be a good man, with many natural talents, undeveloped because of a poor education. He has more energy and zeal than those poor priests usually show. I’d say he is slightly out of line, partly because of ignorance but partly, also, because he has been forced out of line by the irregular [unjust] and pitiable situation of his very promising and interesting Syriac-rite Clergy.

God forbid that I should accuse Archbishop Martini or the Verapoly Carmelites [on that count]. I have praised and admired them before, on many other matters. As missionaries I’d say they are doing about as much as could be expected. (And what missionary body does more than that, anyway?) Nevertheless there is still a lot of room for improvement in that Vicariate, mostly (I suppose) because of the fewness of the missionary volunteers in the first place. The Carmelites there, being so extremely understaffed, can hardly even begin to tackle all of their obligations. Also, perhaps, they are not at all sufficiently convinced of the necessity of getting down to studying the languages there. [Malayali and Syriac].

Moreover, by one of those historical oddities which I could hardly even believe (if I hadn’t by now begun to believe any aberration to be possible [on the Missions) they have to deal with two different Rites there, [like two competing Catholic Churches]! First, the ancient Syriac Rite, the only one known there before the coming of the Portuguese, and then purged of its Nestorian elements at the Synod of Diamper [1599] and unnecessarily modified until it became a very peculiar Rite, unlike any Rite anywhere else. Secondly, the Latin Rite [unnecessarily] introduced by the Portuguese and always favoured by the missionaries (who happen to be all from that Rite).

In [Kerala] the Christians had the great good fortune [to be united] and to be free from observing caste divisions. But [the Latin Rite “[_had _]to be” imported among them]. So there they are, carefully divided into two rival groups [or Churches]! The Latin (p1198) Rite (of course) is still much more favoured and helped by the missionaries. But the Syriac Rite is much more impressive in numbers of Christians and of priests.

But those poor Syriac priests, what a state they are in! They look after their own recruitment; so there’s no scarcity of numbers. But, with no organized studies or educational facilities, what else can they be [but ignorant? The missionaries] look down on them because of their laughable ignorance. But have the missionaries not done everything they could to make them like that? And are they doing any single thing to make them better?

Obviously, they first of all tried everything possible to eliminate the Syriac Rite and substitute the Latin. When that failed, they tried to Romanize it, little by little. Seeing that this also must fail (unless they inflicted immense damage on those admirable Communities) the Holy See stepped in with new Constitutions to put a stop to their undermining efforts. The “Syro-Malabar Rite” was then allowed to stay as it was. But the missionaries still continued to help only the Latin Rite, building new Latin churches, giving the Latin clergy a (relatively) higher education, and hoping that the Syro-Malabar Rite would just die out or go away.

Today [their neglect has succeeded so well that] those poor priests (over 400, with even more deacons and lower clergy under them, and more than 160,000 Christians) are in a state of crass ignorance. They can barely “read” the Mass and the breviary (without knowing what they are reading, for the most part). They somehow or other administer the Sacraments. (God alone knows how; each one makes it up as he goes along). And so on and so forth. A bad state of affairs. But whose fault is it? Theirs alone?

But now, it appears that they themselves are determined to rise out of that humiliating and degrading condition. But they cannot do so, for lack of [Bishops or] superiors really interested in helping them. Their present condition is so bad that any Bishop chosen from among them now would have too many handicaps and obstacles to overcome. [This helpless condition should never have been allowed to happen. In the past, the missionaries] could easily have arranged things and prepared the minds [of the clergy (p1199) and people] enough to have a Bishop of their own by now.

Even today, steps could be taken to arrange for a future Bishop (in the distant or not-so-distant future) without too many dangerous repercussions. But if it is to happen in a peaceful and orderly way, this move would need to be supported by the Vicar Apostolic (etc.). Unfortunately, there is no support; they are all against it. And the Syriac Rite priests have to act in an underhand way. Which is already a great pity.

At least, that is what I was able to gather from this priest Antoniswamy. He says that nearly 400 of his fellow priests have written to Rome asking for a Bishop. Someone, if possible, chosen from among them. Failing that, at least a man who knows their language, so that they won’t have to talk with him through an interpreter, as has been the case from time immemorial! Someone who understands [Syriac and] their Syriac Rite, able to see for himself how the Mass and the Sacraments are being celebrated, spoken, etc.

It was impossible for me to encourage and support him [as I would like]. The way they are going about it is too dangerous and too troublesome. I had to be satisfied with advising him that, if the move is good in itself, they should start by discussing it with their Vicar Apostolic, so that their appeal to Rome would get a favourable and understanding reception, and not be suspected of being a party-political move. But in my own mind, I wondered if their grievances were really as many and as awful as they made out.

[*Jesuit thesis Locked up. Bishop Bonnand afraid of the Truth? *]

*MB is the Enemy because he is too Dangerously Honest. *

_Coimbatore, 10th October _

At the request of Bishop Bonnand (it seems) the Jesuits have prepared a dissertation [or thesis] in favour of the Customs we are tolerating in India. When His Lordship was here, he lent it to me to read. I asked to make a copy. Sending back the original, I (p1200) commented: “Either a very weak case, or very badly defended”.46

This remark must be the reason for the peremptory order he sent back to me, by return of post: “Make no use whatever of that document. It is strictly confidential”. 47 Etc. Of course, by its very nature, it cannot be confidential. Since when is a theological thesis a secret document? But anyway, not wishing to offend him, I put my copy under lock and key.

But, before the prohibition arrived, three of my missionaries had read it already. Fr Barot heard about it, and asked to see it also. I had to refuse him. He wrote to Bishop Bonnand asking for permission, but was refused! It’s completely crazy; incomprehensible!

Just because I thought the paper was weak, it has to be suddenly made into a Top Secret? But what if it is really quite strong? Couldn’t it convince other people? Might they not see from it that our toleration of Customs is much more lawful than they had thought before? And if it is really a weak document, because of the real weakness of the case it is trying to defend, why is he so afraid of that true knowledge, so afraid of its weakness becoming known? After all, it’s the truth we are looking for. Or is it?

In the meantime, Bishop Bonnand seems to be getting more and more annoyed with me. Evidently, he is going to block and contradict me in Rome, every way he can. He will try to stop [the Customs investigation and make sure that it never proceeds to] a judgment. All this [panic or manoeuvering] only increases my own doubt about the lawfulness of our present [caste-and-customs] policy.

In order to prevent the revolts and troubles which would inevitably follow after a Roman decision [_against _]our policy, the Jesuits (and now Bishop Bonnand with them) are determined to prevent Rome from judging it at all. And in order to make sure that Rome will be unable to start judging it, they are doing their utmost to keep the necessary data, the elements of the question, (p1201) and the arguments, under lock and key!

I must say, from what I know of Dogma and Moral, I cannot see my way to cooperating with such a strategy. Though (I know it in advance) they will stifle my voice in Rome [yet I will try to say what I think. At least, anyway] my conscience will stay free. [If] I cannot speak, I resign.

But why am I now being treated by the Jesuits and Bishop Bonnand as their bete boire [Public Enemy Number One]? After all, I am of the same opinion as theirs, at heart. I believe we must do all in our power, lawfully, to prevent an [unfair] condemnation of our present policy. Also to obtain an [explicit] approval of everything we are authorizing here (except what is seen to be morally flawed). Then, to look for agreed ways and means to introduce the corrections to be demanded by the Holy See (if any) without creating confusion, commotions and troubles among the people. [Surely, that should also be the strategy of Bishop Bonnand and the Jesuits! But no. They have to fight me]. And why? because they know I am determined, for the sake of my conscience, to make very sure that Rome knows all about it, the whole situation, without exception, so that the case can be assessed in broad daylight.

Even with a hundred “good reasons”, I do not see how I could manage to have any other attitude, and still be innocent. What a guilty liar I would be! Truly, I do not understand their hostility.

_19th October _

I’ve just got letters from Verapoly advising me to be very careful with Fr Antoniswamy and giving me some dismal background information about him. This only confirms my own suspicions drawn from his conversation with me. But I do not think it should make me modify any of my comments above [about the utterly stupid mishandling of the Kerala Church by the European authorities] (p1202)

_31st October _

I am just back from Karumattampatty. I went there to say goodbye to the seminarians and to preach the Annual Retreat, which was also in preparation for an ordination to Minor Orders.48 May the good God bless them for their efforts! They have been a great consolation and encouragement to me, these past four or five years.

And they have certainly helped to confirm the now well-established truth that, here as well as anywhere else, it is possible to have good priests, once you decide to take the means to it. For if there is any hard or “impossible” soil in the world for that great and fundamental Work, this place is it! Moreover, I have received no real help or support for it, for the actual education of those young clerics, except from one single missionary. Two others have been slightly positive (more of a help than a hindrance, all told). All the others have consistently knocked and contradicted it, less or more.

Ah! my God! When are You going to let them [_all _]have eyes to see, ears to hear? When is the bright day of your Great Mercy going to dawn for these peoples? Until that Day comes, many a good priest (but not worthy to be called an apostle) is still going to keep his eyes firmly shut against the evidence.

[*Crazy (and typical) Case of Malhaire and our Society *]

_9th November _

Excellent Fr Metral and good Fr Ravel came here, with all the seminarians, to say goodbye. In spite of the natural sadness we all felt at the [temporary?] parting, there was a heart-felt joy and harmony in the little gathering. (p1203)

Into this peaceful scene burst young Fr Malhaire. He had just left his station [for good] without saying a word to anyone, and he just called in now, on his way to Malasia!

Three months ago, this poor missionary had decided he had enough of India [_and _]the foreign missions. He wrote to his parents for the fare home.

He had many deficiencies as a missionary, though as a priest he had some quite good qualities. [We have plenty of men like him]. It is indeed extremely rare, anyway, to find a true missionary, someone who has even a little of the kind of special outlook and strength required for the job. And I doubt if there is any place less aware of that special requirement than our own Paris Seminary. They are now sending droves of young men out here to the Missions, without any more special vocation for it than you would find among a choir of Canons in a Paris cathedral. And when they do arrive out here, and some of them [naturally] begin to cause trouble, the Paris Seminary will always back them up, and always rule in their favour.

I had done everything in my power to try and keep this poor Malhaire happy in the Vicariate, knowing well that, if he left, I would get all the blame and take all the consequences. When all efforts to keep him had failed, I suggested to him that he should ask for a transfer rather than abandon the missions entirely. For example, he could ask for our Penang College in Malasia. (I saw he had some inclination for that kind of work). He accepted the idea, and I wrote accordingly to the Paris Gentlemen.

In the meantime, he heard that I would soon be going to Rome [about the caste business]. He [wrote and] told me how glad he was to hear it. Because the Caste Problem was the only single thing that bothered him in this Mission; and now my going to Rome will settle it all, one way or the other. That his conscience would then be at peace … Therefore he was now going to give up all ideas of going home, and was even giving up his request for a transfer to Penang! He would stand by me [and by Coimbatore] “in life and in death, in sickness and in health”, etc., etc.

I informed Paris of this happy change, asking them to please (p1204) ignore his request for a transfer. But then, a few days after all his wonderful promises, along came the money he had asked from his parents. [It came to the Bishop’s house for him] so I was able to see at first hand the captivating power of those clinking gold coins. All his good re-resolutions instantly evaporated. I could almost see him rushing off straight to catch the first steamboat for Europe! I managed, however, to persuade him to wait [a few weeks] and not to run away just now. I would do my best to arrange things in such a way that, in about three months, he would be able to leave regularly and honourably, without getting himself into a terrible mess. (Maybe, given some time, he would reflect once again).

I owed him that much at least, to try and save something out of his original vocation. For this poor young priest has not yet lost all the spiritual foundation he acquired at Saint-Sulpice [Paris Seminary] although such foundations can crumble away pretty quickly out here, in the case of many, once they have entered our very dear but [currently] very disorganized Society.

And, fair enough, he did reflect again. In a very moving letter to Fr Metral (sent, open, through me) he recognized his big mistake. He said the demon Mammon had had a lot to do with it. “Vae divitibus!” he wrote. [Woe to the rich!] He revised all his improvised resolutions, and joyfully accepted the post of Palghatk District, saying he had always wanted to go there. He went; and immediately became totally involved his new mission, even making big plans for its future development. I soon informed him that I would call there for Confirmation on the 13th November [on my way to Bombay and Rome] and he should prepare a good number of candidates for it.

I had just finished addressing my latest circular to the missionaries, and had got it ready for posting, on the 7th November, when in he rushed to my room!

“What? What’s the matter?” “I’m off to Malasia.”

“Malasia? You must be joking!”

“Not at all. Here’s a letter from Bishop Boucho. He’s expecting me. He has taken me on, with the same rank and seniority (p1205) that I have here. [Isn’t that decent of him?] He’s my Vicar Apostolic now. ‘Bye. I’m going. In fact I’m gone.”

He probably wouldn’t even have called here at all, only that he had left his little bag of money with the Procurator for safe keeping. He did, in fact, give me a brief look at the letter from Bishop Boucho, but he did not give me time to read it in full.

[Anyway, there it was!] Bishop Boucho, without asking for [any consent or] any information from me, in fact without writing me a single line, but acting merely on a letter of enquiry from Paris, sends for him, just like that. The Paris letter must have been written immediately, before Fr Malhaire’s second thoughts could even arrive. They must have great esteem for him [to act so quickly], not even noticing his flightiness. “But he’s a young man with a fantastic memory for languages, etc. Speaks English like a “gentlemen”. Can pick up a new language and speak it fluently inside two months! What a wonderful missionary he will make!” Such is the judgment of our good Paris Gentlemen!

So away he went [before dawn the next day]. In spite of everything that Fr Metral, Fr Ravel and myself could try to tell him, we could not get him to wait, not even one hour extra. Rushing in about midday on the 7th, he was gone next morning at 4 o’clock, without a word to his confreres, without asking for my blessing, without obtaining (or even asking for) any authorization to leave the Vicariate for good. Without even asking for the usual piece of paper to testify that he was not under suspension or interdict!

That’s the way we do business in our Society! That’s the way the administration of the Foreign Missions Society operates! Where are you now, venerable Founders? I hope you’re in Heaven. Well, look at the mess you have left us. (But I’m sure there’s no need to tell you. You must often have regretted those flaws in our organization if, indeed, you ever had any opportunity to make it any different, to make it less blatantly irregular). Well, do it now! Do now what you failed to do at the time. Maybe you could not do anything about it then. But, at least now, obtain a special grace from Heaven, to open the eyes of those who remain. So that our Society, which has so much potential for good in it (if it was organized) may not disintegrate entirely before it has achieved half the Aim which Providence intended for it. (p1206)

*I loved the Indians and They loved Me. Three saintly Friends. *

*The double Pain, of Leaving and of Secrecy. *

[_9th November [later] _]

“The Indians have no heart, no real love for anybody … They don’t even know the meaning of gratitude”. This is the kind of thing we say, every day of the week. Ha! I am very much mistaken if my dear seminarians [are in the least like that, or if they] have “no affection” for me! [I know that they love me]. And I think those at Pondicherry loved me a little also [as I saw especially] when I had to leave them and come here to Coimbatore!

And what have I done for them, to earn all that love? Not a half, not a quarter of all that the Foreign Missions Society has done for so many aspirants who, today, have nothing but the utmost contempt for their Society, now that they are [independent] missionaries. Not a half of what I have done for a few of those same missionaries whom this Vicariate had the misfortune to receive. And what coin do they pay me back with? Certainly not with gratitude!

“The Indians do not like any of us”. And which of us likes them [or shows them any fellow-feeling]? Do you expect them to “like” foreigners who come to their country and treat them with complete disdain? Isn’t it surprising that they even put up with such people at all, and (usually) obey their despotic authority!

Well, I know that I have loved them, and that they have loved me in return. I can testify to that much. I believe I can safely say that every Indian who knows me [fairly well] does have some affection for me (apart from one or two scoundrels or bad elements such as you will meet anywhere]. And that the better they know me, the more affection they have.

Of course the ones who do not know me at all, or only to see, are wary and suspicious of me. Well, they have every right to be suspicious; in fact they almost should be. Haven’t I a white skin?

[_9th November [again] _]

[The affection of the Indians is a great consolation, in a way]. Another great consolation which the good God is giving me, in the (p1207) midst of the grief He lets me feel [at this departure] is the solid, sincere friendship of Fr Metral, of Fr de Gelis and Fr Ravel. Three men who have never let me down, never swerved from the constant practice of all the virtues.

I’ve had three good friends here, and some very tough opponents. But isn’t that better, anyway, than being “everybody’s friend [and nobody’s]? Not that there aren’t many good points among the other confreres too. [There are certainly some good priests among them]. And even a few who are almost fit to be called missionaries. But those three friends are saints!

Fr Metral is so holy, he could be canonized tomorrow if he

died the way he is now. God grant him perseverance! ‘

Fr de Gelis has only one apparent defect to overcome: his seeming lack of sympathy for the Indians. [They do not like him because, on the outside, he looks cold and distant]. But, deep down, he does really love them. So it must be hoped that [one day] the Indians will see through him, see through the outside, even though the white skin, see the true loving heart of an apostle underneath.

Fr Ravel is still young; and that’s his only fault. But that’s no small danger here, in a Society where personal holiness usually gets no .outside [organized] support, and has to depend entirely on within. He seems to have taken Fr Metral as his hero. May God grant him always to follow steadily in his footsteps! Slowly and far behind at first, no doubt (the way good men, and even very good men, have to follow an [_elite _]heroic soul). For [they cannot expect to] instantly attain to the heights of perfection, the summit of heroism.

O, my dear confreres, I do not know if I will ever see you again on this earth! Let us earnestly pray God to let us meet again in Heaven!

Their parting pierced me to the heart. For[_ their_] goodbye was just an “au revoir”, confident that I am coming back; for sure; no doubt about it. That doubt, even that probability of no return, is [my _]secret only. [And it hurts _me only]. It is there in my heart, a second heart-break, to make my departure a double pain, a double sacrifice. May You accept it as a true sacrifice, O my God!




[*(12 November – 31 December 1853) *]

*Departure with improvised Bullocks. *

*Blessing the Carriers. *

_Walayar, 12th November _

[I was still expected for Confirmations at Palghat on the 13th]. So I had hired a palanquin and paid an advance to the carriers in time. But, just the day before my departure, they were commandeered by the cotonal, to go and transport a _doure_,49 They were, indeed, supposed to be back in the evening. But they weren’t; nor the next day either.

Obviously, I had a prior right to the transport. They should not have been taken; or at least they should have been recalled in time. But any objection about this would have to be addressed to the Collector himself. And, more than likely, he would tell us to go and jump in the lake. So I wasn’t going to give him such a good opportunity to get another crack at the Romish priests.

Nevertheless, I was determined to leave in time, and to be at Palghat on the appointed day. So, about 8 o’clock this morning [after Mass], seeing that there was no longer any hope of my palanquin-carriers arriving [I decided on emergency transport]. I told our people to tackle up our small [kitchen-garden] bullocks to my old pony-trap. (Their only job is to draw water from the well, and to turn an old grind-stone).

They didn’t want to tackle them. “You’ll break your neck, (p1212) for sure! Those poor animals are not used to pulling [on the road]”.

But I put my trust in Providence. I took three men along with me: one to drive and two to deal with emergencies. And away we went!

  • * *

And we made it! The crucial first stage of 16 miles has been done without accident. Here at Walayar, I was able to [buy] proper bullocks. And I hope to arrive at Palghat this evening, as planned and announced.

Here also, I met “my” carriers, who are still waiting for the doure to arrive. For the last two days they have been held here, sitting or lying on the river-bank, guarded by [_pions _][local police].

They came over to me, and asked pardon for letting me down, explaining that it was not their fault. And their excuses are obviously very real! So I said nothing at all against them. Instead, I gave them my asirvatham [blessing], which greatly delighted them. For all of them are Christians. They would have been more than delighted to carry me all the way to Mangalore; but the Sarkar [chief of police, etc] is there; and they would be put in irons if they attempted to move out.

A big disappointment. But is it really bad luck? Not at all. It forces me to revert to my original plan, which I only abandoned for the sake of peace, seeing that everybody condemned it.

My travel plan is: to go at least as far as Mangalore [on the West Coast, north of here] in my own little cart and bullocks. And to transport my luggage, cooking utensils etc., on another cart belonging to the Mission. When I get to Mangalore I will sell the whole lot.

I was told that (apart from all the extra trouble and fatigue on the way) this plan will actually work out dearer in the end. For I will lose in the sale of the bullocks, carts, etc., because they will have deteriorated on the road. The loss will be more than the cost of palanquin carriers … I did not believe their arithmetic [but I didn’t want to be stubborn about it]. Now that I am more-or-less forced to follow my own plan, we will see!

Anyway, I’m beginning to hope that our good Angel is (p1213) behind all this. Who knows what unseen danger he has deflected already? Moreover, this [delayed start] has allowed me to say Holy Mass this morning before leaving. Usually, we are so indifferent that we do not consider that Advantage at all, among the profit-and-loss combinations of our circumstances. And, without any contradiction, It is the greatest and most precious of all!

Confirmations. (Malhaire). Pajean. Hole (Angel),

[* Capsized (cook). Helped across a big River. *]

_Palghat, 13th November _

Even though Fr de Gelis has been doing all he could since his arrival here on Thursday morning, the Confirmations have been almost completely spoiled by the abrupt departure of Fr Malhaire [for Malasia]. Only eight or ten people were ready, to take the opportunity of my passing this way.

The community seems to have gone down a lot since the time of good Fr Ravel. And what other way could it go, with all the miserable troubles they have had here this year?

Fr Pajean came to see me after [his] Mass at Covilpalayam. I hadn’t seen him for more than a year, in spite of all my invitations and orders to come to Coimbatore. I made no allusion at all to the past events; and he said nothing about his [Jaffna] plans. He just mentioned in passing that he had heard from Fr Semeria. Are they stil1 corresponding? Another remark he made to Fr de Gelis seems to imply that he has not given up his [transfer] plan. On the other hand, he spoke about “his” Athikode church as if he was intending to make a start on it soon, and was hoping to finish it himself. So it’s all a bit of a mystery.

Here at Palghat, I saw some [expensive] evidence that Fr Malhaire was (in his own mind) completely settled down in this Mission, up to the moment he got the [destabilizing] letter from Bishop Bouche of Malasia. He had totally forgotten his application to go there. And his resolution to stay on in Coimbatore “in (p1214)life and in death, in sickness and in health” (as he wrote) was, in his own inconsistent mind, absolutely solid. So much so that he had made a Plan for a new church, and was intending to put all the 2000 francs from his family into it. Further proof: he had ordered a new manchi to be constructed for him (one of those simplified palanquins used in Kerala) and he had paid out an advance of 50 rupees to “Gonzales Mestri” [cabinet makers and coach builders] for the construction of a pony-trap for his visserani [visitation]. For he always hated horse-riding. That’s 50 rupees down the drain, most probably. Please God, there won’t be more than that lost, in all the dismal affair!

_Luckadicottali, 14th November _

Already, our good Angel has shown us he is on the job. The road from Palghat here is not at all good. In one place there was a sudden big deep hole, dug right in the middle of the track! [My own cart got by, around it]. But the bullocks of the cart behind [kept plodding along as usual]. One of them had his front hoof out, ready to step (or fall) into the trench, when my driver happened to look back. He let out a yell, and they all stopped. They [were backed away] and then they got around the big hole, with no harm done. [It certainly was a very near thing… The bungalow here is outstandingly bad.

_Waniencolam, 15th November _

Yesterday, the road was awful, but nothing bad happened.

This morning, at 2 o’clock, we drove out from the bungalow, on to a magnificent road, and promptly capsized the cart!

As we were setting out, the clear moonlight showed up our fine new road. “We’ll get as far as Tirtalla this evening, no trouble”, I said. Then it happened. The cook was trapped under the capsized vehicle. At least he wasn’t dead; for he was roaring strenuously. But his roars made me fear he must be badly hurt. We quickly got him out; and he had only a few scratches, and a thumb-nail torn off. To an Indian, it was a mere nothing.

He immediately began to help, trying to unload the rest of the cart, free it, and lift it on to its wheels. [But we failed to lift it]. (p1215)

We had to go back to the bungalow and wait. For some people to help us, or for some labourers to hire? Nobody was prepared to help. Some carters went by. We called to them; they didn’t even deign to reply. It was the same with a group of pedestrians later. Then a second group seemed about to take some pity on us. Their leader ordered them to lift the cart; they sort of touched it with their finger-tips and then fell back “exhausted”. Anyway, it was 5 a.m. before the cart was on its wheels again. It was 9 before we could resume our journey.

The cook is all right again, thank God. He walked all day as if nothing had happened. Our “bitter drug” ointment has already stopped his wounds. Things could be a lot worse…

_Tirtalla, 16th November _

Nothing much to report in today’s journey, unless maybe the crossing of a big river. The water was well down, at this season of the year; but [in the end] we had to ferry my little cart across. [Before that] my poor bullocks had got very helplessly stuck in the wet sand and mud; and I began to think we would never get them out of it again. Then along came a huge convoy of carts. The driver of one of them came over to us. He was a Coimbatore Christian and he had recognized my little cart. He’s the first Christian I have seen since Palghat (apart from two half-Christian coolies, and two of the Palghat Collector’s servants, at Waniencolam bungalow). This [good driver turned out to be a real Christian to us]. He brought us immediate and effective help.

[*West Country and Inhabitants. The sea, the Sea! *]

*Pretty logging Port. *

Since Palghat, the countryside is completely different from the Collectorates of Coimbatore, Salem, Trichinopoly etc. Instead of those endless arid plains, we now have smiling hills and valleys full of greenery and magnificent rice-fields, The people, also, seem richer (or at least not so badly-off). Less emaciated (p1216) faces indicating less empty bellies. Few villages; instead, many individual farmhouses here and there, in twos and threes or so, inside little plantations with banana-trees all around.

The men look like those around Cochin, each one always armed with their typical palm-leaf umbrella (a permanent fixture, like the European’s hat) and with a dagger stuck m his belt (at least if he’s a higher-caste man who has the right to go armed). The women do not wear the [Tamil sari]. Many of them go around completely naked above the waist, especially the more “noble.” ladies! These are generally much whiter than the rest; and their colour makes their undress even more disgusting; because a dark skin looks somehow clothed. Most of the ordinary women wear a big floppy blouse which covers them entirely. And they seem .to wear it all the time, in and out of doors, to Judge by the sheer dirtiness of it (which it shares in common with the topless skirts)

The Turks [Muslims?] here look more sullen and fanatical than do those in Tamil country. No sign of any Christian or any church. In fact the only religious building you will see around here is some rare and ramshackle temple. They are certainly much scarcer and less beautiful than in the East. Neither do you see any of those black stone carvings or any “Vishnu’s horses” here. Most of the inhabitants have no forehead-marks, except maybe a very small “pottu” spot. (Many, also, wear a little smear of ash). ,

What a contrast with Tanjore (for example) where you can’t take a short walk without stumbling over some devilish divinity or other, and where every single child is painted, daubed and marked from head to toe!

_Prodianqadoly, 17th November _

All the way from Palghat, there have been numerous convoys of carts on the road. But now [as we make towards the coast] nearly all of them seem to have branched off [more inland] probably heading for Pounang [Poona?]. Since we left [Tirtalla] bungalow and (almost immediately) passed by the junction [towards that place, our own road has been almost empty], detestably bad [and even dangerous]. Nevertheless, the Lord has protected us from all accidents and injuries. Blessed be his holy Name! (p1217)

_Tannoor, 18th November _

Today’s road was generally smooth, but often painfully difficult because of the deep sand. No accident or incident. But how my heart rose at the sight of the Sea! [We travelled along by it] and this present bungalow looks out on it. There is always a wonderful feeling, a strong indefinable impression made on our soul, by the sheer majesty and power of the Ocean.

“Yahweh … greater than the voice of the ocean, transcending the waves of the sea.” [Ps 93.4].

“Seas and rivers, bless the Lord! Give glory and eternal praise to Him!” [Daniel 3.77].

_Beypoor, 19th November _

The situation of this bungalow is as fine as you could possibly want. It overlooks the sea, and the pretty little trading port (for coasters only, all along the West). It looks a perfect harbour, but it has not enough depth for real ships. It is almost ringed around by magnificent coconut palms, with verdant hills behind them, and then Mountains adorned with great teak forests. From these come the log rafts which form the principal export of the coasting trade here.

*Vasco da Gama and the Shames of the Portuguese. *

*Europeans looted and Compromised. *

*They still Fail the Clergy. *

_Calicut city, 20th November _

I arrived here about 7 p.m. yesterday, and made my way to a Catholic church (rather decent) on the edge of this [Portuguese] city. The two Indian priests here had been expecting me for the last two or three days. One is of Latin Rite and looks after the topa

[mixed-race] Christians. The other, Syriac- Rite, takes care of the purely Indian Catholics, who are very few here.

The local community looks quite interesting (though I cannot really evaluate it, since I am only passing through). In another (p1218) city, it would be delightful and consoling to see such a group. But here, it is rather depressing, for you are very much aware that it is only like a drop in the ocean of pagans and Turks. And it does not seem to be making any numerical progress whatsoever. The pagans here do not change. They say a few of them may become Turks; nobody ever becomes a Christian. The Turks seem to be rich and powerful in all this region. They control all the trading, which is very active here. The Christians just barely exist (as almost everywhere else in India).

Oh, wretched “Christian” governments, making no use at all of your influence, in order to help to establish Christianity! Where are you now, great Vasco da Gama, you who first set Catholic eyes on this same city where I write these lines! Your heart beat high with hope and faith that day. You were bringing the Cross; and how you longed to plant it high, on top of all those temples and mosques!..

You haven’t won here, you foolish Europeans! You have lost much more than you gained from these countries! You have lost the spirit of Faith which inspired your first great explorers, and which primarily led them on towards these new lands. That spirit soon lost its shining edge, blunted and dulled by bales of cotton, heaps of rice, chests of tea and spices! Cupidity at the sight of such exotic riches gave place to raging greed. You murdered and slaughtered each other, to get at them.

Lust invaded your greedy souls, and you have left behind a whole population, in living and perpetual witness to your shameful vices, being black like the poor victims of your lust and brutality, but European in their trousers, dress and hair-style. A whole population dragged in the mud, groaning in misery and destitution, a walking reproach to the foreigners who begot them and left them like this.

Then a hellish cunning showed you how, in spite of your

shameful behaviour, you could still manage to dominate these peoples. But on one condition: that you leave them in their darkness, in their religious errors; that you favour and flatter their social and religious prejudices, even their idolatry; that you even place obstacles in the way of the good news of Jesus Christ! On (p1219) that condition, you are still in control. You did not flinch from the condition. You accepted it. You are still putting it into practice. So I say: you haven’t won here; you have lost!

So keep on, blood-suckers! Draining the life-blood from these peoples, in exchange for your own lost honour and your betrayed Faith. The day will soon come when God will hand you over to the [unconscious agents] of his Justice. He will send in a people who are stronger than you, leaving nothing of your [Portuguese trading] establishments but shabby ruins. Indeed, the day has already started. For already a heretic Nation possesses most of India ‘. Soon there will be nothing left of the memory of the true Christians [Vasco da Gama and the first Portuguese explorers and missionaries] except the depressing thought that [the English] are so much more thorough [and successful in the looting] which [the Portuguese only] started.

The two priests [here in Calicut] welcomed me perfectly.

The Latin priest, Luis da Conceicao (the “parish priest”) is a past pupil of Verapoly Latin Seminary. He has all the European-style forms of courtesy and politeness. Moreover, the income from his “parish” is quite considerable. So you are as comfortable in his house as you would be with any European priest.

Let those who are against having native priests [come here and see]. Then, let them put their hand on their heart (and on their .conscience) and answer the question: In spite of all the faults of this West Coast clergy, are not [the people] a hundred times better off with them than without? Would they really be better off If all they had was a few rare foreign missionaries (who themselves are not fault-free either)?

. Not that everything here is perfect; far from it. But truly, if this clergy was given some decent care and attention I believe that everything could be perfect, i.e. with the relative perfection that is the only kind feasible in this country [or any other]. The missionaries here do ordain priests. But they do not look after them. This [heartless negligence], along with several other indications, makes.me suspect that, even here [on the West Coast], the European priests do not really want a native clergy. [What indications”]. A “natural” distaste or antipathy, which would be quite (p1220) unbelievable if you didn’t actually see it. Obviously, the only reason they ordain priests here at all is that they [_have _]to. Then they promptly try to forget them.

But what is even more unbelievable, they carefully keep them in a hopeless situation where they can do nothing even to help themselves, or reform themselves. (The [missionaries] certainly do not know that this is what they are actually doing. It is just another natural result of the dismal machinery [or organization] of the present working of the Missions).

I do not think that a [clergy reformer like] Saint Vincent de Paul could emerge here. [Of course, grace could easily produce one. But] if grace did form such a noble soul, its nobility could never be seen [in this set-up]. Not until the Day of Judgment and Clarification. Then, no doubt, we will see many a great Saint who was great only in the eyes of God. While he was part of the poor Church Militant [down here, he was a nobody]. Because he was never given the remotest opportunity to fight the good fight for the glory of God [and the honour of the Church].

O my God! When are You going to send him: the man who has (at the same time) all these: an understanding of the needs of your Church, the strength (and the authority and the zeal) to do something about it, and the human resources (so many other actual graces from Your hands) to really and powerfully succeed!

*Good old Da Silva, a Dacent man. *

_Barraygherry, 23 November _

Left Calicut early yesterday morning. Arrived at Quilandy about 10 a.m. As I was making my way to the public bungalow, a servant from a Mr da Silva came up, and invited me to his master’s house. [I went. And] I have every reason to be thankful for accepting the hospitality of that good and decent man. He seemed to me a good Christian (or anyway as good as he could possibly be, out here, cut off from all religious help and all priestly (p1221) minist rations, and always up to his eyes in the grubby business of this world).

He was for a long time an employee of the French in Mahe.

But, with his very large family, he found that the salary from the French Government was not sufficient to live on, even though he did two or three jobs at the same time (justice of the peace, chief of police, etc.) All he made from them was 35-40 rupees a month. So he decided to accept a much lower job in the [English] Company, usually given to Indians, but paying 120-150 rupees a month. Although a few of his sons are now also working (for the Company) and getting fairly good salaries, the generous old man’s house still does not look all that prosperous.

He was obviously badly off. And when he told me a few of his recent misfortunes I began to see why. A good man like him ought to be a lot richer, if justice was for this lower world. Nevertheless, he is not in the least down-hearted about it all. He bears his adversities with courage, and even with some Christian spirit. Always cheerful and lively, a charming conversationalist, he gives you what little he has; and he gives it with joy. I spent the whole day with him, a lot more enjoyably (I’m sure) than if I had been lodged in style, with some rich but frosty Englishman.

May the good God, who will not let a glass of cold water go unrewarded, graciously repay this noble Portuguese descendant for the warm hospitality he gave me, that day and night!

Today’s journey: nothing special to report.

*A new Low for France overseas *

_Mahe, 24 November _

At Mahe I met the Carmelite Fr Luigi Gonzaga, and also the Indian Latin-rite priest in charge of the small Christian community here. Both of them gave me a very good welcome.

As I got here early, I was able to celebrate Mass. The church was vast but looked sadly empty and dilapidated. In fact, anywhere you happen to look in this place, all you can see is ruins.

This is my second French “possession” since leaving (p1222) Pondicherry. On entering one, you get [of course] an indescribable patriotic thrill, at the sight of the French flag, etc. But it doesn’t last long. All you feel thereafter is an indescribable sadness. O France, how small and mean you are, out here! How unworthy of yourself and, especially, of your Christian heritage!

_Mahe, 25 November _

Try as you might, you could not possibly imagine a more miserable spectacle than this French “possession” called Mahe. Once a strong and beautiful city, it is now nothing but a pile of rubble. You can still make out the traces of the long, straight boulevards. And the dismantled forts testify to [our former glory and] our present impotence. In this place, you feel ashamed to say you are French. The whole place is a standing humiliation.

It is only just recently that France has received back this particular slap-in-the-face from the English (though under the outward form of an obliging English courtesy). [They gave us back Mahe and a few similar places!]. More than likely, the Paris newspapers will be boasting that England “has surrendered some of her former possessions back to France”. But if you are a Frenchman, and come here, and see what it is like, and how it was done, [you won’t feel quite so proud]. You will say: “What awful century is this? Have we come down to this?”

Two or three miserable towns (or villages)! And you can’t even go from one to the other without crossing English territory. We haven’t even got a road of our own! And look at the land! Unbelievable! Three small hills, bald-headed on top, utterly barren. [That’s the French part]. The foot of the hills and the middle belong to the English: fertile coconut plantations. The English have kindly given us back the three stony summits, down as far as the trees. So, if you want to gather stones, dear Frenchmen, come this way! Come by balloon!

Nothing here. No trade whatsoever. No life! Four or five miles to the north, or to the south, it’s bustling with commerce and prosperity. At Mahe , nothing. Nothing but ruin and shame. The few Indians remaining are steadily getting out, out of French (p1223) territory. They haven’t far to travel. At most, a mile!

As for the French influence on religion, it is strictly negative.

For a long time now, the French employees here have been giving consistent scandal. With very few exceptions, they are all atheists, or people of no religion. Except for one M. Lemerle and his son in-law, they all kept well away from me.

To sum up: Streets: ruins. Economy: two fishing boats. Inhabitants: a crowd of beggars with their hand out. French presence: one tricolour flag. Finish.

Poor old France! Where are our fathers of old, those men who would rather have died than give up their honour and the religion of Jesus Christ! How long more, France, how long more will you leave your honneur in hands like this, so unworthy of representing you? For I cannot believe you have come down to this _]level of degradation and un-Christianity, down to the level of your local “representatives” here, so totally and so obviously unfit to uphold your [_gloire!

No. I prefer to believe that France is not personified yet in those representatives, nor in the kind of people we have governing us, for too long now. For if she has, indeed, sunk so low and if those people are true representatives, there’s nothing for it. Nothing but to groan aloud and call on Heaven to shorten the days of its wrath. To give France back her soul. To give power to those who are at least worthy of the name of Frenchmen, men not too unlike our brave men of old, our Christian ancestors!

*Marian Shrine near a Pagan sea. *

_Tallicherry, 26 November _

If Mahe had anything to cheer my French Catholic heart, I might easily have stayed on until the Sunday. But I was in a hurry to get out, out of this dump which is such a complete disgrace and humiliation to us. So I left yesterday evening about five.

[Tallicherry is different]. We were supposed to stay here only the night, and to set out again at 2 a.m. for Cannanore. But, arriving at dusk, I was so taken by the beautiful situation that I (p1224) was reluctant to leave so soon, without stopping to contemplate and admire the beauties of Nature, so lavishly strewn here by the hand of the Creator.

And Grace is not lacking here either; for there is a very fine church, built near the point of the promontory, where the long waves roll in majestically. The Cross is planted high on the very tip, dominating the sea from its imposing height, visible [they say] to mariners more than ten miles out.

But alas, there are not many to salute that cross! Tis not in you, O Cross, that they place all their hopes (you, the only Hope of Mankind) but in the heretical Flag which rules all these waves, and to which (by some inscrutable design of Divine Justice) all power has been given, over all these vast lands and seas. All men’s hopes are now fixed on earthly aims, often attained only with hardened hearts, with minds seeing nothing beyond, nothing transcending the flag-mast or the visible horizon.

Oh when will that Day dawn, Lord, when your Cross shall be saluted from afar, by sea-farers rejoicing to spot this first sign of land … When the Star of the Sea shall be greeted by all, and the mariners shall crowd into this temple, to thank her for a happy voyage or console themselves at their Mother’s feet for all the hardships they have endured!

Nowadays they steer by the sunrise and the sunset and, passing by here, they see nothing in this great [church] but another orientation-point for their navigation. And if they sometimes call it “the Mother-of-God Temple” it is only with the gross and crude ideas of their own infernal divinity-procreations.

Not to say there are no Christians hereabouts. The Name of Jesus is indeed known to a few. And the Holy Sacrifice is indeed offered regularly in this charming church. It even has its own “Latin” Indian priest; and the local community is quite a promising little parish. If it gets good wise care, it can yield quite a few consolations. Can, I say. For, up to now, it has produced hardly any fruit at all. The mentality of the Christians seems to be arrogant, troublesome and turbulent. Up to very recently (owing to various long-distance causes) a most disastrous division reigned among them. Anyway, now, some kind of outward peace has (p1225) been established between them, by the efforts of good Fr Luigi, a Carmelite missionary from Mangalore. Let us hope that it will last. (For usually it doesn’t last long, among those Indian .communities, once they have been disturbed at all). And with the coming of peace, may the regular practice of the Sacraments revive (now almost forgotten) and popular piety (now almost non-existent).

Have pity, Lord, on these poor peoples! And cast a merciful eye on India, which has so few Christians and (among these) so few deserving of the Name! O Mary, this pretty sanctuary is dedicated to you! Show here, as in so many other places, how great is your gentle power with your Son our Lord!

[*A Sea-change of Programme. *]

[*A pukka (proper) Indian Chaplain. Farewell to my People. *]

_On board a patamar, _

_Cannanore to Mangalore, 29 November _

No road (I was told) from Cannanore to Mangalore. At least not for bullock-carts. All trading is by coasters only. The “road” is feasible only on horse-back, or by palanquin. So I had to board a “patamar”, a little Turk ship [Arab dhow?] which should get us (they say) to Mangalore in two days. I am writing these lines in the only “cabin”, and invoking your protection, O Mary, for this passage, and for all the other ones I still have to make.

Cannanore (I saw) is a considerable city. The English have an army post here (European and Indian troops). Like all the regiments (and certainly the infantry) the ones here have a very big number of Catholic soldiers. And many have their families here too. This necessitates a priest who has a very good knowledge of English, and one that will be a credit to the priesthood. I was pleasantly surprised to find both of those qualifications in the black priest here at Cannanore. He has the rank of Chaplain, and he carries out all his functions as well as many a missionary could. (p1226) (There are, I suppose, some European priests who could do it better. But there are plenty who couldn’t do it half as well). The only problem here is prejudice against “black priests”. Since this is so deep-rooted (even in Catholic missionaries) it is not at all surprising to find even more of it among European laymen (especially the English) both Catholics and Protestants.

So it seems that [some of the officers] would much prefer to have a white Chaplain here. And indeed, by accident, (given their mentality) he might in fact be able to do a bit more good among them. And the black Chaplain, knowing how they would like to replace him, is naturally a bit too much on his guard with the superior [officers] to be able to develop all his good qualities in a complete [and relaxed] way. He is also, perhaps, just a little too “grand”, too “correct”, too European, and too precisely English.

Entering his quarters, I thought I was in a little palace. In France, anyway, we might think a man like that “wordly” if he kept such a fine table and (especially) such fine furniture, even if he was a “big” city cure. But this Chaplain, who has never seen any other form of “civilization” but the English brand (so snobby and de luxe) feels that he[_ must_] have all this style if he is to be “respectable” and to maintain his “position”. And indeed he is probably right about that, given the actual set-up.

Whatever about all that, I spent two very agreeable days with him. Apart from his cool [correctness] which seemed to be his usual stance towards all whites (for he had to be cagey with them, unless he was to become holy enough not to care a hang about his “high” position) his welcome was perfect, almost [_too _]good. .

It was at Cannanore that I left my Tamil servants (to make their way back to Coimbatore). This was a new heart-break for me, when the time came to say goodbye. “There goes the last link”, I felt, “probably the last people I will ever again meet, from my Vicariate”. Moreover, they had always been loyal and faithful to me. One of them, Ignaci, showed me a real personal attachment.

In him I could clearly see, once again, how unfairly India is (p1227) described, even when it comes to Indian servants. Even those of them who are not perfect are not half as bad as they are made out to be by their masters, who never have the slightest inhibitions about running down and calumniating all “the blacks”. They never think of blaming themselves, even though (quite often) it’s the master’s fault. I have never seen a single white man (even priest) who had any real human affection for his servant; but he was always seriously surprised if the servant showed none for him. Hence, they all conclude, “there isn’t a single honest faithful loving servant to be found in all India”. A conclusion which is completely untrue, equally as unjust as their other assertions, e.g. that “the Indians are incapable of real affection or gratitude”; and other similar sweeping exaggerations.

[*Loreto Nuns for Here? *]

*My own place not Fit. Bruyere. *

_Within sight of Mangalore, 30 November _

We are just approaching Mangalore, as the numerous local fishing boats indicate. And they call to mind another famous fisherman, the Apostle Saint Andrew. Today is his Feast. Unhappily, these ones do not even know of him. He has not yet caught them in his saving nets.

Pray for them, and for us too, great Saint Andrew!

_Mangalore, 1st December _

I was given a letter here, from Bishop Bonnand, about the European Sisters in Dacca.50 Due to complicated circumstances, (apparently) beyond their control, they have to leave Dacca, and are looking for another place to work in. Bishop Bonnand believes he can recommend them on every count, and he strongly advises me to accept them for my own Vicariate. Certainly, we (p1228) will soon need a foundation like that, in the Nilgiris. The European population there is already considerable, and increasing daily. And anyway, modern [missionary] thinking is turning more and more towards colleges and other such establishments. (A trend which I would not dare to condemn, though I certainly cannot approve it wholesale either). So, sooner or later, I will have to bring in Sisters for girls’ education in my Vicariate.

Now, these Sisters seem to offer every possible advantage.

And their coming would cost the Mission much less [than if they came straight from Europe]. So I would gladly invite them in, if there wasn’t a civil war going on among my own missionaries. But how could I bring those holy ladies into the present foul-up? However excellent their spirit may be, wouldn’t they quickly lose their heads at the sight of it, and at the sound of all the [destabilizing] talk all around? For they could not escape it all.

Impossible, therefore, to take them. But maybe Providence has arranged things so (i.e. that Bishop Bonnand’s letter should reach me only here at Mangalore) precisely in order to enable me to contribute something to the progress of this Vicariate.

For anyway, what difference does it make, O good Jesus, in which place the good is done, provided only that your Name is glorified by it! Does not the whole wide earth belong to You anyway, Lord? [Isn’t it all the same Catholic Mission?].

_Mangalore, 3 December _

Another troublesome letter from one of my missionaries [Bruyere], very disrespectful and, in fact, downright insulting.

It made me think that maybe it is high time, now, to spell it out for those gentlemen: the real secret reason for my hurried departure, and for my offered resignation. If I do not come back, it will matter a lot, it will be important, not to let the troublemakers be able to boast that “we drove him out”. They must all be made to see that [it was my own move], that [long ago] I pre-empted them. [For other reasons too]. That if, in fact, they did [contribute] to making me leave, [it was not by any master-plan of theirs]. It was by their mere insubordination and downright misconduct towards me. So I have written all this plainly to (p1229) [Bruyere], with a [copy] to Fr Metral, unsealed, so that Fr de Gelis can also read it [and file it].

*Letter why the Jesuits blocked a Beatification. *

*Advice to Mangalore Seminarians. *

_Mangalore, 6 December _

Here, in passing, I have just come across a [very disturbing letter about the manoeuvres of the Jesuits in Mexico], written to Innocent X in 1649 by a Bishop there, Juan de Palafox y Mendoza. This saintly prelate (the Fathers here told me) was afterwards declared Venerable. But his Beatification was blocked by the Jesuits because of this very letter.

“Just declare the letter a forgery”, the Jesuit General is supposed to have said to the Carmelite General, “and we will drop all our objections”. The Carmelite refused. And of course he was right, if (as the Fathers here assure me) the letter was genuine.

The letter, it has to be admitted, is a terrible indictment of the Jesuits. But the tone is the language of a saint.

On reading it, my own dark [suspicions] about everything Jesuit were only reinforced. For after seeing what has been happening in their Missions, and seeing what is still going on, I am now forced to consider as “quite probable” many a charge which I would previously have instantly called “a downright calumny”, before having seen such similar things with my own two eyes.

Ah, holy Church of Jesus Christ! How will I ever to able to see the true way to serve you? Or whether there is any good way at all? Or whether [there is no way except] to contemplate, in some narrow cell, Jesus crucified? Until the day when we are allowed to contemplate Him in his glory, with all the Saints. With Saints from every walk of life and from every Order. With the seraphic [Carmelite] Saint Teresa. With Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier. (They, if so many strange things are true, would be the first to combat the mistakes of their own followers). Ah, Saint Francis Xavier, whose glorious Octave we are still celebrating, pray for us! Pray for our Missions! (p1230)

_Sailing out from Mangalore, 10 December _

After Mass at 6 this morning, I bade farewell to my fraternal hosts. Bishop Michele (just new in his post, and likely to do a lot of good in it) and his two Carmelite missionaries (one of them, Fr Luigi di Gonzaga, seems a most accomplished man) and the charming seminarians (they reminded me delightfully of my own dear boys at Karumattampatty) all escorted me on board.

There is still room for improvement in the way this Mangalore Seminary is being run. The rule is not sufficiently observed; too much frivolity and dissipation, I’d say. Out of love for true progress, I thought I should alert good Fr Luigi to that danger. And, on leaving, I gave those charming seminarians a sort of parting souvenir of my visit:

1. Always give back love for love to your Vicar Apostolic and your missionaries (for they really have a fatherly affection for the boys). Obedience will then come easy to you, as well as all your other duties towards your superiors.[_ Ubi amatur non laboratur; vel si laboratur, labor amatur._] [Where there is love, there is no hard labour; or if there is, ‘tis a labour of love].

2. Keep the silence better, especially after the bell for sleep at night. If you keep that rule, it’s the best sign that things are all right in a house of studies. Keep that one well, and all the rest will follow.

3. Learn Gregorian Chant when you get the chance. You sing very well. But other occasional hymns, however beautiful and however nice for a change, cannot be a substitute or a sound foundation for liturgical singing.

These little bits of advice did not (I think) go down badly at all. God grant that they may stick in their minds because of the special occasion. If so, there could be a lot of good future consequences hidden away inside them.

The Bishop and the two Fathers remained to see me off at the quay. And here I am again, rolling left, rolling right, on an old creaky patamar.

Keep me under your protection, O Mary! (p1231)

[*The Carmelites or the MEP or the Jesuits? *]

_At Sea, 11 December _

It may be true that (as they are often criticized) the Carmelites are a bit short on zeal or action, and do not really put themselves into their Missions here. But I must say that all the ones I know do, in fact, try all they can for the Missions. Any real deficiencies (in recent times at least, for I do not know all their ancient history) can be traced much more to the dismal organization of the Missions in general, and to the poor structure of relations between their own particular Order and the Missions. Not to the individual missionaries here.

