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Prosper Philippe Augouard
1852 to 1921
Catholic (Holy Ghost Fathers)
Congo

Prosper Philippe Augouard was a Holy Ghost Fathers (CSSp) missionary to central Africa. Born in Poitiers, France, Augouard joined the Holy Ghost Fathers as a missionary, becoming an intrepid explorer. In 1879 he made a 27-day march to the interior of central Africa, arriving five days after Henry Stanley at Stanley Pool, springboard for subsequent missionary expansion. He charted the Congo and Ubangi rivers, earning a Paris Geographical Society prize, and established mission stations along 1,300 miles of the Congo River. In 1890 he became bishop and vicar apostolic of Ubangi-Chari (the Republic of Central Africa), and in 1915, archbishop.

Augouard explored and claimed territory three times the size of France, "with crucifix and national flag," persuading local rulers to accept French patronage. His nationalism antagonized Stanley and his patron, the king of Belgium, and when the conference of Berlin (1885) established the Belgian Congo, French Catholic missionaries were replaced by Belgians. His empire-building was sometimes undisguised, and his nationalism was judged inexcusable, although he did denounce excessive French oppression. Described as impulsive and intransigent by his spiritual director, and considered abrupt, blunt and patronizing, he was a flawed though tireless missionary. He was nicknamed Cannibal Bishop (a crude reference to his flock) and Diata-Diata (quick-quick) for his rapid expansion. In his final years he returned to Paris and died at the Mother House.

Anthony J. Gittins, CSSp


Bibliography:

Louis Augouard, ed., Mgr. Augouard: Lettres (1905, 1914, 1934); G. Goyau, Mgr. Augouard (1926); J. de Witte, Mgr Augouard (1924). See also H. Koren, The Spiritans (1958), and Bulletin Général de Congrégation du S. Esprit, Paris (1857 ff.).


This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.