Société des Missions Africaines

né en Irlande
membre de la SMA en 1877 ou 1878
décédé le 17 octobre 1880

1880 missionnaire au Dahomey

décédé à Agoué, Dahomey, le 17 octobre 1880


Le frère Alphonse NOLAN ( - 1880)

A Agoué (Dahomey), le 17 octobre 1880, retour à Dieu du cher frère Alphonse Nolan, à un âge inconnu.

Originaire d'Irlande, le frère Alphonse mourut de tuberculose et de dysenterie. Il n'avait que quelques mois de séjour en mission.

"Vrai modèle que j'admirais surtout pour sa régularité et sa parfaite obéissance." (Père Ménager)

Brother Alphonsus NOLAN ( - 1880)

Alphonsus Nolan was born in Ireland. His place of birth is unknown. He died in Agoué, in the kingdom of Dahomey, West Africa, of tuberculosis aggravated by dysentery, on 17 October 1880.

Our information about Alphonsus is sketchy. He entered the Society's headquarters at Cours Gambetta, Lyon, France, c. 1876, as a brother. How he came to the Society is unknown, but it is possible that he was recruited by James O'Haire (an alumnus of All Hallows seminary and missionary in South Africa) who introduced the Society to Ireland in the same year.

Alphonsus was assigned to the vicariate of Dahomey, in West Africa, a vast jurisdiction embracing much of the modern Republic of Benin and of south-west Nigeria. This was the mission which Melchior de Marion Brésillac first sought when he founded the Society in 1856. In the event Bishop Brésillac was given the 'safer' Sierra Leone mission, where at Freetown he was to perish with four companions within weeks of his arrival in 1859. It was against this background of tragedy that the vicariate of Dahomey was entrusted to the 'students of the seminary of Lyon for the African Missions' in August 1860. Augustin Planque (who succeeded Bishop Bresillac as Superior General) became superior of the seminary, and Francesco Borghero, an Italian member of the Society, was appointed 'superior ad interim' of the vicariate whose boundaries included all the territory between the Volta and the Niger rivers.

The rooting of the Church in the Dahomey vicariate was not accomplished without cost. Several missionaries died during the 1860's. Three were to die during the 1870's. The first Irish missionary to give his life was Alphonsus Nolan. Appointed to the mission at Agoué, and assigned to conducting a school through the medium of English, he survived a matter of months before succumbing. The following account of his death was given by Ernest-Marie Menager, prefect apostolic of Dahomey: 'I have the sorrow of announcing the death of our beloved and much regretted Brother Alphonsus who died on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, towards eight o'clock in the evening. For some time now he was worn out by dysentery, but I do not think that this was the principal cause of death; he appeared to have another malady connected with his respiration. On the afternoon of his death he sat out a while and, on returning to bed said that he would not rise again only on the day of judgement. Towards seven he asked me to light the night-light. Then with assistance he got out onto the seat once more, but only with great effort. Indeed he soon lost consciousness and I gave him the absolution. That morning he had confessed. He gave up his soul quietly. This was the first trial of this sort that the Good Lord has sent this little mission. Brother Alphonsus was a real model who I admired above all for his regularity and his perfect obedience'.

He is buried in Agoué, Dahomey, West Africa.