- Published: Sunday, 15 January 2012 13:53
January 16th is the centenary of the death of pioneer MSC missionary Archbishop Louis Andre Navarre.
Here are reports of his death and funeral from The Townsville Daily Bulletin of the time.
ARCHBISHOP LOUIS NAVARRE Missionary of the Sacred Heart
Died Townsville, Tuesday 16th January 1912.
Reports in the “Townsville Daily Bulletin”
“DEATH OF ARCHBISHOP NAVARRE”
The death occurred at the General Hospital last night of Archbishop Louis Andre Navarre, M.S.H., Vicar Apostolic of British New Guinea.
Few people knew that the distinguished Prelate was in Townsville, he having arrived by the “Nikko Maru” on January 5, by which vessel he was proceeding South, but was so ill that the medical officer advised him being taken ashore.
A private ward in the hospital was secured, where the Archbishop was under the care of Dr. Ahearne. Notwithstanding the attention devoted to him, however, His Lordship was in such a low state of health that it was impossible to save his life, and so he passed away peacefully at about 10 o’clock last night.
Archbishop Navarre, who was 73 years of age, had been for a quarter of a century engaged in missionary work in New Guinea, and is understood to have been the first in the mission field there.
He went first as a priest in 1885, and was created Bishop in 1887, and Archbishop later. As there were no Sees in New Guinea, his title was Archbishop of Cyrrus, his headquarters being at Yule Island, New Guinea.
Father Leo Pagos, his Chaplain, was in company with the Archbishop on the “Nikko Maru”, and landed at Townsville in attendance.
A Requiem Mass will be sung in the Sacred Heart Church, at 9.30 on Thursday morning, and the funeral procession will leave the Church immediately after the Mass.
2. Thursday 18th January 1912.
“THE LATE ARCHBISHOP NAVARRE”
NEW GUINEA MISSION WORK
Some particulars of the career of the late Archbishop Navarre, and of his work in the mission field of New Guinea were obtained by a “T. D. Bulletin” representative from Rev. Father Pages, Chaplain to the late Prelate.
The Archbishop was born at Bourges in France, and prior to his joining the mission work, was Dean of Bourges. He went out to New Guinea in 1885, and was appointed Bishop in 1887. Accompanying him were four Reverend Fathers, all of whom predeceased him.
Some few years ago, the Archbishop sent Father Louis Coupee to New Britain, as the first Bishop of those islands, and he is still there.
As showing the progress of the mission work at New Guinea, Father Pages stated there were now there 25 missionaries, 21 lay brothers, and 38 nuns. They had 38 schools and two orphanages, and there were 28 stations established, each provided with churches, schools and residences, and from the central station 78 villages were regularly visited and instructed.
In 1908, owing to years and failing health, Archbishop Navarre resigned, and Father Alain Guynot de Boismenu, titular Bishop of Gabala, was appointed to the charge of New Guinea.
Speaking of the difficulties of the early days of the mission, Father Pages stated that for communication with the outer world they had had to depend for along time on the visit of the schooner “Alice May”, which made a trip twice a year. Owing to the distances and scattered stations, it was sometimes 18 months before a letter could be received and replied to. The vessel was also sometimes behind her time considerably, and the supplies ran short, and the missionaries were put to extremities to maintain themselves, having to exist on native food, such as yams, and what they could shoot. On one occasion, being short of shot, they even extracted the nails from their boots to use for that purpose.
Speaking of the life amongst the natives, Father Pages stated that Bishop Boismenu (the present Bishop) had had a narrow escape from death at their hands. He and a Reverend Father were out with a number of natives, who were particularly anxious that they should go to a certain village, where they afterwards found it was the intention to kill them. The Bishop, however, decided to go to another village, when the natives robbed them of all their stores and left them, and they had the greatest difficulty to get back to civilisation, it taking them a fortnight to do the return trip. The Government, however, secured the return of most of their belongings.
Though some of the natives were cannibals, and occasionally would take hold of the calf of a visitor’s leg, accompanying the action with a suggestive smack of the lips, there was more danger of a man being killed for his property than for the purpose of a cannibal feast.
The Requiem High Mass for the late Archbishop Navarre will be celebrated at the Sacred Heart Church this morning at 9.30. The Ven. Dean Bourke will be assisted by several other priests, but it is unfortunately impossible to bring down some of the clergy from the country districts, whom Dean Bourke would have liked to have been present.
The funeral of the late ARCHBISHOP NAVARRE will leave the Sacred Heart Church at 10.30 this (Thursday) morning.
F. Heatley Undertaker and Embalmer
Members of the Branches of the above Society are requested to attend the funeral of the late Archbishop Louis Andre Navarre, M.S.H., to move from the Sacred Heart Church at 10 o’clock this morning for the Old Cemetery.
J. F. Landy President, St. Joseph’s
M. T. Downey Secretary, St. Mary’s
The children attending the Christian Brothers and Convent Schools are requested to attend at Sacred Heart Church at 9.15 today.
- Friday 19th January 1912.
A Requiem Mass for the late Archbishop Navarre was celebrated at the Sacred Heart Church on Thursday morning, when there was a very large congregation. The altar, sanctuary and portion of the choir stalls were draped in black, and the casket containing the remains of the deceased Prelate occupied a space below and in front of the altar.
The Rev. Dean Burke was the celebrant, with Rev Father O’Keefe (Charters Towers), as Deacon, and Rev. Father Page as Sub-Deacon. The choir sang the Gregorian music of “Missa pro Defunctis”, the portions sung by the choir being “Introitus”, “Kyrie”, Dies Irae”, “Sanctus”, “Benedictus”, “Agnus Dei”, and the “Communio”, the Offertorium being the “Miserere”, and the soloist Mr. J. Murray. Miss Davis conducted the choir, and Miss S. Brady was organist.
The Mass being ended, the Absolution of the Dead followed. The celebrant, preceded by the cross-bearer, and acolytes, advanced to the coffin and recited the prayers, retiring then to the vestry. The coffin was then carried down the principal aisle to the strains of the “Dead March” from the organ.
The chief mourners were the Rev. Father Pares, Dean Bourke and Father O’Keefe. The funeral procession was headed by a number of boys from the Christian Brothers School; and a number of members of the Hibernian Society in regalia preceded and followed the hearse. A number of vehicles containing mourners also followed. The internment took place at the Old Cemetery, where the last rites were solemnised by Dean Bourke.
Archbishop Navarre was interred in the Old West End Cemetery in the Clergy and Religious Plot 5334.
However, in 1925, the Townsville Funeral Directors (F. Heatley& Sons) wrote to the Home Secretary for permission to exhume Navarre’s (Nevarre) body. An Exhumation Licence was granted on 1st August 1925. (see QSA Ref. HOM J 562) His body was then exhumed and taken to Yule Island, where it was re-interred on 22nd September 1925.
I could find no reference to the exhumation in the Townsville Bulletin of the time.
Material sent by Leo Wearden MSC from the research of Fr Terry Lyons of the diocese of Townsville.