Anyway, the Carmelites have escaped the huge mistakes and systematic abnormalities of several other Missions (though they may have fallen into a few lesser ones of their own).

The Kerala Missions [to be precise] do not involve the big numbers of European missionaries which have made themselves “indispensable” in other places, to the great detriment of real [Church] progress. But the [Carmelites] have fallen into the opposite extreme: they have not [_enough _]missionaries. Not even the absolute minimum required, in order to [found and] direct the [specialised] institutions which must be, for a long time to come, the work of European priests, in all India.

But at least the Carmelites have not omitted the all-important work of Native Clergy. Only they have not put sufficient care into educating them. Perhaps because this was impossible owing to their own shortage of men. Or perhaps also because they do not know how to go about training the youth here.

Their Missions are also still lacking in most of those specialized institutions (or side-shows) which are so “important” today, and which look so impressive in Reports to Rome. (In actual fact, I believe, they generally produce a lot more show than solid progress. Still, they should not have been entirely neglected).

All this is already fairly well understood, anyway, by some good Carmelites now on the spot. But not (apparently) by the Superiors of their Order in Europe. Even when I was in Verapoly (p1232) a few years ago, Archbishop Martini and Bishop Bacinelli told me how badly off they were because the Carmelite General was not sending them any new missionaries. They were hoping for several fairly soon; but only very few came after all. Then some others had to leave. And the over-all personnel of their Missions still remains very far below what it ought to be. It seems this is the main reason why Propaganda wants to give those Missions to other institutes.

Certainly, our own Society was offered Mangalore and Quilon (to be joined to Mysore and Coimbatore respectively). I opposed these amalgamations (at least the Quilon-Coimbatore one). I was not against MEP taking on Quilon as a separate Vicariate; but only on condition that the Carmelites were not offended in the process. It should be made very clear to them that this move was not prompted by any territorial ambition on the part of MEP, but was only a readiness to take on territory if the Carmelites were unable to continue.

Well, the Carmelite [central Superiors] seem to be very unhappy at the idea of “losing” those Missions. They feel the honour and glory of their Order is at stake. I do not know if that is what has stopped the S.C [of Propaganda, for the moment]. The S.C seems still to want to hand over the Missions if the number of missionaries does not greatly improve. But the Carmelites here seem to have lost all hope that their General will respond to the wishes of the S.C. (and their own). They write him letter after letter. No reply. Or mere evasions. Sometimes a few promises. But never any missionaries.

Meanwhile, a new rumour is buzzing in their ears: the Jesuits want their Missions. Or anyway, they want to get a foot in the door, with a new College in Bombay. The Carmelites say a Jesuit take-over would be a misfortune for the Catholic Religion; and I’d say they are about right there. This threat (and the possible “disgrace” of any Society taking over) has really stirred them into great efforts to meet all their obligations fully. And really, all they need at the moment is a few more men, and their Missions would soon be well up to standard. (p1233)

Maybe Providence has permitted this “scare” in order to propel them out of their cosy narrow circle of ideas and customs, into a previously-unthinkable improvement. I hope that in the end, their general Superiors will also see the point, see why their old rhythm of work has had to change, and that they will receive the reinforcements necessary to maintain and perfect the progress they have already started.

I hope so. Because I would consider it a real misfortune if the Carmelites .had to be replaced. They know the territory. And (from many points of view) they would probably still do a lot better in it than any newcomers. I am convinced that if our Society takes over, those Missions will lose a lot, even though they may afterwards look more flourishing. (At least to the eyes of superficial observers, taken in by the magic of appearances). If the Jesuits take over, it will be even worse, even though the appearances will then be even more brilliant!

Certainly, our Society, if it was working properly, could handle those Missions very fruitfully. Without endangering the good already achieved [especially the numerous Native Clergy]. With hope of much greater activity, and a somewhat better adaptation to the century we are living in. But, the way our Society is now, forget it! Not until there is a radical reform.

*Lament and Prayer for Portugal *

_Facing Goa, 13 December _

[Once-mighty Goa, Rome of the East], once the Centre of so much Christian progress in the Indies; now the source of so many evils and scandals! How I have longed to visit you, and to venerate the precious relics of Saint Francis Xavier within your walls! Your present schismatic state would not allow me.

There was a real chance of being arrested, even imprisoned!

I could, of course, have dodged all that, with an English passport and a lay suit of clothes. But I could not bring myself to do it. It went too much against the grain, to have to take such sneaky (p1234) pre cautions on “Catholic” territory. Why, even in the vast possessions of heretic England, we no longer need to hide either our name or our title, or even our pectoral cross. Why, even the pagans leave us free to carry out our devotions and processions in public. On this completely “pagan” ship, I can go about in my Bishop’s robes, unmolested. While my own brothers, the Portuguese, would prosecute me for it! Misfortunate Portugal! When will the day come again for you to earn your ancient motto “Most Faithful Kingdom”? Today it is nothing but [a joke and] a reproach to you:

And yet, Lord, let not that [great little] country perish! Remember the zeal that burned in the hearts of the early Portuguese [in India]! Remember Xavier! Remember Britto!51

Instead, chastise Portugal well. In your loving mercy, chastise her. Especially Goa, this guilty city. But do not condemn them. Let them soon be converted. Amen.

*Sailing delay. Learning from Indian Patience. *

_At sea, 20 December _

From Mangalore to Bombay (I was told) would take us only five days, in this season. But we have already been [_eleven _]days at sea, and we still do not know when we will arrive. Calms and head-winds are the trouble.

There are many Indian passengers on board; and some of them have not eaten a single meal (I mean cooked) since we started. Every now and then they chew a piece of sugar-cane, or they pop a few grains of roasted rice into their mouths. That’s their entire nourishment on this voyage. And how do they (p1235) manage? [Easy]. They sleep all day, and they sing all night. That’s their whole life now, their whole way of living. [Not by bread; for they haven’t any real food]. And yet you won’t hear a single murmur at the big delay, not a word of complaint, not the slightest sign of impatience.

I sincerely thank the Lord for this disappointment [in my programme, and for the impressive behaviour of those Indians]. It’s a very good opportunity to study the virtue of Patience. For it looks like I am going to have great need of that particular Virtue in the coming years (during whatever time I still have left to live)! The memory of this striking example of Indian fortitude will, I hope, then be a great help to me. For, however “natural” it may be, it is certainly most impressive.

New Year in Bombay

_Bombay, 1st January 1854 _

Time is quickly flying; year rapidly follows year. Piling up on me! [I was 40 on the 2nd of December!]. And still nothing done for your glory, 0 my God! Ah, how useless was 1853! How poor in good works! How marred by my faults and mistakes! Do not judge me, Lord, by your Justice, but remember your Mercy. Stretch out the healing hand of your great bounty. May the year 1854 be more salutary than the years just past. May I do some little good in it. And may I not flaw it with any grubby marks, as my fallen nature so often tends to do, even in my best actions.

Continue your kindness to me, O Mary; and you, good Angels, your loving care. Be with me to Rome. And there[_, show me some new way to do some good. Open a way to some new saving Work for the Missions and for Holy Church our Mother. _]In her and for her I aim to live and to die.”

  • * *

I have been in Bombay now for a few days. Already I have many things to try to write down, about this city and this Mission. (p1236). But my ideas are all rather jumbled up just now. They seem. to participate in the ecclesiastical [_confusion _]that appears to reign supreme here. So, even at the risk of forgetting some points, I prefer to wait until I have sailed .out. That way, I may be able to put some order into my observations and remarks. (p1237)


Steaming towards Arabia,

[_15 January, at Sea, 18º 21 N. 70° 39 E _]

Left Bombay, yesterday, after a big [send-off] dinner. All the Carmelite Fathers were specially invited. Bishop Hartmann (not so well those last 5-6 days) was not able to come to it.

I can have nothing but praise for the hospitality of the Bishop and the courtesy of the priests with him: Fr Peniston (SJ, England); and Frs Emmanuel and Camillus (OFM Cap). The Bishop himself is a Capuchin too. He is not the Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, but rather the Administrator sent in after the troubles in that Mission (which aren’t over yet). I will have more to say about all that later.

At the moment, however, I can’t write much. Sea-sickness.

So I will stop here. Only, I pray God to bless the various efforts of the numerous evangelizing workers now in Bombay, and to bring it all to a happy conclusion. They all seem to be intent on true progress. Unfortunately, they are such a [_mixed _]group that I fear the progress will continue to be greatly inhibited. It’s a time of transition in Bombay. Inevitable, perhaps. But also quite dangerous. In spite of the obvious goodwill of each individual missionary there.

*Overcrowded ship. Courteous English passengers. *

[_16 January, 17º 42 N, 67º 29 E _]

Steaming towards Aden on board the English Company’s “Semiramis”. Which is certainly not designed for the comfort of (p1238) the passengers! (They say the much more advanced P & O Line will soon take over this Mail route). Meanwhile, you get very bad value, indeed, for your money. I paid 625 francs, and I am de facto not even in 2nd Class. For the whole deck is blocked by “coolies” jammed like sardines. The cabins could decently take 4 or 5 passengers at most. We are now 18 or 20! And two ladies and their small children have to be given most of the cabin space!

So the only thing you can do is stay out on deck, day and night. Happily, the weather is only magnificent. And, if we are badly off for space, we couldn’t be better off in many other respects. Nearly all the passengers are exquisitely courteous at all times. Although I cannot understand a single word they say (my English is strictly “book”) I get on very well with them. They never show the slightest amusement at my pronunciations, and they go to great trouble to try and chat with me. Those with a few words of French are delighted to try them out on me. And the same goes for the ship’s officers. The captain claims some far-out French connection. He speaks our language a little; and he is most considerate. As for the food, it could not be better. But we pay well for it: about 25 francs a day (included in the fare).

O my God [when I see how friendly, relaxed and co-operative are my English fellow-passengers on this very inadequate steamship, I begin to wonder]: How well, how effectively, people can pull together, understand each other, and arrange everything sensibly, for their better temporal advantage and welfare! Why can’t we [Catholic missionaries] motivate each other (and the people) so well, for their [_spiritual _]advantage and welfare! For the progress of Religion in our various enterprises, institutions and establishments!

What progress this Ocean has witnessed, during the present century, in industry, in commerce, in the material well-being of Europeans in India! And the Catholic Religion? No real progress at all (although some is loudly claimed at times). Lucky if we have not been going backwards! (p1239)

*The “truth about Bombay. Why Propaganda failed. *

*Italian “5 lowness” in the Past, recently changing. *

[_17 Januarv, 17º 04N. 64º20£ _]

I have seen some ecclesiastical confusion in my time, but Bombay beats all. What I will write here [is not all eye-witness]. Some I got from Archbishop Martini of Verapoly (at present in Rome; I am not too sure why). Or by letter from Bishop Hartmann, before I ever had the pleasure of meeting him. Or by word of mouth from Bishop Michele in Mangalore. (Up to a few months ago, he was cure at the principal church, or “the cathedral”, in Bombay). The rest I have just seen in Bombay, with my own two eyes, and heard with my own two ears. Nevertheless, it is still not at all easy to figure out what is the exact truth in the whole business

To arrive at the truth about anything we often have to get past at least two smoke-screens: the normal one, behind which the truth tends to hide itself anyway; and an artificial one, put up by a multitude of special interests. In order to hide the truth. Many a good man, then, looking only for the truth, will think he has found it. But other men [equally good] will be equally certain that they have it Even though their truth may be quite different, or even contrad ictory! O Truth, when will you show us your own true face, respl endent in all its clarity! In the meantime, we just have to be getting along with how the truth seems to us.

Well then, it “seems” the Carmelites have had Bombay Mission for a very long time indeed. They have certainly done a lot of good there, have had very worthy missionaries, and Bishops who were saintly and distinguished in every way.

But was their good work solid? Was it all solidly based on the natural providential opportunities given to them in that place, to advance the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and to really found the Church? We have to say No. But the same can be said, unfortunately, about all Orders and Societies which have received Missions in the 1ast three hundred years! We have all failed. Some more so, some 1ess; some in one way, some in another. We have (p1240) all missed the mark, the essential thing. Meanwhile, also, no doubt, we have been giving the world and the Angels a most moving spectacle of heroic dedication, of unparalleled daring, never before seen in the history of the Church, on so vast a scale!

What it all lacked was Plan, co-ordination, authority, to direct all those heroic efforts into one purposeful and coherent direction. That should have been (since the beginning of the 17th century) the function of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda. But, in the inscrutable designs of God, it did not happen. Propaganda either did not know how, or it was not able to do it: to direct the over-all execution of this vast and noble Aim.

Be that as it may, the fact is: each separate Mission was always working under the undue influence of one nation or another, of one particular Order or Society. Each was run in a particular (or peculiar) way. Not because the [culture] of the [host] nation and the exact nature of the local obstacles required it so. No, but merely because the missionaries there happened to be French, or Italians, or Jesuits, or Carmelites, or Franciscans. Etc., etc.

It has to be said for the Carmelites in India that their Missions are a bit less peculiarly “Carmelite” than you might expect. However, for example, the native priests have to recite the Carmelite breviary; and there is hardly any Gregorian chant used in the liturgy. All this in the name of “unity”! How absurd can we get? However, these two eccentricities do not seem to produce any really bad effects (although the lack of a good impressive liturgy is much more important than some people might think at first).

But another thing: Nearly all those good Carmelites have always been Italian. And the Italian spirit seems to me rather lazy. Their relaxed attitude is sometimes admired. And it may well be a providential quality in Rome. But it can easily turn into nonchalance, carelessness, indifference about the future. [After all, Rome is the Eternal City, and there is plenty of time]. The future is theirs, guaranteed, somewhat like the Universal Church itself (whose interests the Italians have long been directing, far more than any other people). But the guarantee (from the Holy Spirit) (p1241) is for the Universal Church as such; not for any Local Church; certainly not for any particular Mission. [So the French, for example. cannot afford to wait around too long, for the Italians to make up their minds].

The French, no doubt, are often too much in a hurry, too risk-enterprising, too feverishly active, too fond of the latest novelty. But aren’t the Italians too slow to move, too free-and-easy, .too fond of their glorious Past, too ready to jeer at the mad modern world?

Anyway, that [easy-going attitude] is what struck me in the Italian Carmelites’ three Missions, especially in the past. Nowadays the threat of a take-over] seems to have made them want to get moving. Their slowness must have occasioned many a big mistake over the years. Probably their worst mistakes were not the most visible ones; nor the mistakes that are now being so loudly criticized. These (though quite real, I believe) certainly do not deserve all the outcry now being made against them, nor especially all the acrimony shown in their recent treatment by others.

Carmelites attacked by the English element. Dr. Whelan.

It is the English mentality that has raised up this hostile storm against them. It has driven them almost entirely out of Bombay, and endangered their hold on two other Missions. For in Bombay there are now many Europeans, and especially many descendants of Europeans. These, at the moment, “have to” be very English. Talk English, think English, act English! That’s the fashion. That’s the “done thing”.

The good Carmelites were a thousand miles away from the kind of thinking now a la mode in Bombay: schools, colleges, orphanages, Bibles, pamphlets, tracts, Catholic newspapers etc., etc. Look at Madras”, said the English Catholics, “Look at Calcutta! Look at all their fine new Catholic institutions”. Etc. The thousands of half-Indians raised a terrible outcry. [They wanted the same]. They did not stop to consider the things that were (p1242) [missing _]in Madras or Calcutta: pastoral things, a lot more important than those showy new colleges etc. They wanted the new institutions. [The old. missionary things] were only good for “the blacks”. _They did not matter. (So said the half-castes).

[The Carmelites took it all with a grain of salt]. They gave a very low priority to all the latest crazes. Maybe they were right. But they should not have neglected them altogether. They should have paid some attention to the century they were living in (outside of Italy) and adapted themselves a bit more to the shape of things to come.

Anyway, an “English” party in the Church formed up against them. And [misdirected] nationalism persuaded the Irish priests that they themselves (in the absence of English priests) were the only “natural” leaders of the Missions in [India], especially in places where there happened to be some English or Irish Catholics. Therefore they themselves were the only possible people to be in charge of the key posts in Calcutta, Madras and especially BOMBAY.

Yes, they did have some qualifications, some real obvious advantages, for the pastoral care of the relatively few English and Irish in those places. But they were extremely unfitted to look after the countless Indians there (either to maintain them if Catholics, or to convert them if pagans). They paid no attention to this [very large and obvious fact]. And their Irish Bishops strongly supported the loud demands of the “English” party in Bombay, both directly and indirectly.

The last Vicar Apostolic of Bombay [Bishop Fortini, Carmelite], seems to have given some ground under the pressure. In order to calm things down, he requested an English (or Irish) Carmelite as Coadjutor. But the United Kingdom does not have an over-supply of priests, especially of Carmelites, and most especially of Carmelite missionaries with an episcopal vocation! It could not be easy to find a suitable candidate there. So perhaps we should not be too surprised that the man they came up with, Dr Whelan, was not at all what the position required. Very soon [1843] it seems, he began to display such extreme eccentricities that the Vicar Apostolic found it quite impossible to live under (p1243) the same roof with him, in spite of many big concessions and allowances made to him. So the Coadjutor went back [to Dublin (or somewhere) in 1846.

The Bombay Carmelites natural1y thought this was the end of him, and of his dealings with their Mission. But in this they were greatly underestimating the incompetence of the [Roman] administration of the Church in India. When Bishop Fortini died [in 1848J they soon found out how great was their mistake. We will stop here for a moment [to give some background] before Dr Whelan comes in again!

*Rome Letter. No will. *

*Whelan again. Fennelly’s paper. *

*Shambles why Government took over Mission Property. *

Bombay Mission was rich. But its money was not wel1 secured to the Local Church, because of the usual deplorable style of administration on the missions. In the past, was al1 the money used rightly, for the glory of God? The archives could tell of some bad errors, as Bishop Hartmann hinted to me one day, in passing. Strange but sometimes true, Mammon has had a few very strong devotees among missionaries, especial1y a few religious devotees, now and then. These men seemed to think it was quite all right to send fairly considerable sums home to their dear Order (or elsewhere). So it would not be too surprising if a few Bombay Carmelites had done something of the same kind also, once or twice, in the past. Anyway (whether or not they did) they were accused of it by the opinion of many Bombay Catholics. And this vague suspicion was a great boost for the ““English” party.

Native Clergy came into it too (the objective so totally misunderstood by most groups of missionaries, and so poorly implemented even by those who did not absolutely refuse to do anything about it). The Indian priests in Bombay were alienated by [the policy of the missionaries] who took good care to keep all the most “profitable” churches for themselves. (A “natural” tendency, alas! But it should never even [_seem _]to be allowed on the (p1244) missions). Apparently, the Indian priests went so far as to write to Rome about the policy. And the Vicar Apostolic received an educational letter from the Holy See, indirectly dealing with their grievances, and urging a bit more respect for justice and common


But common sense is not at all common, especially when our own dear interests are involved. (Oh, we can see it very clearly, for other people; but when it’s ourselves, we tend to become suddenly quite myopic, if not totally blind). The Vicar Apostolic kept very quiet about Rome’s letter of advice. But, later on, it blew up, with deadly effect, on the Carmelites. This was when Dr Whelan came back. For the very first (most pressing) thing he had to do was, to [_publish _]the whole letter! Jolly good ammunition for his own [English] party, what?

[Another wonderful thing]. Apparently, a Carmelite never makes a Will. Maybe this is a rule in their Order. (I don’t know). But if it is, their Vicars Apostolic (and other heads of missions) should lose no time in getting a dispensation from it. Far better to get a necessary dispensation like that (to help safeguard Mission Property) than the scores of other unnecessary dispensations they already have [in India], to save them from observing their own Rule. (I could never understand how or why they got those. And it’s the same with the other Orders).

[Anyway Bishop Fortini left no will]. But he left a written

declaration: that the property he had been administering was not his own but belonging to the Mission; and that its administration should, on his death, be passed on to a named Carmelite missionary.

In any normal situation, this declaration would have been quite sufficient. The Vicars Apostolic before him had done the same; no further legal precautions. But the Catholics [stirred up, as we have seen, by the English party] now complained formally to the Government, saying that the Bishop had died intestate, and that the Government should take all the Mission property into its custody, for safe keeping!!! (Until a new Bishop was appointed). A very reckless move, if ever there was one, based on sublime ignorance of Company laws, and on a touching trust in the English. (p1245)

The Catholics felt that Dr Whelan, being “English” himself, would naturally know the right procedure for getting back the Mission’s property, if and when he arrived. (They also knew that Whelan, though a Carmelite himself, was a determined adversary of the Italian Carmelites in Bombay). In this way, those poor Catholics felt they had nobly protected the property of the Mission. (And I hear that several of the leading laymen in the foolish affair were quite well-intentioned people!).

In the middle of all this confusion, enter Dr Whelan again.

He brought with him a small group of English (or Irish) priests. The Carmelites thought these were seculars; but they very soon found out they were Jesuits! Right from the start, poor Bishop Whelan conducted himself, towards the Carmelites, in a way that was nothing short of outrageous. Yes, they may have been wrong on a few points; but they were not a bit more wrong than plenty of other missionary groups before them. And, out of respect for their many virtues, and all the good work they had so long been doing in India, the Carmelites deserved at least some consideration. (Even while correcting the grievances of the people, now wildly exaggerated by the propaganda of the ‘English’ party). Apart from all this dismal affair with the Carmelites, Dr Whelan made so many other glaring mistakes that his second stay in Bombay was just one disaster after another for the Mission.

So the Carmelites now had, lined up against them: the English party, the Bishop, the Indian priests and their supporters. These were greatly worked-up by the reckless publication of the Holy See’s confidential letter, mentioned before. [And now they saw the same injustices continuing]. Their priests were being ousted by Dr Whelan’s new proteges. And when they heard that those were Jesuits, they felt that this would be the end of them entirely.

Sadly, at this point, in came [the media]. Journalism took over those local squabbles, and turned them into a blazing nationwide scandal. Especially sad to see was the part played in all this by [Bishop Fennelly] the Vicar Apostolic of Madras. He openly and stridently took the side of the English party, against the (p1246) Carmelites, in “his own” newspaper [The Catholic Expositor), writing most of the diatribes himself.

Archbishop Martini of Verapoly (a Carmelite) came to Bombay, accompanied by his fellow-Carmelite, the Bishop of Mangalore, to try and calm down the situation and reach some kind of an arrangement. I do not know exactly what authorization they had for this effort, or what they actually tried to achieve. All I know is, that Dr Whelan refused them entry into any church in Bombay! They had to celebrate Mass in their lodging-house. Anyway, they could make very little progress, and went back home very frustrated indeed.

Soon afterwards, however, Dr Whelan was called to Rome, to explain himself, and to give an account of his more-than-extraordinary procedures. Bishop Hartmann (Vicar Apostolic of Patna) was appointed Administrator Apostolic by the Holy See, to manage Bombay until further notice.

*Hartmann’s healing hand. *

[*Propaganda favouring Jesuits? *]

This venerable holy Bishop has, up to now, apparently managed to win over nearly all the “sides”. He has given back honour and justice to the Carmelites. He has recognised some of the complaints of the Indian clergy. With deliberate moderation, however. Because, in their present proud and worked-up condition, to give them all their rights immediately would only incite them to make further impossible demands. To the “European” ideas he has conceded a new orphanage, and European Sisters with a girls’ school. To the strictly English party he has provided an English Chaplain for the Fort church. This man, being both English and Jesuit, is particularly well qualified to play the officer and the gentleman, in a way that would nauseate the Italian Carmelites. He goes about, usually, in a very superior layman’s suit, just a little foppish. Thus he is very acceptable to the type of upper-class Catholic who is so allergic to shovel hats, soutanes and monkish cowls. (p1247)

The Carmelites now feel somewhat reassured. Once peace is restored and things are back to normal, they hope they may be allowed to continue in charge of Bombay Mission. They must, of course, follow up the new policies, with the help (if necessary) of other missionaries (non-Italian and even non-Carmelite). Possession of Bombay is very important to them, both for the prestige of their Order and for the financial help it can provide for their other [Kerala] missions, and especially Mangalore, which are very far from being viable. But they are also somewhat afraid (probably with good reason) that Propaganda may still be very annoyed with them over all the recent foul-ups, and may be blaming them more than they deserve, and may end up by taking Bombay away from them entirely, and entrusting it to other missionaries.

They seem to have rallied whole-heartedly to Bishop Hartmann’s policies. And they greatly esteem his personal qualities and virtues. But now they begin to be suspicious of some of his latest moves affecting their Order. Especially the continued presence of the Jesuits. They are now 3 or 4, and more are expected. Under Bishop Hartmann’s welcoming umbrella, they are supposed to be coming soon, in order to found a new College (in Bombay or Poona). The Carmelites feel certain that this is only the thin end of the wedge, and that the Jesuits’ ultimate aim is to take over the whole Vicariate as soon as possible.

Moreover [in Rome] Propaganda has apparently informed the Carmelite General that, if they want to hold on to their Indian Missions, they will have to send in more missionaries. This is only right and proper. But it also seems that Propaganda has handed them an [impossible ultimatum]: within a very short time, they must have forty! And this is really unbelievable. It would seem to show that both Bishop Hartmann and Propaganda itself have now been won over entirely to the Jesuit system: no Native Clergy and swarms of Priests from Europe. That’s how the Carmelites read it; and I think the same myself.

Of course [such a backward step] could not possibly, in my theology, be the policy of Propaganda as such. But Propaganda as [such _](i.e. as part of the Holy See) is one thing; the [bureaucracy] running the Missions at the moment is quite another. As (p1248) such (especially when its decision is approved personally by the Holy Father) Propaganda cannot stray away completely from the paths of Wisdom (the reflection of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church). As [bureaucracy] however, Propaganda does _not seem, always and automatically, to live up to its world-wide obligations, to its universal mission. The Holy Spirit leaves quite a lot to the prudence of the Church’s servants. (Though the Spirit will never let them stray so far as to endanger the continued existence of the Church). Any particular Council, or Bishops’ Conference, or Congregation, can make mistakes at times. At least they can apply mistakenly the unchanging principles of Truth, guarded by the Church. So I do not think it is at all absurd to say this: Propaganda can have less or more strength, or light, or wisdom, according to the actual man in charge at present, or whoever has the most influence on the current policies and thinking of its [Cardinal] members.

Therefore: given the fouled-up, entangled state of the Indian Missions, the Carmelites are quite right to be scared of the influence of the Jesuits (their cleverness and ability, always at the service of their own fixed idea: that their System is the only one that can ever convert India). Bishop Canoz, Vicar Apostolic of Madurai (who still seems to be more of a Jesuit than a Bishop, even after his consecration) called at Bombay on his way back from Rome.52 And it was after his visit that Bishop Hartmann began to put Jesuits into the administration of the Vicariate. And now, even more of them are expected. And Bishop Hartmann has become more and more suspicious of the Indian clergy, since the [latest schismatic] troubles, stirred up by the visit of Bishop de Matta from [Portuguese] Macao.53 (p1249)

[*Mahim. Rebel clergy; the fault is their Training. *]

[*The Carmelites could Improve it; the Jesuits won’t . *]

For, just to put the finishing touch to the scandalous state of’ Catholicism in India, and especially Bombay, this Bishop [from China] had to show up on the scene, like a dark storm-cloud bringing ruin and havoc in its train. Since I have had more than one occasion, before now, to speak of the disastrous Goa Schism, I will not go into that again. I will confine myself to its effect on


As I said, Bishop Hartmann had won over the Indian priests

by giving them a few of the ‘richer’ churches, including St Michael’s. Mahim. When the Macao Bishop arrived, a few of the priests joined his schism, notably the cure of this St Michael’s (or the “vicar” as they are called here). He was just on the point of handing over the church to the Macao bishop when along comes Bishop Hartmann and locks himself into the church! And. there he stayed in spite of all the roars of the mob outside, the insults of the schismatics, the threats of the Police. (For the English Government, naturally, sided with the Schism).

The whole history of that siege would take too long to recount. A glorious episode in the life of Bishop Hartmann, following in the footsteps of the great confessors and martyrs of the Faith. He was double-crossed by that “vicar” however. The man still continues to celebrate the sacred mysteries in the big front porch of the church; and he also holds the adjoining: priests’ house, while Bishop Hartmann’’s priests hang on to the interior of the church, celebrating Mass there. At least until the decision of the court case which the schismatic vicar has brought before the Bombay Tribunal.

Naturally, all this trouble has greatly reduced Bishop Hartmann’s enthusiasm for promoting Native Clergy. The seminary has also let him down. He has weeded out a lot of the students, and transferred the whole seminary out to Surate. And he shows no sign of wanting to recruit new students to fill the gaps.

So by now I think Bishop Hartmann is very near concluding (like the Jesuits. and like many others as well) that “black priests are bad news”. Better not make any more of them here. And the (p1250) ones that already exist should be gradually got rid of, one by one, and replaced by Europeans. [An extreme solution indeed]. But there is a middle way. The right way is: take the trouble, not only to make priests, but to make good ones while you are at it. That the present priests in this particular part of India are a bad lot. I admit. But if they weren’t bad, it would be a first-class miracle. [When you consider the kind of training they received].

But can good priests be produced? Yes, indeed, they can.

And it is quite simple and straightforward, much less difficult than some people think. The only real difficulty is [from the side of the Europeans]: how to get the missionaries to train the clergy properly, and to adopt a normal formation [programme] without any “second thoughts” about it. But this particular difficulty is at the moment quite insurmountable, and will remain so for a long time to come. Especially if Jesuit thinking prevails.

Nevertheless [a good native clergy] is the key to everything else. We rush around, we rack our brains, trying to find ways and means to improve the situation in India, to end the Schism, etc., etc. But everything we do or say will be so much wasted effort, so much hot air, unless we take practical steps to form good priests. [_These _]will gradually finish off the schism. [Nobody else].

The Carmelites see this point better than most. And if they can get over their traditional nonchalant ways (and the other few problems I mentioned) they can do a lot more real good in Bombay than the Jesuits could. If the Jesuits manage to take over, it will be (in my view anyway) a huge misfortune. Instead of a few accidental human faults (existing, less or more, everywhere) an essentially wrong system will be introduced: no native clergy.

However [things may not turn out quite so badly in Bombay]. The Jesuits won’t have it all their own way. For the people are accustomed, from time immemorial, to having priests of their own. The Jesuits cannot do as in Madurai, where they can enforce their “system” come what may. The people in Bombay would revolt. For a big proportion of the Indian Catholics, unimpressed by. modern or English ideas, are with the Carmelites. If these are supplanted, there will be trouble. Even if they went out of their way to calm the people, and quietly to leave the field for new (p1251) workers sent in by the Holy See, it is very doubtful if the transition could work smoothly. Quarrels, disputes and scandals would never be far away.

In my own considered opinion, the best solution would be: to confirm the Carmelites in charge of Bombay Mission, urging them to learn, from recent events, how to do even better than before. (They have already begun to do so, as far as their small numbers and present obstacles could possibly permit). In Mangalore also, the Carmelite Bishop has made a good start. Verapoly will follow.

Any other arrangement is bound to lead to trouble and misfortune, for certain. The Carmelites can preserve the good already achieved in this part of India. And, very probably, they can also bring about the desired improvements as quickly as anybody else could.

This long item on Bombay was written to the ceaseless rolling and swaying of a small ship, and the consequent dizziness it eventually brings to the brain. So I had better stop here, and try to repair any omissions in another article [tomorrow].

*Expensive English “justice”. *

*Bishop’s wonderful brother. *

_18.January, 16“ION, 6J“18E _

The Bombay Government. as I said, took charge of the Mission money and property on the death of Bishop Fortini. It still holds them. Will it ever hand them back? Very doubtful. And, in the meantime, the Mission is facing [financial] ruin, in court cases. The Court has just ruled about the Mahim church. Everyone thought it “could not” rule any other way except in favour of Bishop Hartmann. But it has found a way to at least fudge the issue, and to leave each party with its own physically-occupied section … Until a new siege or a new court case. Meanwhile, each side has to pay its own legal costs: 6095 [pounds] from the Mission, and at least as much also from the schismatics! [And (p1252) the Mahim case is only a “small” one]. The case of the Mission’s property is going to cost a lot more!

And if the Bishop loses? The whole Mission will be bank

rupt! Even if he wins, the loss will still be disastrous. For (apart from the horrendous legal costs) all the extensive Mission coconut plantations are already being ruined for lack of maintenance, ravaged by years of neglect and the depredations of some local farmers. For the Government rented them all out to pagans, or to schismatics (much more hostile than any pagans). These just harvested all the coconuts they possibly could, and put nothing back into the ground. Why should they care if many of the trees are al

ready dying?

The Mission Property case was even further complicated by the dismal part played in it by a brother of the late Bishop Fortini, living in Rome, an employee of the Papal States, if you please! When this brother heard [the good news from Bombay] he had no problem about declaring himself the Bishop’s heir, and claiming all the property! It seems that Propaganda, and the Holy Father himself, had to work quite hard, to get him to drop his ridiculous claim. It was only after much time and trouble that they succeeded. And not without paying him some “compensation”! If all this is true as stated, the man should be put high up on the list of successful great Church robbers.

[*Useless imported (horti)culture; Bombay an example. *]

I have often maintained that, because of the way we go about things on the missions (for a disastrously long time now) it is utterly impossible to get anything really founded once and for all. Our missionary products (some of them quite spectacular for a time) are like those exotic fruits or vegetables raised under glass with the help of artificial fertilizers, by city-dwellers and other non-farmers. Just as soon as you have begun to enjoy the fruits of your labour, those forced plants quickly begin to wither; the soil becomes worn-out and barren. And anyone coming after you will have only a miserable patch of ground to work in, and equally (p1253) miserable harvests for the foreseeable future. Lucky if the scientists don’t come in again, with some “better” new ideas to tryout on your land!

In the end [when you have finally seen the uselessness of all those imported systems] you will try to get the land back to its natural state. That way, you will afterwards begin to get some normal produce. Year by year, you will get a steady harvest, less spectacular than before, but ultimately much more rewarding, because in harmony with unforced nature. The local law of nature will no longer be over-stimulated with chemicals, or constrained by systems of horticulture foreign to it, never meant for everyday farming here.

If we continue working the missions in the [artificial] way we have been doing up to now, we will never found anything useful there. We are necessarily heading for [total collapse], towards the day when we run out of steam, out of energy [continually imported] merely in order to maintain the over-extended system we have built up. We will then shrink away into nothing. Or we will start again, on our own ruins (but now more of a hindrance than a help) to reconstruct another flimsy edifice thereon. This prediction I would already regard as proven in theory, even if experience had not also begun to make it undeniable in practice.

To many past demonstrations, the “experiment” of Bombay can now be added. There is no other Mission (after Verapoly) where so many churches could, even now, begin to be solidly founded, regularly served, with catechism classes, sacraments, liturgy, outward ceremonial (etc., etc.) flourishing naturally. And some real works of charity (e.g. hospitals for the really poor) could also be quickly established. Instead of all that, what do we see? Fragmented communities, hardly fit to be called Christian. Co-workers and confreres not even on speaking terms. Long-built churches where everything is still being done as if the missionaries had just arrived last week. Frayed remnants of a clergy that was never shown how to carry out its normal duties. Scattered riches and property which could long ago have been invested [in people], in real foundations. And so on, and so forth. Ah, who will give us eyes to see and ears to hear the obvious! (p1254)

*The great City of Bombay, the Babel of India. *

*Divided Christians. *

_19 January, 15“29N, 58“30E _

Coming in to Bombay, I was surprised to see a real City! I expected a fine port of course, very active commerce, great crowds and varieties of castes, etc. And so it was: no surprise there. But the City itself was a surprise. I had in mind just a bigger version of other known Indian cities, mostly composed of ramshackle assorted constructions. But, apart from a few shanties outside the city limits, I saw none of those. I saw real buildings, many of several storeys, well designed, along fine streets, with plenty of carriages (both public and private), magnificent shops with varied merchandise, displayed with luxury and style. In a word, I found myself in a modern City. It seems that. in India, the North has better cities than the South. And Bombay is second (they say) only to Calcutta. It tends to gain more and more in prestige from Madras, which lacks a really first-class harbour.

Not that the English are so obviously better off in Bombay.

They are not. [They are short of space]. Nothing to be seen like those magnificently comfortable “bungalows” in the Nilgiris (or in many other places in the interior) real [_villas _]which are much more pleasant to live in than any house in a city street. (And the streets of Bombay are rather narrow and crooked).

A strange thing: Englishmen passing through Bombay do not usually even try to find a good lodging-house. They just go to a rather spacious park between the sea and the Esplanade. And there they set up their tents. Or hire an already set-up one.

“A lot better off here”, I was told, “than in town. Especially, in the [dashed] hotel!” I don’t see it. A few times, I went into one of those tents. By day, it was suffocating; by night it was far too cool, almost cold. Nevertheless, there is a whole “town” of tents at Bombay. The English actually living in Bombay (or preferring real lodgings to tents) generally go for the Fort Area, or one of the hills outside the City.

The “native town” is marked off by the Esplanade and by a line of Army buildings. It contains not only Hindus but also (p1255) Parsees (for example). The Parsees tend to be very intelligent and rich, living at least as ostentatiously as any European. Magnificent houses, superb horses and carriages, distinguished costumes (though always expensively simple and uniform). The only really peculiar thing about them is their head-dress, and their spectacular pointed slippers. (But these are gradually evolving into European-type shoes, plus dazzling white stockings).

As well as Parsees, you will see every possible type of Indian caste and costume, down to near-zero. Bombay is the Indian Babel: every language and every custom, down to the most bizarre and contradictory. Every religion, down to the most completely absurd. Every god, except God Himself (you begin to think).

At Bombay, however, O my God, you do have a few adorers (as indeed in most places), a few who believe in Jesus Christ your Son our Saviour. But, small and all as they are in number, why do they have to publicly fight and contradict each other! Why knock their heads together, weaken themselves by squabbles, heresy and schism? Why make themselves utterly incapable of bringing any of those millions of pagans to the Faith, or even to see reason? O my God, my God! When are Christians going to stop blocking the progress of Christianity?

*Arrival. Mahin visited. Good Goa Jesuit. *

*About overseas Studies, Railways, Telegraph. *

[_19 January, 15°29N, 58”30E _]

Before arriving in Bombay, of course, I knew something about the confusion there. And I wasn’t too sure on what kind of terms the Carmelites were, with Bishop Hartmann. So, not to appear to be taking sides, I decided to go straight to the Bishop’s House. But, failing to get sufficiently clear directions at the Port, I asked to be taken to the nearest Catholic church. It was near the station, and it turned out to be the “cathedral”, Our Lady of Hope. But I found that the Bishop does not live there now; he (p1256) stays near the Fort. Anyway, I met Fr Maurice, a Carmelite, and he gave me a right warm welcome. He said I should go immediately to sec the Bishop, who was eagerly awaiting my arrival.

So, after a cup of coffee, we went off together, in the [cathedral] carriage, to the Fort area. Bishop Hartmann, a very venerable-looking man, received me with open arms, with all the friendship you could expect from a good colleague. Fr Peniston and the two Capuchins came in to greet me. (Those two had been only a month there; actually appointed to Patna, Bishop Hartmann’s Vicariate, but told to stay with him in Bombay for as long as he needed them). I stayed with those Fathers all my time in Bombay, and (as I said already) their company was most agreeable.

But I also saw a lot more of Fr Maurice. I had Christmas dinner with him, and all the Fort priests. I also went to a send-off dinner just before my departure, a special sign of respect. I organised something for him, too, and for all the Carmelites. For all the recent happenings could not diminish my sincere esteem for him, and for the Order. And I remain convinced that, in the present state of the Church in Kerala, Mangalore and Bombay, the Carmelites are still the best hope of the Catholic religion, and the least likely to cause trouble and revolts among the Christians.

I was keen to see the now-famous church at Mahin where Bishop Hartmann bravely stood side by side with the patron St Michael, holding the place for the Holy See against the dismal Goa Schism. And time was pressing; for it began to look as if the Court was soon going to hand the church over entirely to the schismatics, following the unjust “justice” of England and their policy of always protecting every possible anti-catholic movement. Bishop Hartmann and his priests would then be totally expelled from the church, and would have to celebrate Mass in a nearby rented house, for the still-loyal part of the parish.

Bishop Hartmann had already moved into that house, to avoid a useless skirmish with the Police, if the Catholics lost the case and refused to yield up the church peacefully. And if they won, he wanted to be there, to take over [the porch and the priests’ house etc.] as promptly and quietly as possible. And if (p1257) nothing was decided by the Court, and the schismatics wanted to invade the church (especially for Christmas) he wanted to be there with all his personal authority, to defend it, as he had done on the occasion of the Bishop of Macao’s visit. (This personal defence is what actually happened later, though with less violence than the first time). But now, before Christmas, Bishop Hartmann decided he had to stay on there, locked into the church, to maintain physical possession of it.

Anyway, the very next day after my arrival in Bombay (when the case was still hanging) I went out to Mahin with Bishop Hartmann, and we fervently prayed for the triumph of the truth, in the actual disputed church. I was pleasantly surprised to meet Fr Pereira SJ there. A native of Goa, I had met him before, in Pondicherry, when he was returning from his studies in Europe; and again at Karumattampatty, when he came for my consecration along with Mgr Canoz, then Bishop-elect. This good Jesuit was in marked contrast to the ordinary Goa priest. And he was a further proof (among many) of my favourite thesis: it is not genuine vocations that are lacking in India; it is only genuine formation and direction.

Not that we should send all young clerics [like Pereira] to Europe for their education. Only a few very good students should be sent; and to good seminaries; not left to fend for themselves. A “few” good students, I say. Not “all”. That would be obviously impossible. (Unless you are going to drastically restrict the numbers of the clergy; and then you do not honestly want a real clergy at all). Not even “many”. That could lead to snags greater (perhaps) than the advantages likely to be gained from the overseas exercise.

Also at Mahim, along with the good Jesuit, I met St Michael’s other vigilant sentry, a Capuchin.

Since my help was not required at Mahim, I said goodbye to Bishop Hartmann, and returned to Bombay the same evening, by train. Yes, by train. On the railway! Something very new indeed for old India. It is the very first one the English have constructed here. In a few years, all the principal cities will be joined. Thus, in Asia as well as Europe, distances are constantly shrinking. We (p1258) can now go much farther in one day than our fathers could go in ten. News from Europe is already “stale” if it is a month old. Soon, it will come inside a week. And in considerably less time, if they still manage to join Bombay to London by electric cable. Bombay-Calcutta has already been done. Before 1854 is ended, the news will start flashing instantaneously between those two extreme points of India!

A new Low in Liturgy. Convent. Orphanage.


20January, 15°10N, 55°45E

At Bombay, a Mass is nearly always a Low Mass; no singing.

The “nearly” is a pity because sometimes you are going to suffer! A wheezy “chanter” with a scratchy violin, accompanied by his “second” sawing a cello more or less in unison: that’s the choir. As for the priests, not one of them can keep to the notes of the Preface, nor even of an “Ite missa est”. A disaster area.

And yet, chant can be very influential. And its absence (or degradation) in modern times is certainly one of the manifold causes (each unspectacular in itself) combining to weaken the Church’s influence. Bombay is certainly at the bottom of the musical heap.

At the Fort Church, Fr Peniston is “improving” the liturgy, English-style. A few ladies plaintively twittering Latin, to the sound of a small harmonium. Drawing-room stuff. But in a church? In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament? Well, it seems to suit the taste of those [lace-curtain] Christians. Soon we’ll have to use eau-de-cologne instead of holy water, and perfume instead of incense. (The whole church reeks of stale scent). Anyway, their musical taste has by now become as non-Catholic as their taste in food and drink. But maybe, since things have come down to this low level in the Church, I suppose any kind of music, if it attracts people, is better than none at all.

I had the misfortune to be in a Bombay church for Midnight (p1259) Mass; and never in my life have I endured such a depressing performance. (Yes, in that great city, with 10-12 priests in 5-6 churches, not counting all the schismatics). Up at the Fort church, they attempted Vespers. Ah, but which Vespers? Not the Christmas ones; they did not know those. Ordinary Sunday Vespers, please, with “Laudate Dominum” instead of “In exitu”! No antiphons sung, no Christmas hymn; nothing after the Magnificat. No, I’m wrong; they wound it all up with Benediction. A very awe-inspiring ceremony, elsewhere. Here, it was so unmajestic, it was well-high indecent.

Whatever their reasons, the Carmelites can have no excuse for having let things slip down so low. But that’s the last thing they are being criticized for here. Indeed, nobody thinks of even commenting on it; so weak is the Catholic instinct in this place, O my God!

The convent started by Bishop Hartmann in Bombay for girls’ education is likely to do a great deal of good. French ladies are in charge, from a new Order founded in Lyons called (I think) Soeurs Marie Joseph. They had a lot of difficulties in the beginning, but they are now over the worst. Apart from a girls’ college, they are going to look after an orphanage for foundlings (children lost, or sold, or abandoned by their parents, which is no rare thing in this big city where so many rootless and out-caste people end up). These little ones are notable exceptions to the usual Indian love of children (excessive if anything) which renders orphanages quite unnecessary in purely traditional areas. It is only European-bred corruption that renders such works of charity relevant or possible, in places like Bombay. There, the Protestants eagerly snap up the little victims, to swell the ranks of their particular sect. So, everywhere we can, we ought to snatch their prey away from them, thus preventing harm as well as doing something good.

*Grandpa, the Railway, and Catholic Newspapers. *

What would our grandparents think if one of them came back and was put on board a wagon whizzing along on two iron (p1260) bars at break-neck speed! Clickety-clack across an Indian peninsula until the first stop. There he is offered a drink of Sherry in a goblet of English crystal with a lump of clear ice floating in it! An avalanche of newspapers descends on him. He can buy London newspapers less than a month old; or Bombay-printed news from Paris less than twenty-four days; or papers from Calcutta or Sydney less than a week; or even yesterday’s news; or this very morning’s Bombay gazette! Well unless Heaven keeps him very well informed about what is going on down here. I think grand-father would find it all very hard to believe!

But just as surprising. I think he would find the specialised newspapers, foreign as well as local, dealing almost exclusively with Religion. Items of religious news and polemics which, in the good old days, were kept scrupulously within the sacred precincts, or inside the walls of the universities, or the learned tomes of the professional theologians.

Well. “Let it pass”, he might say, if he was quick enough to catch on immediately to the “style” of modern European society. Religious newspapers are very good (quite useful) in France, in England and so forth. But why in India? Why religious papers printed in English, with such a limited number of possible readers? Why Catholic papers, when more than 90’10 of the possible readers are Protestants? Why use a method so far removed from the way employed by the Apostles? Isn’t it all an expensive waste of time? I doubt if Grandfather would approve of that one. Even if he had received a complete Course, up there, about all the latest workings of communications and divine grace!

As for me. I have no right to be so sure, or so severe. If people think a Catholic newspaper in India is a good idea, or useful, or “necessary” (even if there are only a few dozen readers for it) who am I to contradict them? Maybe there is something in what they say, as there probably is in so many other things that I myself fail to see or comprehend. The Bishops of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay seem to think a newspaper is “essential”. If I was in their position (able to have one) I might quite possibly think the same. Because my new position might show me the “necessity”. Or because I would just have to go along with the current! (p1261)

But one thing is sure; if there must be a Catholic newspaper, it would have to be a good one. A paper which would be an honour to Catholicism. Not a limp rag which ought to be ashamed to appear beside the undeniable superiority (intellectual and material) of the Protestant papers! Maybe journalistic silence is sometimes better than ill-chosen speech?

1. A Catholic paper has to be a lot more prudent and cautious, here, than in Europe, not to let down the sacred Cause it is aiming to defend. 2. It has to be well edited, well printed. 3. It must not be so “religious” as to be nothing but spiritual reading. Such a paper can have no readers except priests and religious, or very religious lay people, i.e. the very people who have the least need of it. 4. If a paper is to do any good at all, the first condition is: that it be read. People don’t buy a newspaper for their morning-prayer, or for meditation on the mysteries of the Faith. 5. A Catholic paper has to defend the Faith, daily refuting the objections, lies, false reports, heterodox criticisms and such-like nonsense, which are the daily bread of mass journalism, greatly influencing the affairs of this world. A Catholic paper has to be an antidote to all that. 6. Therefore, according to the time and the place, the paper has to be strongly literary, or political, or socioeconomic (etc). It will mainly be bought for that angle. And the religious articles will be taken in along with it, like a health-giving pill along with a glass of fizzy lemonade.

The Bombay Catholic paper certainly meets requirement No. 1. [It is extremely prudent]. But it meets none of the others. It will never be read, not even if it is given out free. Indeed Bishop Hartmann used to send it to me free in Coimbatore. I had [_some _]interest in it then, because it gave me some bits of information about the latest moves of the Schism in Bombay. Only for that, it wouldn’t be worth the postage.

The Madras and Calcutta papers used to be equally useless (except that the Madras one was sometimes positively harmful to the Catholic religion). Happily, that paper has folded, and the new one is beginning to show some recognition of the qualities required in a Catholic paper. It would be almost perfect, indeed, if only it didn’t so exclusively belong to Bishop Fennelly. (p1262)

I haven’t seen the Calcutta paper for a long time now, but I hear that its content and editing have not essentially changed. If so, it remains, like the Bombay one, both harmless and useless.

*Elephanta Island Temple. City Hall and Library. *

*Parsee Native Hospital and Shipyard. *

[_21 January, 14°02N, 52”45E _]

As well as its magnificent Harbour, its huge Fort (probably rather useless today), its vast Population, its extensive and intensive Trade, its beautiful Esplanade (which is also a military Parade Ground) the city of Bombay possesses several other remarkable features. Especially the Observatory, the City Library, and the Native Hospital. There are scores of mosques, very ordinary outside but (from what I could glimpse through the windows) very fine and rich inside. The Hindu temples, however, are relatively small and recent; quite elegantly built but lacking in ancient size and splendour.

But if you sail across the Harbour and go on out about ten miles, to the island of Elephanta, you will see the magnificent remains of what must once have been a Wonder of India. Here the poor idolators still come, to worship their battered and mutilated gods. Even now, a rich “devotee” is constructing a mighty Stepway in cut stone, from the sea up to a Cave on the side of the hill, a distance of one-third of a mile! This cave, not very deep, has several natural “halls”, each with colossal statues of the gods, sculpted out of the living rock, as well as huge columns of built stone blocks, equally well sculpted. The sculpture-work is truly remarkable, much better proportioned and finished than most of the ancient Indian work I have seen. It goes without saying, many of the postures and gestures are very undignified and quite unworthy of gods (or rather, too worthy of those ones, though not at all worthy of the respect or veneration of reasonable men).

