Marion-Brésillac, Melchior Marie Joseph de
MARION-BRÉSILLAC, MELCHIOR MARIE JOSEPH DE
Founder of the Society of the african missions; b. Castelnaudary (Aude), France, Dec. 2, 1813; d. Freetown, Sierra Leone, June 28, 1859. Born of penurious, pious, and intelligent former aristocrats, and educated at home until his 18th year, de Brésillac was ordained (1838) and worked in a parish until 1841, when he joined the paris foreign mission society (mep). As a missionary in India (1842–54) he was disliked by other missionaries because of his advocacy of an indigenous clergy and his opposition to caste. He became superior of the seminary at Pondicherry (1844) and provicar apostolic (1845) and vicar apostolic (1850) of Coimbatore. The continued resistance to his policies led him to resign (1854) and to leave the MEP. His report to Rome, however, served as the basis for later changes in missionary policies. Bishop de Brésillac was attracted to the mission field in africa and founded his own congregation at Lyons (1856). He was appointed vicar apostolic of Sierra Leone (1858) and journeyed to Africa (1859). He went first to Dakar and then to Freetown, where he insisted on going ashore despite a yellow fever epidemic. He and his four companions died within six weeks. His body was returned to Lyons. De Brésillac's ideals of a native priesthood and the adaptation of culture became the mainstay of his religious institute.
Bibliography: m. le gallen, Vie de Mgr de Marion Brésillac (Lyons 1910). l. leloir, Marion de Brésillac (Namur 1939). m. j. bane, Catholic Pioneers in West Africa (Dublin 1956). j. bonfils, L'Oeuvre de Msgr. De Marion Brésilliac en faveur du clergé local dans les missions de l'Inde au XIXe siècle (Lyons 1959).
[j. m. todd]