Couppé, Louis

views updated


Missioner in oceania; b. Romorantin, France, Aug. 26, 1850; d. Douglas Park, Australia, July 20, 1926. After ordination (1874), he joined the sacred heart mis sionaries (1880), departed for Melanesia (1884), and established the office of mission procurator for his congregation at Sydney, Australia (1886). In 188788 he made several voyages of exploration in New Guinea, during which he discovered and named the St. Joseph River. Sent (1888) to New Britain, he founded and organized the mission at Rabaul and became its first vicar apostolic (18901923). As one of the first missioners in Oceania and an outstanding pioneer in the study of its culture, he began his apostolate among the tribes of the Guantana, concentrating his efforts on converting youths by creating schools, even for boarding students. At the same time he prepared for extending his work throughout New Britain by endowing the mission with such indispensable sources for material subsistence as plantations and woodwork shops. Despite his autocratic nature he left a great deal of liberty to his fellow missioners. An adept diplomat, he succeeded in obtaining from the German government full liberty for his mission. He founded a religious congregation for native women (1913). When he retired he bequeathed

to his successor a mission with 23,498 Catholics, 6,205 catechumens, 36 priests, 33 brothers, and 76 sisters, of whom 37 were natives. In 1926, shortly before his death, he was made titular archbishop of Hierapolis.

Bibliography: r. streit and j. dindinger, Bibliotheca missionum (Freiburg 1916) 21:288291. Pioniere der Südsee, ed. j. hÜskes (Hiltrup 1932).

[j. lauwers]