The Portuguese Catholics (having some common sense) did (p1263) not think that those horrors were mere “works of Art” to be carefully preserved (especially when they saw them being used daily for devil worship). The ideas of the English “Christians” are much more “tolerant”. The Portuguese attacked those obscene statues with big sledge-hammers especially the more blatant ones. The English are carefully preserving what is left of them. There is a Sergeant on guard there and a Warning from the honourable Company at the entrance: “Do not damage anything”; and (believe it or not): “Please leave a Donation for the upkeep of the Caves”, i.e. for maintaining this Temple and its false gods!

There are no really great buildings to be seen in Bombay itself. The City Hall is quite large, of impressive architecture. (Quite new, of course). The rooms are spacious, well decorated. There is a Museum there, not very interesting. And a fine Library, not huge but containing quite a good selection of books. It must be a great boon to book-lovers, in a country where it is so hard to find something worth reading. I only saw it in passing, alas, instead of being able to spend a few weeks locked in there, as I would have dearly liked.

The Observatory, near the flashing Lighthouse, has nothing really special, except the magnetic instruments for measuring compass variations (declination, inclination and horizontal pull). The exact Time is also carefully kept there, for setting your marine chronometers. Also, temperatures (at various heights and depths), barometric observations, electro-magnetic readings, rainfall, wind velocity and direction, etc.’

The Native Hospital is quite new; indeed the Founder is still living. I was unable to get exact information about the number of patients, the conditions for admission, the standard of treatment, etc. Nor was 1 allowed in to the interior. But if it is anything like the exterior, this Hospital must be a real monument to (p1264) Philan thropy. (For Charity could hardly be said to exist in a pagan Founder’s heart). He is a rich Parsee, who started off selling bottles. Today he is a multi-millionaire. This Hospital (construction alone) cost him two million. And he has set aside several more millions for the care of the sick in it. An excellent man, they say, much influenced by the Protestants, who get a lot of help from him for their various institutions. For he is not at all anti-Christian. Bishop Hartmann also got some help from him once, but on condition that it remain secret. This condition was imposed (it seems) out of fear of the Protestants, not of his own fellow-Parsees.

As well as those public-welfare buildings, there are many other interesting sights in Bombay. From the technological point of view, the Parsee Shipyard is outstanding. There, they are constructing first-rate ocean-going vessels (probably with the help of a high-class English engineer or two). I went over a new frigate (almost ready for launching) and I can safely say it was as well finished and impressive as anything to be seen in Cherbourg.


*The Animal Hostel, a Triumph of Crazy Sociology. *

From the lunatic point of view, however, the Animal Hostel [or Hospice or Hospital] is the most outstanding sight of all. I would say that, here, the human intelligence has reached about the outside limit of possible stupidity, purely by following strict Principles of Philosophy. For here the Animals (created for the service of Man) are treated as his Superiors, devotedly cared and served and tended by him! _

Never to ill-treat an animal (especially one of those “nearest” to us) is a good and sane moral rule. (For one thing, cruelty to animals can easily go down into cruelty to human beings). I would even take it farther: never cause suffering to any creature, where Nature itself does not decree it; such unwarranted suffering caused to animals is really wrong, a disorder. (Of course, the more perfected an organism is, the more sensitive it is (p1265) to pain; and inversely).

But to take our solicitude beyond the natural order established by the Creator, and to get scrupulous about [unavoidable 1 “suffering” caused to animals in our service, is really crazy. Especially when we consider the scientific truth that the “suffering” is usually not real pain at all, but only a diminution of physical pleasure. And that an animal can have no [personal] rights to such carefulness. Even when someone actually ill-treats an animal, he is sinning, not against the animal, but against the Order of Nature. [ … ]54

However, away beyond this level of silly scrupulosity, there is an even more advanced degree of craziness: treating animals exactly like human beings, like rational creatures! And this [_sublime _]degree of absurdity is directly traceable to the Philosophy of Reincarnation, [Metempsychosis or Transmigration of Souls].

At Bombay therefore, there is this wonderful Animal Hostel. Any lost animal found in the streets can be brought in here, especially by a “philozoist” [a lover of life]. However, once admitted into this paradise, it can never be returned to its owner again. It has now been liberated from slavery, and must never never be sent back into it. That would be barbaric. So until death, it will continue to “enjoy” this wonderful hospitality, well cared for, respected, housed and fed, with absolutely nothing to do.

When I visited this magnificent Hostel, there was still plenty of space left, for new animals. Nevertheless, I saw at least 500-600 horses; even more of Cows and goats etc.; acres of sheep; countless hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, etc.; a whole yard full of dogs; huge cages of cats; big aviaries of partridges, quail, etc.; several tortoises, monkeys, deer; and so forth. But no ward or section for fleas, lice or similar small animals (strangely enough!).

Yet I had distinctly heard that those were catered for also.

And logically, why not? For, in the tiny body of a flea, or in the lowly creature called a louse, could it not really be a grandfather, an aunt, a departed friend? Certainly! Just as likely as inside a sacred Cow, or a mighty Elephant. Therefore, always beware of accidentally crushing or squashing a louse. And if he’s ill, take very good care of him! (p1266)

So … why no ward for lice in this Bombay Hospital? The guide reassured me that the whole Insect Department had been transferred out to Surate where no doubt they are even better looked after, in a specialised Hospital. For, in order to feed and tend those precious vermin, they have actually engaged a diet specialist, to go into their cage stark naked, and let them peacefully feed on his blood!

O wonderful human mind, how low you can descend, when you trust yourself [entirely _]to any purely human Philosophy! But we must not blame all this [nonsense] on the philosopher Pythagoras, nor even on the Brahmins (from whom _he probably derived his Transmigration of Souls]. No doubt they are greatly to blame; but not any more than scores of other famous Philosophers who had only weak and fragile human Reason to guide them. Deprived of the light of Faith, nearly any philosophy will eventually take you down to this extreme, or to some [_other _]crazy extreme, equally low!

In my list of animals in the Hospital, I forgot the Pigeons.

These are-so plentiful that, when they take flight, they form a big moving cloud over Bombay. Indeed, the whole City is their Hostel. They have the freedom of the city, living wherever they like, usually up in the roof-tops. Twice a day, at sunrise and sunset, you will see whole crowds of devotees throwing out handfuls of grain for them, in all the streets.

And while all this nonsense is systematically going on, dear God, vast crowds of poor men and women are lying about, without food or clothes or shelter. There goes the [many-faced] image of God, totally unheeded (though distorted indeed by sin, uninterested in Redemption). And indeed there are others more guilty (especially the numerous Europeans) who have been restored to their divine dignity in the waters of Baptism, but have heedlessly returned to the slavery of sin. Christians by name, the last thing [they _]are interested in is the teaching of Christ. And _that is another reason why, in this great City, there are so many human beings without a scrap of bread to eat or a rag to wear. And yet, O (p1267) my God, you have made the round Earth spacious enough for all your children, fertile enough to feed them all! (If only we followed your Laws, within the hierarchy of different ranks and fortunes in a well-ordered Society).

*Ice cream with English Catholics. Modern disproportion. *

There are always plenty of European Catholics in Bombay, with whom a lot of religious progress could be organised, given a bit of diplomacy and savoir-faire, Certainly, the Jesuits should be better at that kind of thing than most (at least in normal Church times). Already, Fr Peniston has gained the respect and cooperation of many of them. I visited some along with him. I was invited to dinner by a Major O’Brien (not a Catholic, but his wife and children (a boy and a girl) are; and he himself is not far from it). Also by a lawyer, a Mr Taylor, whose wife is an excellent Catholic. There I had iced [drinks] and ice-cream, in 32” weather! For this new luxury (as I said) is already common in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. And ice is imported in such vast quantities (and with so little loss by melting) that it is now quite cheap. In this very steamer I am writing in, we can have it at all meals! Ah, how clever and efficient are men, for organizing the amenities and enjoyments of this world! Why can’t we use a quarter of that ability for the things of heaven?

*Sects. Friendly Visit to ancient Armenian Church. *

I think that, in Bombay, you could find followers of every known religion and sect in the world. The Christians, though such a relatively small number, are well and truly divided; which greatly helps to frustrate the efforts of the true followers of Christ here. As well as the Goa Schismatics, there are Protestants of every hue, from the “Established Church” down to the American Mormons, who seem to be making some inroads. (p1268)

There is also an ancient Armenian (schismatic) Church, right next to the Catholic church in the Fort area. I could painfully hear their bell ringing at all hours, and hear them chanting their Office. Indeed I felt somewhat ashamed that we had none. Certainly, any Catholic church of the same antiquity would have had to provide a sung Office!

The Armenian Church is served by 3-4 priests, very worthy men. They sometimes came to see Bishop Hartmann. And I went over to see what their church was like. It is extremely clean and decent. But it has no Catholic life in it. No doubt, I admire their tenacity in keeping up their ancient traditions. But these (unlike the Catholic Tradition, the deposit of Faith guaranteed by the Holy Spirit) always naturally tend to deviate little by little, with changing circumstances. The only bodies that remain naturally unchanged are the lifeless ones. (Or some of them rot, like corpses or fruit, etc.; or they rust, like metals). The Eastern Churches tend to ossify. Still, their ancient traditions also tend to “rust” a little [with the centuries], while ours are continually being restored or renewed (less or more perfectly, less or more desirably, but always alive anyway) out of that superabundant Life that has been in the Holy Catholic Church from the start. (Even if there are many details lost which we, individually, regret, like the Gregorian Chant and the psalm-tone of the Divine Office)!

The Armenian Church, then, lacks Life. The Office is indeed chanted, but without any majesty in it. Mass is celebrated only on Sundays; and then only once (in spite of the 3-4 priests living there). The opposite extreme, indeed, to the numerous bastions of the Catholic priests in Bombay (etc), without any sufficiently grave reason that I could see. The Armenians do not reserve the Blessed Sacrament. But they have a “sanctuary lamp” before the altar where the Holy Gospels are reverently displayed. If this custom is free from Protestant Bible-worship (as I think) it is most praiseworthy.

My language difficulties with those good priests (who welcomed me most courteously) prevented me from finding out completely about their customs. I gathered that their beautiful liturgical books were printed in Venice. They are brilliantly illustrated, with many miniatures of the Saints, etc. There are also many fine (p1269) ikons in the Church, e.g. a great St Peter on the right and a St Paul on the left, and a Virgin of Seven Dolours above the altar.

The good priests say, quite openly, that “our religion is exactly the same in dogma and moral. We just obey a different Patriarch than the Patriarch of the West” (the Pope).

[*O good Jesus! Help them to understand that You made no distinction between East and West when You told Peter “feed my Iambs … feed my sheep”. *]

*Confused Catholics of Bombay. Even about Fasting. *

[_22 January, 14“30N, 49”20E _]

That Catholicism in India is in a pitiful state of confusion is certainly undeniable. That the supreme headquarters of the confusion is Bombay is almost equally sure, Witness the confusion, even among the priests, about which day is a fast day and which is not. (Of course in all our Indian Missions, you will get a hopeless tangle of opinions on this same subject. But, at least inside one Vicariate, you can generally obtain a solid practical decision in the end). Well, when I was in Bombay, the Vigil of a Feast came up.

“Is today a fast day?” I asked one of the priests.

“A fast day? Why so?”

So I went to another man:

“Is it a fast day today?”

“Certainly. Of course.”

But then a third man answered me:

“Not at all. Certainly not.”

On Christmas Eve, almost the same total divergence of views. And on the Epiphany, I saw the house tailor sewing away as usual.

“Isn’t today a holiday of obligation here?”

“I don’t think so”, replied the missionary I asked.

And another:

“I believe there is an obligation to go to Mass, but not to refrain from servile work.” (p1270)

A third man was “certain” it was forbidden to work on that day. But by then it was nearly 4 o’clock; and we thought there wasn’t much point in informing the tailor (a Catholic) a few minutes before stopping time, that he needn’t work today. He might be somewhat puzzled (or scandalised) why so many missionaries, who had seen him working there all day, had not told him sooner!

About the way they observe [known] fast days, the less said the better. It is almost purely nominal.

[*Praise for (Protestant) Sunday Service on Deck *]

It is now Sunday, and all the crew and (European) passengers are up on deck for Sunday Service. All except me, the only Catholic on board (or the only one to own up to it).

Awnings and colourful flags have turned the deck into a sort of church. The Captain is reading, the Lieutenant giving the responses. All heads bowed, respectfully attentive.

Of course it is very sad to think that all those prayers and readings are tainted with the poison of Heresy, and therefore cannot possibly reach the Eternal Throne. Nevertheless, it is a noble sight, and it [_must _]give some glory to God, from those whose hearts are pure, whose minds are in good faith about the errors handed down to them by their ancestors.

What is most striking [to a Frenchman] is the fact that nobody on this ship thinks he can quietly mock those pious exercises, much less openly object to them. How many Catholic officers and crewmen (especially French!) could take a good lesson from those English heretics!

*The English have Native Troops. *

*We should have Native Clergy. *

I have often remarked on the tact and efficiency of the English in training their Native Troops. How well they have got over (p1271) the various taboos and prejudices of those peoples, and their social divisions, castes, etc., by yielding a bit here and there, wherever pure logic or strictness would have been counter-productive! They have thus found exactly the right way to stimulate and utilize the [ethnic and regimental] rivalry of the soldiers, without ever actually handing over the top commands in any regiment. These are always held by European officers.

Thus the English always have great numbers of keen Asian soldiers (even if inferior, militarily, to completely European regiments) in order to strongly support the (necessarily) limited ranks of their own troops. When it comes to war or battle, those Asian soldiers are extremely important (even indispensable) to the English strategy. For England’s possessions are now much too vast and far-flung to be defended by Europeans alone. But it is in times of peace that the Native Troops are most constantly useful. To maintain internal order. (Or to keep what the English have already grabbed).

Isn’t there a lesson in there, somewhere, for us, especially for those missionaries who don’t want to hear of Native Clergy? They are just like a foolish Government which is determined never to put a sword or a musket into the hands of “a native”. Certainly, that Government won’t extend its overseas possessions very far!

Prudence is needed, of course. But that prudence should go into organizing the indispensable institution [of Native Clergy], not into prohibiting it.

“But those Native Troops will never be as good as the European ones.” Who is trying to deny it? And the same can be said [and answered] about priests.

“It would be very dangerous to put them in charge.”

Again, who’s denying it? Especially [I add] as long as a conquered country is still kept in the inferior status of a Colony. Or as long as a local church is kept in the status of a Mission! In both cases, the Europeans logically have to do the governing. (Without humiliating the Blacks, however!). For there cannot, while such an [abnormal] situation lasts, be equal-to-equal exchanges between them.

But in[_ both_] cases, you need troops; and you need priests! (p1272) Otherwise, you will not advance. You will even lose everything that you have gained.

  • * *

A few days before I left Bombay, four new Carmelites arrived. This was a good boost for Fr Maurice. But he was also disappointed; because the new men had got no clear instructions to stay in Bombay. It seems that Propaganda originally wanted at least two of them to go to Kerala. For they had been told to study Syriac and Malayali, which are used only there. However, they were afterwards placed at the disposal of Bishop Hartmann. But now he was ill. And so, when I was leaving, they still did not know their final destination.

May God bless a1l those Missions! May He support the plans of the Carmelites for them. (That is, if I have indeed been right in considering these plans are the best, for the greater glory of Our Master and the greater good of the Church in India). (p1273)




[*Thanks for a pleasant Voyage. (Ice). Onward-travel Problem? *]

*Mass at the Port. A friendly Bishop and a Snob. *

_Within sight of Aden, 23 January 1854 _

Since yesterday evening, we have been steaming along, about 30 miles out from wild Arabia. We expect to get in to Aden tonight, still in the finest and calmest of weather (like our whole nine-day crossing). But they say our “Semiramis” (Captain Fushard in command) has “not been moving all that well”. She should have arrived early today, or even yesterday evening. Our engines have been doing only 13-14 revolutions per minute, instead of the perfect 17-18. We have followed a dead-straight course from Bombay, the compass always on the exact same point. Only last night, after sighting land, did it begin to vary a few degrees. We put up no sails, all that voyage, except for two 24-hour stretches. No wind (or hardly any) and no rolling or pitching. The vibrations caused by the engines are probably worse than any natural sea-motions; but you soon get used to them.

In brief, O my God, your good Angel has been lavishing great care on us up to here. I pray him to keep it up [as far as Rome], as far as the Tombs of the Apostles.

As I said before, we always had ice on board, at every meal (and in between, even, if you asked for it). This new luxury has not been on the tropical menu very long, however. Commodore Lambert (now a passenger) told me yesterday how he first met it.

He was commanding a Navy ship to Sydney when he sighted

an American merchantman. He signa1led to it, as usual:

“ … What is your cargo?”

“Ice.” (He must be having me on)!

“Heave to and come alongside”. (p1274)

The American captain rowed across; and climbed cheerfully on board, with material [_proof _]of his funny answer. The English sailors were amazed and delighted with the amazing ice. Today, it has become a very ordinary luxury in every English-inhabited city of India.

_Aden, 25 January _

Yesterday, on our arrival here (about 9 p.m.) we were told of some travel problems: the “Oriental” (just arrived) is overcrowded with passengers. A French frigate (arrived a few days ago, from Bourbon Island for Suez) has deck room only. Among ourselves, only those booked onward for England can continue in their present places. I also heard there is a French bishop on board the Bourbon frigate. Etc.

I then tried to sleep, after the arrival-pandemonium had subsided, along with the thunderous clatter of the anchor-chains and the belching “revolutionary” roar of the steam bursting out of its prison-boilers …

But I was up again at 4 a.m., to thank the Lord for this first easy crossing (so happy and so peaceful) and also to see what I myself have to do next.

The superficial on-board friendships now promptly evaporate, like the remaining little cloud of steam (now useless) whirling out above the huge copper boiler. Everyone now is concentrating on his own travel plans, and leaving his neighbour to get on with it as best he can. Even the ship’s officers (always so decent and helpful up to now) have no time to attend to my questions.

So I took a small Arab boat across to the French frigate [or corvette] to contact the Bishop there. The officer of the watch told me he was Mgr Desprez of Bourbon, on his way to France (by the “Oriental”). But he had just left for the Booking Office. So I left, myself, and went over to the Office, to see if we could not work something out together. There, I learnt that he had just gone to say Mass at the “mission hostel” which the excellent missionary here has recently bought, for the accommodation of passing missionaries (very frequent at Aden) who might not have time enough to go to the Mission in the Town (five miles from (p1275) Cape Aden and the anchoring-place). So off I went to the hostel, and there I found Bishop Desprez just beginning Mass. (I then sorely regretted the cup of tea I had taken in the morning, thinking there was no altar within miles).

If only I had known the run of the place better, O my God, I could have had the happiness of receiving You there, in your adorable Sacrament, and of honouring St Timothy (in the day’s liturgy) much better than I did.

Anyway I knelt down (along with a half-dozen of half-Portuguese) and heard the holy Mass; not without some astonishment at the sight of another Bishop (in a side-room) also assisting at the Sacrifice. Afterwards, I went to greet this unknown prelate, and he immediately replied in French. He was Bishop Serra [OSB] Administrator Apostolic of Perth (Australia). He had arrived the day before on the “Oriental” and was on his way to Rome. We very quickly got acquainted with each another.

He is an excellent Spaniard, and my first impression was very favourable. He confirmed the extreme overcrowding on ‘his’ steamer. He himself had to share a cabin with 3 Spanish officers from Manila. When I said I was trying to leave Aden on the “Oriental” too, and would probably spend night and day on deck, he immediately offered me his own place. Of course I could never take advantage of such a generous offer; but it certainly confirmed my first good impression of him. Very different from that made by the Bishop of Bourbon, who came over to us after his thanksgiving. Whether it was due to “seriousness” or what, His Lordship appeared to me to be very very full of his lord-ship. Not a friendly word out of him; no warmth whatsoever. Coldly polite. I quickly dropped any idea of arranging to travel along with him, as a colleague.

*Wait to investigate possible Mission into Arabia. *

*Good Fr Luigi. Visitation of Tamil Soldiers. *

Meanwhile, I still had not met the Aden missionary; and I definitely wanted to see him before fixing my next stage. For it (p1276) would be a great pity to leave this place without finding out exactly how our holy Religion is situated here; and what hope (if any) there exists, of using this little European toe-hold in order to penetrate into the barren wilds of Arabia with the Faith, in spite of Mahomet’s ever-intolerant barrier. For this purpose, 1 needed several days of relaxed conversation with the missionary on the spot. (I knew he had already been here several years).

But what sort of a man was this missionary? If he turned out to be anything like the Bishop of Bourbon (for example) 1 would very quickly book my passage on the “Oriental” even if 1 had to sleep on the after-deck. But if he was a man like Bishop Serra, 1 would thankfully make use of the steamer’s overcrowding as a reasonable excuse for waiting on for 8-10 days in Aden until the next Mail-boat (which will probably be less crowded).

So 1 had to see the man quickly. Bishop Serra also wanted to meet him. The Bourbon Bishop had already done so; and he did not think fit to do us the courtesy of accompanying us. He just about managed to bid us a cool conditional farewell. So down we went to the Port, to hire two old nags or donkeys, while the numerous owners all fought and jostled, each trying to get his own quadruped under one of us. Anyway, we duly set out for Aden Town. But we had not gone up to two miles when the missionary himself met us on the way; for he was coming down to invite us to his place, if we had time. He quickly took us on board his battered old pony-trap (his only transport). But we hadn’t gone four more yards in it (nor even finished stating our names) when another traveller got out of his cabriolet and came over to us. This was a rich Genoese trader, a countryman and an old friend of good Fr Luigi.55 The missionary had heard of his arrival (from Calcutta) the night before, and was expecting him. These welcoming exchanges took only a moment; but Bishop Serra and myself smilingly admired the Padre’s spontaneous exuberance. “What a good fellow!” we exclaimed to each other. Encouraged by this delightful welcome, 1 immediately put in my own request for hospitality:

“Look, Fr Luigi. The steamer is full up; and I’d like to stay

with you for about ten days, until the next one.”

“Fine!” he shouted back. “I’m delighted to have you! My

house is yours, such as it is. A bit unusual (or eccentric) perhaps. But, for as long as you like, it’s all yours!”

Eccentric and hospitable? What better could you want, to diversify a long monotonous voyage? My mind was quickly made up; and we soon came to his ... er. .. place. House? Certainly not. Tent? Not quite. Hut? Hardly. Something else, in-between, which 1 will try to define some other time. Anyway, the man himself has, certainly lived up to his own definition. His eccentricity (or origi_ nality) is superlative, his hospitality and generosity more than excellent. Unique.

_31 January _

1 had a third reason for staying on here at Aden: the Tamil_ speaking soldiers who (I heard) were in the Indian regiment here. Many of them are Catholics; and bold Fr Luigi (even if he had ten languages) would hardly be able to understand them properly. So I thought I would use this opportunity to do a “visserani” [outstation visitation] for them all. And I was not disappointed. The soldiers were overjoyed to hear a priest speaking to them in their own language. Last Saturday they came to Confession in great numbers. And several of them have never received Confirmation; so now (along with a few English soldiers and other people) they are gladly taking full advantage of this rare unexpected opportunity. (For although it isn’t rare at all for Tamil-speaking missionaries, and even Bishops, to call in at Aden, they very seldom stay for more than one night).

So my stop-over here (thank God) has not been entirely use less; and the little bit of good that the Lord gave me to do in Aden was all the sweeter because nobody else could possibly have done it. This morning, even, I gave Confirmation to about ten more people. And if the next Mail-boat does not come (unexpectedly) before Sunday, 1 believe every single Tamil Catholic here will have been to Confession and everyone will have been strengthened by Confirmation. [I enjoy this idea very much].

In fact I enjoyed using my Tamil here, much better than in Coimbatore, for the simple reason that I used to find it incredibly difficult to speak it correctly. So I usually preferred, when there, (p1278) to leave the preaching and the confessions to the missionaries; for they could hear the confessions more exactly, and express their sermons more perfectly, than I ever could. So it was only on rare occasions, when there were unusually big crowds for Confession, that I felt justified in giving them a hand (or an ear).

But here in Aden, in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man came into his own. Here I was obviously the very best priest at speaking Tamil for miles around! So it was with special pleasure and confidence that I heard the poor fellows’ confessions and briefly harangued them in Tamil!

May the Lord please bless this extra little job of mine.


*Lunch with French Navy. I told them Off. *

[*English and French Sunday (etc) compared. *]

*Music and Liturgy. *

_1st February _

That first morning when I visited the French corvette at the port (asking about the Bourbon Bishop) I was told the Captain was still dressing. (It was only 6 a.m. and I had no time to waste).

The next day, however, I met the Captain at Fr Luigi’s, where he had some business to discuss. He told me he had come to see myself also (which I rather doubt). Anyway, I told him I would like to visit the corvette and the officers, to talk about France and with Frenchmen [for a change]. He seemed to welcome the general idea; but he did not invite me (as I think was called for). On the day after, however, the second-in-command came to see Fr Luigi. This man was more courteous, and urged me to call over for lunch some day. I promised I would go and have lunch with them on Monday, in the officers’ mess. I think the Captain got the message; and (to cover up) the officers invited him to dine with them on that day too.

So I met them all together there, and it was all very cheerful and enjoyable. Unfortunately, not one of them had been at Mass the previous Sunday: not an officer, not a crew-man. It was sad (p1279)

for a French bishop to have about 250 English soldiers at his Mass and not a single Frenchman (although there were probably more than 200 French Catholics at the anchorage). I dropped a word about this disgrace to the company, who did not appear to me to be atheists or anything like that; just that general indifference which would be quite enough to finish off France entirely, if it was not at the same time counter-balanced, in the eyes of Divine Justice, by the brave fervour cherished in other French hearts, and shown (for example) by so many good works overseas.

Naturally, our talk eventually got round to England; and sailors naturally like it even less than I do. “Yes”, I said, “like you, I detest the English government and all its works. But (like you?) I 1 ike and admire the English people, for their personal virtues, and for their many public ones as well. These can be seen especially in their vast overseas possessions. I have to admire their ability, their fairness, their truly advanced civilization, and so many other good qualities. These should be enough to make us all sincerely wish that England and France could always live in peace, in mutual cooperation for the good of the whole world. But their horrible Government won’t allow it. Sooner or later, I think, your cannon are going to start roaring at their ships. And you know what worries me about you? Not your armaments, nor your vessels. Only that Divine Providence may not be on your side at all! Moved by the social piety of the English in general, and the real piety of the English Catholics, maybe God will bless their arms rather than yours!”

With all their faults, the way the English celebrate Sunday overseas is a very fine sight indeed. Inside this mountain-circle, it was really wonderful, last Sunday, to hear their fifes and drums calling the whole garrison to Divine Service. Then, all unarmed, the Band at their head, that impressive mass of soldiers (resplendent in their spotless uniforms) marched out towards the [Protestant] temple. Near there, it divided in two, as the Catholics branched off towards our church which, unfortunately, is quite near. Unfortunately because, all during our Mass, we could hear the magnificent strains of the Band accompanying the massed (p1280)

Choir at their hymns and psalms. Delightful harmony, … if only it wasn’t heretical! The contrast with our own weak singing was painful. Because (I say it again) our liturgy has greatly deteriorated, and our singing has lost all its ancient majesty and its truly popular simplicity; especially in our smaller churches, where that deficiency cannot be covered up by the imposing size and resources of a cathedral.

*How England got Aden, and Holds it. Fortress prison. *

*No way In. Terrible place. Strategic. *

Aden is a natural harbour, formed by two enormous Mountains (of volcanic origin) joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. After the English take-over, a magnificent road (most of it cut into the rock) joins the Port to the Town, which is situated inside the (extinct) crater of one of the Mountains. The town is swarming with a mixed and varied population, mostly Arab and Somali. The Jews are also numerous, and poor. The only Christians there are English, or Catholic soldiers in the Indian regiment stationed there by the Company. This regiment, plus an English one, plus a few companies of artillery, forms the garrison of this very particular place, a mere isolated point on the edge of a vast sub-continent.

No European can put his nose inside Arabia proper, without imminent danger to his life. And even in Aden-itself, he would not be able to sleep very sound, without this (relatively very strong) Garrison and the imposing (and astronomically expensive) Fortifications encircling the little place. Still other Forts, with the very latest in cannon, defend the Port entrance.

There is a fine Road starting off into Arabia; but not even the hardiest English soldiers would ever risk using it. Not even to go out hunting or shooting during the day. In the recent past, many have paid with their lives for attempting that simple sport (or even for carelessly straying a few yards outside the station after dark). So, while in Aden, you are definitely condemned to a term of imprisonment. This place is all just one very strong (p1281) Prison, walled round by fortifications and by a triple ring of mountains, to landward and to seaward. Only the Arab, food-suppliers (etc) can freely pass in and out. In this miserable town, all you can ever see beyond is sky and bare mountains. Even outside, all there is to see are sky and mountains and sea, with a flat sandy-looking stretch of land beyond the anchorage. (With a telescope, however, you can spot .a few small patches of greenery away in the distance).

The Aden mountains are absolutely bare; not a tree, not a plant, not a blade of grass on them. And how could there be, when there is no water? By digging very deep, you might sometimes find some luke-warm briny stuff, which a camel (not too fussy) might drink, if it was very thirsty. No way would any self-respecting[_ plant_] accept it into its fibres. One or two of those, deep wells (at most) can provide a little drinking-water for humans. All the rest has to be brought in from Arabia, from far outside the range of Aden’s artillery. The warships going in to collect it have to cover each other with their own cannon.

But why not collect the rain-water? No use; rain normally falls only every 2-3 years. This year (about three months ago) they had some intermittent rain for 4 or 5 hours. And that is why you may now see an odd thistle or other cactus-like plant when trying to climb these rough rocky mountainsides.

A European boy brought up entirely here could spend his whole life without ever knowing (by personal experience) what is a tree, or a flower-garden or a grass lawn. Or what is any animal, except a camel or a donkey or a sheep (for these are brought in alive from Africa and Arabia, for butchering here). However, he might see a proper horse now and then; and the English have a small yard with a few other domestic animals. That’s about it. Even up in the sky, you will see nothing but vultures and seabirds …

Of all the places I ever saw, Aden is the most terrible

But, with all its terrible disadvantages, you only have to look at a map of the World to see how strategic this place is; and how crucial it is for the English to hang on to it. Almost at the entrance to the Red Sea, it is like the Gibraltar of the Middle East. (p1282)

Moreover, it is perfectly spaced for re-fuelling (coaling) all steamers to and from Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Australia, Suez etc. Aden is an all-the-year-round harbour. (The island of Socotra was at first used for a half-way stage; but it was found to be unusable for part of the year).

The English, with their usual clever tricks (so easy to get away with in such barbaric places) started off by asking [the local Arab shieks] for permission to keep a few tons of coal here. This permission was gradually changed into a right, and then into outright possession. And while obtaining the place, the English took care to come to some good practical arrangements with some of the conquered, so as always to have good mutually-advantageous agreements for copiously provisioning the town. Meanwhile, numerous new Forts, with very impressive cannon, were going up, to discourage any future double-crossing by the Arabs.

The temperature here, of course, is very high at certain seasons’ but at this time of the year [February] it is quite bearable. The nights are cool, and indeed almost cold, especially if you are staying with Fr Luigi56 in his extremely well-ventilated semi-shed. “We never get storms”, he says. “Although I have been here several years now, I cannot remember even the smallest rumble of thunder”.

To make up for that, however, there is no scarcity of [_other _]rumbles. With the multiple echoes produced by the surrounding rocky mountains, a single shot can keep rolling and re-echoing around for all of 16 seconds! And there are plenty of explosions. A cannon is fired off at several fixed times every day! And the mines being set off in the quarries, or for the extensive building preparations going on all over the place, are as spectacular as any earthquake; while the continual rattle of target-practice would make you think another slice of the mountainside has just collapsed! (p1283)


[*A “lucky” Cabin. Portrait of an awful Bush-man; but … *]

_Facing Moka, 7 February _

Steamers heading for Suez usually leave Aden and move out into the Gulf of Arabia in the evening, so as to navigate the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb by daylight [next day]. So, precisely at 8 p.m. yesterday, the propeller of the” Bombay” began to turn. Soon we were saying goodbye to the barren harsh-edged Mountains of Aden, not yet worn smooth by the passing ages.

Already by 5 yesterday morning, up at Fr Luigi Sturla’s mission, we had heard the cannon-shot announcing the arrival of this steamer (from Calcutta). The good Father immediately set things in motion for my smooth departure. After Mass, and a few more Tamil confessions (and four more Confirmations) we had breakfast, and immediately set out for the Port (which, as I said, is several miles away). Good Fr Luigi stayed with me all the rest of the day , and escorted me on board at about 6p.m.

There, things looked very unpromising at first. All I could obtain was a very bad place, in a cabin already fully occupied by an Englishman. But we couldn’t move in, because he (we were told) was taking his bath. So we had to go and wait on deck until he might finish. Time passed, and he still hadn’t finished scrubbing himself; and the officer in charge of fixing our accommodation apparently got fed up and went ashore. My own patience ran out too, and I went and tackled another officer. This man (perhaps because he was not well acquainted with the routine, or because he totally misunderstood my terrible English) just showed me a rather unsuitably-situated little cabin, more-or-less at random. But it seems I will have it to myself anyway, which I (p1284) much prefer to being put in the finest cabin on board, and maybe condemned (night and day) to the company of some snooty “gentleman” whose language I didn’t understand and whose manners and habits would be so completely different to mine. So it looks like my good Angel has been on the job again!

By this morning at 6, we were going through the Strait. All we could see was some more sterile mountains and barren land, to the right and to the left of us. Nothing else at all.

The passengers (very numerous) on this steamer seem likely to be a lot less courteous to me than the ones from Bombay to Aden. Or maybe it is just that they are all more strangers to each other. For the old “Semiramis” not being, strictly speaking, a passenger liner at all (the Captain giving us accommodation only “as a favour”) we were much more of a small united company, or a family together. Here, we are in a huge floating hotel, and each person is here strictly for himself, and for his money. We are being treated well, but we pay well too. For, if you divide the fare by the usual 5 days from Aden to Suez, this voyage is costing each passenger 175 [pounds] a day! (And I hear that we are lucky; next month it will be over 200!). This is really exorbitant. And yet all the three steamers per month from India to Suez are absolutely jammed with passengers.

I’ve just been thinking about good Fr Luigi Sturla and trying to make out a portrait of him; but it can’t be done. [The man is indescribable]. You could never make a good full-length picture of him, anyway, because he would come out so spectacularly dirty and unkempt that none of his many outstanding and excellent qualities would show, through the unpardonable mess.

But he is one of those very few men who will always be pardoned anything (except, of course anything essentially bad). And it is not essentially bad (for example) to go around always without a soutane, in a once-clean shirt smelling of sweat (at ten yards) open at his hairy chest, which is burnt almost black with the sun, and on which you can barely make out the filthy scapular and rosary carelessly draped around his neck; sleeves rolled up above his elbows; shoes scratched and scuffed, stockings hanging down over the ankles or heels; beard matted and uncombed, never (p1285) touched by any tidying razor; head constantly shaded by a dirty straw sombrero.

Oh, but he [_has _]a soutane; it hangs perpetually on a coat-hook for the last 5-6 years, half of the buttons missing (but with plenty of holes to tie it on with) ready for some rare great occasion (like a visit to the Governor or some other big man) for which occasion he will also don his ancient “white” hat (greatly modified in colour and shape by the rats and cockroaches since it left its young apprentice hatter, now probably long ago retired).

However atrocious the climate of Aden, such an “outfit” is obviously completely inexcusable. Sorry! It is excusable. For Fr Sturla. And how is that? Well, I cannot exactly formulate any exact reasons or excuses. But Fr Luigi is excused. That is what you feel, that is what you know, once you have seen the man in action.

Why, even the English themselves, so fussy about cleanliness, so ready to despise any priest who does not conform to their code of dressing etc (so that many a French missionary of ordinary decent manners and decorum has been deeply hurt by English contempt, just because he was not “proper” or was “unkempt” or “straggly-bearded”) those same English, I saw, do not despise Fr Sturla. Certainly the English Catholics often come to his house {which is just as clean as its owner) and gladly shake his grimy hand. Above all, they gladly come to his church; and I did not notice that they have any less respect for him than for any “proper” priest. The Indians love and respect him. The pagans, and even the Turks, cheerfully go to meet him and chat away without any apparent effort. Even the very Arabs are on good terms with him.

No doubt, if he could only combine his great qualities of mind, and (especially) heart, with a slightly more conventional appearance, it would be even better. [But I don’t know]. The better is often the enemy of the good. It wouldn’t be Fr Luigi. He wouldn’t be himself any more. He might even become quite ordinary and useless.

Not that I want to advise anybody else to do like him. Far from it! You can only advise someone to keep to the rules; the exceptions cannot be covered in advance by advice. And Fr Luigi (p1286) is certainly one big exception.

Do not imagine, however, that this good priest (and I think I can safely say, this excellent priest) has ever sat down and decided to despise the rules of ecclesiastical decency which he so spectacularly ignores. No; but by some sort of instinct (rather than by any reasoning or decision) he believes he is specially dispensed from them somehow. And, very likely, God has indeed dispensed him from all that sort of thing.

But how does he get away with this absolutely eccentric behaviour? What are the personal qualities that make him so loved and respected in spite of it all? They are many; far too numerous to mention them all. But we do know that when a man has some set of qualities to an eminent degree, and when that special virtue of his is founded on Charity, he virtually has them all. And Fr Luigi has great love, quite outstanding charity, towards God and towards his neighbour. I could give scores of examples of these, but I will just mention two.

Towards God: by his extreme determination never to let a single day go by without celebrating Holy Mass, no matter how tired or how busy he is, no matter how seriously ill (unless he was physically unable to rise from his bed).

Towards his neighbour: by the great care he takes to give hospitality to every single missionary calling in at Aden, from or to Europe. As soon as the cannon-shot signals the steamer, he will send a messenger down to find out if there is any missionary on board. (And there usually is, at least six times every month). Fr Luigi’s messenger then gives the missionary (or missionaries) all the necessary local information. He invites them to come and rest a while at Aden Town or (if they have not the time or the inclination to go so far) at the mission hostel which Fr Luigi has set up, especially for passing missionaries, in the Port area. There they will find refreshment and a bed and (what is much more precious) an altar prepared, with everything necessary for Mass. So, even if they have only one night to spend at Aden, they can spend it in peace and quiet, away from the haste and tumult of a steamer taking on coal etc. And, before launching out again into their new and perilous voyage, they will be able to renew their strength in (p1287) the Sacrament of Love.

Fr Sturla furthermore intends to build a chapel down at the Port, to remind all Catholic sailors and travellers that God is here too. Although the whole universe is His temple, and the prayer from the heart is what He loves most of all, yet (since we are body as well as soul) He does want us to have special Houses down here, where He will be specially and more openly adored, particularly in the divine Sacrifice of our altars.

*Moka’s trade going to Aden. *

*Benefits of greedy Colonialism. *

The city of Moka is far away on our right, but we can make it out fairly clearly with a telescope. It still seems to be a big city, and even rather beautiful, even though I heard (at Aden) that most of the houses there are now empty. Since the English occupation, it is at Aden that most of Arabia’s foreign trade is carried on. Moka used to be the main international trading centre for coffee and for some other products. But European traders always greatly disliked the place, because of its many dangers and business uncertainties. whereas now, at Aden, they are at least physically secure; and the English are gradually setting up more secure financial arrangements as well, with the Arabs. Already, trading is a lot safer at Aden than at Moka or Jeddah or any other Red Sea port.

In this steady gradual way, the English are eventually going to seize control of all the commerce along the coast, and even into the interior. For they will not stop until, at the “right” time, they will establish their domination over the whole of Arabia, just like every other country that they get into. And (I suppose) that change will generally be a good thing, especially if the other civilized powers continue to lack the strength or the ability to do it: to bring the still-numerous barbaric countries under the rule of law.

Of course, the ideal thing would be if the European powers could sit down together, and share out the work and the profit of (p1288) civilizing the world; but in an intelligent and Christian way. That need not at all rule out the commercial opportunities and the other human advantages flowing from such a vast, noble, philanthropic and genuinely charitable enterprise. Vain hopes, I suppose! But there is a hope that England will unconsciously achieve part of the universal programme, even if she is motivated entirely by greed and ambition, and by her self-created need to achieve it, because of the kind of socio-economic development she has embarked on at home.

*Liner’s hygienic Luxury and Luigi’s uncouth Charity. *

An ounce of real charity is worth more than a ton of mere politeness; who can doubt it? But politeness has its value too. Failing charity and genuine friendliness, we are often very glad of a bit of politeness (at least) when we are depending on other human beings. Even on your own, there are certain polite amenities, like cleanliness in food, which are not to be despised (provided we don’t make them too important) being natural developments of our God-given intelligence.

Furthermore, politeness greatly enhances charity. Suppose you are very thirsty and someone, with all the kind-heartedness in the world, brings you a drink, but in a dirty unrinsed glass; how will you feel? At that moment, you might easily prefer a bought drink of orange, presented to you mechanically by a hireling in a restaurant, but inside a pure clear crystal glass, the very sight of which is already making you feel better. To always prefer the kindly-given one, you would need a distinct effort of reason and faith, in order to welcome it as it was meant (out of love of Christ and fellow-man, which objectively gives it a precious higher supernatural value) whereas the spotless clean drink is only worth precisely what it cost in sugar and orange-juice: two pence, at the very most.

My [present setting, after my last ten days] makes me very much aware of that contrast. Where have I ever received such loving hospitality as at Fr Sturla’s place in Aden, or such kindly (p1289)

generosity in food, drink etc.? But presented with such carelessness and sloppines that it sometimes bordered on the impolite. But also with a genuine caring attention and a love that must certainly have very great value in the eyes of God. And this goes for the servants there too. (Like master, like man). But every meal was dished up in such a messy, disorderly, disgusting way that: even I (after twelve years with slapdash Indian servants) had to make a supreme effort (sometimes undisguisable because of my human weakness) to conquer my nausea and swallow the stuff.

And now, in complete contrast, where in the world could you obtain better cleanliness, elegance and service than on board a modern English liner? Maritime cooking problems (etc.) have all been conquered here. Everything is de luxe, as in the best: hotels in Paris or London. That is all it is, of course: first-class luxury in exchange for your lovely gold sovereigns. On the scale of human values it is very low; it is despicable, really. But nature is delighted, completely satisfied, absolutely charmed by it. If only there was some Faith and humanity behind this wonderful “hospitality”! There cannot be, unfortunately. Because, in our present: fallen condition, faith could never easily adapt itself permanently to such an excess of mere natural well-being.

The ideal, of course, is a well-balanced blend of politeness and charity; that would be perfect. No unnecessary luxury; just: cleanliness, order, good manners. No high-flown artificial conversation, only words of real attention, brotherly affection. But: they will lose nothing of their goodness by being put in courteous gentlemanly language as well.

[* God's glory seen in Steam-power, in Phosphorescence, Geography…_ An Arabian Mission would only be Martyrdom. *]

*Future Mission unbearable by Individuals. Monastic mission needed, Languages needed in Aden. Tamil. Prospects. *

8 February, about Latitude 200[_ _]

So far, the weather has been magnificent and our progress extremely smooth. What wind there is has been against us. But what: (p1290) matter? We are a steamer. No sails used yet, since Aden; yet we are ploughing steadily ahead, and must by now be up near the 20th parallel.

Continue your protection, Lord, in the midst of this reef strewn Sea, to which our youthful thoughts have so often turned in the past, because of the Marvels of your Power wrought in it. And indeed, how often have we started our day’s journey with the Church’s [itinerary] prayer: “O God who led the children of Israel dry-footed through the Red Sea”! True, we are still quite far from the place where (as the psalmist [114.3] says) “the sea fled at the sight” of Your power. But your Power is even here, now. For it is You who have given such prodigious hidden power to Steam, and given Man the intelligence to put it to use, in these our times. Under the guidance of your Angel, steam-power will bring us up there within two short days. May the Steam also give You praise, 0 Lord, along with all the other elements and creatures sung by your servants, through the ages, in the “Benedicite”. Maybe it was providentially pre-included in their exhortation:

“Waters above the heavens! bless the Lord:

give glory and eternal praise to him.

Powers of the Lord! all bless the Lord

give glory and eternal praise to him”

I was glad of the opportunity to stop some days in terrible Aden; and one reason was to get information: isn’t there some hope of using that new English possession for bringing our holy Religion into the vast lands of Arabia? Alas! I found there is as yet very little realistic hope of that. At the moment there seems to be no possibility whatever of going in beyond the little Aden peninsula, unless you were directly looking for martyrdom, with no other objective but the happiness of dying for the Faith.

Nevertheless, the place will be very important [in the long term] because trade with the Arabs is growing all the time, and will continue to grow, drawing in more and more Arabs. Missionaries [in the future] will be able to make contacts with some “big” Arab traders, and maybe even some tribal chiefs, and thus be enabled to enter the country. (p1291)

However the difficulties will still be enormous. For it must be a long, long time before any dent is made in the solid wall of Arab fanaticism and cruelty. Many a missionary will lose heart at the “uselesness” of it all. For it is only very few people who can have the courage and steadfastness to spend their whole Life waiting and standing by, without any prospect of advancing (or even being able to relax). Indeed, such a continual “living death” in the front lines cannot prudently be demanded of single missionaries at all.

Even the missionary in Aden itself cannot be expected to continue there indefinitely. He should be relieved at regular intervals, even if he was the best priest in the world, or the most mortified and detached. How could despair or discouragement be kept at bay for long in such a place, with the spirit of a man being burnt-out by the hot aridity of those mountains, with nothing to see or to refresh the soul but their grim encircling walls, closing him in like a great stone tomb? The sheer physical depression might possibly be warded off by the spiritual compensations of a fruitful, purposeful, apostolic ministry; but that does not exist there. True, there is plenty of work for one man, looking after the 700-800 Catholics dragged in there by the English. Yet, even with all those, the compensations must be severely limited. For they are all only passing through; nobody is condemned to stay in Aden more than 3 or 4 years.

. Thus the missionary will never have the satisfaction of working for the lasting progress of his mission, helping to form families and groups that will continue, towards a real self-supporting Christian community in the place. Moreover, it is nearly all men; no women. Even the married Indian soldiers have to leave their wives at home in the barracks in India. This regulation, plus the absence of any interesting or useful or serious occupation, plus the presence of numerous Arab prostitutes, is enough to make the missionary’s hopeless task well-nigh unbearable.

Moreover in order to do the job fairly well, he wouId need to have about eight totally different languages. Which is absurdly impossible. For, even if one man was found who could manage all those, he would certainly be a very exceptional phenomenon indeed; and it would be very foolish to expect his random successors (p1292) to be the same.

So, keep several missionaries there? Ah but then, what would they have to do? Nothing. And surely that is the most dangerous occupation of all. [What should be done, then?]

If the Catholic Missions could imagine changing their present [individualist] system (which I could never consider good) what we would really need in Aden is [something like a missionary monastery]. A community devoted to singing the Office, doing steady work with hand and mind, [looking after the inmates] and doing what good they can in the place, but especially praying and waiting for the Providential day when they will be able to set out and pitch their tent beyond those distant palm-trees across from the anchorage.

But in the meantime, the Aden mission should at least not be left entirely out on its own, as it is now. Its links with Gallas [Ethiopia] are completely cut, if they ever really existed. In actual fact, it is utterly impossible for that Vicar Apostolic (or any other one in Africa) to have any kind of regular communication with Aden. (The Vicar Apostolic of Bombay, however, could quite easily keep in contact with Aden; much easier, in fact, than with several missions in his own vast Vicariate. Whenever he needed to go to Aden, he would have at least two steamers every month at his disposal, taking only 6-8 days).

[This morning before dawn] the phosphorescence in the Red Sea was more spectacular than anything, of the kind, that I have ever seen before. The waves looked just like huge moving flames of fire. And at 4.30, when the sailors were drawing out big buckets of sea-water (for washing down the decks) they seemed (in the dark) to be pulling out nothing but long shining skeins of liquid fire. But the most wonderful sight of all was when they sloshed the water on to the deck (or even when it was being gently poured around). They seemed to be scattering great buckets of little stars or shining sparks, which glittered for quite a while, even after landing on the deck, with an exquisite brilliant light.

“Tell me about it if you [know]:

Which is the way to the home of the Light;

and where does Darkness dwell?”

[Job 38.19]. (p1293)

As I was saying, the Aden missionary won’t be too overworked, for a long time to come, with any mad rush of converts to Christianity. For it is widely recognized that Muslims, everywhere, are “unconvertible”. And certainly, the Arabs around here are unlikely (less likely than even the Turks) to think of abandoning the Korean for the Gospel! Nothing doing. Nothing doing, either, with the Somalis who come over to Aden in such big numbers. And nothing of course with the Jews, who have been there since about the Babylonian Captivity. However, after many years, you might convert one or two. But first of all, convert some of the Indians, drawn in there so abundantly by the English, as servants, soldiers or employees.

Uprooted, freed from caste domination, utterly bored, and almost forced to meditate by the stark reality of the place, many of them, I think, would easily respond to dialogue. Unfortunately, their very isolation (away from their wives and families or unable to marry) would also make many such conversions rather dubious. There would be a strong possibility that, once they returned home, they wouId quickly abandon their new-found Christianity. Their parents, their caste (and even their wives) would harshly rebuke them,and might even refuse to have anything whatever to do with them. But in spite of all that, I believe some of them would certainly persevere.

But the first problem for the missionary is language. He might be tempted to choose Hindustani as being “the language of all the Indians”. But Hindustani would not get him very far, because it is only a “lingua franca” (used for their few daily necessities, in the market etc.) among the Southern Indians, who are about the only ones that he could hope, at the moment, to try and convert. The really useful languages for him, therefore, would be Kannada, Telugu, Malayali, and especially Tamil.

During my ten days at Aden I heard nearly a hundred confessions in Tamil (and even then, not all the Catholics came). I believe that more than one-fifth of the Catholics in Aden (even counting the 300 Irish soldiers) are Tamil-speaking. So it would be very useful if the missionary there could learn Tamil. But one single missionary can hardly be expected to get round to that. First of all he would feel obliged to learn English, Turkish, (p1294) Arabic, and maybe Somali or several other local languages. But my own opinion is that his priorities should be: English, Arabic, and then Tamil.

