Abelly: Book 2/Chapter 01/Section 09/Part 02

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The Departure of the Two Priests of the Congregation of the Mission, and Events that Occurred en Route

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No sooner had Monsieur Nacquart received this letter from Monsieur Vincent than he immediately began to put its directives into effect, considering it as showing not the will of a man, but of God himself. After Monsieur Gondree's arrival they set off together for Richelieu on April 18. They had to remain at La Rochelle for nearly a month, awaiting the completion of preparations of the ship that was to carry them to their new mission. With the bishop's permission, they used their time to catechize, to hear confessions, and to provide other services for the poor, particularly those in the hospital or in prison.

On the twenty-first of the following May, the feast of Our Lord's Ascension, the anchor was raised and the sails set for departure. During the first days the two good missionaries spent their time with the passengers, numbering about one-hundred twenty, helping them to make their general confession. They did so because of the graces and indulgences of the Jubilee granted by our holy father, the pope.

They stopped first at Cape Verde to take on fresh water. There they met a ship bound for the island of Saint Christopher, to whose passengers the missionaries were able to provide the same opportunity for general confession.

Their journey continued well until they approached the equator. Here the winds became so strong and so contrary that they entertained the thought of turning back. The two missionaries exhorted the crew to have recourse to the protection of the holy Virgin. Following their suggestion, all made a public vow to God in honor of the queen of heaven to confess and communicate on one of the days preceding the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and to build a church on the island of Madagascar. The storm ended, and the winds became favorable, so that on the eve of the feast they found that they had crossed the equator. During the remainder of the voyage they experienced the help of the Mother of God on several other occasions. As they approached the Cape of Good Hope they were delivered from a particularly dangerous problem. Then they cast anchor in the Bay of Sardaigne, [1] where they spent eight days. Finally, after six and a half months at sea, they arrived at the island of Saint Lawrence.

During all this time the missionaries did not remain idle, for they realized that several of the sailors and some of the passengers needed instruction, and so they provided it three or four times a week. They gave catechetical instruction on the main mysteries of the faith, and other matters of importance, using the method employed on the missions. A question period followed the instruction. During it, the youngest present were asked what had been taught.

As was customary in a ship so crowded, there always were some sick among the passengers, and the missionaries served them as diligently as they could. One would visit them in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Public prayers were offered both mornings and evenings, and mass was said daily, weather permitting. For those who were well the priests organized groups of three or four, where one would read from a good book such as the Imitation of Christ, or the Introduction to a Devout Life, or other similar books. This helped the passengers avoid idleness, the source of many evils, and enabled them to use their time profitably.

The priests also persuaded a good number of those on board to attend spiritual conferences two or three times a week on topics appropriate to their state, especially on temptations and other occasions of offending God, and also the ways to resist or avoid the suggestions of the evil one. On these occasions the words of our Lord, who promised to be with two or three gathered in his name, were sensibly felt. At the end of the talk one of the priests would summarize what had been said, add some thoughts of his own, and conclude with some examples from Holy Scripture or from the lives of the saints. [2]


  1. Saldanha, near Cape Town.
  2. CED III:547-51, Nacquart's lengthy report to Saint Vincent, summarized by Abelly.

This page:
Abelly Book Two, Chapter One: Section Nine, Part Two
The Departure of the Two Priests of the Congregation of the Mission, and Events that Occurred en Route

Index of this section:
Abelly Book Two, Chapter One: Section Nine Index:
On the Mission to the Isle of Saint Lawrence, Otherwise Known as Madagascar

Index of this chapter:
Abelly: Book Two/Chapter One/Index: The Missions of Monsieur Vincent

Index of:
Abelly: Book Two