Memories of French things past
During the last few weeks, the French Ambassador and his spouse have visited different places linked to the French-Papuan relationship, relying on the opportunities offered by the calendar.
Relying on the opportunities offered by the calendar during the last few weeks, the Ambassador Pascal Maubert and his spouse have visited different places linked to the History of French-Papuan relationships.
In the perspective of the celebrations of the centennial of the Great War, they went, on the eve of Remembrance Day to Yule Island, where lies the grave of the pilote Léon Bourjade (1889- 1924), hero of the Ist World War. With the company of Mrs Henriette Dihm, the spouse of the Head of the European Union Delegation, and Pr Nicolas Garnier, Director of the Departement of Studies on the South-Pacific and Oceania of UPNG, they paid homage to the memory of Fr Léon Bourjade (1889-1924).
On September 2 1921, the freshly ordained Fr Léon Bourjade left Marseille for Papua, on the same boat where Paul Claudel was sailing to reach his Embassy in Japan. The memory of Fr Léon Bourjade, who died on Yule Island in 1924, is still vivid among the local population and his tomb, which lies in the same graveyard where two French Bishops of Papua, Navarre (who died in 1912) and Sorin (who died in 1959), are buried too, is well maintained and regularly decked with flowers. It is decorated with several plates left by French Navy ships along the last decades.
This visit on Yule Island, where the first French missionaries arrived in 1885, was an occasion to meet the last French missionary still living in PNG and serving the community of the island. Fr Dominique Pradiers, from Bourg-en-Bresse, has been living in Papua New Guinea, where he had the responsibility of several parishes, since 1969.
On the invitation of Rochus Tatamai, Bishop of Bereina, the Ambassador and his spouse have also visited Kubuna on the occasion of the yearly pilgrimage rassembling thousands of faithful coming from all over the diocese to pay homage to the memory of Alain de Boismenu (1870-1953), who died and is buried there. Knight of the Legion of Honour, called « the Archbishop of the Papus », he was from 1900 to 1945, the first Bishop of Bereina. Boismenu, whose beatification is under process in Rome, is the subject of a constant interest from the local population all over the country.
The Ambassador took the opportunity of this visit to meet the local authorities. The rehabilitation of the clinic founded by the French missionaries might be taken care of by the Embassy next year.
A previous visit to Kubuna, in which Pr André Kiteanu (EHESS) and Pr Nicolas Garnier (UPNG) took part, gave the Ambassador the opportunity to meet the community of Bakuyudu. The church of this village has a stainglass of large proportions made in France by the R. Tellier workshop of the city of Issoudun and installed here in the 1950ies on the initiative of Fr Böhl.