_9 February, passing Mecca _

For us [sailing in February, after the winter solstice] the days should obviously be getting longer. But [because we are sailing North] our days are actually ending earlier, each evening. So the days are getting both longer and shorter. [Slightly confusing for our poor little minds ]

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?

Tell me, since you are so well-informed.

Who decided the dimensions of it, do you know?

Or who stretched the measuring-line across it?

Have you ever in your life given orders to the Morning,

or sent the Dawn to its post?

[Job 38.4,12]

*Exodus, the Mountain of the Law, and Mount Horeb *

_12 February, passing Mount Sinai _

Now we are very near the area where the Lord’s power suddenly blazed out in such visible splendour “when Israel came out of Egypt, the House of Jacob from a foreign nation” [Ps 114.1] more than 3000 years ago. But the memory of it all is still vivid; and your heart beats faster at the thought that this ship is even now moving over the same jagged coral rocks on which Pharaoh’s wrecked chariots carne to rest that day. You are almost tempted to peer down through the waves: mightn’t you catch a glimpse of a broken wheel, or a skeleton in Egyptian armour, or one of their greatly over-rated horses! “Yahweh I sing. He has covered himself in glory. Horse and rider he has thrown into the sea” [Ex 15.1].

But your eyes are not so satisfied with the land-scape; for the

summits of Mount Sinai and Horeb are only very faint in the (p1295) Yet over there is the Mountain, for ever sacred since the Day that God [coming down to our human need for drama and ceremonial] kindly enacted a Solemn Alliance there with the men of old. It was over there, amid spectacular background noise and special lighting, that He proclaimed the Law, the preparation and the prefiguring for the Law of Christ, who saved us all.

“Now at daybreak on the third day, there were peals of thunder on the Mountain, and lightning-flashes, a dense cloud and a loud trumpet-blast … The mountain of Sinai was entirely wrapped in smoke, because Yahweh had descended upon it in the form of tire. Like smoke from a furnace, the smoke went up, and the whole Mountain shook violently.” [Ex 19.16].

The mighty noise has long ceased, O my God; the awesome smoke has long disappeared; but your Word remains, immutable; your Law is eternal; fulfilled and perfected by your own divine Son, who has even inscribed it on our hearts (instead of one those ancient stones) writing it in with the ever1asting ink of Charity, along with water and with blood, on that Day when his sacred side was pierced with a lance.

[And [_there _]is Mount Horeb! I Cor 10.4]: “I want to remind you, brothers, how our fathers were all guided by a cloud above them, and how they all passed through the Sea … All drank the same spiritual drink, since they all drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them as they went. And that Rock was Christ”.

Not really that second rocky Mountain over there, so faint in the distance. That was only the figure, even when the Lord was saying to Moses [in Exodus 17.6]: “I shall be standing before you, there on the Rock; and water will flow from it for the people to drink”. No; the Rock is Christ, just as it is He that has written the Law into our hearts.

Moses [Deut 9.10] said: “Yahweh gave me the two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God”. But we have that writing on our hearts. May we be found more faithful and steadfast than the original People, who murmured so often and so ungratefully against their God, even after all those outstanding signs of His favour to them, and who finally even turned deicide, killing their Saviour. May we be more truthful when [like the children of (p1296) Israel, Exod 24.7] we say: “We will observe all that Yahweh has decreed; we will obey”.

[*What is Time? What is the Stars? *]

*Relativity. Eternity. *

[_[Coming in towards Suez] _]

The northerly breeze (against us all the time since Aden) has prevented any use of the sails to speed us on our way. Otherwise we might have arrived at Suez yesterday evening, instead of later tonight. But anyway, the weather has been most excellent, most enjoyable. Never a wobble, never a roll, hardly even a sway. We seem to be [_gliding _]along, rather than sailing, through the smooth surface, always caressed by a very light breeze, which seems politely reluctant to disturb the sea’s repose. If we were depending on sails, however, some of us might be cursing the “useless” breeze. Now, with steam, everyone is blessing it for being so “gentle”!

I never saw anything more majestic than the entry to the Gulf of Suez this morning, at 4.30. We were whizzing along, hugging the steep shore; and you felt you could easily stretch out your hand and touch the passing cliffs. But in the semi-darkness of the early dawn, it was quite scary to see our ship apparently heading at full speed towards one looming rock after another. Just one false move at the tiller, and we would surely be smashed and sunk, inside a minute!

To our left and to our right, nothing but huge arid mountains, just like all the route since Aden.

The dawn sky was beautiful, as the Sun slowly and “reluctantly” displaced the serene reign of the full Moon and her attendant stars. The bigger stars still shone on, much stronger than in India. And the North Star, startlingly high above the horizon signalled to me that I was not so far from home now. And brilliant Jupiter (outshining all his pale constellation of Sagittarius) now back again in exactly the same space where I so often looked up at (p1297) him when sailing out from France, signalled “twelve years gone since you saw me last!”. But at that period, he had Saturn for a close neighbour” and there was no sign of him this morning.

How come? Saturn also has been moving on; but he has not come round again yet. He has hardly done a quarter of his orbit, during all those last twelve years!

“What is time, O my God?” I asked the Eternal One, whose severe majesty seemed to be somehow reflected in the dark sterile mountains all around us. “Twelve years! It’s a lot, out of a man’s life-time. But in itself? On Jupiter, it would be just an orbit, just one year. On Saturn, a few days. And on some distant star, perhaps, a few seconds! Nevertheless, there are certain small creatures who are babies in the morning and who die of old age in the same evening. To them, twelve years would be just as many millennia!”

So what is time, O my God? Especially when it is gone; what length is it then? There's twelve years gone [in India] and now I can easily hold them all in the span of one second's thought -- the start and the finish, and all the ups and downs in-between! Mysterious indeed! ..

But, for You, there is no such thing as Time. The future is just as present to You as the past. You just are; you do not have to change like us. “I am who I am”, you answered your servant Moses, not very far from here. (Maybe he was herding sheep on one of those hills over there on the left). Another mystery! For how can one-thing-after-the-other (the successiveness that seems to force us to think in terms of time) not even exist at all for You?

But anyway, Lord, I believe in your word: “I, Yahweh, who am the first and shall be with the last” [Is 41.4]. “Yes, the greatness of God exceeds our knowledge; the number of his years is past computing” [Job 36.26].

But what about Heaven, Lord? Does time exist there, for your Angels and Saints? Eternity, how can time divide you up, or measure you? .. But anyway, what does all that matter, provided we go there, provided we can one day join in the heavenly “Sanctus”! (p1299).



_Suez Desert, 13 February 1854 _

*Transfer by night to Tender, to Hotel, to Wagon. *

Last night, between 10 and 11, we were suddenly thrown into a great pandemonium and excitement as our steamer came within distant sight of land. Shore search-lights questioned us, over the horizon, and we answered back with a series of rockets and Bengal flares, giving them our precise identity, position and speed. Before midnight we were lowering our anchor, about three miles out. Very soon a small steam-boat appeared and came alongside, to take us ashore, along with our luggage and (of course) the Mail.

In the midst of unbelievable noise and hustle-and-bustle (but with great underlying order and efficiency) the travellers and their belongings were immediately transferred on to the tender. And, not long after midnight (wrapped in our cloaks or overcoats, and shivering with the unaccustomed piercing cold) we waved goodbye to the “Bombay” and began to steam away towards Suez, under a magnificent moon (which rendered this nocturnal transfer at sea much less troublesome and dangerous than it might otherwise have been).

Our little steam-boat blew its departure-whistle, and all of us ex-passengers stood up and gave three rousing cheers for our ex-Captain. The “hurrahs” were returned with interest by the liner’s crew; but at the last “hurrah” we were already nearly out of earshot. Very soon we arrived at the big Transit Depot, recently built by the East India Company for its liner passengers. There, without any confusion or delay, our luggage (etc) was loaded on to a line of waiting camels, who immediately padded off towards Cairo.

We ourselves went into the Depot Hotel, where a meal was (p1300) served. After this “snack” we got into the transit carriages and followed “our” camels. I was sorry not to have a chance to see Suez in the day-time; though I don’t think I missed very much. Just a miserable shanty-town on the barren sand, with little else to recommend it. But its position (handling at least four steamer-loads of travellers a month) gives it at times a certain feverish activity and importance, which can turn this dump into a City in a very short time. In the moonlight we could make out very few details of the place. Not even the house (obligingly pointed out) where Napoleon had his head-quarters. For, having given us something to eat, they gallopped us all off to Cairo, across the desert, as quickly as possible.

The English have by now made a fairly passable desert road to the capital. They use big clumsy wagons (strong and wide enough to ride the bumps and hollows at speed, without breaking or capsizing) in order to transport their passengers. (The luggage and the post-bags, by camel, arrive a few hours later). Each wagon has 6 passengers and is drawn by 4 horses, usually at the gallop. They are relieved every 5-6 miles by other teams, waiting at relay-stations all along the road. No use looking out, to left or right, to see trees or fields, or any other sign of life. All dead. Sand, stones, rocks … and nothing else. The only sign of human occupation at all is the odd camel and his driver passing by.

However, about 8 a. m., we came to a relay station which had a little hotel adjoining, where a magnificent Breakfast awaited us. All around us was the empty desert; but the table was not empty! Where, indeed, would the English ever let themselves be short of the normal comforts of life? The breakfast took half an hour to take on board. And just now (at noon, at another hotel] we have been served a “tiffin“ [“snack”] which is equally serious. Which has also given me the time to write down these few lines [about Suez, etc] … But now I see that the horses are already tackled. We are moving on. I am told we will be at Cairo before night-fall.

O my God, this is almost certainly the same Desert that your People crossed, that Night, under the leadership of Moses, making for freedom and the Red Sea (which we were sailing on, only (p1301) yesterday)! But it was You who took them under your protection, you yourself who were their leader. Protect me likewise, Lord, and lead me to whatever place You want me to go, in such a way as to bring me safely to my heavenly home in the end. Amen! Amen!57

*Cairo. No room at 3 Hotels. Two OFM Convents. *

_16 February on the Nile after Cairo _

And now steam-power is transporting us again, no longer on the great wide Ocean but down the peaceful muddy waters of the famous Nile. In spite of the noisy crowd of passengers (much more bourgeois [vulgar] and much less polite than those on the Indian-line steamers, and much rougher and louder too) I have managed to get a corner of a table where it is just barely possible to think, and even to write a bit. I must try to recapitulate the events of these last two crowded days, so inadequately short; for you would need at least 8 or 10 to get any fair idea of the people and places in Cairo.

So, back to our journey to Cairo, across the desert from Suez. About 5 p.m., at the dinner stop (!) we began to see the end of the desert. At the next relay-station we saw the Pyramids, showing up on the horizon like small mountains. Next we entered a sort of valley, rich with vegetation. And next, the countless minarets on the sky-line told us we were very near the Capital of Egypt.

It wasn’t long before we were in the outskirts. The miserable huts looked a lot worse than our poorest huts in India! Then we turned into a broad avenue of stunted trees, which improved, however, towards the centre.

To our right we saw a Palace where (we were told) the (p1302) Viceroy [Abbas Pasha] keeps his numerous herd of wives locked in. Also, a fine tall Tower where several telegraph-lines appeared to intersect.

Near there, we came across the Pasha himself, in a fairly ordinary but spotlessly-clean and shining carriage, drawn by two magnificent horses, and escorted by several officers on horseback. At a shout from the leading rider, our own wagons halted and drew aside, to make way for the Pasha. He gave us a gracious “salaam” as he passed.

Then we turned off into a warren of crooked narrow streets, blocked by countless donkeys and camels (etc). We managed eventually to get through, and we came out on to a wide esplanade, shaded by magnificent trees. Here were most of the international hotels.

By this time it was dark. We proceeded (naturally) to the Hotel des Anglais; but the maitre d’hotel came out and informed us that he had not a single solitary room left unoccupied. “The city is jammed with travellers!

Hup! Whip the horses! On to the Hotel d’Europe … No room … On again, faster! To the Hotel d’Orient… Full up! But each time, one or two of my fellow-passengers have managed “somehow” to arrange to get into one or other of those “full” hotels! By now we are down to three …

What now? Go on to some unknown doss-house or other? I do not like the idea very much. Ask hospitality of the [Franciscan] Holy Land Friars? Anywhere else, I would have gone straight [to the Franciscans]. But here in Cairo, I had heard (rightly or wrongly) that they were not very hospitable towards passing missionaries. Confreres had related some rather ungracious receptions. So I had resolved to go there only for Holy Mass.

Anyway, there I was, on the side of the street, with nowhere to stay. I took on a dragoman [interpreter-guide] and, for the next twenty minutes, I trotted and dodged after him, through a maze of pathless airless streets. (Some of them were real rat-holes). Every now and then we would emerge and cross a normal, wide or beautiful, street; but I had no time or energy to look at them. Flattened with fatigue, perished with the cold, dropping with (p1303) sleep, all I wanted was one open door…

“But will they let me in?” I wondered. I soon found out.

What I had been told was only too true. There may be some Charity in the Cairo houses of St Francis; but it certainly doesn’t show up at first sight.

So how did they answer me? That story will have to wait until [things are quieter on board, farther down the Nile] …

_16 February, on the Nile, nearer Alexandria _

…It was 9 p.m. by the time I knocked at their door. A Brother came to open up, and he greeted me courteously. I asked to speak to the Father Superior. He went away and came back with a Father, who did not appear to be in too much of a hurry to meet me. He told me that the Superior was in the church, and that there was no room left in the Convent, because all the available rooms were already occupied by travellers. However, he would get someone to lead me to the Franciscans of Strict Observance.

I tried to insist a bit on seeing the Superior. But the Brother was already outside on the steps, and beckoning me to follow him. I did. We soon found ourselves at the door [of another Convent]. The Superior was sent for, and I saw a strange-looking man approaching, dressed in a turban and a sort of Turkish-style costume, with a kind of rosary of big grains in his hand, which continually counted them out between finger and thumb.

This must be some kind of a Turkish butler or majordomo, I reckoned. And he must be a very good servant too, really concerned about his masters’ interests; for he seemed to be very cross with the Brother, for bringing me in here! He kept up his tirade for quite a while, completely ignoring me. I just stood there, guessing (from his gestures and tone-of-voice) what he was saying:

“You’re always doing this to us. And you know very well that your own house is a lot bigger than ours! … “ … “

“Just a minute. You a Turk, no?” I broke in at last. “Make I talk to Superior?”

“The Superior is not here. I myself am the religious taking his place”.

“Oh? Well then, I understand that there seems to be a lot of (p1304) difficulties about lodging me here. But I have already been refused hospitality at your neighbours. And it is after 9 o’clock in the night, and I have tried three hotels and failed, and … “

He indicated some disbelief in this hotel story. “Our house is very small”, he declared. “And moreover. .. “

“And moreover”, 1 added, “I am not asking so very much from you. As it is already so late, and as 1 am dropping with fatigue, I am quite unable to start running around again, looking for lodgings. On the other hand, I am willing to accept that you just have no room inside the house. No problem. All I am asking from y ou is permission to go and spend the night in your church. I assure you, I will be very glad to go and rest there, on a chair or something, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I don’t think that will put you out too much”.

‘This shut him up. After a short tense silence, he said: “Come in. Come in! We will find some place”.

“But I assure you! [No trouble]. I will be very glad to spend the night before the Blessed Sacrament.”

By this time we were climbing the stairs. We came to the church, and I went in to adore Our Lord. There were five or six Fathers there, apparently chanting some kind of a rosary in common. The monastic tone of the subdued prayer had something very striking and mysterious about it, intensified by the [_adoring _]postures of the Friars: one with his forehead down touching the floor, another with his head leaning drastically over to his left shoulder and his eyes fixed steadily on high, another with his arms out rigidly in a cross. Etc …

“Very impressive”, I thought to myself. “But if there is no charity … Nevertheless, don’t let us jump to judgments. Maybe they have no room”.

When they had finished their rosary (and 1 my adoration) we went back together into the Convent. The Fathers came and saluted me very respectfully, and one of them even greeted me with a few words of broken French. I replied by telling him, simply but rather gravely, about my recent experiences with Cairo hospitality, and reiterated my request to spend the night in the church before the Blessed Sacrament. (p1305 )

“Ah, no!” they all said, “There will be room. We will make room. Come! Come this way”.

One of them grabbed my bag, another my overcoat (etc.) and they led me to a divan [Turkish sofa] on which I sank down thankful and delighted. And I quickly realised that the Superior (or the man in charge at present) was just some kind of an eccentric; and that what these Fathers lacked was certainly not charity, but only polished manners. My cheerfulness immediately came back to me; and we laughed and laughed over my misadventures. Especially at how I had taken their “Superior” for “a Turkish butler”! They explained how they were authorized to wear the local costume while on this special [Coptic] mission. In the end (I think) they very gladly accepted me, if only for my gaiety and openness with them. For in less than fifteen minutes, we were all on the friendliest of terms. Even the Superior was smiling. But it was a kind of a fixed smile; and the “worry beads” kept on slipping mechanically between finger and thumb, while he softly whistled, from time to time, a madly monotonous tune.

Meanwhile he ordered a room prepared for me, and even some supper. I thanked him for that but: said we had already dined, very adequately, at 5 o’clock; and I retired to the room …

There was a good bed, and a divan, and everything I could possibly need. Except cleanliness. The good Brother had started dusting, and even sweeping, the place. But [he was obviously out of practice] and would have needed to start about two weeks in advance, if his objective was to have an actually tidy bedroom. In disturbing the dust he had, I fear only succeeded in waking up all the dormant fleas in the place, They immediately went for my arms; and they soon advanced so eagerly on all fronts that, even now, I haven’t quite got rid of them all. But I was so dead-tired that night, I hardly even noticed their unwelcome attentions before 1 dropped off in to a blissful sleep, only to wake at 7 o’clock next morning, God be praised’ (p1306)

[*Steaming down the Nile (dam, transfer) to Alexandria *]

_Alexandria, 17 February _

The journey from Cairo to here was not very exciting. At 8 a.m. we boarded the Transit Administration’s little steam-boat, flying the pennant of the Pasha of Egypt. The travellers were numerous, and much more bourgeois [mean] than those I had with me from Bombay, and generally less decent and polite, though [to be fair] I cannot say I have any specific complaint to make about anyone of them.

A thick fog and a cold wind soon put an end to any hopes of enjoying the scenery along the banks of the Nile. However, I was able to inspect and admire the magnificent Dam constructed by the Viceroy Mohammed Ali [1804-1849] to control the Nile floods and to utilize them for wider irrigation, etc. [We were there longer than planned, because] the strong wind greatly complicated our passage through the Dam (by the special locks devised for the larger craft). This Dam was a personal project of the gifted Mohammed Ali, who achieved so many great and noble projects in Egypt, and who gave the country such a giant push into the 19th century. The momentum of it continues (a little) today, in spite of the nonchalance and the backward ideas of his successor Abbas Pasha. [The great Dam itself is an example]. It is really an elegant job, and looks very strong indeed; but it is not totally completed, even yet. They are still working on the last three or four arches; but very very slowly, it seems.

Meanwhile, night was approaching, and I was beginning to work out some kind of a sleeping (or dozing) arrangement in the little cabin (or box) that was randomly allotted to me, when I was suddenly informed that we will have to change boats. If you haven’t tried this particular operation yourself, you have no idea how horrible it can be, especially at night-time. Anyway, about 9 o’clock, we all had to evacuate our steam-boat, because the channel to Alexandria, now, was not deep enough for it.

As soon as we stopped and dropped anchor, the locally-experienced travellers all rushed madly to get a good place on the other boat. Myself being too slow, I just barely got on. Anyway, on this particular old tub, even the very “best” place was nothing (p1307) to write home about. No way to close an eye, all night, on the make-shift hulk. But at least we were moving fast anyway, being towed along by a brave little steam tugboat. About 5 a.m. we were served coffee. But I did not take any, hoping (from the answers given to me) that we could arrive in time for me to celebrate Holy Mass in Alexandria.

And indeed, as soon as dawn broke through, we began to make out the [shore] hills and the windmills. By sunrise, we were getting into carriages. And, less than an hour later, I was here, inside Your church of St Catherine, O my God.

I was greatly impressed by the many signs of Christian progress all around, under the auspices of [Bishop Guasco OFM, Vicar Apostolic of Alexandria]. It was he who welcomed me so cordially this morning, so warmly that (before I even knew his name) I immediately knew he must be one of your good Angels (being quite literally Your envoy sent for spreading salvation and regeneration to these shores).

May your Name be blessed, Lord! May all peoples everywhere adore You! Amen.

_Alexandria, 18 February _

Yesterday when I arrived, Bishop Guasco immediately wrote to the French Consulate, to obtain a free passage for me on a steamer, to Civitavecchia [near Rome]. Then he decided to go with me himself. The Consul couldn’t have been nicer; he immediately granted my request. No problem, it seems. Free passage for all missionaries, of every nation. And not only on French steamers but also on some others too (e.g. Austrian).

A steamer was almost ready to leave; and I decided to take it. But now we have just heard that it has suddenly been [ … ]58 diverted back to Syria and Constantinople. And that there can hardly be any other steamer going West until early March.

So I will have to wait here another fortnight! Maybe this (p1308) delay too is from your Providence, Lord? I like to think so. For all the delays so far have been of some special good to me. Anyway with the excellent Bishop’s cordial hospitality here, this one will certainly be very agreeable, at least.

[*Delayed, I record my crowded 2 Days in Cairo: *]

  • The luggage, the Mosque, Joseph’s Well, the Pyramids. *

_Alexandria, 2 February _

There will be plenty of time, later, to write down my impressions of this place; so let me go back to Cairo and try to recapture what I saw and did there during those two days [before I forget some of it].

[As I said] I would really need 10 or 12; but I wasn’t even sure of having those two. So, that very first evening, in spite of my extreme tiredness, I wanted to find out all I could about the Catholic religion in Cairo, from those Fathers who eventually turned out to be so friendly (as I related). This is what I learnt:

First of all, there is the Franciscan Convent of the Holy Land. They are the ones who threw me out and sent me to the second Franciscan Convent, the Strict Observance. These seem to be the missionaries in the city. Their church is now supposed to be for the Catholic Copts, who have recently been given their own Bishop. In practice, however, the church does not belong to the Bishop at all, but to the Franciscans, even though they are supposed to be only the Bishop’s helpers here.

Fairly complicated! Even now, the surface peace between the Franciscans and the Coptic Bishop-and-clergy does not seem to be perfect; although the common-sense of the Bishop and the Fathers has managed to overcome the main problems, up to now. But some new big one can come up, any time …

There is also a Greek Catholic Bishop in Cairo, and an Armenian one. But also several heretical and schismatic ones (bishops, archbishops, even a patriarch) and swarms of clergy, (p1309) more numerous than edifying …

At this point, I nearly fell asleep, and was quite unable to follow any more of their mind-boggling complexities …

. Next day, immediately after Mass, I took a dragoman and (first things first) I went to check the departure-time [for Alexandria]. All I could find out for sure was: not today. Then I had to travel about three miles, from the Office to the Depot, to make sure of my luggage [After that I was free].

I went to see Mohammet Ali’s famous new Mosque. [It was certainly worth the trouble]. There may, possibly, be a more spectacular building somewhere in the world; but certainly I myself don’t know of any. I will not bother to describe it all for it must be in every modern guide-book by now. I will only say that I was struck dumb with admiration when I came out on to the vast magnificent Square in front of it, and saw the Mosque itself, fronted by all those marble Columns and that beautiful Fountain!

The guardian of the actual Mosque told me there was no entry without permission from the General commanding the Fort protecting the whole Mosque area. So off with us to see the General. We were directed into a vast Waiting Hall, and my dragoman explained my request. An officer went in to the General and came out almost immediately. Another officer escorted us back to the Mosque, to testify that permission had indeed been given.

The doors were immediately opened for us, and we entered the most beautiful sanctuary I have ever seen. Of course, as regards form alone, Notre-Dame or the Dome of the Invalides might be somewhat preferable. But, considering everything, I have to say I prefer Mohammed Ali’s building. It has truly wonderful lines, grandiose and most impressive; but what it has most especially is a lavishness of colour in the marbles of the mighty columns, the soaring walls and the pavement.

.If Mohammed Ali had been able to put the finishing touches to this edifice, it would most probably become the finest building in the whole world today (or at least among the very finest). But this great genius died too soon; and in the subsequent decline everything has suffered (even though they were almost forced to continue his great projects, very slowly and somewhat meanly). (p1310) In one vast corner is the great man’s tomb, completely unworthy of his renown, and of the surrounding splendour.

I asked permission to climb up to the towers (or rather the slender minarets) and up to the high walk-way around the interior. They made some difficulties about that; but a few piastres opened the door, and up we went. I walked all around the inside (about 300 feet up) and then I climbed the minaret. I never saw anything like the view from that vantage-point, about 400 feet above the floor, which is on top of the Fort, which in turn is on a hill overlooking the whole City. And not only the city but the mighty Nile itself, and all the fertile lands to the right and left, and their limits, and the sudden deserts. And the Pyramids in all their majesty, right on the frontier between the civilization and the sand ….

O my God! How did you let such a marvel be built to the honour of the infamous Mohammed? Pardon my foolish question, Lord! For we know that nothing happens in all this world without your permission; and that your infinite-sighted Providence often disposes some strange events which to us seem most deplorable but which in fact are meant for some great future good unseen by us.

Here you have let the great genius of Mohammed Ali express itself fully: in a temple to the enemy of your Name, and in other great works that opened the way to civilization. And opened also the iron curtain that kept out the truth. And with the truth there entered also our holy Religion which is the depository of all Truth, into these lands where it had always been banned and blocked for centuries.

And indeed the Catholic religion has already made great strides here. And who can say that one day this noble Mosque (now echoing to the silly verses of the Koran) will not have its splendid walls consecrated and purified by the oil of chrism and the prayer of one of Christ’s pontiffs? Then, in this alcove that points out the direction of Mecca, will the statue of Mary stand, behind the altar of the true God? Ah, but such a wild hope is a long way off, I fear. Yet, the religion of Jesus is eternal, while (p1311) Mohammed, with his mosques and his followers, must one day disappear, like everything else that is merely human. But when and how? God alone knows. Maybe sooner than we think. Maybe later than the most pessimistic computations of some of our would-be prophets.

In spite of being quite tired after the climb (etc.) of about 400 feet, I went on to Joseph’s Well, which goes down about the same distance. But we had to stop half-way, where we saw the huge Wheel, turned continually in the dark by a team of mules, driving the water up a great distance. From up there, another team drives it to the top; and it can then be directed into various channels and on to the thirsty land.

The Well is supposed to have been sunk by order of Joseph [of the famous coat]; but many scholars deny this. At the lowest accessible point there is a flat tombstone, said to cover Joseph’s adjutant. There is also a shallow side-opening which is said to be the start of a tunnel-road leading through the mountains, to Jerusalem! But of course it is now closed off …

After this second climb (down and up) I decided to hire mules to take us back to the Convent. For by now my [back-of the] knee muscles were very sore indeed, and I had more work for them in the afternoon. Having only a few more short hours (perhaps) in Cairo, I was determined to see the Pyramids close-up. It takes at least two hours to get there; and after 8 p.m. (I was told) we could not come back across the Nile.

So (after a frugal lunch with the good Franciscans) I was at the foot of those grandiose monuments by 4 p.m. They have withstood four thousand years, and now they looked like they can do forty centuries more, without any notable alteration. Very soon, aided by three Bedouin (two at my arms and one pushing behind) I had climbed to the summit of the highest one, though I found the effort .extremely tiring. Then I came down (which was even harder) and made my way into the dark interior of the massive Tomb.

I would have needed a lot more time, to properly appreciate those remarkable monuments. But I had to leave almost (p1312) I mediately (or risk sleeping outside, 09. the wrong side of the Nile). So I bade them all farewell at sunset, when the long shadows of those man-made mountains were almost touching the River. Never in my life was I so thoroughly tired-out. (My thigh muscles and sinews were so painfully overworked that I felt the pain in them for three more days to come). It was after 8 when I got back to the Convent; and I had to be lifted bodily off the mule, no longer able to swing a leg over his back.

[*Franciscans (2). Bishops of3 Rites. *]

*Progress fragile under weak Propaganda. *

The religious situation in Cairo is about as complicated as you could possibly imagine. Still, the potentials for good are numerous, and they seem to be developing very well, in a way that is full of promise for the future, provided that conflicts between the various groups can be forestalled. For those communities are so extremely diverse that confrontations, and even public scandals, are always distinct possibilities. And these are the very worst kind of enemies, especially when’ we are trying to found new Churches, or trying to re-found the once-flourishing Churches [of the Middle East] where Discord was much more destructive than even the Sword of Islam.

In Cairo, the big Franciscan House (of the Holy Land) seems destined to care mainly for the already-numerous European colony, which is growing bigger daily. Their original chapel having grown too small, they are now completing a magnificent church which can be opened for public worship in a few months’ time. Resplendent in marble and beautiful in its graceful architecture, it is a great credit to those Religious.

The Freres de la Doctrine Chretienne have recently arrived, to work with them. They were opening their new school just when I was there. Unfortunately I had no time to go and see them. These Brothers are bound to do a lot of good in Cairo. And (provided the local Catholics do not manage to mess it up) that good (p1313) can then lead on to immense further progress in the near future.

There is [as we saw] a second Franciscan Convent, the Strict Observance. They seem to be the missionaries in Cairo. To them (I believe) is due the return of a big number of Coptic Christians to the unity of our holy Faith; so great a number, indeed, that the Holy See has given them a Bishop of their own Rite. But the Bishop has no church. He and his few priests officiate at the Strict Observance one. The Franciscans are supposed to be only his “helpers” but they operate in a very independent way. For exam-ple, they will celebrate a big Feast on their own [Western] date, although the Bishop and his priests still do it on the proper tradi-tional day for Egypt.

Thus, on the day after I arrived, the 14th February, the Coptic Bishop and clergy were celebrating Mass and Office of the Purification, which the Franciscans had already done on the 2nd February, in the same church, at the same altar! I would have loved to stay for the Coptic Pontifical Mass; but time did not permit.

This confusion, this clash (between the [modern] superiority and influence of the Franciscans and the natural superiority of na-tive clergy over foreigners, of a Bishop over priests) is a sure and fertile source of great trouble and disorder in the future, if the Holy See does not do something about it, something big enough to meet the size of the problem. There have already been several disputes and a lot of misunderstandings.

At the moment, everything seems to be quiet and peaceful.

But this is probably entirely due to the exceptional good sense of the Coptic Bishop, a man of great age and great holiness, who has the rare wisdom of always putting Peace before other more obvi-ous objectives.59

The Syrian [Lebanese?] Catholics also use this church. They have a priest of their own to look after them.

The Armenian Rite also has many Catholics in Cairo, with a church, a clergy and a Bishop of their own. On the morning of the (p1313) 15th I visited this Armenian Catholic Bishop, as well as the Coptic and the Greek ones.

The Coptic Bishop seemed to me a very worthy man, in every way. He was educated at Propaganda [College]. This may not appear to be a very high recommendation straight away; but he is certainly well educated, pious and well-mannered. Unfortunately he seems to be extremely poor, quite unable to outwardly maintain the dignity of his position.

The Armenian Bishop seemed even poorer. His clergy are very few, and seem to leave a lot to be desired. He himself does not look dignified enough for his high office. However, his little church is very clean and tidy, and relatively rich in decoration and sacred vessels, including many beautiful relics. I was glad to see, here again, the same charming style of the schismatic Armenian church in Bombay, but now in a building where I felt much more at home, being Catholic. I especially liked their beautiful custom of enthroning the Gospels on the altar, outside of Mass. This little Cairo church was much more alive than the Bombay one (as it should be, anyway). For Catholicism is life; schism and heresy are death. Thus, in Cairo, they have Mass every day; and the Blessed Sacrament is perpetually reserved. The paintings are numerous and lovely. Although the Bombay church was also tidy and colourful, the Cairo church is clearly superior in the frequency of the Holy Sacrifice and the conservation of the Sacred Mysteries.

The Greek Catholics have a big community in Cairo, a plentiful clergy, and a Bishop. When I saw him I was greatly impressed by his dignity, his manners and his general bearing. His residence (though not very outstanding in such a great city) was large, tidy, elegant, almost beautiful. His church is really beautiful (though not on the outside), extremely neat and clean, and decorated with outstanding paintings. Including the most beautiful Image of Christ that I ever saw! The Greek Fathers are on the walls of the Sanctuary. There are several Madonnas and other Saints, each with its own particular value of one kind or another. The good Bishop personally showed me all the Greek Rite vestments, (p1315) sacred vessels, etc., which I had never seen before except in illustrations ‘. He is a very zealous man, I think. To him is largely due the beautiful condition of the church, and the many adjoining new buildings, (Including several schools, fee-paying or free, according to the ability of the parents). Over all, I was delighted with my visit.

The Bishop wanted to return the call; but I said I would be absent all day, going on a pilgrimage in the afternoon to the Tree where the Blessed Virgin is said to have rested, the first night they spent in Egypt.

The Coptic Bishop [also wanted to pay me a courtesy call that day] but he was really ill, having collapsed that morning at Holy Mass; happily, it was after the Communion.

The Armenian Bishop was not so responsive or courteous.

Visiting those three Bishops took up the whole morning, until lunch.

Immediately afterwards, I again [painfully] got on board a donkey and rode out to the Tree that I mentioned, about 5 miles from Cairo, near the ancient Heliopolis.

But before that, I would like to insist again that the mixture of Rites and Orders and Institutes in Cairo (etc) is a very dangerous source of future conflicts, squabbles, and even public scandals. Rome should watch over this country like an anxious mother over a child that is just beginning to regain consciousness after a long series of fevers have brought it to the edge of the grave.

The three Bishops seem to have been established only recently [if indeed they are (solidly) established]. I did not find out much about the mode of their selection (and of their future replacement) nor about the local resources for maintaining themselves and their clergies, nor about their methods (if any) for ensuring decent and not-too-ignorant priests in the future. The whole thing appeared to me extremely vague, uncertain, undefined, wide open to very serious troubles.

At the moment, the Greek Bishop (who appears to be fairly rich, and who must have needed a lot of money, to do all he has done here) is causing great discontent among his people by taxing them very heavily. (p1316)

In general, the Cairo scene seems full of promise, but also full of dangers. Especially if Propaganda (which seems to be exclusively in charge) is not better informed about Cairo than it is about India!

Catholicism looks fairly strong there; but heresy and schism are far stronger. True, they are in decline, and Catholicism is on the increase. But it would not take very much to reverse the trend: just a few serious disputes or some big scandalous fight among the various Catholics.

Apart from the Protestants, who follow the English flag everywhere (but who have very few native Egyptians) there are the local Heretics and Schismatics. These have a Patriarch, an Archbishop, three Bishops, and a very numerous Coptic clergy. The Greek schismatics similarly have a Patriarch, Archbishop, Bishop and plenty of clergy. The Armenian schismatics also have their Bishop; I don’t know about the numbers of their clergy.

I forgot! There is also in Cairo a community of Catholic Maronites, under an Abbe. I was not able to visit him or his church.

And such is the state of Christianity in this great city.

O God, blow the breath of your Spirit on to those weak embers, those elements of future progress. Mould them into a body coherent enough to stand up by itself. Unite those diverse groups with the Charity that makes us all one with You, in Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

[*Our Lady’s Tree. (House). *]

[*Well (and stone). Beans, Roses. *]

[*Meditation on History: Joseph and Benjamin … *]

*Napoleon … *

I spent all that Wednesday morning with the three Bishops and their churches. They very kindly showed me all their liturgical books, vestments, sacred objects, everything that was special, and different from our own Rite. (p1317)

In the afternoon I went to visit the venerated Tree where (they say) Our Lady sheltered, on the first night in Egypt, fleeing with her precious charge, the Divine Child, from the ferocity of King Herod. Never having heard of this Cairo tradition before, I felt that it was not very well founded; and I still do not know if the historical basis is solid. The fact is, the whole country believes it, even the Muslims.

The tree is a huge sycamore, with all the signs of extreme old age. It is split almost in two; and they say this dates from the time it opened itself up in order to make a sort of cradle for the infant God-Man. They even show you the exact place where Mary sat …

Most of the tree is just a bare leaf-less trunk. But it still has two great vigorous branches, very much alive. These are all covered with pious inscriptions and pilgrims’ names. They say it was Napoleon who urged the Pasha (who owns the land) to surround the tree with a small garden, in order to protect this venerable living monument. The garden is still there, and it is perfectly maintained. For a few coins slid into his hand, the guardian will let you pluck a few flowers, and maybe even some fruit.

I knelt in the shade of the foliage which ( maybe) half-sheltered the chilled little limbs of the Child from the cold Egyptian night-dew, more than 1800 years ago; and we gathered a great bundle of roses to be placed, that evening, on Mary’s altar. There was no fruit in the garden at that season; but a big row of beans was in flower, and I managed to find a few full pods. Lying back against a stack of straw in a quiet corner of the garden, I ate the beans with a sort of pious enjoyment, maybe the same kind of simple snack that the Holy Family had, in that new country, which they visited with so many future blessings.

Those blessing bore abundant fruit in Christian Egypt for several centuries [after Christ], Alas! Why did their virtue seem to fail thereafter? Schism! It was you! That terrible destruction was your work, far more than any declared enemies of the Child!

Not being able to really know the historical foundation for the Tree pilgrimage, I could not give it my full belief. Is it really a standing miracle? For no way (they say) could an ordinary (p1318) sycamore tree last 18 centuries! But anyway (1 said to myself) the divine Child was brought this way. Somewhere here, his Mother [_must _]have rested on her long journey. Near this place, too, Saint Joseph must have looked for a few ears of wheat (or a few neglected beans!) to feed the Family a while. Even while the Angels invisibly hovered near, to protect them, but not to prevent their natural hardships.

They would have more than ten more miles to go, to reach the little room in Old Cairo (which is still shown to pilgrims) where they afterwards lived. Then as now, it was in the poorest quarter. The room [1 hear] is damp, low-down and miserable. From there, like us today, they could see on the horizon those monuments to the vast craziness of earthly kings, the Pyramids, looking exactly as they do, in the distance, today.

[Being well versed in their nation’s history] Mary and Joseph must sometimes have meditated, near these same ruins of Heliopolis, on that earlier Joseph who married the daughter of the chief priest of this ancient city. They must also have thought about Joseph’s brothers passing by (more than once) to beg some corn from Joseph at Memphis (which is also only a ruined city today). Thinking along those [surer] lines, I whole-heartedly adored Jesus in his childhood, when he passed this very way with his Mother and Saint Joseph. [For this is the road to Israel].

Maybe near this very spot on the road poor Benjamin was caught with Joseph’s silver cup in the sack of corn he was taking back to his aged father Jacob. And the other brothers, surprised to see the purchase-money inside their own sacks (but full of faith in God’s supreme Providence) exclaimed to Joseph: “What can we say? How can we clear ourselves? God himself has uncovered our guilt!” And not so far from here old Jacob recovered some of his great strength which originally earned him the name “Israel”; not to wrestle with an angel now, but to hug his long-lost son. “Joseph had his chariot made ready and went up to meet his father in Goshen. As soon as he appeared, he threw his arms around his neck and for a long time wept on his shoulder” ….

O what memories come crowding back at every historic place in Egypt! ‘Twould take a whole book to write them all down. But since so many have already been written, why write (p1319) mine as well? I will only mention those that struck my mind and heart the strongest.

Like that, I would have nothing at all to say about [_secular _]history, or about our recent military “glories” here, except that those [Napoleonic] events seem to have led providentially to the present opening-up of Egypt, with such great hope of social and religious regeneration.

But those daring actions of France were such a mixture of greatness and meanness, of reason and blasphemy, of glory and shame, that I can never really feel proud of them. I can admire some isolated brave deeds, yes; but the whole business, no! Good has come of it; but that is only because God knows how to draw good out of evil, anyway.

Fever can sometimes indirectly save someone’s life. A hailstorm, in smashing a vineyard, can enrich the soil and so produce maybe two-fold the next year. Always? No; a few times; very rarely. So, is a fever or a hail-storm “good”? No way!

Which do you admire the most: Saint Louis dying on a disastrous crusade, or Napoleon vainly conquering Egypt (and some of his generals nobly getting themselves circumcised for his “glorious” cause!)? But where am I drifting to? ..

Let us return to Mary’s Tree. After my little snack of raw beans, 1 did return to it. I said another prayer, and I plucked a few of the green leaves from the tree to keep (especially if my future researches give good foundation for the tradition). Then I went to the nearby well to slake my thirst. It is the very first well you come to, from the Eastern desert side, near Cairo, which greatly adds to the probability that Mary did indeed stop just there on entering Pharaoh’s land.

She must indeed have drunk this same water. And they show you this washing-stone where (they say) she washed her Baby’s swaddling cloths. 60 For the Son of God became a real human being like us, subject also to our less dignified natural needs; exactly like us in everything; except sin. (p1320)

jkThe holy Franciscan with me filled his bottle from the Spring, to bring back to the sick. For he has often used it, and has found that it really helps those who take it with faith. Then we said goodbye [to Mary’s resting-place on the Flight into Egypt].

I would have loved to stay on and visit many other places in Cairo and surroundings. But now the sun was sinking, and I had to leave next morning after Mass. I dearly wanted to celebrate in the little room where Mary lived (now a “chapel”). But it was over two miles from the Convent and (unhappily) in schismatic hands. Catholics can say Mass there at times. But they open it only very begrudgingly to us; and never so early in the morning. Moreover, 1 would have had to take all the Mass equipment along with me; for that precious local relic is hopelessly maintained by those poor Christians, totally dulled and stupefied by schism. So, having only until 7 a.m. to spare, 1 had to give up the idea. With great regret indeed. And I duly left Cairo early next morning.

O Jesus, be you blessed, praised and adored for ever! Blessed be you, Mary our good Mother, and your glorious spouse Saint Joseph! Amen!

*Alexandria, 22 February *

[I have just found out, from Bishop Guasco, that] 1 was wrong about Mary’s little garden. It was not the idea of Napoleon but of Odilon Barrot.61 He was a pretty useless Catholic; but he did rather well in Egypt. He went to see the Tree, and was really impressed by the tradition. He mentioned it to the present Bishop of Alexandria and said what a pity it was to see it surrounded with weeds and bushes and citrus-farm. He thought the Pasha could easily be persuaded to do something for it, at least to protect it from the passing traffic. Bishop Guasco then suggested that he should furthermore request a little garden all around the Tree. Barrot did so, and the Pasha granted everything he suggested. And now, as Viceroy, he continues to ensure that the delightful little garden is very well maintained. (p1321)


*Alexandria harbour, on board the “Salamander”, 24 February *

Farewell Alexandria, city of Saints: of Athanasius, Cyril, Clement, Catherine; city of countless Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins; city of greatness in the past, and of potential future greatness! We are leaving you now, and proceeding on towards the Eternal City, under the protection of your many Saints, Amen!

1 have just boarded a small French steamer of the Messageries Nationales [National Mail]. And what a joy it is, to hear everyone speaking French! The Captain and the Officers welcomed me with all the deference and courtesy anyone could possibly want. The only problem now is the weather; it has been very rough these last few days. Apart from that, everything is set for a very happy voyage to Malta, where I have to change ship.

Continue your favours to me, my good Angel! Mary, be my guiding star, Jesus my only aim! Amen!

[*25 February, 25°13E, 32°17N *]

Here it comes at last, a really bad day, my first since Bombay! The seas are huge, the wind is strong against us. Everybody sea-sick, even some officers of ten years’ sailing experience. Myself? Well, just a little queasy, that’s all. Anyway, there’s no real danger so far. And 1 am confident our good Angel will deal with it if it comes up.

[*Bishop Guasco (and Serra). Simplicity. *]

[*Politeness of French Consul, etc. Lazarists? *]

As already noted, 1 arrived at Alexandria on the 17th. 1 had heard that all was not sweetness-and-light between the various (p1322) groups of apostolic workers there. So, in order to preserve my “neutrality” 1 had written to the Bishop only: Being a fellow bishop, 1 am coming to knock on your door.62 But, seeing that Alexandria is such a busy world cross-roads, 1 am not expecting hospitality during all of my stay (awaiting a French steamer West). So, if there is any problem, please tell me frankly when 1 arrive, and advise me where I can get suitable accommodation…

On my arrival in Alexandria, then, 1 went straight to the church of the “Holy-Land Friars”. The Bishop is a religious of that Order, and has spent many years in Jerusalem and in various Syrian missions. He is staying with the Friars while his episcopal palace is being completed.

From the very start, Bishop Guasco welcomed me so warmly and charitably that 1 felt completely at home with him. His worthy (but extremely simple and ordinary) manner won my complete respect, and even my veneration.

“Just now”, he said, “I have only one room at my disposal here in the Convent; and it is occupied by Bishop Serra, who has told me about you, in Aden. But it’s a big room, and can easily take two beds. So, if you don’t mind sharing a room, 1 will be delighted to have you here with me as my guest. But if you do mind, I have already arranged with the Lazarist Fathers to let you have a room of your own over there”.

The Lazarists? When I was in France, their general reputation was “not too friendly”. Maybe they have changed? 1 don’t know; but what little 1 saw of them since does not make me think so. Anyway, 1 would much prefer half a room with a man like Bishop Serra, with all his good qualities of mind and heart. But would it suit him? So …

“We’ll see about that later on”, 1 said [to Bishop Guasco].

“At the moment, 1 would like to go and say Mass. Then we can talk with His Lordship. I’ll be very glad to see him again”.

But when 1 met the Bishop of Perth after Mass, he did not seem quite so friendly as he was in Aden; and his offer to share his (p1323) room did not sound very enthusiastic. 1 was half thinking that maybe 1 should decline. Then, fortunately (and quite unexpectedly) he heard that he had obtained a place on an Austrian steamer leaving next day. So (although the Lazarists would certainly have received me all right) 1 much preferred the company of the good Bishop [Guasco].

Meanwhile, after Mass, 1 said 1 had to go to the French Consulate, to arrange about my own journey. “No need”, said Bishop Guasco. “Any missionary gets free passage if I just send a written request to the Consul. And 1 have already written one for you, because there’s another ship nearly ready to sail”.

But 1 felt it would still be courteous, at least, to call personally on the Consul. The Bishop agreed, and immediately offered to go with me. He wasn’t long getting ready; he just pulled up his Franciscan hood, and away we went.

Even on the way, 1 had more than ten more occasions to admire the astonishing simplicity of this Bishop. He even seemed to take it a bit too far. (And I was to see plenty more examples of the same thing during the next week). Such a total unconcern for worldly correctness can hardly be called a “virtue” unless it is always accompanied by a very great inner prudence. But simplicity is such a beautiful virtue in a cleric that, even by excess, it very rarely becomes a real problem. Certainly it is much less dangerous than the opposite extreme: of mere human prudence and the correct wisdom of this world!

When we got to the Consulate, 1 was absolutely enchanted by the personnel there (and also at the National Mail office). Their courtesy was exquisite. It was ten long years since 1 had encountered anything like it. Certainly not from the few French [colonials] that 1 had come across now and then!

From there we went straight to the Lazarist Fathers; for 1 did not want to leave them out; and 1 might be leaving tomorrow morning. Then we visited the St Vincent Sisters, and came back for a frugal lunch. Like all the meals 1 had with the good Bishop, the lunch had something indescribably charming about it. 1 ate with him twice every day. For the Lazarists did not invite me, not (p1324) even once. Nothing uncharitable; just plain lack of [_savoir-faire _][or savvy] I would think. But. ..

Briefly sea-sick. Enjoying the spectacular Storm. Danger?

  • Good Christian Crew. Bright interval follows 2 dark Days. *

But now the mal-de-mer has got to me, with worse nauseas than I ever experienced on any sea before …

I’ve just been [up on deck] and paid my tribute to the Mediterranean. This little sea must be a lot more peremptory than the great oceans! Can’t write any more just now …

[*26 February, 300E, 25°Z5N *]

We thought yesterday was bad! But a much more terrible gale blew up last night, and it is still going strong. Several of the sailors, with long years of experience, have assured me that they have never seen the like.

[This was something I did not want to miss]. So, as soon as daylight appeared, up the ladder with me, to struggle on deck, in order to really enjoy the magnificent horrors of our present situation. By hanging on with all my strength, I was just barely able to stay on board. The sea was hideous, in the daylight and the half-light. In the daylight gleamed the mountain-top waves, foaming and almost bright, but even more terrifying like that, because they more clearly defined the depth and darkness of the valleys that we plunged down into, about once every minute. The Captain [spotted me] and very kindly invited me into his after-deck cabin, from where I could contemplate the spectacular show in more safety, without risk of being blown overboard by the gale or washed away by the floods that occasionally swept across the deck, sweeping everything before them.

But what really scared me was the creaking and cracking of the ship itself, an old boat nearly 20 years at sea, and fitted with very inadequate engines for this kind of thing. I could feel it shudder and make as if to split in two (or four!) at every big sea-shock. (p1325) Just one serious split below the water-line would be quite enough, to sink us all without a chance …

We have now been more than twelve hours struggling with the gale, and there is no sign of a let-up. Moreover, where are we moving to, in all this? No idea. No way to steer the ship, in this howling head-wind. All they can do is let it go, whichever way is the least strenuous for the poor old craft. And it is not at all encouraging to over-hear the grave consultations of the officers about the pros and cons of various desperate manoeuvres. They are very concerned about being pushed too near [Africa] without any reasonable hope of getting back into Alexandria. They would have headed back there immediately, this morning; but the huge seas (of a frightful height) made it quite hopeless to try to steer into such a difficult harbour. ..

But now it is midday, and they have worked out our exact position, and they are fairly satisfied with it. We have plenty of sea-room, and can continue like this for a long time yet, just manoeuvering, waiting for the storm to blow itself out. .. if God means us to get out of this alive.

For it is all in your hands, 0 my God! It is You that I implore in all this, through the intercession of Her whom the Church entitles the Star of the Sea. Ave maris stella …

*27 February, morning *

The awful gale continued until midnight. But by about 5 yesterday evening it had reduced somewhat. We even had dinner. In the morning, not a single officer had showed up for breakfast. They just ran down, one by one, and grabbed a bit of bread-and-cheese; or had a mug of coffee brought up to them on the bridge. Those off duty were trying to snatch some rest in the mean time. Surprisingly, several officers were knocked out by sea-sickness, while a [land-lubber like] me escaped almost entirely!

The ship’s doctor (an excellent man if ever there was one) could not get over the unconcerned way I looked around (or had even the nerve to move outside at all) and even said my Office. For I said it in its entirety, and added the Little Office of the (1326) Blessed Virgin, to pray our good Mother to get us safely out of this danger.

The danger, in fact, was never very great, up to now. We were far from any dangerous coast, and the gale was steady, not of the whirling kind. All we needed was to keep the ship skilfully and wisely oriented. Provided, of course, it could continue to stand up to the repeated violence of the sea-shocks. The officers were confident in the old “Salamander”. Though a veteran, it was solidly built. Only it was not built for such a long crossing; it had not enough coal-storage capacity. The extra coal it needed was stacked up behind fenders on the deck, hindering manoeuverability. At one stage they were thinking of dumping it overboard; but if the storm kept up for several more days, we might sorely need it later, just to keep ourselves out at a safe distance from the shore.

The Captain was aiming to make for shelter off Crete; and there was no coal available there. As long as the piles of coal did not smash their way through their fenders and start sliding all over the deck (unbalancing the ship) there was no absolute need to dump them. Happily, this did not happen. So, up to now, we have never been in real danger. Up to now, I say. For now the skies are darkening again. Look out for Part Two!..

No real danger so far. But very great danger can come down upon us at any moment. You can see that, very clearly, on the grave faces of the crew, from the Captain down to the smallest cabin-boy. They all say nothing about it while the danger is near. But when it is over [for a while] they tend to joke about it to each other:

“At two o’clock last night, I can tell you, I wasn’t feeling exactly sleepy.”

“Me neither. I was watching out for land too. Very alert I was!”

Naturally, non-sailors will tend to call any little squall “a gale”. Mindful of this, I asked some officers, this morning:

“Could I call yesterday’s effort a real gale?” “You certainly can; and a real good one too! (p1327)

O Lord, you have kept us out of the danger so far. Be you praised and blessed! And please do not let such a good Christian crew as the Salamander’s run into the horrors of a ship-wreck!

Because one thing that pleasantly surprised me, in the midst of all the storm, was this: not a wrong word of complaint out of any of them, officer or sailor! No curses, no blasphemies or swears, in all the various stresses and strains of the storm. All I could observe in them was a grim seriousness, but also a skilful alert activity. Some of them got hurt in the action; not a bad word came out of anyone’s mouth.

And now, this morning (although the weather is still very far from fine, and we are anxiously on the look-out for the shelter of Crete) joy and gladness have returned to all hearts. I am just back from breakfast. It was a delightfully enjoyable gathering, because of the delicate wit and gaiety that sparkled all around.

*Simple meals with Bishop and Brother. *

*Prince Mustafa Pasha. *

*Style of English and other Nations in India. *

[*27 February, midday, 25 DE, 34°35N *]

Very bad weather again. Everything indicates a return of yesterday’s performance.

Lord, in you we place all our trust; we will not be disappointed. Mary, pray for us now!

Before the gale, I was talking about my frugal meals with the good Bishop of Alexandria, and about his own extreme simplicity. In spite of that, he still did not feel obliged to live completely in common with his confreres. I consider this very wise of him. For I consider it a misfortune that, in our set-up, the Vicar Apostolic is more-or-less obliged to live, much too familiarly, with his missionaries.

Even now, while waiting for his palace to be completed (and therefore having to live in the Convent) he makes sure to live (p1328) separately, with a single Brother to look after him. An excellent Brother, just as simple as his master with everyone, even with God! It is really funny to see him making a cheerful friendly Grace before Meals while filling out our meagre plates of soup (the same rations of soup and food as in the Convent). Certainly, it is not very good; but it isn’t bad either. (And isn’t that the way it should be, for the saints, on this earth?). Then comes a second small portion of food for each of us, and a third (and maybe a fourth) after, and an orange or a pear for dessert; and a minute glass of eau-de-vie [whisky, or grappa) if you need it, to keep up your strength. Such was the menu, twice a day, all the time I was there at Alexandria. And that’s the very way I would like it to be, all the days of my life. Not much. Not even enough to satisfy your appetite completely. Even a bit of a penance, all the time (especially when better is easily available) but still only a slight mortification, easily sustainable.

It happened that Bishop Guasco had requested an audience, that first day, with Mustafa Pasha (a grandson of the great Mohamet Ali, and third in line for the throne). As he had no particular business to discuss with the young Pasha, he invited me to go along with him there. I had no objection, being curious to see the “style” of a modern Egyptian Pasha. I had heard that the Prince is a good man, much more broad-minded than the present ruler, Abbas Pasha, being quite well educated, etc.

And I saw nothing to contradict that opinion of him when we got there. I was even surprised to see him dressed in completely European fashion, apart from his red fez. The furniture and all the other things in the palace were just like a rich European’s house, with nothing particularly princely about them. (However, I am told that this palace is only an occasional one; he has several others which are much finer).

His chamberlain met us at the palace door, and he himself received us at the door of his own apartments. He invited us immediately to be seated, on the divan; and he himself sat on a chair, facing us. The conversation was in French. Pipes and coffee were brought in, and we had a long chat, about France, Egypt, India, etc. A vague and rather aimless conversation; but you could see (p1329) that this Prince was well-informed about many things. Finally, we took our leave, and he personally saw us out of the salon.

Unfortunately, this Prince is one-eyed; so it is unlikely that he will ever rule. If he did, it would be a good day for Egypt, and for Christianity.

On this occasion I happened to meet the Spanish Consul, and I was delighted with him also. [I never saw any European consul or ambassador with such style, in India]. Maybe the English deliberately keep them down, and prevent them from showing the kind of rank and dignity that you would like and expect from the Representative of any great Nation.

In fact, nothing looks more miserable than a French representative in India. Enough to make you ashamed to be a Frenchman. And the few Portuguese representatives I met there (though more arrogant) were not one bit better. I saw very few Spaniards there, so I cannot say whether they manage to maintain their usual “noble” style. (Anyway, the few Spanish officers I came across myself showed no sign at all of it). I saw nothing of greatness or nobility in India, from any foreign nation, except the English. I do not like their style at all (as a nation) although I do admire them [at times].

In Egypt, you felt somehow different; nearer the Motherland; stronger. For strength is a necessary condition for national nobility. A nation can be strong and still barbaric; it cannot be weak and still be noble. (At least not for long).

*Storm, part Two. Dangerous incompetence. *

*In God’s hands always. Shelter of an Island. *

*28 February, 7 a.m. *

What a dark and terrible night we have just been through!

And what a gloomy day stretches out before us! The storm took over again yesterday, about 2 in the afternoon. It blew all night, and it is still blowing furiously. No sign at all of any end to it. Meanwhile, about 4 p.m. yesterday, some land was sighted. Must (p1330) be Crete? But we can’t be[_ sure_]. For, believe it or not, we are navigating without a ship’s chronometer! I wouldn’t have thought it possible: that a civilized nation could let a Steamship Company put a ship to sea without such a basic piece of equipment. And moreover, to take on passengers! Certainly, they would not have risked their lives like that, only they naturally assumed that the government would have made sensible regulations about such matters.

Before this, all you heard from the officers was “Crete” as if that was the answer to all our troubles. “Plenty of safe anchorages there. We can shelter there until this blows over”. But now that we have sighted it, the place is useless to us. In practice inaccessible. Anyway, how can we even be sure that it is Crete? And where are the anchorages? The so-called pilot maintained on board by the Company seems to be a proper supernumerary [ chancer] fit for counter-signing the Sailing Plan, and nothing else. Nobody has any confidence in him; and the bluffy way he now talks does not inspire any.

“How are we going to get through this fearful night?” I asked myself, “so near the shore, with a furious gale blowing, and with engines that are incapable of pushing through the waves!” I hardly closed my eyes at all, last night. More than once, I offered up my life to God. And even now I do so again. [For this really could be it].

I have no idea where we are, nor where we are moving to, nor what we will meet there. All that the ship was trying to do, during the night (I think) was: trying to stay out from land. “I think”; because I just do not know what they are up to. Nearly impossible to get any information out of the officers, tight-lipped and indescribably grim as they are now, in such a tight situation. I am told they are well qualified and experienced. I’d like to think so; but I see no signs of it.

In fact I doubt very much if they have any clue about where we are. They look to me more like coasting sailors than deep-sea navigators. I think they are handling the ship quite well; but the navigation? How can you have confidence in a crowd that have changed compass-direction ten times in the last two hours? (p1331) So- called officers who _ may_ calculate the latitude at noon, but never the longitude! It is now exactly three whole days since they stopped trying to work out the ship’s daily run! [I got a look at the principal navigation book] and I saw that the route was not planned [even in theory] beyond tomorrow! I am nearly sure they have only one copy between them. It looks very neat and clean; and the pages giving the daily positions (etc.) of the moon are not even cut! So it looks like they do not consult it very often. 63

In short, we have no reason at all to feel confident.

Moreover, it is now three days that our poor old boat has been taking this terrible punishment, continually slammed and battered by wind and wave. How much longer can it hold together? “Her old carcass is very solid”, they say. It will certainly need to be. For after the (say) 400 big shocks she has survived during these last three days, the 401st maybe the back-breaking one (any time now) to send us all straight to the bottom!

Lord, we are always in your hands, every day of our life. It is You who direct every single event of it, every hair that falls from our head. So, even on those days when everything looks as safe and normal as anything, it is still in You alone that all our trust should be. However, the truth of this becomes rather more obvious and vivid in the kind of situation we are in just now, completely bare of all human “security”. Yes indeed, at this moment I do [sincerely and easily] put all my trust in You. In nobody else. But sure that is the way it should always be! Fiat voluntas tua. Your will be done! Amen.

*Same morning, 10 o’clock *

The sea is still in a towering rage, foaming all over its lashing moving mountains! The slams of them against the ship are like bombs going off in a battle. The roar of the waves, and the whistling of the gale in the rigging, now combine themselves into a (p1332) weird and terrifying music. Every now and then, however, the sun breaks through the bitter black clouds; but it very quickly gives way to a raking hail hurled against us by the screaming hurricane. The whole surface of the sea then becomes a jagged layer of boiling foam which is neither white, nor yellow, nor dark blue, but all one angry, livid shade [the colour of terror].

Which way are we moving now? Back East, I am told, towards Cyprus!

O God of all the oceans, how sublime You are, in all this apocalyptic horror!

I missed another weird spectacle last night, one I have never seen on my travels: St Elmo’s Fire! Wild fires of lightning which streak from mast to mast in exceptional gales or hurricanes. These flames appeared this morning, from about 3 to 4, on our rigging, as the officer who was then on watch has just now told me. I was very disappointed he did not send to call me at the time.

*1st March, off Scarpanto Island *

Now, in the shelter of land, we are not being kicked a(ld knocked about quite as violently as yesterday (or as we still would be, in the open sea; for the gale has not slackened at all, during all these four days). .

At about 4 yesterday evening we sighted some land, the islands of Cazo and Scarpanto. Ever since then we have been trying to work our way around towards some safe anchorage or other. But can we do it, with the sea still so furious and our engines so asthmatic? Just now, however, hope is rising that we can make it to an anchorage in the lee of the Scarpanto mountains, clearly visible on our left (while to our right we can perfectly make out the Island of Rhodes).

And now, apart from the continuing violence of the wind,

the weather seems not half as bad as yesterday or the day before. The sun is out, most of the time (except when the snow or hailstones take over). The sea in the sunlight looks nearly cheerful, blue-green; but this will often disappear under a vast layer of white storm-foam, like a world of whipped egg-white! (p1333)

Meanwhile, we could still run out of coal and provisions. “But we took on ten days’ coal and twelve days’ vittles; that should surely be enough!” they all begin to say now. Anyway, we are not yet down to a real critical shortage. Providence will show us a good accessible anchorage before Monday; maybe even before a few more hours!

Anyway, may his Name be blessed for ever!

*Glad of Wait in Alexandria. Pipes and Turkish coffee … *

[*Pleased with the French (etc) there *]

[*(except the revolutionaries). *]

[Now that things have quietened down a bit, I will return to recording my impressions of Alexandria].

I was supposed to leave next day, on the “Luxor”. But then the “Salamander” went missing, being several days late arriving from Syria. When it failed to appear, the Port administration decided to send the “Luxor” back to Syria and Constantinople [to look for it]. It would now be the 2nd or 3rd of March before the “Luxor” could possibly return and proceed West from Alexandria. I would have to wait on until then. But then along came the old “Salamander” and we left on the [24th February] as related above, to arrive at Malta … God alone knows!

Anyway, I was very glad of the enforced opportunity to stay on at Alexandria a few more days, and to get to know the place, but especially the people who are making such a great contribution to the progressive movement now going on in the city, either by their leading position there or by their good Catholic spirit. The Bishop was very happy to show me around, and we met many of those people: French and other Europeans in high places, including some pure “Levantiners” and some pure “Orientalists”.

I was very pleased with their outlook and spirit. True, I saw only the good side. And there is a bad side as well, it seems, just about as bad as the worst to be found anywhere else.

The worst scourge of the Catholic Religion, in Alexandria and (no doubt) in many other similar countries today, is the gang (p1334) of [left-wing] political refugees from various [Western] nations, especially Italy. These are the “men of progress” who, having failed to overturn their own countries into barbarism [in 1848] have now gone off elsewhere. There they manage to at least hinder and retard the progress of Religion and Civilization among peoples who are only just now starting to shake off the shackles of their own brand of barbarism!

I was curious to observe the stance and the way-of-life adopted by the Europeans living in Egypt. I will not go into all that in detail. Enough to say, I was very pleased with them. In any case, today, in every overseas country, Europeans just tend to live entirely European-style. The little local modifications they adopt in the different climates are usually quite non-essential; and even these details tend to disappear more and more every year.

The only bit of local colour I noticed among them in Egypt was the tray of pipes-and-coffee offered to you in every house. Sometimes the [clay] pipe is meant as an outright gift. And sometimes, instead of coffee, you get a plum soaked in eau-de-vie, or a little glass of anisette. When visiting an “Orientalist” however, you have to smoke the [Egyptian hubble-bubble] through a long hose, with an amber pipe-stem stuck in your mouth. And you must drink and “enjoy” the unstrained Moka coffee down to the dregs, in order “not to miss any of the aroma”!

[*Seclusion of Women. Distinguished old-time Ladies. *]

[*Delightful Visits from a Carcassonne boy; *]

*la Patrie and Heaven. *

The extreme shyness which women [have to] show in the Orient is well known. In Alexandria (and Cairo) it applies even to Christian women. You will very rarely see them outside; and when you do, you still can’t see them. For they will always have a huge cloak over them, covering them entirely; even the face is masked with a white veil, except for the eyes. Inside, however, Egyptian husbands seem a bit less intolerant than the Turks; the (p1335) women can be seen [if not heard] by visitors, provided the husband is also at home. But if he is out, you had better not call on the house!

However, in Catholic houses, an exception is made for the priest; which is a good sign, both for the common-sense of the Catholics and for the long-established good behaviour of the clergy in Alexandria!

So, when we called at a certain Greek house and were told that the master was out, the Bishop (who is very well informed about such niceties) made no difficulties about accepting the cordial invitations we received, to come in. We were welcomed by the lady of the house and her two daughters. I was greatly impressed by their exquisite and distinguished manners. The lady, with her delightful conversation and her charming hospitality, reminded me of those noble French ladies, to be seen, alas, so much more rarely nowadays, as the traditional courtesy of our noble Catholic families gradually gives way to the general run of modern boorishness.

All my visits, moreover, were duly and properly returned. It was the first time that I enjoyed such a beautiful atmosphere of mutual proper politeness abroad (apart from the clergy, who have always been very courteous towards me).

But, among all those visits (paid and received) the best one of all was from a young man of Carcassonne, M. Jules Guarrigue. He happened to hear someone mention my name at a house in the city. “But wait a minute!” says he. “That Bishop de Bresillac could be my former professor at the minor seminary!” So off with him immediately to the Convent, to knock on my door. In spite of my beard and the other modifications that twelve years in India will inevitably inscribe on a man’s face, he quickly recognised me. I could not have believed it was him, however, only for the many details he recalled, proving his identity beyond a doubt. For when I left Carcassonne fifteen years ago, he was only a small boy.

With indescribable joy, we went back to that distant time and back to the many good things going on in that House (which is still doing so well). Back to the men who were in charge in those days (and I heard that many of them are still there). Then to the (p1336) students; some of them have gone into different careers; others have been called by the Lord …

The bell rang for midday. His visit was for too short! I wanted to return the visit; but he said his house was very topsy-turvy (being a bachelor) and he was continually being interrupted by trading and business. “But I will come again this evening; for I have to go away to Cairo tomorrow”. And he did come. And we talked and talked about Carcassonne and France and our friends at home. Home! Motherland! What sweet and lovely names, even when it’s all only passing. What will it be when we meet in the true lasting and heavenly homeland!

*Stupid competition in the Alexandria “Mission” . *

*Awkwardness. *

*The Lazarists, the good teaching Brothers, the excellent Sisters. *

The Catholic Church in Alexandria gives many reasons for consolation and encouragement, but also some for sadness and pessimism. Especially the dismal lack of harmony and cooperation between the different groups of evangelizing workers there. In a mere six days, you cannot expect to judge a situation; but it takes only a minute to sense a bad discord in a place.

The Lazarists are clearly more efficient than the Holy-Land Friars in certain areas [especially in secondary and higher education] but I fear they imagine those areas to be the whole objective of the Mission; and they seem to have a marked tendency to want to be in exclusive control of that. I think myself that they are about the last people that should be placed in sole charge of a [local] Church; certainly they are much less suited for it than many others.

As specialized support groups, they could do immense good. On their own, they will fall into the very same mistakes as the Jesuits without half their abilities. I do not think St Vincent de Paul ever wanted his Lazarists to become “key men” or “indispensable” in any country, but just simply to become true (p1337) missionaries there.

Alexandria is not really mission territory; and all the priests In It should not pretend to be missionaries. It is only a “Mission” because It is called one. In [wiser] times, it would be called a [local] Church.

The Jesuits should not be on their own in Madurai· and neither should the Lazarists in Alexandria. If both of them could only operate normally, the way they do in Paris or Lyon or Rome, they could be doing immense good, in Madurai and in Alexandria. But both groups are completely blind to this obvious point. They have strayed very far (in my view) from the clear spirit of Ignatius and Vincent, on this particular matter [of “territory”].

Bishop Guasco of the Holy Land Friars, the Vicar Apostolic of Alexandria, seems to me a man of great common-sense and prudence, even of great wisdom; but he won’t live for ever. He is a very simple and unassuming man; and maybe this is why he does not feel obliged to enforce his proper authority with a bit more vigour. For, by one or two almost infallible signs, I could see that the Lazarists tend to completely ignore that episcopal authority of his. Maybe it is providential that the good Bishop does not seem to even notice this; because if he began to get properly strict about it, there might be quite a row and a scandal.

On the other hand, maybe his incredible patience, by letting the [insubordination] grow stronger, is only increasing its future danger? God preserve this Mission from any more scandals. I say “any more” because apparently there have been some already, and quite recently, in the way the Lazarists have been treating the Freres de la Doctrine Chretienne. These admirable teaching Brothers could do more for the [poor children of] Alexandria than sixty Jesuits or Lazarists!

I only saw and heard a little about the problem; but the Lazarists’ behaviour on that occasion seems to me quite unbelievable, and most deplorable. And they are continuing to set up a [primary] school in direct competition with the Brothers! They just do not see [their own specialisation and limitations]. A simple Brother’s class is miles better than one provided by a Lazarist Father, a learned theologian probably, or a competent preacher. (p1338) But a teacher for ordinary people’s children? Not on your life!

I went to see some classes in both schools. I quizzed the children on Catechism, Geography, Reading, Arithmetic. I looked at their exercise books, drawings, etc. [The contrast was striking, in favour of the Brothers’ school]. The Lazarist Superior must often have done the same [inspection]. Biased and all as he must naturally be, how could he possibly miss the same conclusion, unless he did it with his cloak over his eyes and cotton-wool stuck in his ears!

Anyway, why this stupid duplication and competition, in a place where there is plenty for the Lazarists to do in their own particular sphere, without getting into one where the Brothers are so obviously better suited?

The Lazarists in Alexandria, for the rest, looked about the same as the ones in other places: full of zeal and good-will; fairly well educated but with nothing very outstanding; excellent priests capable of doing a great lot of good in the sphere of their proper vocation. But awkward, plodding, unwise and undistinguished.

One thing that has always puzzled me: how can the St Vincent de Paul Sisters be so remarkably good, when the Saint-Lazare priests are so obviously imperfect? And yet the Lazarists, being sons of St Vincent, are usually the Sisters’ principal directors. In Alexandria, like everywhere else that I have seen them or heard about them, the Sisters are admirably successful, and are doing an immense amount of good work. I visited their house, their schools, and their hospital. You could not ask for better.

The “awkwardness” of the [Lazarist] Fathers (about which I could quote plenty of previous examples) showed up again when I met them in Alexandria. I went to visit them on the very first day [as I said]. The Superior was “out”. In actual fact he had gone to the Convent to meet me, as soon as he heard of my arrival. He caught up with me at the Sisters’ place and [very efficiently] handed over my letter and some newspapers … [And that was that]. No proper visit to me, and no straightforward invitation to their house.

No great fault in all that, of course; just bad form. And I suppose-(1339)


he would be very surprised if someone had told him about it, since his own conscience was clear, and he had no idea he owed me anything. No idea; no tact; that’s their trouble. Very insignificant, of course, in my case. But could be very disastrous in some of the social contacts they have to maintain with a certain class of society in Alexandria.

I pretended not to notice anything unusual, although Bishop Guasco thought it was “quite extraordinary behaviour”. On the Monday (the fourth day) I wrote them a note asking if it was convenient to go and say Mass in their chapel at 8 a.m. The Superior immediately sent over a Father to say they would be delighted, etc., etc …

In short, they showed that there was obviously no fault at all on their part, except in good form. And they repaired that awkward mistake also, later. Repaired it awkwardly … (But no point in describing it all).

[*A day’s Rest (and quarantine!) in Crusaders’ Port. *]

[*·Archipelago. *]

*Rhodes Harbour, 2nd March *

And now, believe it or not, we are at Rhodes! After five days of continual gales, unable to anchor off Crete or Scarpanto, and nearly going for Cyprus, we have by now been through many changes and dangers indeed. The crew is completely exhausted; many of them are ill.

We are anchored near the great square medieval Castle surmounted by its octagonal Tower with four crenellated corner towers. The shield of the Crusaders (in stone) decorates the massive walls. We are just at the Harbour entrance which the famous Colossus bestrode in ancient times. (He cannot have been all that huge, to judge by the narrow opening).

They are now busy repairing the ship (no big or dangerous damage, we are told) and taking on coal and provisions. They plan to sail again this evening. (p1340)

You have preserved us from all dangers in that furious tempest, 0 my God. Please command your Angels, Lord, to make the winds (if not exactly favourable) at least inoffensive.

The wind has calmed in the meantime, and today is probably quite fair, even out in the open sea. But we cannot go until we have more coal. Moreover, everybody needed a full day’s rest. Captain, officers, sailors, passengers, all were completely and utterly tired.

To my great disappointment, we were not allowed ashore. We just have to be satisfied with what we can see from the deck: the famous little city, its ancient towers (now useless) its long stretches of crenellated walls still standing, still proudly showing the arms of the Knights [of Rhodes, the Military Order of St John of Jerusalem].

The world is supposed to be 6000 years old by now [and you would think it should be grown up by this time, and that there would be no need for countries to continue to] feel obliged to block travellers with their childish outmoded “quarantines” and passports and customs and excise and (in some places) even with rights-of-way on a bridge or a river or a ferry-boat! No; 1 don’t think the world has passed the childish stage yet.

[*3rd March, 23°30E, 36°12N *]

Around 8 yesterday evening we duly set sail. The weather had been magnificent during our few hours in Rhodes Harbour. Under a cloudless sky we gazed delightedly at the Mountains of Anatolia, on the [Eastern] horizon, all covered with snow.

But why couldn’t they have let us into the city of Rhodes, so crowded still with memories and monuments of the Knights, including (I am told) their Chapel, now used as a mosque …

Then, almost as soon as we got out to sea, the good weather ceased. But anyway the wind is no longer against us, and we are moving quite well, in the right direction. The waves are still high, but nothing like the horrible scene presented to us during those four terrible days. We are now steaming right through the (p1341) Archipelago, that storied sea of Grecian poetry, those islands of Legend, recalling those other less distant crusading days when Damietta was the front-line at the end of all the known seas. How times have changed!. ..

But how is Christianity doing, today, on those islands we are passing? 1 can only confess my ignorance. For my studies were never directed on to this section of the globe. All 1 know about it is “general knowledge”. 1 hear there is a Franciscan Convent at Rhodes. I’d have loved to go and consult them. But. .. the quarantine!

*The Jerusalem Patriarch and the Alexandria Friars *

Another thing that pained me very much at Alexandria was to actually see (or hear) the discord between the Jerusalem Patriarch and the Franciscan guardians of the Holy Places. 1 expected something like that, given the sort of thing that has long being going on in Jerusalem; but it still was not very pleasant to see my gloomy expectations so completely confirmed, close-up. For the Franciscan Convents in Cairo and Alexandria seem to be 100% on the side of their own head-quarters. 1 did not want to appear too inquisitive about the root causes of all the discord; but 1 asked (and was told) enough to be all too certain of the dismal fact.

However, 1 cannot say for sure which side is wrong (nor even hazard a well-informed guess). The only thing 1 could be fairly sure of was this: the good Franciscans are not equipped for all the religious needs of a people, nor to be in sole charge of a [local] Church, in Alexandria or in Jerusalem or anywhere. But (like all Religious everywhere) they tend to greatly over-estimate their Order’s abilities.

On the other side is the Patriarch of Jerusalem [Joseph Valerga] a man that 1 greatly respect, without ever knowing him personally. But may he not be in too much of a hurry [to reform the place] failing to make due allowance for the Franciscans? They (of course) must have let several abuses creep in, over the centuries. (It would be a miracle if they hadn’t). But they must also (p1342) have many good qualities; and they ought to be understood, respected and encouraged … What huge problems the Patriarch is faced with, in the great work confided to him! How wonderful if they could all be systematically tackled and overcome, by the wisdom and zeal of the [Sovereign] Pontiff, guided by the hand of God!

[*Foolish question: *]

[*Why did You hurry me into the Storm? *]

[* Answer: Why did my Angel divert me from Jerusalem? -Providence! *]

*3rd March *

I was planning to stay on in Alexandria until this date, and then take the regular Mail Liner to Malta. Why, 0 Lord, didn’t You let me do it, instead of hurrying me on to this old steamer, just in time for the big Storm? By staying in Alexandria I could have learnt a lot more, and could have reached Malta just as soon.

Fool! Do you ask God why? Anyway, how can you be so ungrateful for his protection, when you can already partially see how the delays (and even the hurry-ups) on your journey have all been managed by His special protection over you! Already you can glimpse the gracious “why” behind certain recent strange “coincidences”; and if you don’t understand many of the others, is their underlying reason any less real for all that?

Bless, my soul, bless the hand of God that is leading you! And if you have to regret something, in all this, let it be your own mistrust (at times) in his loving tireless Providence! For it manages all things well, provided [only] that you respond to that supreme Will. Later, perhaps, you will also see the “why” of other events, which still puzzle you today.

[There was one very puzzling event, which I only now begin to understand. It was at the time quite incredible to me: why did I come by Cairo, and not by Jerusalem as I had definitely planned]? (p1343)

I was told at Aden that it is quite easy to go from Suez to Jerusalem; the desert journey to Jerusalem costs no more than to Cairo. I even read a letter from one of the Transit Employees giving all the main details: the cost of hiring a camel, the various stages, the stops, etc. Of course it would not be as fast or as smooth as the English-managed transit to Cairo …

But, to a missionary, what’s a bit of rough travelling now and then? Nothing more than what we often did in India; a few days of tough going, with a few nights out in the open or under a tree. And, for a Christian, how much better the Holy Places than Pharaoh’s ruins or Cairo’s monuments (however full of history)! No contest! The cost was even less, if you were prepared to travel like a missionary as far as Gaza. And nobody said there was any danger in it.

However, not to be reckless, I felt I must get more exact information at Suez. I obtained a written introduction to the Transit Employee I mentioned, and also to an Italian doctor there. I was so sure of branching off at Suez that (with great trouble and some expense) I had got all my luggage off separately, and had kept it with me during the Suez transfer.

Providence arranged that we should reach Suez towards midnight, and that the first employee to come on board was precisely the man I had the letter for. He hastily read it, in the bright moonlight. (It was that fine!). “No problem”, he said. “No danger at all. I will give you all the necessary information when I get ashore, in a few hours’ time. Wait for me at the Transit Hotel.” (It was then that I definitely decided to keep all my luggage with me, ready).

At the Hotel, I learnt that the Italian Doctor had gone to Cairo. (Meanwhile, the departure of the passengers was being speeded up). I questioned the maitre d’hotel about my Jerusalem plan; and he confirmed that it was quite safe, though he pointed out a few problems: getting camels in time, and finding reliable guides (plus a few other minor problems that didn’t really count).

I was waiting, quite happily, for my Transit Officer, and thinking eagerly about my plan. (Anyway, there was no need for panic, for there would be a second caravan for passengers to Cairo about 6 a.m.). There seemed to be no real obstacle to my (p1344) visiting Jerusalem …

“Excuse me, sir”, said an official. “Are you for the first caravan to Cairo?”

“Yes”, I replied, quite automatically [and stood up].

Why did I say “yes” like that? Why mindlessly drop a whole project that I had been planning so eagerly for the last two weeks? I could not understand myself at all. As I stepped on to the wagon and as we began to gallop across the sand, around 4 a.m., towards Cairo, I kept on saying to myself: “This is ridiculous! What are you doing?” …

It was you, my good Angel, I think it was you that got me into that Cairo wagon, against my "better" judgment, for no visible reason at all! You didn't even let me wait that extra quarter -of-an-hour (no longer!) for my Transit Officer to get back to his office in the Hotel. Because, certainly, after another half-hour's detailed discussion with him, I would be all set for Jerusalem. But you knew, then, dear Angel, what was going on in Jerusalem, and knew that the timing was all wrong. For heavenly spirits like you are able to take every place in at a glance. (Maybe not exactly every place, but quite a lot of them, anyway, at the same time!). Why do I think this?

Because, when the “Salamander” got in to Alexandria [soon after that], it brought terrible news from [Palestine]. And today as I talk [more leisuredly] with the officers, on our [resumed] journey to Malta, I hear more and more details about it. And I see that I would have got myself into something very serious, and I could not be at all sure of getting out of it alive.

In short, there has been a sudden revolt in Jerusalem. The Patriarch had to flee for his life, as well as the French Consul, etc … The Greeks were behind it all (for complicated reasons of politics and religion) and it was precisely against the French and the Catholic hierarchy that they revolted.

Into this crazy riot I would have blissfully arrived, myself, a Frenchman and a Bishop, obviously heading for the Catholic Patriarch’s place! For I had letters of introduction to him on me, furnished by his own brother, an excellent missionary at Verapoly, one of my nearest neighbours and (I might say) my special (p1345) friends; for I have always had very friendly relations with him since he came to India.

Wasn’t I lucky! Yes, if by “luck” you mean Providence, and the quiet nudging of our Angels. (p1347)



Farewell, Greece. Blank Sunday. Massive waves.

Dr. Lallour and his Sister.

*4 March, off Cape Matapan *

The seas have been very high; but anyway the weather has kept fairly quiet, after Rhodes. Today it was magnificent. At 6 this morning we were rounding Cape Angel, and admiring the lofty Mountains of the Peleponnessos [southern Greece] all covered with snow. A rare sight, they say. especially on the mountains at the very tip of the Cape. We are quite near them now; but we will soon be saying farewell to Greece, that land of such great and glorious fame, but today a land sunk into such degradation (even near-barbarism) and so utterly unable to rise, because of its [Orthodox, or rather] heterodox leadership. Will anyone there have eyes to see the point or ears to hear?

[*5 March, 16°E, 36°20N *]

And now I am very sorry I did not bring a Mass-box. For, with the remarkably good spirit of the officers and the crew, we could have had a decent and somewhat beneficial Liturgy today [Sunday]. In the present dispensation [of Church law] it is difficult to conduct any kind of a useful Divine Service without Mass. So, in spite of the good weather and everything, this holy Day is passing away completely unnoticed. A lamentable omission. Sunday on an English ship has something touching, something religious, about it. On ours, nothing! ..

*6 March *

Today the weather has turned frightful. At least, we would be calling it “frightful” if we hadn’t been through a real genuine (p1348)


Storm so recently. Now, we are content just to say it is “bad” weather. However, it is true that the roll and swell of the waves is the biggest we have come across; and the persistent squalls are covering the sea with whole squadrons of “white horses”. Quite often the ship plunges down, down, into and under the swells, and the deck is awash. But now, there’s no danger! Anyway, we are nearing the end of it; and a good thing too! For everyone is edgy and bored and jaded tired. We are hoping to get in to Malta in the daytime. God grant it!

*Malta, 7 March *

In fact we arrived at 7 p.m. The sea had reduced a bit, and we steamed gratefully into the Grand Harbour.

Right to the end, I was enchanted and delighted with the ship’s Officers. Outstanding among them was Doctor Lallour, of the Paris medical Faculty, a man distinguished in his profession and in his truly Christian sentiments.

I think he owes a lot of it to having been brought up by his eldest sister, who must have been a really extraordinary influence in his life. Lallour had need of someone to talk seriously and sincerely with; and he had a great deal to tell me, especially about her. Judging by the sincerity of his self-revelation, I have no doubt at all that she is somebody very special indeed.

Of course a brother’s love will have exaggerated her uniqueness a little. But even allowing for that, a rather astonishing woman and a very admirable person emerged from our talks. And indeed, in today’s France, there are many women of heroic virtue, and quite a few who manage to grace their heroism with a good general education and solid academic achievements. But, in this 19th century, if you are looking for first-rate scholars, you will not find them among the women. Nor indeed among our proliferating Bachelors of Science or Arts, our Doctors of Law or Medicine, whether bachelors or ladies. (Generally our academic young ladies are even more superficial than our pompous young gentlemen).

But Mlle Lallour must be an exception; speaking and writing Latin better than any Sorbonne Professor; mastering all the (p1349) Greek Classics like an old-time Benedictine scholar; qualified in History, Geography, natural Science, etc. And all this with an outstanding holiness, and a humility so complete that most of her circle know nothing of her great academic achievements; only those fellow-savants with whom she still corresponds in Ciceronian Latin!

All this in the 19th century? Incredible! But it’s a fact. And I could say even more amazing things about her, but I might be betraying the excellent Doctor’s confidences to me. I can only pray that such rare and precious merit should become better known, better appreciated and rewarded. But maybe my prayers only contradict the wishes of that noble soul herself. What if she wants no acclaim or reward whatsoever, except those in Heaven? Certainly, she will win those. Especially if all her brothers keep up the same fine attitude she has inspired in the Doctor!

*Hospitality, simple and Franciscan. Empty formal Visits. *

[*St John’s co-Cathedral. English gardens and largesse. *]

*Malta, 7 March, later *

From this point on, I cannot expect the same automatic hospitality given me at the previous stops along my journey. In [mission] countries where priests and bishop, arc few and far between, you can confidently drop in uninvited on a confrere, without ever feeling that you might be gate-crashing. On the contrary, your arrival will usually be a genuine pleasure to all concerned. Anyway, hotels are so non-existent (or so obviously unsuitable for clerics) that ordinary humanity (if it exists at all) will make hospitality an automatic duty for everyone, Things could not be the same in Europe, even if clerical hospitality was widespread and well organised (which it isn’t).

On arrival here, therefore, I went straight to the Imperial Hotel, intending to stay there during the few days’ wait for my ship to Naples. I had a wonderful night’s sleep there anyway, and got the ten days of ceaseless rolling and saying (and tiring) out of my system. (p1350)

In the morning, I wanted to go and say Holy Mass; so I went to the Observantine Franciscans. I had a letter to them from Bishop Guasco. Although it was unsealed, I had not read it. In it the Bishop must have strongly requested the good Fathers (of the same Order) to give me hospitality. For they invited me so insistently and so charitably that I immediately accepted.

Anyway, it is always painful for a cleric to be thrown (even temporarily) into this world’s racket and its senseless noise. How much more at home you feel with other disciples of Jesus Christ! And how much better the food tastes! I enjoyed the frugal lunch with the Friars a lot better than the exquisite (and excessive) food in any Liner, Restaurant or Hotel.

After Mass, the good Fathers showed me to my room: a bare cell with all the necessities of life, and nothing else. A table, a small bed, 3-4 wicker chairs, a lamp, a jug of water. Wasn’t it very like the little room that the Sunamite woman prepared for the prophet [Elisha]?

Then I went to see the Bishop, and after that the Jesuits. (I had letters from one of their Fathers in Bombay). Both visits were equally useless, harmless and tasteless. When I came back to my little room this evening, I saw the Bishop’s Card on the table. Brought by one of his officials. And that, apparently, is that. Anyway, I hear he is a saintly man, calm and peaceful, living very simply (considering his position and his huge revenues). Everyone I met so far speaks well of him.

After dinner I visited the Church of Saint John [in Valetta]. Nothing very much, architecturally, I thought; but beautiful beyond description in its marble decoration. Especially the mosaic Pavement, the finest you could see anywhere. This floor is a continuous series of magnificent Tombs of Knights [of Malta, i.e. St John of Jerusalem]. There they lie in splendour, awaiting the last trumpet, to receive the ultimate accolade for their noble deeds of chivalry.

The sculpturing of the altars, the sanctuary and the altar-steps (all in prophyry!), the statues and the golden altar-vessels (etc), the priceless marble-work, everything inside, is really (p1351) magnificent.

This church is a co-Cathedral. The original Cathedral is several miles from Valetta. That Cathedral’s Chapter comes to serve the church, and to sing a few of the Offices in Choir. There is an episcopal throne for the Bishop, and another for Victoria! Yes, the Protestant Queen. This, apparently, is in order to show that the English sovereign, being the “successor” of the Knights, must be allowed the same visible signs of rank as their Bishop!

Before leaving the church, we went down to the Vault of the Grand Masters. Then we went out about 5 miles to the Governor’s Gardens. These public gardens (and all the new things along the road) proved to me once again that we have to hand it to the English. Here, as elsewhere, they are big: liberal, generous, princely, well able to win the blessings and the love of the foreign peoples they rule over. No matter how much you may dislike their government for its crooked political manoeuvres, you have to admire the English a little bit more every day, the more you see them in action.

Coming back this evening, I visited several more churches, in the outskirts of the city and in the villages along the route. They were of incredible beauty and richness, especially when you consider the almost countless number of churches on this little island. And what is more, they are nearly all full, every morning! And there are quite big crowds in the evenings also. So great is the faith of this people, and their Catholic spirit.

But I will come back to this point again. Just now, I have to rest a while, after the many trips of the day.

May the Angel of this Convent protect me this night. Amen.

*Capuchin mummies. *

*Publius and Paul and the happy Islanders. *

*8 March *

After Mass, I went to the Capuchin Fathers, since I had some letters for them too. Apart from its magnificent site, I saw nothing (p1352) very remarkable about their Convent, except in the Crypt preserving their dead confreres. “Preserving” is the word; because the nature of the terrain does not allow them to return properly to dust. So the dead are left in the ground only about a year. During that time, their flesh dries up so completely that it can no longer decay. Then they are taken out and put standing in alcoves, dressed in new habits, their hands joined in prayer. There is nothing so weirdly impressive as a walk through this dark gallery [of mummies], echoing only to your own footsteps, and lit only by the torch held tight in your hand. At the end is an altar draped all in black, with nothing on it but six black candle-sticks and a statue of Christ. Mass is often said here, for the brothers waiting in this happy “cemetery”. Many (if not all) will one day doubtless rise, to enter their permanent home of glory.

Then we went to see a beautiful church, dedicated to Saint Publius. This Publius is mentioned in Acts [28.7]. St Paul cured his father of fever. Publius was the prefect of the island. The great Apostle made him Bishop of the place before he left. So he is twice leader of this fortunate friendly island. (“The inhabitants treated us with unusual kindness. They made us all welcome.”) After the curing of his father, Publius took Paul into his palace, which soon became the first church of the true God on Malta. It was on the very same site on which the old Cathedral (which I hope to visit tomorrow) is built.

Devotion to St Paul is (understandably) very strong and vivid, on the whole island. You can hardly walk five minutes without coming across some other monument or memorial of the great Apostle to whom Malta owes its conversion. A conversion that was uniquely complete and lasting, with the faith so pure and fervent in it, you would think it was only yesterday that it was joyfully welcomed here. With a noble and holy joy, the Maltese are very proud of the fact that they have never once even swerved from the Faith preached to them by the Apostle of the Nations himself. And that, perhaps, is the greatest of all the miracles that he worked on this island, a perpetual standing miracle, in spite of all the efforts of the Protestants [and others before them] to (p1353) confuse it. St Paul brought it, and he is still here guarding it.

For it is now many years since England took this island, and has been lavish (here as elsewhere) in endowing heresy. A very fine temple was built here, at Government expense, its elegant spire dominating all the Catholic domes and belfries. But there are no Maltese in that temple. In contrast, the Church of St Paul (which I visited in the evening) is always packed with Maltese. A very beautiful church indeed, containing a part of the roadside column on which St Paul was beheaded outside Rome. On this column-stump (about a foot high) is a head of St Paul, in silver. It was the last church I saw today, the last of many. All beautiful. Elsewhere, they would be outstanding buildings. Here, in the midst of so much beauty, they look just ordinary.

But one thing (in all of them) that can never look ordinary or boring to me is the piety of the people. What an admirable sight, dear God, that crowd of men and women, fishermen and artisans pushing into your Temple, every morning and evening! Of course, in many respects, there must still be a lot of room for improvement; and so I hear. But when and where will any human beings be perfect, with no bad at all mixed in the good? So I do not feel in the least disappointed at such things, when I see the population of Malta so very good.

*Visit to Jesuit villa. Politely superior. Harmless here. *

*St Paul’s Cave and Square. Old Cathedral. French looters. *

*9 March *

Today I spent nearly the whole day out in the country, at the Jesuit Fathers’ place. The good Fathers invited me there, and they received me very politely; and that’s all. Here as everywhere else, they seemed to me to be full of ability, zeal, savoir-faire … But very much aware of their own excellence, and very disinclined to waste their time fraternising with people they have nothing to gain from, spiritually or temporally.

Anyway, their infiltrating, taking-over style will be much less damaging here, I would say, than in some other places. Here, (p1354) episcopal authority and normal Church institutions are very well established. If so the Jesuits cannot do anything but good on Malta. Because for the education of youth, and for looking after a certain [upper-crust] type of Christian (bringing them to the faith, or back to its practice) the Jesuits are obviously the best. Of all the Church’s servants today, they have the most talent for this, at least among the religious Orders. And indeed among all the clergy, in any places where the secular clergy is below standard. Malta, I think, is one such place (though certainly not as bad as many others).

May St Paul, who so obviously still protects this lovely island, obtain another favour from the Lord: that the sons of St Ignatius will keep to what their Founder intended. Thus they will be doing a great deal of good here, with no harm thrown in.

*10th March *

About 7 miles from Valetta is the old capital [Mdina]. There you can see the Cathedral built on the site of Publius’s house, and the Cave of St Paul, where he spent three months after the [well-timed] shipwreck. Outside is the big Square where the great Apostle proclaimed Jesus Christ, and converted the people to the Faith for his glorious Master. Here you seem to hear the Apostle’s voice still ringing out loud and clear. You feel a thrill of awe, a kind of holy wonder, a quickening of faith; the same happy faith, identically the same as the Apostle of the Nations announced here, more than 1800 years ago! And what a lift of the spirit you get, at being there unshakeably built on to that same Rock, standing steady for ever, in spite of every storm and schism and heresy and revolution!

In the centre of St Paul’s Cave is a beautiful statue of him. You respectfully steal a few grains of the dust, after you have finished your prayer. (May something of this man’s marvelous fecundity attach itself to our own ministry!).

From the cave you go in to a side-room. There is an altar there now, in the very spot where the Saint celebrated the Sacred Mysteries and in fervent communion with the body and blood of Christ, received the strength to continue the tremendous labours (p1355) of his missionary journeys.

I was told that the Cave miraculously stays the same size always, in spite of the tons of sand and dust (and even stone) taken away by pilgrims, over the centuries. The guardians of the cave are so confident about this ongoing miracle that they do not mind even using a pick-axe on the rock, to knock off a lump for a pilgrim. They did so for me, and gave me a piece of the rock.

I was also told that the dust from the cave is remarkably effective against snake-bites. I cannot say how far this is true.

Anyway, these traditions show how great is the people’s trust in their “father” (as they call St Paul). Another big statue of him dominates the Square where he used to preach the Gospel. We knelt down in front of it, to finish gaining the indulgences attached to this pilgrimage.

Then we entered [another] church of St Publius, built directly above the Cave of his teacher, from whom he directly received the grace of the episcopate. This church is not very beautiful. But there is another one just next to it, to make up for that. It is consecrated to St Paul Shipwrecked.

From there we went in to the Cathedral, a magnificent building, of much better architecture (in my opinion) than St John’s at Valetta , Of course the magnificent sculptures and marble-work in St John’s are superior, especially the ornamental Pavement. But the over-all majesty of the old Cathedral seemed incomparably finer.

I hear it used to possess immense treasures of gold and silver vessels (etc) before the French [under Napoleon] arrived. Those pirates distinguished themselves most especially, all over Malta, by their outrageous looting of the churches. So the name of France is forever cursed on the island. The English, on the contrary (Protestants and all as they are) have always been able, up to this day, so to respect and manage the Catholic feelings of this eminently Catholic people that the name of England is blessed by everyone.

Oh, how a true French heart is pained, on Malta, to hear his own countrymen called “sacrilegious looters” while it is “a great blessing “ that the English now hold the island instead of them. (p1356) O France, France, are you any richer now, for having pillaged your own Church, at home and overseas? Your shining glory is badly tarnished, and you have not yet erased your shame, after so much godless barbarism. When are your eyes going to open? For, even up to now, you have not yet even tried to make an amende honorable [decent reparation] for your crimes, nor tried (as a nation) to repair them. Today, it is true, your policy is different. It is almost compatible with the Law of Christ. But it is not straight-forwardly Christian. No faith in it; just political expediency, human prudence towards the Faith. That is not enough, for France. Meanwhile, your sins here have not been corrected; they haven’t even been confessed!

Many of the Cathedral’s treasures have disappeared for ever. Some were bought back immediately [by the Maltese]. Others were respected and passed over by the looters. For this reason, there are still a few magnificent Statues of silver, and a Tabernacle of silver-and-vermilion (most beautiful!) in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.

*Seminary. New Rotunda. Saint Paul’s Bay. Prayer. *

Beside the Cathedral is the Seminary, a handsome stone building. But, as a seminary, it leaves (I think) a very great deal to be desired. The way the classes are run, and the condition of the study halls, recreation yards and dormitories, everything, hints at a failure to grasp what a first-class seminary spirit is all about, and how important this vital institution should be made, on the island.

A worthy Canon, with a quasi-episcopal gold pectoral cross on him showed us around the Cathedral and the Seminary. Very courteously he did it too, and only left us in order to go in to Compline. There he appeared in all his glory, with his cross and his ring. For the Cathedral Chapter has these privileges (along with the mitre and crozier and all the rest when required)!

From the Cathedral we went to look at the building-site of a (p1357)

magnificent new Rotunda-shaped Church, in honour of the Assumption, near a village (or small town) not far from the Cathedral. The Canons (it seems) are not very enthusiastic a bout this superb new church, because it will totally eclipse their old Cathedral. Architecturally (ornamentation apart) it is expected to be the most spectacular building on the island. I have not yet seen the Rotunda in Rome [the Pantheon] but I find it hard to believe that it could surpass this new Maltese one. After our greatest Gothic cathedrals, this is the most striking church architecture I have ever seen.

And now I ask myself: how is it possible, with such a small population, with so many churches on the island already, and so many monasteries or mendicant Convents, and so many priests (each trying to live on his own pitifully small patrimony) and with so few really rich people, how could they manage to get the money for such a vast monument? True, the work is going very slow; but it is going ahead; they have built three-quarters of it already. And people say that the marvels wrought by Faith are all over and done with!

*11 March *

I still had one more day; and I gave it all to St Paul’s Bay. The Apostle is still quite hale and hearty, here in Malta. You would think that his marvellous deeds were done only a few years ago, so green and fresh is his memory in the minds and hearts of all. Oh how he must love this special island, where he is so strongly loved and honoured! And sure these islanders won his heart from the very start.

“We discovered that the island was called Malta. The inhabitants treated us with unusual kindness. They made us all welcome, and they lit a huge fire [for us] because it had started to rain and the weather was cold.” [Acts 28.1].

This wonderful kindness of theirs must have made him concentrate on them with all the saving power he had been given. Grace did the rest; and Paul must still be continuing with his special attention, from his place in heaven. There, he must love to look down on those rocks in the Bay where he very nearly died. (p1358)

Nothing very remarkable-looking about this Bay, after that memorable shipwreck long ago. They show you the place where the ship smashed into the rocks, and how far Paul and his companions in misfortune (What misfortune? Happy day!) had to swim for their lives. And then the place where the people lit the big fire, and Paul got bitten by a viper.

They also show you another rock, which Paul touched with his hand; and, immediately, a fresh spring gushed out. The water is still flowing abundantly today. The memory of all those marvels is consecrated by a little chapel (eminently forgettable) and by a rather fine statue overlooking the sea.

Great Apostle! Before 1 leave your island, 1 want your blessing. “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Ah, how ashamed 1 feel here, to think 1 bear the name of “apostolic missionary” when 1 realise (here with you now) what a real Apostle was like. Get me some minimal share, at least, in the special graces of your own apostolic ministry!

Do not think 1 will let you go. 1 will reiterate my demand at Rome, on the altar that is over your tomb. 1 will pester your bones and your relics there. For 1 know now that they are still very much alive, full of power and healing virtue. (p1359)


*Straits of Messina. Mass in the City. *

[*Hurry! (No need). *]

*Leaving the Harbour, Malta, 12 March *

After thanking our good Franciscan hosts for their continued kindness, we went on board the “Bosphorus”. It moved out at 2 o’clock sharp, in magnificent weather and on a very calm sea. Everything promises a good voyage to Naples.

Our Angel, who has protected us from every danger up to here, will, 1 hope, look after us during the remaining two days at sea.64

*13 March, after the Straits of Messina *

The sky was cloudless yesterday, the sea like a lake rippled by a gentle breeze, the passengers cheerful and courteous, everything set for a very happy voyage. And up to now, nothing has come to confuse that outlook. [But why the mad rush?] Already we are rushing away from the beautiful city of Messina, having barely set foot in it.

Yesterday the sun went down (it seemed) a lot sooner than usual, so swiftly flowed our first delightful hours at sea. However, it did stay long enough to show us the coast of Sicily, and we tried to make out Mount Etna in the distance. “There it is!” they cried. “No, tis over there!” For the absence of its typical smoke and (p1360) flames made it hard to distinguish for certain.

This morning, Sicily was all veiled in cloud, as we steamed between it and Italy. The Strait got more and more narrow as we moved forward towards Messina, contemplating the shores on the left and right (clearly visible from 5 o’clock on) and the countless sea-side residences and the towns or cities high up on the flanks of those two magnificent mountain amphitheatres. The view was really beautiful; but it is supposed to be even more so in the spring, when the trees are all clothed. Still to me, even in winter, it was a smiling country-side, saved from winter deadness by the countless trees (orange and olive and pine and other evergreens) and by the bright bands of snow farther up. These, for an exile returning from 12 years in India, were worth miles of apple blossoms.

About 6 a.m. we entered the magnificent harbour of Messina. The police formalities (etc) took only an hour, and then we were free to go ashore. I wanted to see some of the sights of this remarkable city. But we were only given until 9 o’clock; and it was nearly 8 by the time I got down on the quay. I preferred to use my hour for Holy Mass. (How happy it makes you, on a voyage!). So I went straight to the Cathedral; and there I met some very courteous clergy; they immediately got everything ready.

After Mass, two of the Canons very decently invited me to a cup of coffee, and then showed me around the Cathedral, with its beautiful side-chapels, its fine marble statues, etc. But it was all a bit too rushed, since I was afraid of missing the boat. So that’s all I saw of Messina, except for a passing glimpse of its impressive main avenue and the magnificent hotels on the sea-front.

After all the rush, our steamer did not move until 1 p.m., which gave me time to start writing the above item, and also to regret the shortness of the time I had stayed ashore.

Now we are at sea again, and it is not at all as calm as yesterday. If we were back in Homer’s days, we might even be a bit worried, especially with the famous reefs of Scylla and Charibdis just ahead. But nowadays they are only a joke and a classical allusion as we steam by. Our steamer can ignore much bigger threats than those.(p1361)

[*Catholic incompetence and Customs-men. *]

*Chinese College, Naples. *

*Naples, 14 March *

How will I be able to keep cool enough to write down the horrible bureaucratic performance I met in this place today? I had heard something about Naples in advance; but I still can’t get over all the crookedness, all the hassle, all the useless “security” against revolutionaries (well designed to create ten new rebels instead of catching even one). Thus do they proclaim their own weakness and insecurity to all comers and all foreigners. “How different from the English way of running things!” This is the thought that comes back to your mind, ten times an hour, as you struggle to keep calm with the Naples bureaucracy.

What a wonderful argument against Catholicism (for those who lack the faith or instruction to be able to distinguish between dogma and politics) are the blatant abuses and incompetence in so many Catholic nations! Charity and straight-forwardness (and maybe also some simplicity) should be the hall-mark of the true Religion of Jesus Christ. But, in far too many Catholic places, human stupidity and narrow-mindedness have produced backward societies, full of the very faults which most thoroughly disgust [the educated elite], the very people that any intelligent society should be trying to attract …

But wait a minute! One thing at a time. Don’t rush on and anticipate those pessimistic conclusions, which the goings-on in this lovely country will doubtless continue to inspire, at more than one point on your journey! (So much to be reformed; so difficult to do it; the root of the evil so deep!). Now, just calm down and relate things according as they happened, calmly, if you can!

Yesterday evening, although there were heavy seas, the weather was very favourable; but overcast. It was quite dark at 7 p.m. when we were passing near Stromboli volcano, flashing out at intervals, rather like a light-house. I went to bed still very impressed by that passing sight of an active volcano.

By 5 this morning we could see Portici. Turning in towards (p1362) the Bay of Naples, we admired the thick cloud issuing from the tip of Vesuvius, away on the horizon. Soon all the passengers were up on deck, ladies and all, to gaze at the magnificent panorama: sunrise over the beautiful mountains above the city of Naples, with its principal edifices sharply silhouetted against the dawn. I will not attempt to describe the magnificence that Nature has spread over that Scene. For who has not seen the Bay of Naples, at least in pictures or in travel books?

Anyway, about 7 a.m, we dropped anchor. I had been well warned beforehand about the slow and troublesome police, and indeed I soon gave up all hope of getting through in time to say Mass. Very regretfully I gazed at the countless domes and belfries, and listened to the multitudinous bells ringing out over the city, reminding me that many people were being given a grace denied to me. And in fact it was two mortal hours before any passenger got ashore. We were right opposite the Police Headquarters; but all they did for us was to send some junior agents on board, to block the gangway.

After a long while someone came and told me I could go. It seems I owed this great favour to my red sash and my ring; for I was the only one to be allowed off. An excellent priest (who had travelled with me all the way from Alexandria) tried to follow. He was forced to wait. Then I had to go to the police check-point and go through a whole complicated rigmarole of formalities. But at least they did it all with courtesy and honesty.

Then I had to go through Customs; and this was something very different. As regards the honesty and especially the courtesy; not the formalities. There was no scarcity of those!

With only two cases, coming all the way from India; obviously I was not an importer. My character of Bishop (written big and clear on my passport) should have been enough to persuade them that I was not a probable [ terrorist or] subversive. Nevertheless I was told I had to open up the two cases. (All right; it’s a formality you may have to go through, wherever there are customs). But here, literally everything had to be scrutinised, everything fingered and ransacked. At long last, the first case passed (p1363)the test. Now for the second …

Ah-ha! What’s this? Books! … What books? The Imitation of Christ …. A volume of St Bernard … Les moeurs et Coutumes des Peuples de l’ Inde, by Fr Dubois … About 30 more of the same calibre …

“Impossible. We can’t pass these. They will all have to be examined by an Ecclesiastical Commission. Moreover, import tax must be paid on each of them … And what’s THIS? Two dozen clean unused socks! Can’t be passed. No way! And what is this? A pistol … “

“But as you can see, there’s no bullets for it; not even buckshot. I only use powder in it. For making a bang. To discourage thieves … Look; in India, when I am travelling in some remote area, I usually have to take a pistol with me, in case there are any thieves m the place. In the evening, about sunset, I fire it in the air. To give them the impression … No, I never met any, in all my twelve years … “

The fact is, when I was starting off on my long journey through unknown country, from Coimbatore to Bombay, I took my pistol along. Ten times since then, I was on the point of giving it away, to a ship’s officer or someone, precisely because of the paranoid Italian police. But I forgot. And now the Neapolitan Customs must be telling the Secret Police: “Some bishop! Couldn’t he easily be a fellow-conspirator of Mazzini?”

To make a very long story short, I finally told them I was giving up the misfortunate pistol to them, and my socks as well. They could give them to the poor. But that did not save me from two more hours of crazy bureaucracy in the Customs house, while they shuffled papers from office to office, and filled I-don’t-knowhow-many forms and wrote some more declarations all to be signed and countersigned… ‘

In the end 1 had to deposit 35 [pounds] and was allowed to go, with my cases. But without the books and the pistol. I could get them back later (I was told) by paying an unspecified sum of money and (no doubt) going through another series of pointless hassle and formalities. In fact 1 had two long sessions with those wonderful Neapolitan Customs that day. (p1364)

Between times, I went to a hotel [for something to eat] not without further different vexations, from porters, cabmen, waiters and others, all designed to disgust you totally with the country from the very start. (And yet it could be so likeable and so beloved, if only they would do things with a bit of order and dignity).

I then went to the “Chinese College”,65 hoping that, as a missionary in a Society with so many men in China, I might be made welcome by the staff. (They must be a bit pro-missionary). I made no mistake there. The Superior immediately granted my request for hospitality.

So here I am now, in the Chinese College.’ Nothing very Chinese about it, however …

But let me leave all that until later, along with my other Neapolitan impressions. For now, let me just try and cool down after the unbelievable nonsense of the day. And ask God pardon. for my impatience. For it must have shown in my face more than once; and was expressed by a few ill-chosen words to them too, I suspect.

Flash-back: Priests in Malta. Seminaries and Universities.

[* Catholic Church’s survival (in spite of stupidity) a Miracle. *]

*15 March *

Now that I have a bit of time to spare, let me go back quickly to

Malta and complete the record of my impressions during my short stay there.

First of all, Valetta. The general appearance of the city, with its cleanliness and good order, immediately proclaims that this is English territory. That strong and competent nation has not (p1365) started many new institutions there; but it steadily maintains and improves what it found when it took the island. Nothing can equal the Forts and bastions, the military barracks, the light-house (projecting its beams for more than 20 miles). I got only a passing glimpse of the public library; I do not think it is very remarkable. I had no time to see the other public buildings; for I did not even have enough time for my main concern: the state of Religion.

I said it before but I’ll say it again: this island is Catholic to the core. A lot more so than Italy, I would think. Not that Malta lacks the usual collection of [modern] influences that inevitably blunt the Catholic spirit, the spirit of Charity (the only truly Christian spirit, because it implicitly contains everything else, in general and in detail). Please God, the powerful continued interest of St Paul will continue to protect that Church from the evils produced in other lands by those same influences, wherever there is not a strong and enlightened pastoral administration to forestall them.

A special danger in Malta is: too many priests; and especially the lack of a real vocation in many of the candidates, judging by the way they enter the priesthood. Seminary training does not seem to be properly understood there even yet; still less is it properly appreciated. (For how can you love something you do not even understand?). This means that the Seminary is badly maintained. It is further humiliated (so to speak) by the closeness of the University, and by the greater human advantages of going there (or elsewhere) for your theology. For they have a University on Malta too, where you can get a Doctorate without any true doctrine. It presents serious danger to the clerical students, and only slight benefit.

Have universities anywhere done any good? Of course they have! For a long time they were the best places available for the education (or at least the instruction) of clerics. But their present way of doing things is an almost sure and certain recipe for corrupting the youth. Corruption of morals and (even more often) corruption of mind; through academic pride and ambitious self interest. Those young clerics need first and foremost to be trained (p1366) in the following of the One they are meant to serve for the rest of their lives (under pain of sacrilege if they don’t). And He was, above all, poor and humble of heart. I believe it was this fear [of corruption] that inspired men like Vincent de Paul and Fr Olier and (before them) the Fathers of the Council of Trent. (After the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, of course).

But the idea of clerical renewal by means of Seminaries, set out in the Council’s Decree, does not seem to have been developed fully in any country outside of France. And even there, it was only after the Revolution that it really happened.

Not that universities could not and should not continue, along with the seminaries. I believe they should. And I greatly regret that France, after the Revolution, has been deprived of all her [Catholic] universities.

Nevertheless, if we could not have both, I would not hesitate one moment in leaving the universities and choosing the seminaries. But combining the two is (I think) by no means impossible. Only it has not yet been successfully worked out; or hardly anywhere. Not (as I hear) in Spain or in Italy. Certainly not in Malta. Anyway the University of Malta is very far below standard. On such a small island, the elements necessary for such a prestigious institution do not exist.

Malta, with all its numerous tiny benefices and “pensions”, its beardless unshaven abbes with their handsome tight-stockinged legs and buckled shoes and flying mini-soutanes, with their licentiates and doctorates in everything (except seriousness and modesty, self-sacrifice and awareness of their own limitations) naturally tends to have more Mass-sayers than priests. This kind of secular clergy could badly damage the faith of the people, and make the upper class become very disgusted with our holy Religion. (Even though it is everywhere admirable and lovable in itself, wherever the clergy allow its true face to appear).

But the regulars (the Orders) are an even bigger menace.

They are far too numerous to be all of them good. In fact it is morally inevitable that several of them will fall into various scandalous vices. Then, of course, the anti-clericals will blame the whole (p1367) venerable Order, instead of the few bad individuals concerned. That misfortune has not yet hit the island. May God (and St Paul’s special protection) grant that it never does!

Protestantism must be keeping a watchful eye on all those wonderful opportunities, waiting for the day. And it will certainly lose no time in taking full advantage of them, if St Paul does not keep the Luther-devil well chained up.

The present Bishop is a saintly man, everybody says. But when he dies? There is a danger that the English Government will interfere (directly or indirectly) with the selection of his successor, and try to ensure that an Englishman is appointed. Merely by obtaining this from the Holy See, the English could be dealing a terrible blow to Catholicism. Humanly [and politically] speaking, one bad bishop (or even an unwise one) could do great harm in a little place like Malta. Even a saintly bishop, if he was in too much of a hurry to reform all the abuses at once, could actually do more harm than the abuses themselves. (For the people are so used to them, they don’t really notice).

All those latent dangers, eating away at Church structures like hidden wood-worms, should be brought to the notice of those leaders in a position to deal with them. Then they should be countered with active but patient determination. [Determination, action, patience]: three tough conditions (rarely if ever found present together) for curing abuses. Most usually, we have to reach a complete catastrophe before we even wake up to the existence of the abuses, or before we confess our own cowardice, or before we repent of our rash all-out attempts to abolish them.

So what? So it is God himself alone who manages to save his Church, [every time]. But in the delayed process, many local Churches suffer (and even disappear). The continuity of the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church is an ongoing miracle. That’s what. (p1368)


[*Cardinal Sforza. Customs-men again! Sisters from Home. *]

*16 March *

Yesterday, I sent a note to the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, asking at what time I could go and pay my respects. He sent back word that he would come to see me himself! I waited in all day, unable to do my own business; and he did not appear. So I reckoned there must have been some mix-up in his message. So, this morning, I went straight to his palace. His Eminence casually apologized for not being able to keep his promise. He was quite courteous with me.

He is very young for a Cardinal, and he probably owes his elevation at such a young age [36] partly to his family and birth. [He is a Sforza from Milan]. Anyway, he looks really dignified, yet very modest. When I told him I would like to try and make a collection for my Mission [Coimbatore] he was more encouraging than otherwise, in spite of hard times in Naples at the moment, caused by a serious food shortage.

I place this plan of mine in God’s hands. Charity has many different resources… Anyway, I will beg only from the rich people. If the project has any merit, I hope it will succeed, through the help of Our Lady and the Angel of Coimbatore. To them I recommend it.

From the Cardinal’s house I went to the Cathedral, a magnificent building, the kind of Christian monument that does your soul good to see. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to properly enjoy that good. I [_must _]come back.

I had to go on to the Customs; but even yet I could not get finished with all the additional formalities required, to get my own property back. I went away to the French Consul, and then came back to the Customs once again! After more than two more hours hanging around, and going from one [stupid] office to another, and endlessly scribbling on more forms, and making countless more signatures and counter-signatures, I eventually got back my books and my 35 [pounds] deposit. So all that hassle and waste of time was merely a matter of form for the sake of (p1369) form! O bureaucracy [what stupidities are committed in your name]! But they still kept my dangerous pistol. I could get it back if I wanted, by going through “the proper channels”. No, thanks! I don’t think I want it that much. I’ve had quite enough already, thank you!

Getting out of that ghastly miserable Customs-house, I made for the Mercy Hostel. It is run by the Vincentian Sisters; and most of them are French. They were all delighted to see a French missionary bishop. And our joy was even more specific; for the Mother Superior turned out to be from … Castelnaudary! We had a very good chat, not only about our motherland, but even about our little home-town. Her name is Guireau. There are a lot of Guireaus in Castelnaudary, and I don’t know which particular family she is from. I agreed to come again on Sunday, and give them a small homily.

I went back to the Chinese College from there. After dinner I went to see some of the most beautiful churches in the city. They all belonged to religious Orders. For the parish churches are unbelievably insignificant. I went into two, and they were quite miserable; no style at all compared with the magnificent Order ones.

Here in Naples, it seems, the parish priest is nothing; the secular clergy in general is not up to much; and the Regulars are everything. This is a very serious imbalance, much more dangerous than one might think. But maybe some of the other parishes are better maintained? I doubt it. We will see later on.

Anyway, may God be praised by them all! Amen.

Mission collection and Sermons.

[* Portici and Pius IX (not Great). *]

[*Hospitals (College) and Vincentian Sisters. Vesuvius. *]

*17 March *

I have almost definitely decided to try a Collection here for my Mission [Coimbatore]. Anyway, it will give me the (p1370) opportunity to preach some French sermons to the numerous French people in this capital. May the good Lord please bless this project, and Mary take it under her special protection!

  • * *

*10 April *

All the time since the 17th has gone into preparing and preaching ten sermons: two for the Daughters of Charity at the Consiglio and eight at the Church of Santa Caterina at Chiaia, from Passion Sunday to Palm Sunday (yesterday).66

Our divine Saviour has been visibly helping me here. God grant that I’ve preached His word rightly, according to His heart! For it was twelve long years since I addressed a congregation of Europeans. I naturally found it difficult, even harder than the effort of composing all the sermons in such a short time!

This work has prevented me from seeing all the sights of Naples. But I hope it will have gained me something better, for Heaven.

Anyway, the only things that really interest me, in any place, are the things that matter for our holy Religion. And I think I have got a fair idea, by now, of its condition here in Naples, having had opportunities to see quite a lot with my own two eyes, and to converse with a few serious and intelligent priests. Of course my “fair idea” does not include anything like the whole series of complexities confusing the progress of Religion here, so many regrettable (even some deplorable) problems, mixed in with all the encouraging factors. But I still think I’ve got it fairly accurately, as far as it goes.

As for my Collection, it was a failure. I don’t think it will come to much more than 5 hundred [pounds], in a place which should have given at least 5 or 6 thousand. But here in Naples, the work of the Missions is very little known; even less (I think) than in the other cities. (p1371)

*11 April *

Even though working hard at my sermons, I went out somewhere nearly every day, in order to give the mind a rest, and to make good use of my time here.

I saw quite a lot of places: several churches; the royal palaces of Capo di Monte and Portici; the hospitals and a few schools run by the Besancon Sisters; Herculaneum, Vesuvius, the Museum, etc. These latter are so well known that there is no point in describing them again here. Especially where I haven’t anything special or personal to remark about them.

The palace of Capo di Monte struck me as being really fine, especially the magnificent Park and the Woods around it. Portici had nothing very remarkable about it, except for the quite recent (and still well-remembered) stay there by Pius IX.

So here (says I to myself) is where the venerable Pontiff stayed. A good and holy man, but I have never thought he deserved the “Pius the Great” and all the other big noises made about him. Here is where he sat and worried (maybe a bit too obsessively) about politics and diplomatic affairs. Here at this altar he prayed the Lord every day. And surely his prayers were good. The Lord will surely have answered them … at least the part that[_ could_] be answered. But, as long as poor Italy struggles on, under the weight of monstrous injustices and abuses, which the ministers of the Church could and should be abolishing (through the efforts of those in charge of Church government) how could even He answer a prayer for true Peace? Indeed, the trouble is so deep and wide that only a great Pope could handle it. For a short while, we all thought Pius IX might be the man. I never had much hope in him. And today I have hardly any at all.

The hospitals here were so badly run that people were forced to ask: have they any Christianity left in them at all? The Christian spirit is only beginning to appear, just now (along with the spirit of St Vincent de Paul) through the work started by the Daughters of Charity. And they had to go all the way to France to look for those angels of mercy. Under one name or another, one uniform or another, nearly all our charitable Ladies are daughters of St (p1372) Vincent. But the “Grey Sisters” (with their butterfly bonnets) seem to have kept his spirit the best.

They have two hospitals or “mercy homes” here, both of which seem to be working very well, about as well as is possible in such narrow ill-ventilated rooms. For the city and people of Naples do not seem yet to fully appreciate what a treasure of true charity they have got, in these good ladies. [For they are not making any effort to provide a decent building for them].

Three magnificent hospitals (for the poor, the foundlings and the sick) have been entrusted to the Besancon [Vincentian] Sisters. These ladies seem very far from the outstanding excellence of the Grey Sisters. Still, their hospitals are very well maintained, especially when compared with the way they were before they came. From what I hear, we can only thank God for the immense good they are doing in them. They also have a magnificent looking College for upper-class girls. But it is not being run magnificently. In a great city like Naples, such an establishment ought to be perfect. Just “good” is not good enough for it; and that’s all I saw. (Good).

As for the other hospitals (run by lay people, semi-religious, religious, Government or what-have-you) they are, with a few exceptions, very badly maintained. But the only hospitals I actually saw were the Vincentian ones.

Finally, a word about Vesuvius. It is not erupting at the moment; barely a hint of fog-like smoke will sometimes show, like a little white cloud, above it in the distance. But when I got up as far as the crater, I still met the most awesome spectacle I ever saw. The smoke, so insignificant from afar, is actually very thick and plentiful. It comes up like whirling steam rushing from a vast unseen boiler, escaping quickly through countless splits in the encircling cliffs, swirling like vapour from a stirred pot. If you dare to draw near, you are immediately enveloped in the smoke; you are suddenly inside that cloud of boiling “steam”, maybe something like Moses on Sinai. (p1373)

“Yahweh, lower your heavens; come down to us! Touch the mountains; make them smoke?“67

[*Naples: Indian attitude to old Customs and to Time. (manana). *]

[*Too many useless Clerics (siesta, macaroni •.. ). *]

[*Prayer for Bishops and Pope. Or the Revolution is Coming! *]

Talk about the Indians and their custom-ridden fatalism! There’s plenty “Indians” here in Naples too. Including even some very serious and (otherwise) quite sensible people! Question them about one common Neapolitan absurdity (one utterly ridiculous procedure) after another:

“Why like that?” or “How come?”

And they will coldly reply, like any Indian:

“That is the custom here”. “No other reason?”

“None whatsoever. .. Of course, when you put it like that, I have to agree. It is stupid. But what else can you expect? It’s the custom. That’s the way we have always done it here.”

Another similarity with India is their attitude to time. To spend four days doing a four-hour job is quite average.

“Don’t worry. We’ll do it tomorrow.” “But why not today?”

No reason. So instead of two or three hours (at most) the whole day will be lost, and tomorrow (at least) as well. Ah, this wonderful ubiquitous “tomorrow”!

Moreover, every single day, everybody has to go out for the traditional “promenade” [or communal parade], even the clerical students, even the ones living “in community” in the few seminaries more-or-less worthy of the name. [The walk is de rigueur]. Not, mind you, a quiet peaceful walk in some silent (p1374) place (where they might be able to keep some bit of recollection for their studies etc.) but in the busiest public piazzas and in the most crowded streets! So all over the city, you will come across flocks of varied uniformed people in soutanes etc (priests and clerics and non-clerics) all (if course wearing the traditional three cornered clerical hat.

There are ten thousand of them in Naples alone (not counting the countless and various religious Orders and Societies, whose variegated robes are particularly despised in the streets). And are you still surprised that the clergy has become so despicable in this city?

What have they got, to do, all those clerics and religious and priests and novices and brothers? Nothing; except to squabble and argue over their traditional clerical privileges, in the few hours not given over to resting and siesta and the digestion of their obligatory pyramids of macaroni!

Sure, there are exceptions. Among all those mobs you will find some men that are worthy, well-educated, truly pious, zealous for the glory of God and the salvation of souls; some priests who are actually fit for their sacred calling. But the broad mass of that useless horde of servants in the Lord’s house! Anyone with half an eye can see that they are doing a lot more harm to Catholicism than all the anti-clericals and radicals put together.

So what are the[_ bishop_]s doing about it? Isn’t it up to them to see it, and correct it? Are they just waiting for the whole thing to blow up? Waiting for the Lord himself to settle it, through the strong rough arm of the radicals, by means of a revolution or some other spectacular calamity? A reform by massacres, crimes and atrocities, instead of a proper reform, by the people that Jesus Christ has entrusted His Church to? A quiet, regular reform, without shock, scandal and damage, but with the spirit of justice and patience, which is the true spirit of the Gospel!

But to have patience and to “go gently” does not mean to mark time and do nothing, to shrug your shoulders and just drift vaguely along with the current. The current will one day become a raging torrent, sweeping everything before it. No, it will not sweep the whole Church away; for Christ will always be there, to (p1375) save it from total shipwreck and from actual sinking. But so many good and precious things (along with the abuses) will be swept away: so many saintly institutions and noble organizations for doing good work. Because many of them are now becoming so corrupted by abuses that they are looking almost “ bad”.

O my God, give us your Spirit, and a mind enlightened with both intelligence and wisdom, never confusing the abuses with the essential thing itself, but loving everything good and hating all the bad in it, so that (each according to his ability) we may all work together to keep your church in its stainless purity, its ageless beauty. For the ongoing abuses among the clergy are certainly undermining it seriously and (if it was destructible) even gradually destroying it.

Give strength to your Bishops. Not just to a few here and there (for, on his own, what can one Bishop do, however good or even excellent he might be!) but to the whole episcopate, and especially to the supreme Bishop directing them all in the first place. Amen.

[*Many churches; but Mass anywhere. *]

*Music and Liturgy childish. *

[*The Revolution is Coming (unless … ) *]

*12 April *

Churches proliferate in Naples, most of them beautiful, several magnificent, all at least decent. But usually there is some lack of cleanliness; and especially a great lack of orderliness in the liturgy.

In spite of their huge number, I do not think there are too many churches, for such a huge and completely Catholic population. But it is a great pity that, in spite of all the churches, many priests often “have to” say Mass elsewhere, in private oratories, ordinary rooms, seminary classrooms, what-have-you’ I suppose they all have special “privileges” or “dispensations” for this; but what are those but a lot of unnecessary abuses! (p1376) It is true that priests are so numerous here that they would have to queue up if they were all to say Mass in a church. Yes, but why are there so many priests, in the first place? I can never be persuaded that it is necessary, or even pardonable, to have them all. Anyway, with a bit of thought (and order and respect) it should not be impossible for everyone to say Mass decently, in a proper church.

Furthermore, would it be too much to ask, for those churches, that they should resound a bit more often to some decent music: the solemn Chant of the Church, and the harmonious praise of the Lord in the Office? Would it be madly perfectionist to expect the majority of those [under-employed] priests to be at least sometimes employed in doing that? Alas! Nothing of the sort. Nothing but one Low Mass [unsung] after another. That’s almost the sum-total of the liturgy these days; and (I would think) a lot more so here in Naples than in other, less Catholic, countries.

However, they do sing (or pipe) the odd “sung Mass”, but always drowned (or replaced) by the mighty Organ. No introit or anthem or proper Gregorian responses. This ancient Chant is almost entirely forgotten, replaced by “better” modern hymns ad lib. Some of these are quite all right in themselves; occasionally (for a change) they could be quite charming. But as the main course (or as the whole meal) they are only disgusting. And the majestic Organ, so suitable in its proper place, becomes positively indecent when it is over-done so blatantly.

I must say, I expected something better in Italy! Something beautiful and grave, something worthy of our sublime Religion. All I have met is jingling tunes and childish decorations. Altars buried in flowers and lights, completely without taste or dignity, like children playing “mass” with a “madonna-doll” on the altar. The most awesome mysteries, having been dragged down and made ordinary and familiar all over the place, are treated … the way people will always treat what has become too common and run-of-the-mill. What respect, for example, can the people have for the Blessed Sacrament when there is Exposition every day? (p1377). And Benediction as well, done with no more care or ceremony than if it was a quick blessing with holy water.

Even in many Cathedrals, there is no complete singing of the Office. Priests from the other churches can be seen scattered casually here and there among the people, while in the stalls they chat away, as contentedly as if they were out in the street. Apart from the all-conquering Organ, all you can hear at the “sung” Office is a few feeble squeaks from the “chanters” and then the ragged responses to the ubiquitous Litany of the Blessed Virgin.

It won’t be long now before they all dispense themselves from even the private recitation of the Divine Office. A few have done it already for “good reasons” which to me seem very frivolous indeed.

When the liturgy has reached this low level, the faith of the people must necessarily be undermined by it. Then one good big [political upheaval or] catastrophe, and the whole thing will collapse.

Will anyone here have eyes to see what is going on? Will the Lord save his Church and send her a new Gregory?

[*My first Cardinal: all Smiles, no Action. *]

*13 April *

From start to finish, the behaviour of the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples towards me has been rather peculiar: either very incompetent or totally disobliging. (Even though, every time I was actually with him, he seemed all benevolence).

The first day (as I said) I wrote asking him to name a day and a time when I could go and pay my respects. He gave me to understand (not in writing but by messengers) that he himself was coming to see me the next day! What was he playing at? A Cardinal to be the first to call, to come specially down to visit a very minor missionary bishop? And anyway, why couldn’t he write me a line, or get his secretary to write it?

I wanted to go there immediately, to clear up the confusion. (There must be some mistake. Your servants must have got it (p1378) wrong. Anyhow, I have come myself, in order to first pay my respects to you). But the Superior at the Chinese College begged me not to go. “He will think we don’t want him here”, he argued. So I Stayed put all day. And of course he did not come.

Next day I went there; and he received me very well, externally. Without being punctilious, he seemed quite friendly. So much so that, when he confirmed that yesterday’s mix-up had been no mistake by the servants, I did not take any offence at his broken promise. (He casually explained it by saying he was “unusually busy”).

When I brought up my proposed Collection, he positively encouraged me. (If he had taken any other line, I would have instantly dropped the whole idea). He also gave a surprisingly warm welcome to my offer to preach some sermons in French. In short, he seemed so friendly that I really concluded that his extraordinary failure the day before must have had some very good excuse for it, unknown to me.

Later on, he strongly approved of the Poster I had drafted for the Collection and Sermons. He even said he would get it printed for me himself. I took this as a real courtesy … until the day 1 realised it was just a lot of hot air. The first doubts came to me when he referred me to two of his priests, to arrange all the practical details with them. Those two men were almost impossible to meet.

Nevertheless, one of them eventually turned out to be a great help to me, cooperating with energy (and even charity). in the business. But meanwhile, time was passing. The manuscript had been with the Cardinal for several days. Nothing was happening. I went to find out why, and got a fairly chilly answer. .. At last, the Poster was printed; but it was an awful shambles, just about as bad as it could possibly be. The French was printed unchanged; but the Italian contradicted it, announcing several serious changes, all made without consulting me …

Well, I duly did the preaching and the collection. The Cardinal did absolutely nothing to help, or to show any interest or support” apart from empty words. “He is definitely coming to one of the Sermons”, I was told. But he never showed up. (p1379)

After the sermons [and Palm Sunday] I was too tired to think of travelling immediately. I decided to spend Holy Week here. On the Tuesday I went to say goodbye to the Cardinal; for it would be difficult to see him later on in Holy Week. Also (I admit) I was expecting he would at least have the decency to invite me to the Ceremonies at the Cathedral. Nothing doing. He would not even see me that day.

Well, I think that even a Cardinal Archbishop of Naples could show a small bit more courtesy to a departing bishop. I wanted to just leave him a note, and go. But I kept cool, and came back on Wednesday morning. He received me with his usual benevolent smile; but he did precisely nothing to show me any real courtesy. I told him I wasn’t actually leaving until Easter Tuesday. No move to invite me to the Cathedral. No move to back up all his sweet talk about my Mission with even a small offering. Not a lira. He had said he would look after the printing of the Posters. But it was the [_printer _]that paid. He told me he did not want any payment on such a small job for such a good cause.

Thus his Eminence has not done one single decent thing for me, in reality. Not even a little invitation, like permission to see the famous relic of St Januarius, or to visit his Seminary. Nothing. Zero. Just a few gracious smiles. From the first Cardinal I have ever met, this kind of thing is not very encouraging.

And yet, from all I hear, he is an excellent prelate, pious and even zealous. But [like I said] he probably owes a bit too much of his sudden Cardinalate to his noble birth.

I think that a man who was really up to his eminence would have been either one thing or the other with me. Either he would have kept at a more “correct” distance; or (if he really wanted to be obliging) he would have done it a lot better. Neither of those would have bothered me. For neither of the two would (I think) have gone against St Paul’s advice to Church leaders [in I Timothy 3.2]: “He must be … hospitable”.

Well, I do not really understand just how far this advice obliges other people to go. Have I always understood it when addressed to myself? God grant it. Or rather, may He forgive me! For truly, I know that I have sometimes missed the mark there. (p1380) May the good Lord pardon me, as I sincerely pardon (even in advance) all those who will let me down myself.

*Neapolitan “operatic” Liturgy. Need for true Updating. *

I have seen some liturgical foul-ups in my time, but nothing as totally disgusting as the ones I have just witnessed at Naples during Holy Week. I would never have expected such atrocities to exist in Italy, of all places! Before I left France I used to bewail the irregularities brought in there, by “custom” or by disobedience, against or beyond the [Roman] rubrics. God forbid that I should ever excuse any liturgical irregularity anywhere! But I know now that those French abuses are as nothing compared to the ones in Naples; and that France has strayed much less from the letter (and especially the spirit) of our admirable Catholic Liturgy.

It is true that our Liturgy is not, at the moment, perfectly adapted to the needs of modern times. It would need some slight modifications. If these had been made in time, with sensitive intelligence and with proper authority, they might have forestalled the deplorable impromptu changes which various people have been “forced” to invent or introduce, almost everywhere.

But the monstrous liturgical extremes arrived at in Naples are certainly not good examples to be followed. They have had the opposite effect: hardly anyone bothers to go to the official Ceremonies of the Church. Instead, nearly everybody belongs to some small [private-enterprise] confraternity or society or congregation. Each of these has built its own little chapel, in which the liturgy is done the way they like it: usually a quick Low Mass, the Litanies of the Blessed Virgin, and a few rapid ceremonies chosen more-or-less _ad lib. _

Meanwhile, the main Churches are nearly empty. People casually stroll in and out, to catch a bit of a “sung” Passion or Lamentation (etc.). Just like you might pop in to an Opera to catch a famous [_aria _]or two, and then stroll out when it got too boring again. For they have certain operatic-style Chants which are (p1381) quite beautiful in themselves, but far too long and elaborate to fit suitably into the Ceremony. These performances, instead of supporting true piety, only confuse it. ..

Altogether, I have never come across anything so silly, so absurd and so depressing as the Holy Week ceremonies at Naples.

[*Pompeii, etc. Three jurisdictions! This Diary is Private. *]

[*Why the BAD figures most in it. Good things: Dress; the PEOPLE. *]

After my Octave had been preached, I made use of my free time to see a few more of the sights of Naples and the surrounding country. The Camaldolese Monastery with its fantastic view of the Islands and the whole coast of Italy as far as Gaeta and beyond, all steeped in legend and history. The Catacombs, with their echoes and atmosphere of early Christianity. Pompeii and its ruins, whose every stone tells the moral decadence of that Roman period. (Many other reflections came to mind there too; but I will not write them all down; for everybody may learn about Pompeii from the numerous accounts now published). My guide and companion there was the excellent Abbe Eichholzer a Swiss ex-chaplain. A most erudite man, and very good company. He knows Bishop Luquet quite well, and speaks highly of him.

*17 April *

And now I am on the point of leaving Naples. I have seen, and reflected on, many factors hindering good Church administration here, all tending to hide the beauty of Christ’s Church so gentle, straight-forward and lovable by nature. I will add just one more factor now: political complications. There are three separate ecclesiastical jurisdictions here … apart from all the exempt Religious Orders! Their quasi-autonomous monasteries and con vents are numerous (very numerous, far too numerous!). And, with a few honourable exceptions, their present condition is much more of a hindrance than a help to the Naples Church … (p1382) The three jurisdictions belong to: the Archbishop; the Royal Chaplain [of Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies] with his numerous clergy and churches; the Apostolic Nuncio with his clergy and churches! What possible good is there in all that complication? I can’t see any good at all in it. The bad, on the other hand, is easily foreseen; it must be deep and wide and very great.

An autonomous “Chaplaincy” anyway seems a deplorable arrangement, anywhere. But I suppose it was inevitable here. For the [Spanish] Royal Family, the Army and Navy chaplains (etc.) belong to the whole Kingdom [or colony] and could not conveniently be kept under the direction of the Local Ordinary. So, maybe it was the lesser of two evils. But it’s still an evil; I can’t see anything else in it.

Naples has left me a lot of bad impressions. But just one word, before I go. A word in its favour. And I would have many others like it to write … if I was out to record all the good things I saw here.

If I was writing a book for the public, I would want to encourage people (not depress them) and so I would concentrate on the good rather than the bad. (Unless I wanted to vindicate our holy Religion against the evils it is being blamed for. Many of them are perpetrated in the name of Religion, or by religious men. But Religion itself is not the source of them). . .

But in a diary written for myself alone, serving only to remind me, later on, of the things now before my eyes (and the reflections they inspired in me) I do not see any need to note down everything (good and bad) but only those things that I am likely to forget (things that are not of a [pleasant] nature, likely to recur to my memory by themselves).

Thus, for example, I was very impressed by the good external appearance of the clergy here. I have said they spend far too much of their time out in the streets and the squares. But at least they are there in respectable dress, clean and decent. However, I do not like the extreme variety of dress that you meet with, Each religious Order has its own, going back more-or-less to the outfit prescribed by its holy Founder (however bizarre it looks (p1383) nowadays even though he, if he were living today, would be wearing something quite different, more in keeping with the general style of the Church (and thus more in line with the real spirit of that Founder himself)!

As well as all the various Orders, there is not a single pious Society or Seminary (etc.) that does not have to have its own special “uniform”, as startling as possible.

I particularly disliked the short coat [and knee-breeches] outfit, with its long stockings (tightly stretched to show off a manly leg). Really, I cannot see anything “clerical” about that get-up! It is a survival from the ancien regime, very common (if not universal) in France before the Revolution. I hear it is still very much a la mode here in Italy. Even Roman Cardinals wear it! With all due respect to the Cardinals, I do not like it. And I doubt if the saints do, either.

The second thing that struck me about Naples is the angelic gentleness or mildness of the people, seen in the relaxed yet lively faces of the lowest members of society. Catholic to the core [even down to the sub-conscious], this People seems to have been influenced, even physically, by their long centuries of Christian faith and practice. Truly, there is something (I-don’t-know-what) sort of angelic about their habitual happy expression.

Happy people of Naples! Your poverty and hardships are famous. But they are more famous than real. Especially if we compare you with other, richer, peoples; for [_their _]outward prosperity often hides miseries [of alienation etc.] unknown to you Neapolitans, horrible inner sufferings that sometimes even distort the face, the mirror of the soul.

May you, even at the expense of outward prosperity (if the two[_ are_] incompatible) always manage to keep your inner treasure, the Faith! May the crying injustices and abuses, so rampant in your lovely country, never produce the bitter fruit that they naturally should: troubles, riots, revolutions and the subsequent moral chaos, and the undermining of the Faith! (p1385)


*Naples to Frontier. Dust, horses, oxen, donkeys … *

[*Hunger deadens interest. Customs-men again! (5 times). *]

*Rome, 20 April 1854 *

At 6 yesterday morning I was taking my leave of the angel in charge of the Chinese College, Naples. Under the protection of Saint Alphonsus Liguori (who lived there for awhile) and of Matteo Ripa68 (his holy friend, who must also be in Heaven today) I set out for Rome. I was accompanied by one of the College Directors. (They were all very good to me, right to the end).

On our way through the city to the [stage-coach or] Diligence Station, we recited the Itinerary Prayer, not forgetting to include the many Neapolitan Saints! Then I got on board a battered-looking old coach. But it left almost on time, at 7 a.m.

Nothing special about the landscape, for our first few miles. The clouds of dust and the confusion of the traffic (normal near a great capital) almost entirely prevented me from even seeing the magnificent country we were traversing. But I enjoyed more than usual (at much closer range) the sights of the various spectacular Neapolitan horse-trappings and other animal harness and tacklings. Some very peculiar brasses (or gilded little carvings) of plumes or garlands of flowers (etc) on the horses. Not only that; but all kinds of wonderful carts and pulling equipment: for oxen, buffaloes, donkeys … In all kinds of combinations, too: some (p1386) tackled in front and moving abreast; some in files one-by-one, (or a buffalo and a donkey)! About the only thing I missed in that menagerie was the Rousillon farmer’s famous ploughing-team: of his mule and his wife! …

Meanwhile we were making good progress all the same, a lot better than I expected. Soon we were at Capua; time for lunch! But nothing doing. The first meal planned for the passengers [we were told] was to be at Molle di Gaeta, which meant we must Just travel on until 5 in the evening! So on we went, with empty bellies. No stopping for mere food. Instead, for consolation we stop at a passport check-point. And this wonderful time-wasting ceremony was repeated five times in the course of the I5-hour journey!

“Empty belly has no ears”, [says the French proverb]. So how could we have eyes? Thus, I hardly even noticed the magnificent landscapes, or the traditional costumes of the peasant-women (changing with every province). Much less could I concentrate on the numerous ruins and historical echoes of the places we passed through (as is the case in every part of Italy). Even when we were passing the ruins of Mantua, the name of Virgil barely crossed my mind.

At long last we saw the magnificent Bay of Gaeta, and the city stretching out into the sea. Gaeta today means “Pius IX”.69But we

by – passed the city and went through a place called Molle di Gaeta, and came at long long last to a bad old inn where they served us up a very bad dinner. But hunger made it taste excellent.

Then “up coachman! Whip the horses!” But the road was not so suitable for speeding … Meanwhile, night had fallen over (p1387) all the country … Then, about 10 p.m., we arrived at Terracina [the frontier). Here, we find we have been going too well. For we have arrived far too soon; and we will have to wait a long time for the Rome stage-coach to appear.

“Oh well (I said to myself) .it will be nice to relax for a while at the [frontier) hotel. Since this is a daily interruption on the Naples-Rome run, there must at least be a suitable Waiting Room (comfortably furnished and well lit) and plenty of food-sellers, and drinks and refreshments and sorbetto and … “

[*Primitive frontier-post. Chairs. French comments. *]

Passa-porta!” That’s the only word you hear [and the only amenity you will get) in this place. “Stay quietly in the carriage! Or if you get down, go straight to the Customs Post! (They will bring your luggage) …

“Sit down … On that chair. .. But it’s broken!. .. Take that one … It’s only got three legs … Take the other one, then … It is sagging … Oh well! I’ll lean it against the wall. It will hold for one or two (or maybe three or four) hours anyway. Better than nothing, in the middle of the night, like this. [Oh, I’m so tired!..]

Round about midnight, the diligence from Rome pulled in. Those particular passengers were lucky; they had only half-an hour to wait in this dump, while their baggage was being decanted. They took one look at the beautiful waiting-room and went out quick.

But some of them stayed a while. I could hear them talking in French. Evidently snoozing away on my chair, I listened in. From cursing Italian travel arrangements, they went on to cursing the Italians, loud and clear…

“What they need is about a dozen years of foreign occupation. That would civilize them!” …

How sad it is, to hear this kind of language! But how could you expect any better comments, from most of the travellers here, needlessly persecuted at every stage? What are those misguided governments trying to prove (or to achieve) anyway, with all their (p1388)

Customs and Police check-points? Nothing, except to harass and annoy the innocent public. To catch one enemy, they create a thousand new ones every week. Instead of using their God-given intelligence and opportunities, they merely proclaim their own incompetence and weakness. Instead of combining their “force” with some good government and some gentle reform, they merely multiply their “security forces” and their paranoia. How stupidly blind can people get?

*Into the Papal States. Good road. Everything better. *

[*Theology and Politics. Better in spots! *]

*Bridge. Albano … St Peter’s. *

At long last, we set out [on the last lap to Rome, through the Papal States] escorted by two mounted dragoons. (A wise precaution, it seems, but a very poor compliment to the honesty of the Roman population!).

By dawn, we were crossing the Pontine Marshes, and admiring the fine road that goes through them. Furthermore, all the relay-stations, the farming, the apparent standard-of-living of the people we saw, the whole aspect of the country, looked far superior to the same things seen in the Kingdom of Naples. I was very glad to see this …

Catholic Governments ought to be in the vanguard of civilization, in every way. For them, just to be “good” is not good enough. They ought to be the best, the very best, at meeting the needs of their people. Otherwise, they are de facto doing great harm to Catholicism. Religion is not the Government; but most people habitually lump the two together. And they cannot do otherwise. A few rare people can make the proper abstract distinctions about all this; but not the man in the street …

So I was very pleasantly surprised to see how this first visible comparison between Naples and the Roman States was turning out to be all in favour of Rome.

The Pontine Marshes, in several places, looked just like (p1389) India, especially the vast rice-plains and the buffalo-teams of Tanjore. All the scene lacked was the repeated call of “Tambi” [little-brother] and the cheerful sight of a crowd of brown “sans-culotte” [pant-less] urchins, to complete the illusion.

But now the road deteriorated badly, in spite of many magnificent Notices proclaiming Road Works (very unimpressive). I didn’t bother reading them. Farther on, however (I was pleased to see) they were making a serious effort to improve the road. And, coming in towards Albano, I saw a very fine construction job indeed; magnificent even. I would have loved to stop and have a really good look at that bridge!

At Albano I had to go out and look for breakfast myself; the Diligence Company could not be bothered with such details. A quarter of an hour after Albano, we were passing by Castel Gandolfo (away on our right) and soon afterwards ROME appeared, in the distance. My heart beat quicker at the sight. I saluted Saint Peter from afar (apparently as far off from me as his great Dome now appeared to be). But he did not seem to want to answer me …

[*Via Appia. Porta San Giovanni. Goats! Is this Rome? *]

*Normal Bribe. *

And now the ancient Appian Way lies before us, straight and majestic … Now we turn right, and we are driving through the Roman campagna (countryside] also majestic in its own bare desolate way (like an ancient bald-headed Emperor) strewn with the mighty ruins of antiquity (his venerable age-old wrinkles!). All the way, right up to the city Walls and the Porta San Giovanni [St John’s Gate] you would think you were approaching a deserted village rather than the Capital of the World. No carriage traffic; no signs of wealth or affluence; nothing metropolitan …

Then we were through the Gate; and the magnificent Basilica of San Giovanni rose up before us! But look! Not a sinner, not a Christian, going up or down the steps of that fabulous facade! Between it and the Walls, nothing, but [_nothing _]moves, except a few goats nibbling at the grass and weeds of the Square, (p1390) with their shepherd asleep in the shadow of a wall! …

On into the streets. At first, one dark empty sad street after another. Then some streets with a few signs of movement; but no life! On and on to the Diligence Station, with hardly a hint to indicate that this place might be a Capital.

The Customs here were very “obliging”. A single coin greased the whole operation quite smoothly. The French Consul at Naples had advised me correctly. “Certainly, you can do it in conscience! The Government has to know what is going on, and the way their employees are serving them. It is a well-known, universally-recognized racket.” (Anyway I was not smuggling in anything whatsoever; that goes without saying!).

From the Customs I went straight to the Carmelites. But more about that later.

[*San Pancrazio (Battle). St Peter’s. (S.C.) Luquet. *]

*27 April *

First of all [that day] I went to the Generalate of the Discalced Carmelites. I had a letter from Bishop Bacinelli for the General. And of course I knew Archbishop Martini of Verapoly quite well; he is there at the moment. I asked to see him first when I got there; and he seemed delighted to meet me.

The General was at the Carmelite house at San Pancrazio, and we went out there together.70 The Carmelites, on the recommendations of my fellow-bishops in Kerala, gave me a good and kindly welcome. It seems there is no room in their Generalate at the moment. But the General offered me a room at San Pancrazio; and that is where I stayed [at first]. Anyway, I was glad to be staying near the General; for I wanted to talk to him seriously (p1391) about their Missions in Kerala and Bombay, as the Carmelites there had requested me to do.

I could see at once that their Mission affairs were going very badly here. I learnt of the latest decisions taken by Propaganda about Bombay; very regrettable decisions, in my opinion. I was brought up-to-date about the various dismal causes keeping Archbishop Martini stuck here at Rome, with no great hopes of ever getting back to Verapoly. Etc., etc. All those developments are just so many new sources of confusion for the Indian Missions. And they have now reached such an advanced stage that I see no way at all to stop them, or to forestall their obvious disastrous consequences over there.

Next day (Thursday) I went over to Propaganda. But I could not get to see anybody. They were all in a Council meeting (as is the case, it seems, every Thursday). In the meantime, I went back to walk around the inside of St Peter’s splendid Basilica. For, before going to Propaganda, I had gone in there, just to salute St Peter at his Tomb; not to look at or admire anything. Immediately after my prayer [above the Tomb] I started walking out. But I could not keep my eyes down; still less could I prevent a thrill of wonder and admiration which actually brought the tears to my eyes! …

Generally, when you have heard a great deal of talk about some place, and have seen it over and over again in pictures and engravings, done from every possible view-point, you are quite disappointed when you go there and actually see it. It looks a lot less beautiful, less impressive, than what you expected. (At least I have often found it so). But St Peter’s was the exact opposite!

When I came out from Propaganda, however, I went first of all to see Bishop Luquet, my old friend. I found he was still the same, as far as that is concerned. Impossible to describe how great was our joy at this reunion!

I found him in his study, buried in books like in a tomb, completely unconcerned about all Church or political affairs, busy only with one affair: God, and the company of the Saints. For he is writing new glimpses of some of their wonderful lives, while trying (p1392) to follow the living example of their heroic virtues.

I told him a lot about India (that lost country for him) and even about Rome and the current moves here! We had dinner together, along with the pious French family [de Lestanville at Frascati] who are giving him hospitality since some time now.

From there I went back to San Pancrazio. But by now I have seen that this house, outside the Walls, is too far away from the centre (especially Propaganda) and that I will have to look for a more central place to stay.71

Meanwhile I found that San Pancrazio was the very spot where the crucial battle was fought, in the [French] recapture of Rome [for the Pope, in 1849]. General Nicolas Oudinot made the Carmelite house his head-quarters. (He slept in the refectory). The nearby Basilica was in the front line. It was completely wrecked. In fact they are still working on the repairs. The high altar and the other principal features are completely new, and inferior by far to the old ones destroyed in the battle. The whole neighbourhood still carries the visible scars of war. A magnificent Villa near by is pock-marked with cannon and bullet holes.

[*Mgr Bamabo, an Impressive bureaucrat; quite Friendly. *]

On Friday I went back to Propaganda. I met the Cardinal Prefect [Franzoni] an excellent prelate but far too old to talk business with. He received me very kindly.

Then I went to the office of Mgr Barnabo [the Secretary of Propaganda] a Roman Prelate (not a Bishop). He struck me as a very intelligent man; I was astonished at how well informed he is, about our Indian affairs. He spoke to me with such outstanding kindness that I was truly enchanted with the interview. But we did (p1393) not really get to grips with any of the problems. He just urged me to put my ideas on paper and pass them on to Propaganda.

I didn’t promise and I didn’t refuse. I will have to get to know the situation, and the man, a lot better, before committing myself. And “the man” I say; because it is obvious that everything at Propaganda depends on this man Mgr Barnabo. Not that he does everything there; but I would say that, without him, nothing gets done.

I wanted to ask to see the Pope; but Mgr Barnabo said it first. Sunday evening was the Propaganda Secretary’s allotted time for his weekly Papal Audience. At the next one he would request an Audience for me.

So nothing doing until Monday (at the earliest). I made use of my waiting-time to see some of the great monuments of Rome. I also went in to several of the ordinary churches, to see what the atmosphere was like on a Sunday. (I will talk about all those things later on).

Unfortunately, the Holy Father has been a little indisposed; so Mgr Barnabo was not able to see him that Sunday. (In fact the Pope was not seeing anybody). On Monday I saw Mgr Barnabo, for a few minutes only. But on Tuesday I had a long interview with him. And I was very satisfied with it.

[*Sizing up Barnabo; I decide on Serious but Careful Dialogue. It will be in Writing [which is Dangerous and unsatisfactory]. *]

[*Pilgrimages: St Peter; St Ignatius; BI Germaine Cousin. (Kerala.). *]

This man [Barnabo] having such great authority at Propaganda, accustomed to dealing swiftly with so many Bishops (about so . many different weighty matters and from so many different angles) must necessarily have become quite unaccustomed (p1394) to put up with any opposition or contradiction from anybody. Very intelligent, and gifted with a fantastic memory, he knows just about every written fact concerning the Missions. So you do not have much to teach him about your own particular area!

But he is only a man, after all. He cannot know everything, or do everything, or foresee everything. And he cannot (all on his own) effectively direct the Missions of the whole world. Hence so many miserable unnecessary problems and situations which Propaganda has failed to forestall. But I think Mgr Barnabo recognises that failure, at least partially.

So I am inclined to hope that, provided you carefully avoided opposing or contradicting him, you [_might _]get him to consider a few useful new ideas. Starting off from some of the many issues where his views happen to be quite sound, you could extend the area of agreement to certain other questions [like Native Clergy] and use his over-theoretical agreement in order to reinforce the practical truth [or feasibility] of the principles … whose effective implementation will always need the continual practical support and sanction of Propaganda.

Finally, you might bring him to admit to himself that his mind has been (perhaps) just a little too closed to other conclusions and ways of thinking. You might even hint at further ideas72 which (possibly) have never occured to him at all. (For after all, he is not omniscient). And you might even help him towards freeing himself from a few outright prejudices. For after all [says Psalm 116.11] “no man can be relied on”.

These considerations are strongly inclining me to get down to putting my views on paper, as Mgr Barnabo himself is pushing (p1395) me to do, anyway. Once again, however, I tell myself: take it very gently! And do not even start before you have seen the Holy Father. And there’s no hope of that before next week.

After that long discussion with Mgr Barnabo (which lasted two whole hours) I have had a few other talks with him; but only short ones, more-or-less in passing. But each time, I came out satisfied enough, except once. That was when I tried to put in a word in favour of the Carmelites. It seems the whole Congregation [of Propaganda] is now very much against them.

Meanwhile it is now more than eight days since I arrived in Rome; and the sum-total of my achievements here is: nothing. One of the deplorable things about this place is the amount of time you must waste!

But I’d be very glad to “waste” the time, if I could get some spiritual benefit from it. May the great Saint Peter hear my prayers made to him yesterday, when I was celebrating Mass at his Tomb! May those prayers soar up to the throne of the Almighty, supported by the intercession of Saint Ignatius, whom I invoked this morning, celebrating the august Sacrifice in the room where he spent so many strenuous days, growing daily in holiness, until the day his noble soul flew off to Heaven!

*7 May *

Many things have happened since the last item. I will not try to describe them all: the famous Basilicas, and the hallowed altars [where I said Mass] and the many wonderful sights and the impressive sacred objects that I saw … All these are not the subject of this diary.

I have not yet seen the Holy Father. But I hope to see him tomorrow. For I have received an audience ticket for 10 a.m. By “not seen him” I mean I have not met him to talk to. For I saw him with my eyes this evening, when he came into St Peter’s to venerate the image of Blessed Germaine Cousin [from Pibrac] beatified this morning. The ceremony was most magnificent. Apart from the singing! For it seems that the Chant of the Church is about the same standard here as at Naples: it has sunk to the absolute (p1396) bottom (the nec plus ultra) in decadence. Nevertheless a Beatification is a ceremony that can be enjoyed nowhere else but in Rome. And your first one has to fill your soul with delight.

There was another consideration, too, which made this beautiful Ceremony very special for me. It may very well be that this lowly shepherdess Germaine Cousin (now glorious in Heaven) was from the same family as my paternal grandmother, from the Cousin family at Nailloux, a little town not far at all from Pibrac. Her family never had anything to do with the nobility; they were just honest town-people; and this [lowness] gives me greater hope that the name is not just a coincidence, but comes down from common ancestors of my [lowly] grand-mother and the Blessed Shepherdess.

Either way, O blessed Germaine, I hope you will hear my prayers made this morning, for our Missions. And if you are my relative, I hope that the natural link will be just another extra reason for granting me your supernatural protection!

I still haven’t been able to make even a start with my own [personal] business here. Mgr Barnabo (still very friendly) has requested me to let him know, in writing, what I know myself about the present state of the Syriac clergy and the [Carmelite Kerala] Missions. So I wrote a Report on all that. 73

Into it I slid a few of my own ideas (only half relevant to the subject) in order to test the water (or to sound out the present attitudes of the Holy See). How will they take those [new] ideas? From their reaction I hope to gauge how far I can go in any future Reports (if the Holy Father pushes me to answer Mgr Barnabo’s requests and questions in writing). (p1397)

[*My Audience with Pius IX; a Warm, lively Personality. *]

*On Indian Missions, Carmelites, MEP … My request to Resign. Reluctant to write a Report, I am Ordered. Blessings, 3 Gifts. *

*8th May 1854 *

This morning (at 10.45 to be exact) I had the Audience with the Holy Father. There is nothing to equal the fatherly goodness of this man Pius IX. His remarkable kindness (and even cheerfulness) puts you immediately at your ease. At first (of course) you are completely overcome with emotion, to be actually face-to-face with the Vicar of Christ on earth. But, in the space of a few short minutes, he has got you completely restored to yourself. No sooner had I knelt and kissed his hand than he invited me to rise. I did. But when he invited me to sit down with him, I couldn’t very well agree to that. He did not insist.

We conversed tete-a-tete [one-to-one] like that, for a good half an hour, all in French. Then I asked his permission to introduce two French priests who were with me [waiting outside]. He had them brought in. He signed two or three requests [for blessings] which they presented. Then one of them asked for a souvenir of this visit. The Pope started laughing [and pulling his leg]:74

“What’s that you said? No, I can’t follow you … You are talking too fast for me … Oh? A souvenir? Well, if you go and look over there, inside the door of the cabinet, you might find something or other…”

The good abbe went over and (encouraged by the Pope) started rummaging inside, and quickly discovered a stack of large beautiful pictures …

“Take three!” ordered the Holy Father. “One for each of you” … All this joking and by-play took another quarter of an hour. (p1398)

During our serious conversation, alone, he spoke about the Missions. He did not sound very satisfied with their progress, especially the Indian ones … and most especially Bombay, praising Bishop Hartmann very highly at the expense of the Carmelites, complaining quite seriously about them, in fact.

The poor Carmelites, I think, are more sinned against than sinning … although [their Order] cannot be excused for leaving [Kerala and Bombay] for so long without an adequate number of missionaries. The individual missionaries [on the spot cannot be blamed for that]; but several of them can be blamed for neglecting to study the local languages, and especially Syriac [the liturgical language] …

He spoke hardly at all about our own [MEP] Missions. He did mention the missionaries:75

“Some of the missionaries are not good, I hear.”

“Well, I cannot talk about other congregations; I do not know them well enough. But I can assure Your Holiness that, in our Society, there is not one bad missionary in a hundred. Bad, I mean, in the sense of “bad priests” driven by ambition or avarice or some other capital vice … “ [He came in with a question then].

“Yes indeed. I must admit that [some of them have problems]. They arrive on the Missions with exalted ideas (esprit exalte) because many of them are quite inadequately and unrealistically prepared for the Missions by their formation. And so, although they often have a lot of talent, and plenty of zeal, they are lacking in many important virtues which can only be acquired by specific formation for their missionary calling.” This explanation did not seem to displease him.76

“I am glad to see that you still like your Society, seeing that you speak up so well for it”, he smiled. (So he knew that I was not so ‘well in’ with the Society).

“Yes, I do like it, very much. But I do not think everything is perfect in it, especially as regards the formation of the aspirants. (p1399) And other things too …

“But what pains me more than anything else is this (I went on). I have come to the conclusion that there is a huge [moral and organizational] confusion in the way the Missions are being worked. And I have lost all hope of being able to contribute anything useful towards a solution. [Which was my only justification for staying on]. And that is why I have asked to resign … and why I am now asking it again from Your Holiness.”

“But you have been on the missions for quite a long time now! You must let us know, in writing, exactly what you think about it all. Then we shall see … “ (Obviously, Barnabo had been on the job).

“That is just what Mgr Barnabo has been asking me to do. But I must admit I do not like the idea very much … The risk of offending several people that I like, and even respect … And all for no useful purpose … “

“But what does [_that _]matter to you, since you are asking to resign? Say out what you think, for the glory of God, and don’t worry what men will say! Anyway, the Sacred Congregation is not going to publish your Reports. In fact, if you prefer, you can hand them to myself”.

“No, I have no reason to be mistrustful towards Propaganda.

And (thank God) I am quite unconcerned about what men may say about me. Only I see no point in turning them all against me, for nothing, for no good purpose … But if Your Holiness is [_ordering _]me to write about anything, I will certainly do it. .. in conscience and without wanting to hurt any people, and without being afraid of their criticisms.”

“That’s it, exactly! Do that!” he said.

“In that case, Holy Father, allow me to show you an outline of what Mgr Barnabo wants me to write. And, if it corresponds with your own wishes in the matter, all I have to do is, to obey.”

I then got my brief-case and took out a small sheet of paper, and I read it to him, as follows:

“Most Holy Father,

Mgr Barnabo, Secretary of the S.C. of Propaganda, desires me to let the S.C. know, in writing, what I think about: (p1400)

1. the specific question of the Malabar Rites,

2. all matters closely affecting the Missions in India,

3. the Catholic Missions in general,

4. our pious Society of [Paris 1 Foreign Missions: its present state, and what needs to be done (according to me) in order to free its great potential from the present accidental blockages.

“I must admit, Holy Father, my extreme reluctance to go into those questions in detail. For I am sure it will be impossible for me to do [a useful job of work on them] a work that will actually contribute to some happy outcome. Nevertheless, whatever Your Holiness commands, that I will do. “

“Do it”, he replied.

The interview was over. After a few polite vague words, I ended it myself, by going on my knees and asking him for a special Blessing

1. for myself

2. for the Missions, especially those confided to MEP

3. for the Indian Missions in particular

4. more particularly still, for the Vicariate of Coimbatore

5. for the priests of my Vicariate

6. for my seminarians

7. for the Catholic Christians of my Vicariate

8. for my aged father and my good mother.

9. for all my family

10. for Bishop Bonnand, V.A. of Pondicherry’!

11. for Bishop Bernardinus, coadjutor at Verapoly

12. for Bishop Michael, V.A. of Mangalore

13. for Bishop Hartmann, V.A. of Bombay

14. for Bishop Basil (Greek Rite) Cairo

15. for Bishop Guasco, V.A. of Alexandria (Egypt)

16. for all those who asked me to beg a blessing from Your Holiness.

It was after those blessings that I asked permission to introduce my two priest friends, and the whole audience concluded with the [light-hearted] touch I have described already. (p1401)


*Bad start. Delightful Toulouse family. *

[*Civita Castellana. (Church corruption; even Pope is helpless). *]

[*The good Bishop of Nami (876 priests, etc!) tribunals .. ! *]

*Back at Rome, 22 May *

I intended to make a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Loreto some time before leaving Italy; but I didn’t think I’d be going there so soon! It was Bishop Bettachini (of Jaffna) who pushed me. He was on his way to spend some time with the Oratorian Fathers in those areas, and I decided to make the journey along with him. We hired a small carriage and driver, so as to be able to stop off at any interesting place we came across along the way.

We started off on Thursday 11th May, at 6 in the morning. Nothing much to report in the first few miles. Just the “normal” confusion, disputes between the coachman and the travel-agent and the livery-stable servants, plus repeated harassments by beggars, plus being stopped at two check-points (and all the accompanying hassle of passports etc.) within the first three hours, plus the depressing wilderness of the Campagna [the countryside around Rome] … Not a very cheering start to a journey!

All the same, we made good headway, and by noon we had arrived at our proposed lunch-stop. There was another party of travellers there before us. I spotted a French-looking cleric among them, so I went over and declared my French nationality (in spite of my [Orthodox -looking] beard!). The cleric's travelling companions immediately gathered round us, with spontaneous joy. Within a minute, we were almost on family terms.

We knew of course that they were French; but now we heard they were even from Toulouse! And they were in Rome for the Beatification of Germaine Cousin! Then didn’t Mme Datuisard disclose that she was a cousin of Mlle d’Hautpoul, who has just married my brother ! With her were her own brother, M. Doujat, and his wife, and a young man related to her, and of course this cleric: Canon Juillac of Saint-Etienne’s, Toulouse. They were all on the way to Loreto, to visit the Santa Casa [the Holy House of Nazareth]. Well! This promised to be a very (p1402) agreeable journey indeed; because we were bound to meet again at all the stopping-places. And above all because these were evidently people who combined an exquisite courtesy with their fervent piety.

That evening we stopped at Civita Castellana, a small dirty little city. It has a rather impressive Fortress (now mostly used as a prison). A good Canon, whom we met at the door of the Cathedral, took it upon himself to show us around the sights of the place. They weren’t many. However, from above the Fort there is a fine view. From here on east, the countryside begins to look like properly cultivated farmland.

On the 12th, after celebrating Holy Mass in the Cathedral, we started off early. By 10 o’clock we were at Narni, another small dirty city, very poorly maintained. But from there we enjoyed a magnificent panorama over the plain, all the way to Terni.

Bishop Bettachini knew the Vicar General very well. He came to see us at the hotel as soon as he was informed of our arrival. I took the opportunity of quizzing him about the way those tiny dioceses (very numerous in Italy) operate …

I tried to gather this kind of information, at every place where I could talk with any fairly well-informed cleric about the real state of things locally. And in every case, all I could deduce was: total desolation. It’s quite incredible, how low the multifarious corruption and abuses have brought the local Church administration, in all that area. From the top to the bottom of the ecclesiastical ladder, it’s nothing but one abuse or disorder after another! And all of them so complicated and interwoven that any real cure seems humanly impossible!

And yet there are exceptional priests, and worthy Bishops, and respectable higher prelates, to be found among all that over numerous clergy, so many of them an outright disgrace to their sacred vestments. But the hopeless complexity of local Church laws and customs keeps every-one’s hands effectively tied, when it comes to bringing about any serious reform.

And the first man to have his hands tied like that is the Sovereign Pontiff himself. In the present set-up, even if he went (p1403) all-out to implement the pious hopes that are so dear to his heart, the excellent Pius IX would not succeed in getting anywhere … not without a special miracle from On High to help him!

Indeed, his previous failed attempts seem to have cost him a lot of his original popularity. All their original admiration for him is gone, without a trace of it left. They still respect him. But they prefer not to talk of him at all. If they do, they are indifferent at best; and at worst they give a kind of pitying smile. Meanwhile, everyone is fed up with the Papal States government. Apparently, it is riddled with blatant corruption.

And yet, in spite of all that mess, there is still a living Faith among the people; I really don’t know how it lasts. It’s just a miracle, far more impressive (to me) than all the miraculous shrines and relics I came across, in this God-favoured country. For it is visibly God Himself that is preserving the Faith here, and the Church. Not men. Not ecclesiastical “prudence”, not the clever bending of Church laws for personal advantage, undermining the Church instead of building it up. Yes, it is God, and God alone, that is defending this blessed land of Italy against the gates of hell!

But will He deign to continue this ongoing miracle for ever? Or for how long? This chilly thought makes me shudder for Italy. And then, once Italy had collapsed, what would become of the Church? (And Italy should collapse, under the weight of all the ecclesiastical abuses and corruption there!).

“What will become of the Church!” Ah, God only knows. All we know is, that He will not abandon his Church. He will enable it to survive, somehow. Along with all those abuses, and in spite of them? Or by freeing the Church from them at last, and restoring normal good health? ..

But one other thing! We must remember that this is Italy. The kind of abuses which, in France, would be the signal for an instant revolution or upheaval, are hardly noticed here, because of the totally different temperament of the people …

Let’s come back to Narni, and our guided tour by the Vicar General. He eventually brought us to salute the Bishop, who was most gracious… (p1404)

“Why didn’t you just call in for your lunch, like brothers [instead of going to the hotel]? No problem; no fuss at all.”

This was no small thing, coming from an Italian cleric. For I hear that brotherly hospitality [and “just calling in”] is not their strong point. Those numerous small-city bishops, who have only a few miles to go to the next bishop, never even see him (much less invite him or call in on him casually)! It’s the same between the cures, etc. No socializing. But maybe this extreme reserve is better than the opposite extreme, in a place where it could so easily become a scandalous [round of parties]!

The Bishop of Narni seems to live a very simple life (almost poor) not at all “noble”. His palace was shabby, his servants ragged, the whole set-up very far from being “grand”. But good, which is a lot more important.

His diocese is “very big”. It has 22,000 souls. (In urban France it wouldn’t be a decent-sized parish). For his “big” population he has “only” 876 secular priests, 20 secularised, 100 religious, and a similar number of lesser clerics of all kinds! One cathedral, seven deaneries, etc., etc …

And yet the people are still Christians; and are even very attached to the Faith; which is a miracle. Yes I say, a miracle! [In spite of all those priests with nothing to do ..!]

The Vicar General told me, rather smugly, how “busy” he was, at the Church Tribunal. He had to judge (of course) all religious cases. But not only that. All mixed cases (civil-religious) as well. And all cases between women litigants! ..

And the people still retain some respect for the priests? Another miracle! But (I was told) it is not only in Narni that things are like this. It’s the same all over the Papal States! (1405)

*Waterfalls. Spoleto a better ad than Rome’s campagna. *

[*Foligno: (Assisi missed). Another “big” diocese. *]

*Recanati, sea and Loreto. *

We left Narni fairly early in the day, for we wanted to see the Waterfalls delle Marmore [marble] a few miles from Terni. We arrived there about 4 p.m. It was the first famous cascade that I ever saw. They told me it was one of the finest (if not the finest) in Europe. [I can well believe it]. The effect was stupendous.

Very early next morning, after Mass, we set out for Spoleto. There again, we had to produce our passports! ..

We went for dinner to the Oratory Fathers. They received us very well. (Bishop Bettachini, of the same Order, had written them in advance).

Spoleto looked much cleaner than the previous cities. The countryside is beautiful, well cultivated, smiling; very different from the Roman Campagna. Magnificent vineyards; thriving cornfields! Again and again, you complain, “Why is the country around Rome so miserable and abandoned, when other parts of the Papal States are so flourishing?” Most foreigners see only Rome and its surroundings; and most of them have their prejudices against Papal government only further confirmed by their visit. If only they could see some [_other _]parts of the Papal States, at least!

That evening, we got as far as Foligno. But we could hardly see it, we were so late. Next morning (Sunday) we should have branched off for Assisi and the Portiuncula. Unfortunately, I had not given enough attention to planning our entire route before finalizing the conditions at the Carriage Office. [They could not be changed now]. So, after Holy Mass, we continued on directly, into the majestic ravines and passes of the Appenines. The road continued on, quite good, well surfaced. Indeed, throughout the Papal States, I had (in general) to admire the road maintenance.

Towards noon, we came to a poor rustic inn. From there we went down into Settempera San Severino; but we did not really stop to see it. This is an episcopal “city” of 3000 people: and the (p1406) whole diocese is only 16,000. Meanwhile, it has no less than eighteen monasteries and religious houses! ..

From there on to Recanati, the landscape is as magnificent as anybody could possibly wish for. We left the city of Macerati on our right (regretfully, for we heard it is very beautiful) and we stopped only to gaze at it from afar, standing on the fine wooden bridge over the river, near ancient ruins and arenas which testify that, once upon a time, there was a famous city here.

In a few more hours we were in Recanati, nearly home, with Mary. It was in Recanati territory that the angels first set down her house.

We made a brief stop at the Oratorians, where we could see Loreto in the distance, with its beautiful surroundings, and the blue Adriatic in the background, as if specially designed, just there, to complete the picture, the most delightful landscape the eye could ever take in.

At 5 p.m. we arrived at the Bell Hotel, Loreto. And by 5.15 we were kneeling on the steps outside the little House where Jesus lived. There we were granted many sweet and fragrant hours … But I will leave all that for another article.

May God be praised for ever! Amen!

  • First evening, outside the little House. Vincentian Sister. *

*Great happiness in the Casa. Description. Looted Treasury. *

Eager to bask, as quickly as possible, in the gentle Virgin’s hospitality at her own little house where she used to live on this earth, I went straight to the Santa Casa, seeing nothing at all along the way, not even the splendid Basilica I had to walk through, to get there. But I was disappointed. The doors of the sanctuary are closed about 5 p.m.; and that is how I met them. I had to be content with kneeling on one of the marble steps around the little house. It is completely covered with precious marble. On the outside, nothing can be seen of the actual house of Nazareth. But, even without getting inside the little house, I said my first Ave (p1407) Maria more fervently there, I think, than anywhere else before.

Then I had to come down to admiring the noble marble-relief work, scenes from the Life of Mary, and the twelve main Prophets who foretold her Child. Master-pieces of sculpture, and even good taste, it is true.77 But you still regret their decision to cover the Santa Casa, even with such masterpieces, depriving us of half the sight [the outside] of the little House so kindly preserved for us by the Angels.

The Church attendants now hurried [to get us out] telling us that this Chapel would be open again, very early in the morning, and we could say Mass in it at any hour we cared to specify. I chose 7 a.m. and we retreated, stealing a glance or two at the great Basilica sheltering the Holy House. A most remarkable building indeed, for its style, its pictures, its baptistry and its wonderful bronze Doors …

But all that is only very secondary here, compared to the fascination of the little House. All your prayers seemed to be turning in that direction, even when you were kneeling in the opposite Chapel, adoring the Blessed Sacrament. Imagination took over from theology; for you felt that He was over there behind you, in the holy house, in the delightful company of Mary and Joseph, babbling away with some childish words, which His mother would treasure ever after in her heart, to contemplate them in her own unique way …

Then we left, determined to be back there again in the morning, as early as possible.

Crossing the Basilica Square, I spotted a Vincentian Sister. I was sure she must be French. Because, in the present condition of Italy, whenever they decide to try and have some decent standard in any church organization, they have to call in French religious for it, especially for any practical work of charity: hospitals, orphanages, mercy houses, foundlings’ homes, schools for the poor, etc. Because (in Southern Italy at least) all these works have (p1408) fallen into a very deplorable condition, for lack of competent management. Already, in Naples, I had seen the immense good being done by the Sisters of Charity. Nevertheless they don’t like them there, because of national prejudice against everything French. How much more those Sisters will achieve in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies when those prejudices have disappeared (as they are now doing)! The same goes for the Papal States.

So I went over to the Sister and said: “Good evening, ma soeur. You are French, aren’t you?” She started in surprise. (Who was this [tanned and] bearded Bishop, addressing her like this, in French?) But her surprise quickly changed to delight, and she immediately invited me to their house (recently founded in Loreto). But it was too late that evening. “I will certainly come tomorrow”, I promised. And I went back to the hotel.

Next morning, in spite of travel fatigue, I was up early, and back at the Santa Casa, praying there [inside it] before Mass.

Blessing and thanks be to You, O my God, for the great sweetness and consolation You gave to that prayer! Of all the holy places and things I have ever seen in this old world, nothing can compare with the holy House [of Nazareth]. It overwhelms you, this little dwelling (lowly and poor, narrow and comfortless) chosen for himself by God-made-man. Your mind is staggered by the thought: here the Word was made flesh!

The church attendants had given me a prie-dieu [kneeler] placed just on the spot where the Virgin was, at the moment the Angel of the Lord came to announce to her that she was chosen, from among all women, to be the mother of God! ..

I was there a whole hour, annihilated by that thought; and the hour went by like a single minute. Then I had the immense happiness of celebrating the awesome Mysteries on the altar inside the very House. (This is on top of an earlier altar consecrated (they say) by Saint Peter and often used by Saint John. (And the Blessed Virgin herself surely would often be present, and receive Communion from him!).

O my God! If ever I have fittingly celebrated the Holy Sacrifice (you alone know; and you also know how much I have to fear your just judgment about all that) if ever I had that much luck (p1409) or happiness, then this morning must be numbered among those rare and blessed days!

After my thanksgiving, I went out, intending to come back very soon, in order to spend a longer and a quieter time in joyful contemplation of Mary’s dwelling, untroubled by the crowds of faithful pressing round the altar, and the almost endless relay of pilgrim priests celebrating Holy Mass there.

And indeed I did come back, to say my Office, and to enjoy some time of quiet prayer. Then the guides came, and pointed out some details of the little house. See, there was just one window in one of the longer sides. The original door (one only) has been blocked up. They were obliged to make three new ones (one in, one out, one for the sacristy) so as to forestall crowd-suffocation or panic. (This has to be greatly regretted; but I suppose it was unavoidable). The stones and rubble from the new doorways were used for blocking the original one, and for stepping up the interior altar. This is opposite the window, and it divides the little house in two. The part behind the altar is less than 5 feet wide. Here is the original fire-place; and above it, in a niche, is the miraculous picture of the Madonna (attributed to Saint Luke) which was transported, along with the House, from Nazareth to Dalmatia [Yugoslavia] and then to Recanati territory, and finally to Loreto. Along with the Picture and the House came three of the Family’s (reputed) kitchen vessels, and two little bells.

Outside the Santa Casa is the Annunciation Altar, reckoned to be the high altar of the Basilica.

Inside, there is no lighting except what comes through the doors and from the flickering of the more-than-sixty lamps and the countless candles perpetually burning before the precious Image. Its frame is richly decorated with jewels and surrounded by garlands of beaten gold and precious stones, gifts from Kings and Queens and nobles and ordinary humble people. (Among them I was glad to spot two jewelled hearts, from the Due de Bordeaux and his little sister, on their First Communion day).

Then I went to see the Treasury. It is still a remarkable collection, although greatly depleted during the conquest of Italy [by Napoleon], in straight-forward pillaging by the French or in (p1410) forced sales by the Popes (to “finance” the disaster).

These are saddening and shame-making memories for us French. Every time we begin to glory in one of our famous victories, we suddenly have to blush for shame. O France! Always the first! For good or for evil!

*Sisters and Fr Lalande. Our Toulouse family again. *

*Morning contemplation. Doujat. 3 hours. *

*Evening devotions. *

Then I went to see the Sisters of Charity [as promised]. There I got confirmation that there is a French priest at Loreto. For, that morning before Mass, I had asked for a priest to hear my confession in French. Somebody went to call one. [I waited a while] but he did not come. So I asked for a confessor in Latin.

When the French priest eventually arrived, they told him, “He can’t be a Frenchman; he has asked for a Latin priest”. So he went away again [a bit puzzled]. Later, when he went to the hotel, they told him there was an [_American _]bishop staying there!.. The Sisters [between laughs] told me this confusing series of events. 78

“Anyway, he should now be at the Bon Pasteur [Good Shepherd] Sisters’ place. They have only just come to Loreto, and he’s helping them to set up house. We’ll send someone to tell him you are here.”

“Bon Pasteur? Sounds French”, I said.

“Yes. A French lady has brought them here, and has got them a house”

“Right. Let’s call on the Bon Pasteur Sisters. Maybe I will meet him there at last”.

And sure enough, I did find him, helping the good ladies with numerous repairs on their “new” house. He is a [Franciscan] Conventual, Rev Fr Lalande, very obliging to French pilgrims. From then on he never left us; and he helped to make our stay in Loreto most enjoyable. (p1411) By now it was evening, and we went back to the Basilica. We knew the Santa Casa would be closed; but we wanted to admire the marble-work [etc.] in more detail. The bust of Sixtus V at the entrance. The three bronze Doors with their remarkable [three dimensional] pictures in relief. The mosaics. The gothic style of [the old part of] the Basilica. The magnificent sculptures all around the Santa Casa. Above the statues of the Prophets I was shown the. corresponding (but smaller) statues of the principal pagan Sybils, through whom the Devil was “forced” to bear witness to the Truth, now and then.

But who did we see, on the steps outside the Santa Casa but the family we had met [at our first stopping-place for lunch]! They had left “our” route to go to Assisi, and had just arrived, one day after us. And, just like us, they had been making their first devotions outside the House.

As soon as they saw us, they got up. There were actually tears in the ladies’ eyes … We went back together to the hotel, after fixing the time for Mass next morning.

And, in the morning, I had the joy of giving them all (or nearly all) Holy Communion, at my Mass. Better than yesterday I had managed to get up very early and to have several hours at the unique spot occupied by Mary when the Word was made incarnate.

After the Mass, we all agreed to meet at the Sisters of Charity, for their May Devotions, that evening. Meanwhile I went with M. Doujat, to visit the Brothers of Christian Doctrine. They have caught on very well in Loreto, and are now able to run their schools (etc.) without any direct French help. All the teaching brothers are Italian. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart are also doing very well. Many of their Sisters are Italian; but they still have several Frenchwomen.

Meanwhile, the irresistible attraction of the Santa Casa drew us back there, for several unplanned visits. Though long, these (p1412) seemed far too short.79 We’d like to spend the whole day there. 1 was really edified by M. Doujat’s enthusiasm.

“You just wait and see”, he kept on pointing out. “When we have left Loreto, the one place we’ll have visited much too seldom will be … the Santa Casa! So why don’t we go back there now?”

And back we went. Towards 2 o’clock (I think) we went in again. And my admiration reached new heights as 1 noticed this excellent Catholic, and all those ladies, spending more than three hours in prayer and meditation there, nearly all the time on their knees, without chair or kneeler, until the very last possible moment, when the attendants came to tell us we must go now, because they were locking up. To my shame, I myself was using a chair, which I had previously “hidden” inside the door!

Oh what sweet and delightful hours we had at your home, gentle Mary!.. But now the doors were being locked and we had to go, had to leave this place of spiritual joy, and also to leave our good companions. For good. Because they were leaving very early in the morning … Myself, I would still have the happiness of celebrating the holy Sacrifice there, for the third morning …

Meanwhile, however, another Marian blessing awaited us, at the Sisters of Charity. They had prepared a simple but graceful May Altar, and we were to give Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament there. Our travel companions were all present too, as well as the Good Shepherd Sisters. Their cloister was not yet ready, and they had obtained permission to come and hear a short sermon in French, by me. After that, Bishop Bettachini said a few words in Italian to the Sisters’ children, and gave Benediction.

The evening was a perfect crown to the whole day, a day I will always count among the happiest ones ever granted me by the Lord on this earth. May 1 have received them all with a suitable attitude, at least placing no obstacle to the many graces He (most certainly) put in Mary’s gracious hands, to pass on to me! (p1413)

*To St Joseph of Cupertino’s. A village cure and a Canon. *

[*Hard to say Goodbye. No! Au Revoir. *]

Bishop Bettachini had to leave on Thursday, and my stagecoach to Rome was not until Friday. So I accompanied him as far as Osimo, and was also enabled to visit and venerate the precious relics of Saint Joseph of Cupertino, and to say Mass on the altar above his body. The relics of this extraordinary Saint, and the instruments of his rise to glory, are religiously preserved, with a care and a thoroughness that is rarely seen. I particularly liked his painfully-written letters to people he was counselling and directing. With his very imperfect language (but with his perfect insight into Love) he wrote: “I’d like to see you [_bust _]with love of Him”. His biographer thought fit to correct it, and wrote “die” instead, poor man!

That same evening, I was back at Loreto. On Friday morning, after meditating a few more hours in the little House and celebrating Holy Mass there, 1 went with Fr Lalande to see the spot in Recanati territory, whereon the Angels first landed the Holy House.

Then we continued on to the sea-shore, where we intended to call in to the parish priest at Recanati Port for some refreshments. Fr Lalande said he was a very good man, far better than the other village cures around. But he wasn’t in.

His mother (or aunt?) and a few other relatives (including a brother) gave us a decent enough reception, even though their style was about the same as that of our good peasants at home in Languedoc … in a house that even they would not think much of, and would certainly have kept a lot cleaner.

1 looked around for clues to the way-of-life of a village cure in those parts. He had a very small room, very untidy but even more dirty, for his all-purpose dwelling, containing his bed, his “office”, his oratory (a kneeler and a very ugly holy-picture) and his library (about thirty odd and ill-assorted volumes, well covered with dust, to testify that they had not been opened for a very long time). (p1414) These clues confirmed Fr Lalande’s sum-up of the clergy in this area. “You have to distinguish three social layers. The lowest clergy, corresponding to the lowest class of the people, with all their faults. The middle clergy, of the bourgeoisie, with all the bourgeois faults. And the upper clergy, with all the faults of the nobility.” Happily, there are [_moral _]exceptions to be found in all three social classes. (Our absent cure, I reckoned, should be classified on the lowest rung of the bourgeois ladder).

On our way back to Loreto, we passed another type of priest. This one would be a few rungs higher up, I’d say, though not quite up to the nobility. But I’m afraid his moral rating would have to be put a bit lower …

“Good-day, Father!” shouted Fr Lalande as we passed.

Otherwise I wouldn’t have recognised him as a priest at all. He was on horse-back, dressed for the hunt, in a coloured knee breeches, hunting jacket, ten-gallon hat, a shot-gun slung across his chest. I’d have taken him for a forest guard, at best. In fact, he was one of the Canons of Loreto Basilica!

Meanwhile, the sun was sinking over Loreto. One last Ave Maria at the Santa Casa, before leaving. It felt like leaving your mother’s room at home, never to return …

But Mary, your real home is now in Heaven; and there you will welcome me for ever, I hope, to be with you and your Son and Saint Joseph and all the Saints, who were so devoted to you down here.

The stage-coach left on time. [It travelled through the night and] we were at Civita Castellana by 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. There I said Holy Mass. By 3 o’clock I was here in Rome.

Heaven grant that this journey may not be lost, for Heaven!

Amen! (p1415)


  • Papal liturgy Disappointing. *

*Government too Bad to Write about. *

*Rome, 25 May, Ascension *

Yesterday I assisted at solemn First Vespers, in the Sistine Chapel. Over-all, it was not at all satisfying. This morning, the Holy Father presided at the Mass, chanted by a Cardinal at the Papal Altar in St John Lateran’s. After Mass, he gave his Solemn Blessing at the balcony. The general effect of the ceremony was truly grandiose, imposing, magnificent. .. but it did not live up to my expectations. I think it should be a lot better. In a place like this, it is not enough for a ceremony to be good, or fine, or even great. In the ecclesiastical sphere, nothing short of perfection should be demanded; perfection of the kind that befits each level in the Church. And I must say, one is very often disappointed here in Rome.

*10th July *

It’s a long time indeed [six weeks] since I wrote anything new in my diary. I had plenty of things to write, though! I just did not like the idea of writing them down. There are too many things that I thoroughly dislike, here in Rome, to be able to write them down properly, without getting rather indignant about them.

I know those things are outside of our holy and admirable Religion itself; but they do hurt it rather closely. And my honest reflections on them might have just that same effect.

If it was a lay government (like the Naples one, say) and you were loyal to it, then to point out its defects would certainly be to do it a service (provided you were not trying to stir up unrest, but only to warn men of goodwill).

But with the Holy Father’s government, you have to think twice. Because the interests of Religion are at stake here, indirectly. For nowadays, a lot of those men of goodwill (humanly and [_politically _]speaking) are not good Catholics. And many good Catholics in these our days can (in more-or-less good faith) have (p1416) opinions very hostile to their own governments. In these complicated days, then, careless talk is dangerous. Writing is worse. So let’s be silent.

*My Report shelved. Issues dodged. No way forward, nor back to India. Prayer. *

*1st August *

The Report [on Indian Customs etc.]80 which I submitted some time ago to Mgr Barnabo (for the Congregation of Propaganda) does not seem to have gone down at all well with that prelate. He has spoken to the Holy Father about it, doubtless in a negative way. For the Holy Father did not think fit to have it printed and circulated to the Cardinals, even.

The printing (etc.) did not really matter to me. All I wanted was that they should tackle the problem in depth, and should at least give me a chance to [_discuss _]the issues contained in my Report.

I asked for a second audience with the Holy Father. This was granted. I was very satisfied with the Pope’s reaction. He seemed really to have grasped the seriousness of the issues, and the need to do something serious about them.

“I can see very well that this will take a [plenary] session of the [Propaganda] Cardinals. I will speak again to Mgr Barnabo about it.”

And, the next Sunday, he did bring it up. But Mgr Barnabo’s (p1417) subsequent summary of what the Holy Father said was very far from satisfying me completely [that they were really going to be serious about the issues].

Anyway, the Cardinals’ session took place yesterday [about my Report. But they had not read it, of course]. They only heard a summary by Mgr Barnabo. As far as I know, his presentation was quite accurate. But never getting really to the core of my thinking on the matter. And always under the influence of some of his own pet ideas, which are of such a nature that they must always prevent a full airing [of the Indian problem] within the Sacred Congregation. I have not seen or spoken with any of the Cardinals, except the Cardinal prefect [Fransoni]. And he is much too elderly to take any active part in all these issues.

Anyhow, according to what I heard from Mgr Barnabo this morning, the outcome of the Meeting is perfectly designed to end all my hopes. I can have no hope whatsoever of getting anything real done for India. But not only that; I do not see how I could possibly continue to exercise the pastoral ministry [as a Bishop] in that [confused] unhappy country. As regards working for the general service of the Missions (or even for our own dear Society) that is now completely out of the question.

O my God, it is You who know my intentions! Be then, I beg You, my only consolation and reward. You also know my weakness, O my God. Do not let confusion or depression take hold of my soul! Come to my aid in this hour of trial! O blessed Virgin Mary, and you my good angels, help me now in my time of great need. Need of inner peace, of self-renunciation, of complete sincere annihilation.

[*Farewell Audience. Hopeless Conclusions (2) from Rome. *]

*12 August *

I have just had my farewell audience with the Holy Father.

Needless to say, his fatherly goodness persisted right to the end. (p1418)

But about my own personal situation he said only a few words. And these only confirmed my own assessment: that there is nothing left to hope for.

It is evident that the Holy Father has not examined those issues himself. All he knows about them is by verbal reports from Mgr Barnabo.

Now, from the various interviews I have had with that prelate during the last three months, it is evident (to me) that:

1. Those Propaganda gentlemen are scared of getting themselves into a very messy affair (difficult, complicated, tricky and dangerous) if they [begin to take my Report seriously]. So they would very much prefer to find a way to suspect that the truth may be other than what it is [or than what I have reported]. That way, they could in conscience let things continue to drift along quietly as before …

The question now is: will their reluctance to get dragged into those issues go so far as to make them avoid the true way towards a complete investigation and understanding of the real situation in India? It is to be feared!

2. If they were fully convinced that the situation is really as I have reported, they would have to condemn it. [I think they already suspect it may be so, because] nobody here has ever come out straight or ever said to me: “You can be quite secure about this: we are fully informed about all the pastoral practices [of missionaries in Tamil country] and you [_can _]participate in them with a safe conscience”.

Still less did anyone here have the courage to say: “Yes. Everything you report is quite accurate. We know it, anyway. And we rule that, in view of the weakness of those peoples, and all the other special circumstances, it is tolerable in conscience”.

Instead of anything like that, what did they say? It all boils down to one thing: “That’s what you say. But others say the opposite. Since you are only one man, we do not have to listen to you”.

So? [I conclude as follows]: I very seriously doubt if there [is any morally feasible stance in the situation], apart from invincible (p1419) ignorance. This is quite feasible for most of the Jesuits, since they are not allowed to open their eyes [to the problem]. And also possible for a few of our own confreres (the most obedient ones, those who are afraid to open their eyes and look [ critically] around them, after all that their superiors and predecessors have constantly assured them). So I very seriously doubt, I say, if (apart from invincible ignorance) there is any way [ now] to be a missionary in [much of South-East India]81 with a safe conscience.

Broken leaving Rome. Drastic changes inevitable here.

[* (Better for Universal church?) Prayer for Rome. *]

*20 August *

I am leaving Rome this evening, leaving it broken-hearted, all my hopes almost completely shattered; far from satisfied, in heart or in mind, with all I have seen and heard and experienced during more than three months in this City, the head and the heart of Christianity. As far as I can see, it leaves an awful lot to be desired!

A special assistance from God has always protected Rome from heresy, and always will. That is her glory. But at the moment, it is the only one, in my opinion, the only one she still has in its purity!

Of course there is good here too, in several respects; even a lot of good. But oh, there is evil, a great deal of evil! Even in places where you would not expect it was possible to find any!

I am not just talking about Rome’s political condition, its temporal administration, its earthly life; all of that is nothing but dismal humiliation. The future there is very dark; you can be fairly sure it is going to be disastrous (unless it were essential to God’s plans that the temporal power of the Church should be preserved (p1420) in spite of everything, in spite of all the sins and blindness of men).

[But more than that]. The Roman ecclesiastical administration, in today’s world, does not, I think, even begin to meet the needs of the Universal Church. (I mean the Church in the universe, the whole planet!). So I fear that Divine Providence will have to severely modify the whole system. In what way? How? And (especially) how is a [_better _]system going to come about after it all? I certainly cannot see that far.

All I can see is the terrible damage that will result from a political upheaval in Rome itself, and the (inevitable) loss of temporal power. So I am inclined [short-sightedly?] to see all the changes [in the near future as being all bad], as coming from the Lord’s just anger, rather than from His provident mercy. But could it not be a mercy, a great mercy, for other Churches, if the Sovereign Pontiff were indeed forced, in future, to depend on a set-up very different from the present [political] one, in governing Christendom?

So, both for mercy and for justice [for progress and for punishment] I fear that Rome now has a very gloomy future before her. In fact it has already begun. She is in fact no longer politically independent. Her gates are guarded by foreign sentries. A foreign flag flies above her walls. Her children inside are quarelling and preparing, gathering the makings of a great explosion which (sooner or later) will pile even more ruins on top of the ancient ones, until the day that the Lord himself intervenes with his almighty arm.

O Rome, the first of all the cities in the universe, you should be leading them all in everything, everything that is beautiful, everything that is good in this world, in the order of nature as well as of grace ! You should be all fair, all lovely, almost without a flaw. The light of your ever-pure Faith should be shining down here on all the other virtues, in all their humanity and perfection. Kings and presidents of all the peoples should be coming here, to admire (within your walls and frontiers) all that God and his gifts can achieve on earth! But is it so? I think not.

Or could it be that nations are made in such a way that, in (p1421) order to maintain the most priceless gift of all, the gift of Faith, they have to remain [politically and socially] backward, and to (1eglect the gifts of nature? I cannot believe it. For nature’s gifts are also from God, meant for the progress and the dignity of all mankind.

Therefore, Romans, to your flawless Faith add a perfect Charity (perfect as far as men and nations can make it) and then you will again be the foremost people in all the world. And this sick world, dying of [loveless] neglect, will be raised up. You will restore it to health and warm its heart. Just as you have never ceased to enlighten its mind with the pure rays of your Faith.

O God, save this great city of Peter and Paul! Convey to the throne of your Vicar the disinterested counsels of honest and truthful men, the whole truth! Give him wisdom and sense to accompany his infallible Faith, which you have promised to Peter and have so marvellously kept safe, down through the ages!

And if the voice of human advisers is not enough, and You have to speak yourself, in the thunder, oh let it be in mercy! Mercy for this city and for all the local churches all over the world, to the ends of the earth!

Lord, have mercy on us. Mary, pray for us. Peter, pray for us!

*Off Corsica, 21 August *

At about 7 yesterday evening, I said adieu to the Eternal City. Four months ago, on the Alban Hills, I had seen the dome of St Peter’s on the far horizon; my heart [surprisingly] shuddered and my soul was [unaccountably] sad. Yesterday evening, going into say farewell to the angel of his Basilica (probably for the very last time) my heart was sad again; but this time I had a better and clearer idea why.

[I had been staying at the French College in 20, via degli Ibernesi, formerly the Irish College]. Fr Lannurien CSSp (the founder) and the few seminarians not yet on vacation, accompanied me to the stage-coach. It transported me quickly (but not very comfortably) to Civitavecchia, arriving about 4 in the morning.(p1422) After a few minor obstacles, I got on board the Eclaireur, a State ship, and they told us we should be at Toulon tomorrow by noon.

Angels of the Mediterranean, pray for us travellers, and for this magnificent sea where we are cutting so peacefully along.(p1423)


[* (22 August -1 November 1854) *]

*Unreal and Pointless Return. *

*Mean churches and Priests. Not yet Pagan. *

*Toulon harbour, 22 August *

And there it was, the coast of France, showing up more and more clearly ahead of us, ever since we had first sighted it, early this morning. [I blinked my eyes, in a kind of disbelief]. Can it really be France? The France that I left for ever? Or is it a mirage, and am I in fact now looking at the Malabar Coast? But no. No tall coco-nut palms here, swaying their long green tresses above the sea-shore. No palm-thatched huts beneath them. And look! those people running on the beach, they are all white! And where are the slender one-log canoes, or the double “catimarams” with their amphibious fishermen? And now, that great City in front, at the end of the long harbour-wall we are now passing … yes, indeed, it is Toulon, with its forts, its convict-prison, its huge arsenal… This must be France, then .. !

O my God! How I wish I was landing here for [some purpose], for nothing else but to work here for Your glory! In different circumstances, I could well imagine this voyage being made for the Missions, with prospects of good and happy results for them. But alas! After all that has happened, in India and then at Rome, I see no hope of anything like that. I can hope for nothing, except to be made an immolation, a sacrifice, for them! May it be acceptable to You, O my God!

The anchor is dropped. Only 17 hours out from Civitavecchia, and we have arrived! (p1424) After some delays at the Customs (who were very decent, however) I went to the [harbour] hotel, along with a priest who had travelled with me from Rome. In the evening, we took the opportunity to see the churches of Toulon. What a disappointment, O my God, after the Eternal City, where your temples are so beautiful, your saints so diligently honoured! It was almost 15 years since I was last in Toulon. Even then, its churches seemed tiny, miserable, completely out of proportion with the importance of the city. This evening, they looked far worse: horrible, unfit for any Christian town.

How many, many hearts that do not know You, in this place, o my God! For, if they each had even a glimmer of Faith or love, would Your temples here look like this, so utterly neglected and abandoned? Depressing to the eye; all in grey mourning. No hint at all of majestic joy or tender popular piety.

Still, O Lord, we thank You that at least there are no temples here to any false gods, such as we find infesting so many places in this world. Heresy has some kind of a temple here, no doubt. And 1 suppose the sons of Mahomet have got some place, to celebrate their anti-Christian cult in. But anyway, at least neither Siva nor Vishnu nor the fetishes nor the evil spirits have any temple here.

All these crowds pushing and shoving within these narrow bastions, rushing around so feverishly after the interests of this passing world, so utterly unconcerned for the everlasting things of Heaven … they are all Christians anyway, in fact or in name. O my God, do not let their ignorance or indifference ever go so far as to forget your Name entirely, or to give It to some vile or obscene creation of their own hands!

*Bishop de Mazenod invisible. *

*A ‘stoic Revolutionary’ on the Train. *

*Marseille, 23 August *

At 8 o’clock yesterday evening, we took the diligence for Marseille. After a very tiring night’s travelling, we arrived at this ancient Phocean city about 5 in the morning. The departure for (p1425) Montpellier was not until noon. So I took the opportunity to say Holy Mass, and to visit Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde and the Cathedral.

1 wanted to see the Bishop [Eugene de Mazenod] to deliver a message from Bishop Bettachini of Jaffna, and to say a word or two [of complaint?] about the Oblates in Ceylon. (For he is still their Superior).

[I could not get to see him, however]. It seems that today is the last day for catching the post to America, and that he has a very active correspondence going, with the Oblates there. He was barricaded in, writing letters to them. So thoroughly barricaded that the Vicar General and the other Vicars knocked in vain at all the doors, to try and get his attention.

Anyway, some of the things I had to say to him were of a sort that I was just as well pleased that I couldn’t see him, and couldn’t say them.82

1 cannot finish this item about Toulon and Marseille without noting the attitude of the few priests that 1 came across in both places: nothing but icy coldness, and a dry reserved stiffness that really makes you feel bad.

*Carcassonne Seminary, 24 August *

By 2 p.m. we were boarding the train at Marseille, and we arrived at Montpellier at 7. After a necessary half-hour’s stop (to eat something) we took the diligence. And it arrived here in Carcassonne at 11 p.m.

Nothing very remarkable to report, during those swift journeys, except maybe this. At one point 1 was alone in the railway carriage with an Italian traveller of a particularly obnoxious type. He brought the conversation around to Italy, to Rome in particular, to the Pope, the Cardinals, the clergy, Religion … God alone knows all the blasphemies he spouted then, against everything (p1426) that is most sacred. I refuted those obscene statements of his very strongly, but without getting insulting or personal about it. I tried to keep it to politics rather than religion. I let him wax as eloquent as he liked about the political situation, especially as I was very interested to hear the red-revolutionary point-of-view, from the horse’s mouth (so to speak). I learnt a lot of things which I had already half-suspected; but their dismal reality is becoming more and more confirmed nowadays, from the most wide-spread sources …

Anyhow, this bluffer, this faithless lawless wretch (sans foi ni loi) made it very clear that he believed in nothing at all. Nothing supernatural. Nothing but matter. Matter is all there is. .

“Death is the end of us; and I await it with complete stoic indifference”, he pompously declared. But his mental contradictions (so many of those poor people live with confused souls!) were soon to show up, in an unexpected way …

A railway doctor joined us between two stations, and the conductor forgot to lock the carriage door properly. As soon as the train got really moving again, the door slammed open and shut; the window smashed, and the splinters flew inside the carriage. (We could easily have got our faces severely cut). Another crash, and the door fell down, hanging on by a single leather strap, and bumped along the rails and sleepers, hitting the carriage again and again with a frightful clatter. Whenever that strap finally broke, the door could quite possibly fall in under the wheels and cause a derailment.

The doctor and myself calmly reckoned the chances of this, and concluded that a real accident was unlikely. But you should have seen our Italian rationalist! He was jumping up and down like someone gone mad or possessed. He thought he was finished, lost for ever! He kept shouting and screaming at the engine-driver (as if his voice could reach him, through the rumble of more than twenty carriages!). It was a long five minutes before he began to get over it.

“Tis a miracle”, says he, “a miracle that we weren’t all cut up by that flying glass!”. .

“But you don’t believe in miracles”, I almost replied. I (p1427) refrained, however. This was not the time or the place for such rational reflections. The doctor got out at the next station …

“Twas him!”, cried my sceptical materialist. “He is the one! .. The one who brought all this upon us! O yes, I know what he is. He’s one of them! … those people that always go around, carrying bad luck with them wherever they go! Bad luck to him anyway! May the cholera catch him and … and wipe him off the face of the earth!”

*Carcassonne Seminary. Ecstatic welcome Home. *

[*Bishop. (Cholera). *]

I got down at Narbonne. I’d have liked to look around the city for a while; but the diligence gave me no time …

Arriving at Carcassonne, I went straight to the Minor Seminary. For I have always kept up my youthful affection for the place. Unfortunately, neither Fr Arnal nor Fr Barthe was there.83 The Seminary is on vacation, and all the staff are away, except for two young professors. Anyway, they welcomed me very well indeed.

*Castelnaudary, 4 September *

It is already several days, now, that I have been at home with my family. But up to this, I haven’t had any chance [to describe my arrival or] to sort out my crowded impressions, during this wonderful time of natural joy accorded to me by Divine Goodness.

O my God, if we are so glad, after a few years away, to see our loved ones again for a short time, how great will be our (p1428) happiness in Heaven, to find ourselves all reunited in your Love, for ever! For I hope, O my God, that You will grant this grace to all those who are now showing me such love and consideration. I hope for this, too, because You have [so surprisingly] chosen me, in spite of my unworthiness, to be one of the bishops of the holy Church, our mother.

As soon as I reached Carcassone, as I said, I went to the Minor Seminary. In the absence of the Superior, Fr Coustelle welcomed me with all possible courtesy.84 I say more: with all the warm charity that is traditional in that House towards Its former students and teachers. All the priests who used to be my close companions in Carcassonne hurried to come and see me, as soon as they heard of my arrival. And in spite of the tiredness and sadness on their faces because of the cholera epidemic now raging m the area, our reunion was a big occasion of real mutual joy.

In the evening I went to pay my respects to Bishop de Bonnechose of Carcassonne.85 This prelate by now seems to have won the hearts of everyone, clerical and lay. The few clouds that hung over his appointment have been completely dispersed by the splendour of his priestly virtues and the wisdom of his administration.

His Lordship received me perfectly well, reproaching me (in

a friendly and, I suppose, a complimentary way) for not lodging at his own place. Later in the evening, he came to return my visit, and to invite me to dinner next day; a small gathering, since he could not very well put on a big affair for me, with the cholera going on all around.

All the free time in the twice 24 hours that I spent at Carcassonne went in visiting: the churches, the Vincentian Sisters and (p1429) the Carmelites (newly arrived, since my departure) and also in returning their visits to the Vicar General (etc.) and the other priests who had come to see me.

[*The Road home. My town, Mother, Father, Bathilde … everybody! *]

Finally, on Saturday at noon, I took the Lambois coach to Castelnaudary. I do not know whether it was grace or my own determination, but I managed not to be[_ too_] overcome by the sight of the country road home, which I had travelled so often in my childhood (and up to the age of 27) and which I had expected to travel never again in this life. Every village, every country house along the road, every clump of trees, the distant mountains and the nearby hills, everything reminded me of names I thought I had long ago forgotten, of little incidents from my lost childhood … I must admit, however, that my heart started beating a good bit faster when the old church-tower of Saint-Michel’s came into view, and when I turned into the town.

As soon as the word went round that I was coming, a crowd of women ran to my father’s house. So it was in the town square that I saw my mother, tears of joy in her eyes. I flung myself into her waiting arms; and my own eyes could not be kept dry very long, either.

My father, however, did not feel he could stand such excitement. He waited for me, standing, in the salon at home. I ran to his arms, and there were plenty more tears …

My sister Bathilde had gone to meet me at the Diligence Station; but she soon heard, and came back like a flash. That was another moment of pure joy and consolation, given to us, free and unearned, from your great goodness, O my God! For which we will always be duly thankful. ..

Soon, the friends and neighbours were all crowding into the house. (p1430)


*Felicie, Henri, local Priests and People. *

Sermon. Family Visits.

Meanwhile, however, it is a time of great sorrow and mourning for the town. Cholera is raging, and everybody is terrified. Anyone staying in the country is staying away longer than planned. And some others are going out there specially. Nevertheless, I have already seen many of them, who came in to meet me, or took the opportunity when passing.

But first of all, my [married] sister Felicie came, very early next day, along with her husband. They did not bring their charming little daughter, for fear of the cholera. But when they found that the danger had been greatly exaggerated, they brought her along soon afterwards. My good Aunt de Gaja came over, just as soon as she could get the horses tackled to her carriage.

I was very anxious to see my brother Henri; but he was kept at home by the [slight] illness of his child and the exaggerated fears of his wife. He eventually came on Thursday, and very delighted I was to see him. I am to set out tomorrow [for the chateau of Lasserre] at Monestrol, along with the whole family, to spend some days with him.

There are only four priests here from the time I was curate in the parish: Frs Redon, Gauzion, Vidal and Cros. (Fr de Soubiran is also stationed here still; but he is absent at the moment). Those gentlemen, and all the other priests around, have been most kind. But the sad extra work caused by the epidemic have deprived me of much of their edifying company.

Yesterday I went to the church of Saint-Jean, to give a sermon. For I want my stay here to be all for Your glory, O my God. You will ask us to account for every minute of our lives …

I started writing this section [five days ago] but I was soon interrupted; and ever since then, I haven’t had a single half-hour to myself, with so many people coming here to see me, at all hours.

I hope it is all [ultimately] due to their love of You, O my (p1431) God. But I also thank You myself, for the consolation it gave me, to see the whole population of Castelnaudary (regardless of their rank or position in society) coming to express their interest and maybe even their friendship. May your holy Name be praised and blessed!

*17 September *

Yesterday we came back from our little round of family visits.

At Lasserre, visiting my brother Henri, I made the acquaintance of his wife (formerly Mlle d’Hautpoul) and his little son Georges.

At [the chateau of] Lascourtines, everything gently and sweetly reminded me of my late Uncle Melchior [de Gaja]. My cousin Raymond (always my favourite cousin) seems to be nobly walking in his footsteps. I made the acquaintance of his wife (formerly Mlle d’Uston).and his son Fernand (already 8-9 years old). He is a fairly spoilt little boy, who has a noticeable liking for the church and for liturgy. He has a little “chapel” of his own, and he always loves to serve Mass, dressed in his choir-boy’s outfit.

At Garric I got to know the charming dwelling of my sister Felicie, married to M. de Ranchin, near Saissac …

I could spend only a short time at each of those houses. There was nearly always a big crowd of us, because we tended to be always visiting each other; and the people round about always called in to see me.

This week, however, I hope to be a bit quieter (in spite of all the people still coming and going) for I have to prepare for an Octave of sermons which I have promised, at Saint-Michel’s, Castelnaudary, from next Sunday until the first Sunday in October.

I hope thus to wind up my visit to my home-town. May it all be to Your glory, O my God. (p1432)


A week of Sermons. Safe Departure. Pamiers Bishop.

[* Toulouse Cousins; Bishop. Fr de Gelis’s noble Family. *]

*My Portrait. *

*1st October *

This evening, Rosary Sunday, I concluded my eight days of preaching. I think the Lord has blessed this little effort. Not that I could expect to convert any great sinners; just to help some people to love our good Master and his holy Religion a little better.

The timing, of course, was not the best. The cholera epidemic was still spreading terror throughout the town and neighbourhood; a noticeable part of the population had fled. Moreover, the harvest -ending and the grape-gathering kept many people busy out in the country. All this was not going to help church attendance very much. Nevertheless, every evening, I had a very big congregation. And, on the two Sundays, the vast nave of Saint-Michel's (at least 40 metres by 20) was literally packed, as well as the choir and the sanctuary.

May our Lord be glorified!

*Lascourtines, 8 October *

I left Castelnaudary yesterday. At first I was intending to leave very casually, without telling my father and mother the exact day and hour in advance, so as to spare them the heartbreak of another [more formal] departure. But I saw that this [vagueness] was causing much pain to my father. And anyway, he had prepared himself well for it; he was being very sensible (and, what is more, very Christian) about the approach of this painful moment (especially serious for him, in view of his great age). So, about four days beforehand, I let him know the exact time of my planned departure.

On the previous Sunday, he had received Holy Communion from my hand (as he had already done several times already during my short stay at Castelnaudary).86 My mother had received (p1433) even more frequently; and she was looking forward to receiving one last time, at my last Mass at home. Thus, when the crucial moment came, it was painful of course, but not heart-rending or in any way exaggerated or melodramatic.

Be you blessed and praised, O my God, for the great strength of mind You give to your servants in the trials most painful to their human hearts!

At about 3 in the evening I left, in my cousin Raymond de Gaja’s carriage, for Lascourtines, where I am writing this. Tomorrow I am to go to Pamiers.

*Pamiers, 8 October *

And tomorrow I am to leave here. I had previously heard something about the dismal troubles in this diocese.87 But I soon found that the disputes (between the Bishop and part of his clergy) were much worse than I had imagined.

For, passing through Mirepoix, I called to see some of the priests, especially the cure, who seems to be a very respected man. He has been parish priest there for more than 14 years (for he was already there when I left for the Missions). He took a very serious view of the situation].

At Pamiers itself, it was even more obvious. Unfortunately, the people [_against _]the Bishop seem to be the soundest and most respectable of the clergy. Some of his reported actions are very difficult to explain. And many lay people, and even some priests, use much stronger language to describe his behaviour.

God forbid that I should start to judge such grave matters on a mere passing acquaintance with them (or from what I could not help overhearing during the last two days)! I merely record the resulting lamentable state of the diocese, particularly at a time like this, when scandal is so easy to give, and so difficult to repair.

I paid a courtesy call on the Bishop; but our talk was short and vague. He returned my visit; but I was not in at the time.(p1434)

*Monestrol, 11 October *

Fear of the cholera, and the particular danger it appears to have for children, prevented my sister-in-law from coming here to see me off for Toulouse. My brother Henri came alone.

I am going to leave in a few hours’ time [for Toulouse]. This brief visit makes me even more certain that the good heart and mind of my brother are just as they always have been. And that his wife is worthy of him.

*Toulouse, 17 October *

I had hardly arrived in Toulouse when I had a visit from [my cousins] Louis and Auguste de Bresillac. I must say, I was very pleased to see them again.

Louis seems to have maintained (almost) the same strong faith and piety that brought him safely through his years of ill-fortune. And now the Lord seems to have blessed him for it. For, as well as occupying a very high place in the Toulouse judiciary, he has made an extremely “rich” marriage.

Augustine, however, has been [much too involved in politics for his own good], much too over-excited by recent political events. Now he seems to have fallen into a lamentable state of apathy, almost of misanthropy and doubt. This attitude could be very harmful to him, from every point of view. But he has a good mind. (He gave strong signs of that). And this will keep him right, and help him to get out of his present confusion of spirit. Moreover, he is very far from losing his Faith. And that will be of even greater help to him.

That same evening, I saw M. de Gelis, a brother of my Fr de Gelis, that excellent missionary, more than once praised in this diary.

I promised to spend next Friday at their house; for I am anxious to meet his mother and sisters, to tell them in detail about the virtues of their very good son (or brother).

On Thursday I met several other people, including the Archbishop. He invited me and my brother to dinner on Sunday. (p1435)

So on Friday I duly proceeded to Portet village (near Toulouse) the de Gelis ancestral residence. They are a patriarchal family, having kept up all the good old customs of more than a century ago; an outstanding example in all respects: care for the poor, maintenance of the church, etc. A family as distinguished by its shining virtues as it is ignored and under-rated by the dull modern world we are living in … It was a day that would do your heart and soul good, just to be there.

Saturday was promised to Louis, at his “new” chateau of Launaguet, given to his wife by her father. This chateau is ridiculously fine and grand, much more of a financial headache to my cousin than any use or enjoyment.

He is a son of two first-cousins, and of problematic mental balance. He has often been completely “broke” during his life; but at the moment he seems to enjoy a huge personal fortune, being highly favoured by the present government, and placed in charge of Requests in the Council of State. ..

They say he largely owes his position to his close friendship with the Marechal de Saint-Arnaud, the General-en-chef of the Arrnees d’Orient. So the recent death of the Marechal has seriously affected his position. I only saw him for a moment or two. He was rushing off to Paris.

As for Louis’s wife, she seems to make up, by her good education and other good qualities (even her piety) for what she lacks in beauty. Louis has two children, too young to say anything about.

On arrival I found a note from the Archbishop of Toulouse, who had called, and had found me still absent. Soon afterwards, one of the principal Vicars arrived with a request, from the Archbishop, to preach next day in the [cathedral]. I decided I could take it on.

As it turned out, the church was absolutely crowded, and I think the Lord blessed that sermon.

On Monday I finally gave in to my brother, who wanted at all costs to have my portrait painted, to be presented to my aged (p1436) father.88 I knew the good old man would be delighted with that present; so I managed to overcome my reluctance. (Maybe I should have obeyed it!).

This morning, everything is being made ready for my departure [and the end of my time with my family]. I hope and pray that it has all passed off well, with no offense to the Lord.

[*Boorish Priests: Professors to Blame? *]

Example: Bordeaux.

  • Bordeaux, 18 October *

People in the world often complain about the social behaviour of the clergy, their lack of courtesy and savoir-vivre [‘savvy’], sometimes even about their downright rudeness and vulgarity. And it is not only “the children of this world” (condemned by our Saviour and Saint John) who make those complaints against the clergy, but also “the children of light”, the “saints” in this world, the great majority of men-of-goodwill, including families devoted to the Faith (even though not all the members practise their religion or the law of Christ perfectly).

Some of their complaints are exaggerated of course. But quite often they are well founded on reality. Especially since these honest people do not expect or demand worldly elegance or vanity from a priest, much less anything like “fashion” or affectation. In fact they despise the perfumed or pomaded abbe a lot more than the uncouth (but honest and hard-working) priest.

For the last two months I have been living in that kind of “world” [upper-class but Catholic] and I have had many occasions to observe the fairness of their comments on the clergy. Especially since they felt more free than usual to continue talking about them in my presence, as I have no authority or any connection (p1437) with the establishment. I know their comments were fair because I have experienced the same kind of mistakes from the clergy myself, more than once.

One of the principal causes of those faults in social behaviour (which often have consequences much more serious than you might imagine) is to be found in the kind of training given in the seminaries. Nobody can give what he hasn’t got, or teach what he doesn’t know. And the unfortunate fact is, that many seminary professors are themselves boorish and rough, and seem to think that a grim and almost uncivilised facial expression is the one that best suits their job. Locked in from normal contact with people around them, hardly ever exercising the pastoral ministry outside the walls of their seminary, they can easily become quite peculiar and anti-social in their behaviour. And the [dry and abstract] nature of their studies is of no help at all to them, to correct those natural tendencies.

When I arrived in Bordeaux this morning, I soon found myself at the receiving end of this system, like many another before me who has had a lot more serious things to endure from it.

As soon as I had cleaned myself up a bit at the hostelry, I made for the Seminary, intending to say Holy Mass. At the door I met a [fairly normal] professor who received me well and said there was no problem about that. But then along came the Superior, whom I had [unfortunately] asked to see.

“Ah, but we have very definite rules here, about priests passing through. Have you been to see the Archbishop about this?”

“Well, I’ve only just arrived in Bordeaux. And it is still very early … “

“But we cannot … [let every Tom, Dick or Harry say Mass here, just like that].

“So you think there is some problem about letting me celebrate?”

“Now, look here …”

“Father, I respect [your right to have] scruples. All that remains for me to do is, to wish you Good Day”. (p1438 Thereupon, he retired [again] to his room. The other professor was mortified, and he stayed with me while another cab was being called. I couldn’t help remarking on how utterly stupid and uncalled-for was the man’s refusal, and [how ill-mannered was] the form of it. After all, I was obviously dressed as a bishop. And if he still had some reason for doubting me (as might just be possible at times) a little bit of courtesy and skill in conversation could easily have brought out my identity [without insulting me]. Plenty of our missionaries pass through Bordeaux, and even through the Seminary. How easily he could have found out (by polite indirect enquiries) what contacts I have had with some of them and with our Paris Directors, etc. Anyway, the other professor saw all this for himself.

“I think that, when he has thought it over, he will see his mistake.”

I should certainly hope so. But taking-thought after such a blunder is like taking mustard after dinner. I went out very disappointed. But I did tell the professor that I considered this very peculiar welcome to be the action of the Superior alone, and in no way the fault of Bordeaux Seminary; for I had always heard our confreres speak well of their hospitality.

After [_that _]encounter, I had to leave Bordeaux ahead of time. I booked my place in the Paris train for that same evening.

I had intended to stop off for one or two days in Bordeaux, precisely and solely in order to greet the Seminary staff and show them some friendship or gratitude. For they usually help our young missionaries about to sail for India, and could easily be helpful to them in future.

My remaining hours at Bordeaux I spent in visiting the Archbishop, the churches and the hospital.

It is now 5 o’clock, and I must go to the Railway Station.

My holy Angel, whom God has entrusted to guard me, please guide and protect me upon those long metal ribbons, as you have already done so well upon the foaming waves! Amen. (p1439)

*Paris Directors underwhelmed by joy at having him. *

*How to be a general Nuisance. Only one Hope left now. *

*Paris, 19 October *

The journey was without incident. The Seminary Gentlemen received me (fairly) well …

*Paris, 1st November 1854 *

It is now almost two full weeks that I have been here at Paris. In the first week I never discussed any business or affairs at all; and certainly nobody here even wanted to mention them.

They received me properly enough, but as they would do with a stranger. (Maybe not quite as well). As for fraternity or family spirit, not a hint of it. It is obvious that they are very suspicious of me.

At the end of the [first] week, I gave [the Superior] Fr Barran the Mernoire [Report] that I drew up for Propaganda, asking him to read it through and to pass it on to the other Directors to read …

I do not think anybody has read it yet, except for Fr Tesson and Fr Voisin. Even these two (who are still, in my opinion, the best to be found in the House) seem to be very annoyed with what I had to say about [the formation in] the Foreign Missions Seminary. So what will the others be like? [Furious, most likely]. I suppose it is only natural. ..

On the other hand, they seem to like very much what I wrote about the Malabar Rites [Indian Customs] issue. (Which so greatly annoyed Mgr Barnabo!).

Of course the Jesuits would love it; while they will never be able to forgive me for my remarks about [them and] Native Clergy. Again, only natural…

But none of those very “natural” reactions is any help at all to the supernatural work of Grace. That Work is in Your hands alone, O my God. You alone are our hope, our only hope!



[* *]


1849 – Outnumbered, 041 (Add 1000 to all page numbers here).

Waiting in Pondicherry. Charbonnaux admired my Retreat, but effectively shot it down in the Synod. Mouse.

Luquet deteriorating. Pacreau leaving. College retreat, 042

En route home. No win until Judgment Day.

Leroux’s doubts, dodged, 043

Cholera strikes our Caravan, _046 _

Home again. Cornevin’s Tamil progress, fantastic[_, 047 _]

Goa Schism continues. Leroux now promoting pariahs!

Epidemic. Pajean’s help, Luquet and Bp Verolles fighting, 048

Fennelly’s newspaper attacking Bombay Carmelites[_, 049 _]

I mention confreres’ moral doubts to Propaganda, 050 (First time?).

Barot defects. Pacreau demands long leave. Pajean is forced on me, 050

Plan for St Michael’s Church, Coimbatore, _053 _

Paris now forcing me to re-admit Barot.

Fr. Metral in the river. Fr Thivet in the tiger-trap, 054

Prayer in deep illness and suffering. Pacreau leaving, 055

Barot returning. Cornevin dead. Better off out of it?

Over-ruled on Barot and Pacreau. Should I resign? 057

Pajean subverting Bonjean. Jarrige spreading Barran’s confusion.

The line-out against me. Unable to even work for a remedy, I offer to resign (protest). Then to Jerusalem or a French monastery? 059

Crying need for MEP restructuring. The Siam case, 062

I welcome back Barot (no choice). Paris apologizes too late, [065 _]They are completely _ultra vires and Out of Order.

New Coimbatore Collector. Bombay mess reaching a crisis? _066 _

1850 – Fight for a Solution, or just Get Out? _069 _

Early tonsure saved Pondicherry Seminary. Why I advised against a separate Major Seminary now.

Siam again. Ravel. My resignation letter (1st) held in Paris, 071 They all write me against resigning. Reasons FOR.

I MUST get a moral answer. India can’t give. Rome won’t, 073

I will not stay here and start a war about it. Consult whom?

Invited to Verapoly. (Fennelly again), Coimbatore a full Vicariate, _076 _


But subdivision without coordination is disastrous, 076

Pius IX is no help at all. Immersed in local European politics.

To Kerala to consult. Fr. Charles. Too many priests here[_, 079 _]

Two rites a confusion. Carmelites’ views on Tamil Church. Their ignorance of the languages. My (2nd) letter “passed”.

The two boys, the beef and the Bishop (me) 083

"Come to Pondicherry as my Coadjutor". --No, thanks! 084

Bishop Bacinelli helps finalize Coimbatore cathedral plan, _085 _

Pucinelli a disappointed Jesuit. Rome must stop waffling. Terrible journey home.

My poor Weavers, starved by English capitalism. How to help them, 086

Second resignation sent, direct to Rome. Vicariate retreat useless, 089

Fr Perceval, no English. Protest to Paris.

Fr de Gelis, Pajean and the Collector. I must do nothing in it, [_091 _]Fennelly now demands our statistics! Cathedral delayed.

New house in Ooty. But not an inter-vicariate Sanitarium.

1851 – Ball in Rome’s Court. Ceylon, 095

What’s he up to? (Bp Canoz SJ). Fennelly again.

Rome orders me to write a Report. Tiger skin. Tesson.

Uncle de Gaja dead. Felicie engaged, 097

My reply to Questionnaire about Immaculate Conception definition, 098

Bold Fr Mehay and our inadequate rules, _099 _

My long Expose about Indian customs tolerated here, 099

Bishop of Jaffna calls. Invitation. I invite Pajean, _101 _

Malhaire has English! Otherwise childish. Tesson apologizes. Bruniere died in Manchuria, Pacreau at sea. Ravel’s funeral!

Old Fr Jarrige’s U-turn about Customs. So much for “long experience”!

My own position (more balanced) not heeded, 102

Bishop Bettachini a hot Italian rebel. Ominous for Rome, 106 Coldly correct reception at Jesuit HQ, Trichy.

Conversation with a saintly Jesuit near Tanjore. Cinema 1851.

A near thing with a scorpion, 109

Nagapattinam. Frozen out of the Jesuit College (and “seminary”), we move to the roof of the bungalow (palace) near the beautiful Temple Tank. The highly ‘ecumenical’ Collector, 112

Island of Mannar. European and Indian priests compared, [_116 _]Crossing to Ceylon. Mighty reception, _119 _

Mary’s funeral, Tamil sermon by Fr Pajean.

Missionaries managing [all _]details (especially finance) is stupid, _121

Strategy doubly wrong: driving out Goans; neglecting Local Clergy, [_123 _](p1443)

Fr Mola (Milan). OMI coming into all Ceylon. Jaffna city, [125 _]Sailing (tilted) to Trincomallee. Reception by angels, _127

British Navy HQ, Asia. Poor France! _128 _

Five days South through the deep Forest:

1. to the first “mansion house”. We have to pay! _130 _

2. into Elephant country. Buddha’s dam. Two English hunters, 131

3. Close encounter with Elephant. Over-night in a “post office” 131

4. Postmaster’s Catholic wife. Follow torches until 10 p.m., _132 _

5. Friendly Monks in a temple Cave. Ruined barracks, 133 Matellai and the bold Fr Reinaud.

British direct rule better than Company’s. Kandy’s many amenities, 135

Reinaud, serving Catholics (Tamil, Irish) would prefer Buddhists, 137

(Possibilities there, but no time). A layman’s princely hospitality.

The split among the good Monks, an opportunity? But who? 139 The Buddha’s Tooth, the Key and the House of Lords.

Ceylon: painful change from Black to White. Lost opportunity, 140

Back to India. Reception attended in spite of severe illness, 144 Pessimism in extremis. Hoping to die.

The Voltairean French doctor and the good Danish doctor, 146

Fr Lazare’s fine home-built church, 148

Karaikal a ridiculous French enclave.

Ex-Danish Tranquebar. Pondicherry could easily follow suit:

English effortless control after French fussy bureaucracy, 149 Tranquebar, heresy, Fr Beschi, the English Colossus, 151 Kumbakonam. Disappointed with my Judge friend.

The Jupiter puddle, 151

Home again. Well. Take on Quilon? --No. S.C. praises my Expose, 152

But they send a very severe circular. Everybody blames ME! 154

Let each man state his policy. Let Rome decide. But not hastily, and not too lazily. If the latter, I resign, 155

Resist Fennelly and the Irish take-over. Martini changing towards me? 156

1852 – Becoming morally untenable, _159 _

I write Rome to “cool it”. Bonjean’s Ooty house. Lefeuvre “fed up”.

Vachal a martyr in China. Pajean plotting with Jaffna, to go there.

Goa Schism into Karumattampatty and Dindigul districts. Fr Semeria hits back. Prayer for OMI’s greater future, _162 _

My “caste” conservatives and my “moral” radicals make it impossible to maintain a sane middle Line here. I again offer to resign, _163 _

I transfer Pajean, to help him. Good retreat (by Bonjean) and a rare decent Meeting. But no framework of support for young men, 165 (p1444)

Restructuring the Society is the only way out. I will try, risking many rebuffs. If this fails, I will have to resign, 166 (2nd reason).

On visitation. “Cooperative” parents of girls. Fr. Marie-Xavier! _167 _

The Fr’s loads, the outraged coolies and the boycotted Christians, 169

The children, the two bullocks and the old woman.

Propaganda refuses my resignation. Paris exhorts me to stay, [_172 _]But now my PEOPLE are being ill-treated, and I can’t protect them. I request permission to go to Rome to explain all this.

I veto confreres’ short-sighted cleverness in “choosing” Directors, 174

France: the Kings, the Republic, the new “Empire”, the future, 175

1853 – On the Way Out, 179

Pajean and Lefeuvre now quite hopeless. My “principled” rebel bullies. But I still work seriously at the Coimbatore cathedral, even though I may not be allowed to stay to finish it, 182

Desperate Prayer for dying Fr Metral.

Bishop Charbonnaux on a “solo” trip to Rome; disunity, [_184 _]Metral to Ooty. I am forced to cancel our annual retreat.

Disaffection at Ooty. Revolt against Pajean (etc) in Palghat, 185

I stop a dangerous boycott in Karumattampatty, 185

Pajean and Lefeuvre won’t let me do so in Palghat. (Ravel steps in).

They scornfully reject my letter to the people.

A nerve-less Society retains those two regardless, 188

Bishop Bonnand’s friendly visit. Pain at my resignation secret, 190

Permission received to go to Rome. He tries to dissuade me.

Joyful celebration at Codively’s new church. Three-way comparison, 192

Sattiamangalam’s ruined city. And farmland ruined by English taxes, 193

Our tyrannical “republicans” and indisciplined “pure gospellers”, 193

My last High Mass at Karumattampatty? Sum-up.

Heart-broken prayer, 195

The (Kerala) Syro-malabar Church and thick missionary bungling, 196

Why did Bishop Bonnand order me to lock up his thesis on Customs? _199 _

Afraid of the truth? MB now Enemy n 1; too dangerously honest.

The crazy (and typical) case of Malhaire and our Society,[_ 202_]

I know I loved the Indians, and that they loved me, 206

I had three saintly friends anyway: Metral, Ravel and de Gelis.

The double pain, of leaving and of secrecy.(p1445)


Coimbatore to Mangalore. 211

Departure with improvised bullocks. Blessing the carriers. Confirmations at Palghat few (after Malhaire). Pajean. Hole, angel, _213 _

Capsizing (cook). Helped to cross the river.

West country, tough inhabitants. The sea! Logging port, 215

Vasco da Gama. The shames of the later Portuguese and Europeans who looted, compromised the Faith, and failed the clergy,[_ 217_]

Good old da Silva, a dacent and hospitable man, 220

Mahe, a new Low for France overseas, good for stones, 221 Talicherry and its Marian shrine near the pagan sea, 223

Change to a patamar boat, Cannanore to Mangalore, _225 _

A “proper” (English) Indian chaplain, a good host. Farewell to my people. Will I ever see them again?

Loreto nuns for Mangalore? Coimbatore now unfit for them. Bruyere, 227

Letter why the Jesuits blocked a Beatification. Prayer to Ignatius, 229

Advice to Mangalore seminarians.

The Carmelites or the MEP or the Jesuits? 231

No safe entry to Goa. Lament and prayer for Portugal[_, 233 _]

A week’s delay at sea now. Learning from Indian patience, [_234 _]New Year in Bombay, _235 _

Steaming towards Arabia, looking back on BOMBAY, 237

Ship horribly crowded, but English passengers very courteous. The “truth” about Bombay Mission. Why Propaganda failed, 239

Italian “slowness” in the past, now changing there.

Italian Carmelites attacked by the “English” element. Dr Whelan, 241

Rome’s letter merely filed. No will made. Fennelly’s newspaper, 243

Shambles why the Government took over all the Mission property.

Bp Hartmann’s healing hand. Propaganda now backing the Jesuits? 246

Mahim. Rebel local clergy. The fault is in their training, 249

The Carmelites could improve it. The Jesuits will not have any.

Expensive English “justice”. Late Bishop’s wonderful brother, [_251 _]Imported (horti)culture is useless. Bombay another example, _252 _

The great city of BOMBAY, the Babel of India. Divided Christians, 254

My arrival. Visit to Mahim. Pereira an excellent Goa Jesuit 255

A new low in liturgy. Convent. Orphanage (Protestant peril’), 258 Granpa, the Railway, and Catholic newspapers, 259

Elephanta island Temple. City Hall and Library, _262 _

Parsee native hospital and modern Shipyard.

The Animal Hostel, a triumph of crazy philosophy and sociology, 264 (p1446)

Ice cream with English Catholics. Modern disproportion of efforts, 267

Every possible religion here. Ancient Armenian church, 267 Catholics in Bombay utterly confused, even about Fast Days, 269 Praise for Protestant Sunday Service on deck, _270 _

The English have good native troops.

We should have good native clergy, _270 _

Aden, the terrible Gibraltar, 273

Thanks for a pleasant voyage to here. (Ice). Onward travel problem.

After Mass at the Port, I meet a friendly bishop and a snob.

I wait to investigate possibilities of a Mission into Arabia, 275 Good Fr Luigi, the only man here. Visitation of Tamil soldiers.

Lunch with the French Navy. I told them off proper, about English and French attitudes to Sunday (etc). Music and liturgy, 278

How England got Aden and is holding it. A fortress prison, 280

No way in for missionaries. A terrible but strategic place.

Up the Red Sea[_, 283 _]

A lucky cabin. Portrait of an awful bushman, excellent priest. Moka’s trade all going to Aden. Benefits of greedy colonialism, 287

Liner’s hygienic luxury or Luigi’s uncouth generosity? _288 _

God’s glory shown in steam-power, phosphorescence, geography … 289

An Arabian mission would achieve only martyrdom now.

Even future missions unbearable by single individuals.

Monks needed.

Languages necessary in Aden. Tamil. Prospects. Limited.

Exodus, Sinai (the mountain of the Law) and Mount Horeb, [294 _]The stars over Suez. What is time? Relativity. Eternity, _296

Suez to Cairo to Alexandria, _299 _

Transfer by night to Tender to Hotel to Wagon.

Cairo. No room at three hotels. Two Franciscan Convents, [301 _]Steaming down the Nile (via dam and transfer) to Alex, [_306 _]Delayed at Alex, I record my two crowded days in Cairo, _308

1. The luggage, the Mosque, Joseph’s deep Well, the Pyramids.

The two Franciscan orders. To bishops of three Rites. Progress still fragile under an ineffective Propaganda, 312

2. Our Lady’s Tree. (House). Her Well (and wash-stone), [_316 _]Meditation at Heliopolis: Joseph, Benjamin … Napoleon! (p1447)

Alexandria, and into a Great Storm, 321

Bishop Guasco. Simplicity. Bp Serra again.

Politeness of French Consul, employees. Of Lazarists?

Briefly sea-sick. But now enjoying the spectacular Storm, [_324 _]Danger? Good Christian crew. Bright interval after 2 dark days.

Simple meals with Bishop of Alex and Brother. Prince Mustafa, 327

The style of the English puts down all other Nations in India.

Storm, part II. Dangerous incompetence suspected, _329 _

We are in God’s hands. Always. Into shelter of an Island.

I was glad of the enforced wait in Alex. Intrigued by local customs, like pipes and Turkish coffee, 333

Pleased with the French and others. But not the revolutionaries.

Seclusion of women. Distinguished old-time ladies, 334

Delightful visit from a Carcassonne boy. La Patrie, Heaven.

Stupid competition in the Alexandria “Mission”. Awkward Lazarists, _336 _

The good Teaching Brothers. The excellent Sisters.

Day’s rest (and quarantine!) in Rhodes Harbour. Greek Archipelago, 339

The Jerusalem Patriarch versus the Alexandria Friars, _341 _

Question (foolish) to God: Why did You hurry me off into the Storm? 342

Ans.: Why did my Angel divert you away from Jerusalem at that very time? Now you know: Providence!

Malta, a favoured friendly Island, 347

Farewell to Greece. Blank Sunday. Dr Lallour and his Sister.

Malta hospitality, Franciscan and simple. Some empty formal visits, 349

St John’s Valetta. English public gardens, competence and largesse.

Capuchin mummies. Publius and Paul and the happy islanders, [351 _]Visit to Jesuit villa. Polite and superior. But harmless here, _353

St Paul’s Cave, Square, old Cathedral. French looters!

Seminary, new Pantheon, Saint Paul’s Bay. Prayer for mission spirit, _356 _

Naples, _359 _

Straits of Messina. Mass (only) in the City. Hurry! (No need). Catholic countries’ incompetence and thick Customs men.

Chinese college, _361 _

Flash-back to Malta. Priests. Seminaries or Universities? [_364 _]Catholic Church’s survival (in spite of stupidity) a miracle.

Cardinal Sforza of Naples. Customs again! Sisters from home, [_368 _]Mission collection and sermons. Portici and Pius IX (but not Great). Hospitals (College) and 2 groups of Vincentian Sisters. Vesuvius. (p1448)

Naples’s Indian attitude to old Customs and to Time (manana), 373 Too many useless Clerics: siesta, macaroni, parading …

Prayer for action by Bishops and Pope. Or the Revolution is coming!

Many churches; but Mass is “anywhere”. Music and liturgy childish,[_ 375_]

Certainly, the Revolution is inevitable. (Unless … ) My first Cardinal: all smiles; no action, 377

Neapolitan “operatic” liturgy. Need for true updating, 380

Pompei, etc. Three jurisdictions here! This diary is private, _381 _

Why the BAD is more detailed in it. Some [_good _]things: tidiness, the PEOPLE.

Rome, Loreto, Rome, _385 _

Naples to frontier: dust, horses, oxen, donkeys, tacklings …

How hunger can deaden all interest. Customs men again! 5 times!

Primitive frontier-post, and chairs! Unfortunate French comments, 387

Into the Papal States. Good road. Everything looks better, _388 _

Well, better in spots. Theology and politics confused.

Mighty new bridge near Albano. St Peter’s in the distance. (Cold).

Via Appia. Porta San Giovanni. Goats! Is this Rome, _389 _

Normal bribe at Customs. Some Government!

San Pancrazio. (The 1849 battle). Propaganda. Luquet, 390

Mgr Barnabo. An impressive bureaucrat. Quite friendly, [392 _]Sizing up Barnabo. I decide on serious but careful dialogue, _393

Unfortunately, it will have to be in writing. Dangerous?

Pilgrimages: St Peter, St Ignatius. Bl. Germaine Cousin. (Kerala).

First audience with Pius IX. Warm lively personality, _397 _

About Indian Missions, Carmelites, MEP … My request to resign. I dislike writing a whole Report, but am ordered. 3 gifts.

Pilgrimage to Loreto: Bad start. Delightful Toulouse family, 401 Civita Castellana. Church corruption so deep, even the Pope is helpless. Good bishop of Narni; 876 priests! Tribunals!’

Waterfall delle Marmore. Spoleto a better ad. than Campagna, [_405 _]Foligno. (Missed Assisi). Another “big” diocese.

Recanati, the Sea, and Loreto at last.

My first evening, outside the little House. A French Sister met, 406 Her Sisters and Fr Lalande. Our Toulouse family again, 410

Long morning contemplation. M. Doujat. 3 hours! May devotions.

To St Joseph of Cupertino’s. A village cure and a “cannon”, 413

So hard to say Goodbye. No! It’s au revoir!

Rome again. Papal liturgy disappointing. (Not perfect), _415 _

Nothing written since. Government here so bad, I shouldn’t write it.

My Report shelved by Barnabo. Issue will be dodged, 416 (p1449)

No way forward, nor back to India. Prayer for sincere annihilation.

Farewell audience with Pope. Two (hopeless) conclusions, [_417 _]Leaving broken-hearted. Drastic changes inevitable here, [_419 _]Better for the universal Church? Prayer for a more loving Rome.

France, home and Paris, 423

Unreal and purposeless return. Mean churches and priests, Toulon.

Not quite pagan yet, however. No Vishnu or Siva …

Marseille. Bishop de Mazenod invisible. Stoic rebel on train, [_424 _]Carcassonne Seminary. Ecstatic welcome Home.

(Cholera Epidemic). Bishop, 427

The old road Home. My town. My mother, father, Bathilde, everyone! 429

Felicie, Henri, local Priests and People. Sermon. Visits, 430

A week of sermons. Calm departure. Pamier’s controversial bishop, 432

Toulouse cousins. The bishop. Fr de Gelis’s noble family.

My portrait (reluctantly) sat for.

Bordeaux. Boorish priests produced by boorish professors? [_436 _]Paris Directors all underwhelmed by joy at having him, _440 _

How to be a general nuisance. Only one Hope left now.


1. AMA 2F6 pp 240-242. There are many other footnotes and references in the French edition, not repeated here.By the way, the Headings and sub-headings are invented. Square brackets indicate [completions] and [explanations]. -- Tr.

2. Pierre Metral-Charvet was Marion Bresillac’s right-hand man. Joseph Louis Ravel became a special friend also. Founded the Presentation Sisters in 1853. Died at Coimbatore 1881.

3. In a letter interceding with Bishop Marion Bresillac, to take back Fr Barot. AMA 2F7 pp 158-9.

4. A round trip of something like 1000 kilometers! --Tr.

5. “ad duritiam cordis”.

6. Dated 25th October 1849, sent through Paris with a cover note to Fr Tesson, India Desk. AMA 2F6 pp 291-292 and 294-296.

7. Blank in the manuscript

8. William Whelan, Carmelite. Born in Dublin 1798. Coadjutor in Bombay 1842. Disagreed with the Vicar Apostolic and returned to Ireland In 1846. Came back briefly when re-appointed by Rome. Died in Ireland 1876.“Direct speech” by me. Translator.

9. This “edifying” correspondence can be seen in AMA 2F8 pp 306-343.

10. All those letters are in AMA 2F8 pp 346-350.

11. “in praxi: in practice, “praesumptio stat pro possidenti”: Here it would mean: “The long-established policy can usually be presumed to be correct unless it is proved otherwise”.

12. The original had “ab intrinsequo” in both halves of the contrast. Which did not make sense to me. I think he means: The traditional policy is still permissible in the “external forum” of law and pastoral administration. But in. the “internal forum” of conscience, he has serious doubts about its intrinsic morality.

13. Dated 3rd April 1850.

14. Changed into “Direct Speech” by me—Tr.

15. Changed into "Direct Speech" by me --Tr.

16. Changed into "Direct Speech" by me. Since Marion Bresillac was writing this item (and all the others in the Diary) for himself, he left out many (to him) unnecessary explanations. [I had to try and put in some necessary ones]. --Tr.Copy of this letter (and two other ones, about the Vicariate, also written on 16th September 1850) in AMA 2F6 pp 341-355

17. Covering all of Tamil Nadu and some of the neighbouring regions. -- Tr.

18. Sanitarium: I use this word because. that is what they still call the fine building built (much later) by the MEP in the Nilgiris. The ground floor is now St Pius X Seminary, and SMA has had several candidates from it. --Tr.

19. “Pax huic domui, et omnibus habitantibus in ea”. (Ritual).

20. A very long letter (about forty pages, AMA 2F 11 pp 209-250) with a covering letter explaining why he had to write in French (rather than Latin) in order to be more nuanced and accurate. (AM A 2F 6 pp 387-388).

21. The original Just has: "Qui le croirait hors de l'Inde?". But I think there must have been some "telescoping" of two ideas into one. -- Tr.

22. There is a sample of this strange exotic Coutumier in Souvenirs p 181-187.

23. On 23rd June 1704“Cardinal de Tournon, a special Roman legate investigating the Malabar Rites (Indian Customs) formally condemned a whole list of them as “pagan” and therefore. not to be “tolerated” by missionaries. The Jesuits took a long time before accepting the Decree, because it meant the ruin of many of their “caste” communities.

24. , In these paragraphs, the original says "nous" and not "me". This is confusing here. If it is not an episcopal "we" it could be a "party". It certainly is not meant to be that. So I use the singular. -- Tr.

25. Tamil word

26. Eugene de Mazenod, born in Aix 1782. Founded the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in 1816. Bishop of Marseille 1837. Died in 1861. Beatified by Paul VI in 1975.

27. Actually taken from Fr Semeria’s Diary, OMI Archives copy in AMA

28. Andre Reinaud. Born in France 1813. Former OMI. Worked in Babylon and Arabia before coming to Ceylon in 1843.

29. Don Cajetano was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Colombo in 1843. Consecrated in Pondicherry by Bishop Bonnand. Died aged 79 in 1857.

30. Adam’s Bridge: a series of rocks and islands almost joining India and Sri Lanka.

31. The doctor's (spoken or guessed) reaction has been reconstructed in English, from (perhaps) insufficient data. --Tr.

32. Aesculapius: the Greek god (or hero) of Medicine.

33. In Souvenirs, many places.

34. See Souvenirs, page 867.

35. Hyacinth Lefeuvre must have surprised him after all. At least he had staying power. Worked in Coimbatore until his death.in 1893

36. Jean Vachal: born 1812. To Siam 1842. Died in a Chinese prison last year, 1851.

37. A long hot correspondence ensued, and several angry pages in Fr Semeria’s Diary.

38. What we would call nowadays a classical "Catch 22" situation. --Tr.

39. See Souvenirs, especially page 200, 333, 431.

40. Letters: 13 July and 13 September 1852 (AMA 2F 13, pp 18 and 13). Replies: AMA 2F8 pp 286-391.

41. Letter: 28 October 1852. Copy in AMA 2F6 pp 447-448 and 2F7 verso pp 1-3.

42. My guess. This is his constant explanation of the ““root cause” for all the big troubles in France. See footnote in [_Souvenirs _]page 955. –Tr.

43. See Souvenirs, page 293.

44. "Direct Speech" by me. --Translator.

45. "Direct Speech" by me. --Translator.

46. “Direct Speech” by me – Translator.

47. "Direct Speech" by me. -Translator.

48. This Retreat for Seminarians was given in Latin. Translated into French by Dom Gerard Dubois OCSO. English version Faith, Hope, Charity by John Flynn SMA, Rome, 1988.

49. , The carriers were commandeered by the local Magistrate to go and transport a big Chief. (Or maybe some Englishman. For they all had to be called "doure", lord and master). --Tr.

50. Dacca, in East Bengal, now Bangladesh. Loreto Sisters, from Dublin.

51. John de Britto. Portuguese Jesuit, born 1647. Missionary in Madurai, an outstanding follower of di Nobili's "inculturation" method. Martyred on 4th February 1693. Beatified by Pius IX in 1851. Canonised by Pius XII III 1947. Britto is a popular baptism name in Madurai today. -- Tr. My emphasis. -Translator.

52. Five years later, in fact, Bishop Canez himself became Administrator of Bombay. And thereafter, every Bishop there has been a Jesuit. up to Cardinal Gracias in 1950

53. Jerome J de Matta, bishop of Macao (China) in 11’45. Dismissed by Pius IX in 1865. (Probably for Schism).



56. Fr Luigi Sturla, Franciscan: to Aden 1849. “Prefect Apostolic” 1854. Left his flourishing new station for health reasons 1857.

57. The original (as in many other places) has no us here. But I decided that this prayer was for his own unseen future mission. --Tr.

58. [ ... ] Useless details about other ships; omitted. Anyway, it will all be explained again later. -- Tr.

59. Amba Theodorus Abu-Karim, 1832-1854.

60. Nowadays: nappies.

61. Odilon Barrot : French politician 1791-1873

62. Changed to "Direct Speech" by me. --Translator.

63. The details of this "navigation" paragraph are a bit too technical for me; but I think I have got the gist of it. -- Tr.

64. 1 This "we" and "our" stuff goes on for much of the chapter; but I will drop them after this paragraph .. Such language gives an impression (wrong, I believe) of pomposity. He did take his character of Bishop quite seriously (as a matter of his theology). But It never cramped his freedom of movement, or his sense of humour. --Translator.

65. The Chinese College was started by Matteo Ripa in 1724, after he came back to Naples with several students from China. In 1729 he got a fine house for them, on the slopes of Capo di Monte. To fill the house, he also took In some local priests and students, among them one Alphonsus Liguori.

66. Afterwards he preached the Octave (8 sermons) in several other cities. They were printed in Paris in 1855. Copy in’AMA 2F 26.

67. Psalm 143.5. He also quotes a longer passage, from Exodus 19. But as this was already quoted (in the Red Sea) I did not repeat it here. --Tr.

68. Alphonsus de Liguori. Born at Naples 1696, died 1787. Founder of the Redemptorists, 1732. Bishop of Sant’Agata dei Goti, 1762. Canonised 1839. Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871. Matteo Ripa. Born at Naples 1682, died 1746. Missionary in China for 15 years, he was received at the Court of Peking as an artist and a sage.

69. Gaeta. Some local (Italian) history is useful, to follow this reference and some others in the journal. Pius IX reigned 1846-1878 (the longest of all). He started as a. liberal by democratizing the Papal States Government.. But the nationalists and revolutionaries were not satisfied. In 1848 his lay Minister, Rossi, was assassinated, and the Pope had to flee to Gaeta, in the Kingdom of Naples, until 1850. After the French General Oudinot recaptured Rome, Pius returned. There was no more democratization after that. The French army remained to guard Rome (etc.) until 1870, the year Italy became united. – Translator.

70. 3 San Pancrazio housed the Carmelite Seminary for the Missions since 1662. The seminary was closed by order of Pius IX in August 1854. San Pancrazio is on Via Vitellia, which was the same road as Via della Nocetta.

71. 4 Soon afterwards, he requested hospitality at the new French Seminary founded the previous year (1853) in the former Irish College, n. 20, Via degli Ibernesi, near the Angelicum.

72. Probably his ideas for a completely new approach to Indian Customs: drop all the detailed laws, condemnations, oaths (etc.) starting from Cardinal de Tournon (1704). Concentrate instead on educating the people to see for themselves which customs (and aspects of customs) are incompatible with the Gospel. (See Souvenirs, 534-560). The present passage is rather vague (or abstract) and I have had to add some (educated) guesswork to [elucidate) it. I think the vagueness is deliberate; for he knows he is beginning to get on to fairly thin ice (according to Roman views 1854). Before leaving, he had to retract his veiled proposals to think beyond de Tournon and Benedict XIV. (MD P 78). – Translater.

73. Copy in AMA 2F 11.

74. His banter is put into "Direct Speech" by me. -- Tr.

75. What follows is put into "Direct Speech" by me. -- Tr.

76. The Pope's next comment is a transition invented (or deduced) from the context. -- Tr.

77. Some by Bernini, I think. -- Tr.

78. Put into "Direct Speech" by me. --Tr.

79. The original has: "Ces visites, quoique courtes, nous paraissaient longues", I thought he obviously meant to write the opposite. -- Tr.

80. Report to the S.C. of Propoganda, 24th June 1854. (MD P 21 ff). It seems to have contained some ideas which annoyed Mgr Barnabo considerably. He read it, summarized it and filed it, not letting it be sent verbatim to the Cardinals. But the Report cannot have been all that useless. Four years later, in 1858 Propaganda made copious use of it in preparing guidelines for Bishop Bonnand on how to carry out an important Apostolic Visitation of all the Indian Missions. Unaware of this, Bonnand himself wrote to Marion Bresillac requesting a copy of the rumoured Report. (AMA 2F8 P 1089. MDFD P 287). --Tr.

81. The original is more locally precise: “dans les provinces de l’lnde qui font partie des anciens royaume du Madure, du Mysore et du Carnate”.

82. Possibly about the way Fr Semeria practically “stole” Fr Pajean, encouraging him to leave Coimbatore and go to Jaffna.

83. Two important men in Marion Bresillac’s seminary education. Fr Etienne Arnal (1801-1873) was a professor at Carcassonne, and later the Superior. He became an affiliated member of SMA in 1863. Fr Barthe spent all his life at the Seminary, mostly as Philosophy professor.

84. A distinguished professor, later the Superior of Narbonne minor seminary.

85. Henri de Bonnechose. Born in Paris 1800. Bishop of Carcassonne 1847- 1855. Cardinal Archbishop of Rouen until his death, 1883.

86. 5 At this period in the French Church, receiving Holy Communion was considered to be a very exceptional ceremony. Jansenism probably had something to do with this attitude. -- Tr.

87. The Bishop had to resign two years later.

88. This portrait, a pastel (pencil-drawing) by Gabriel Durand, is now at the SMA Provincialate, Paris.

Souvenirs 3

  • Author: SMA publications
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Souvenirs 3 Souvenirs 3