VIARD, Phillippe Joseph
Roman Catholic Bishop of Wellington.
A new biography of Viard, Philippe Joseph appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Phillippe Joseph Viard was born in 1809 at Lyons, France, where he came from a very good family. He was educated at L'Argentierre diocesan seminary and at the theological seminary of St. Trenaeus, Lyons. In 1834 he was ordained, joining the Society of Mary in the following year. He arrived at Kororareka with Bishop Pompallier in December 1839 and in the following year was directed to the Maori Mission serving at Tauranga. In 1841 he was appointed Grand Vicar of the Mission and accompanied Pompallier on his southern journey. At Akaroa they learned of Father Chanel's death and Viard went to Futuna in the Allier to bring the martyr's remains to Kororareka. During 1842 he was stationed at Wallis Island where he had charge of all tropical missions; and in 1843 he went with Bishop Douarre to found a new diocese in New Caledonia. On 6 January 1846 Viard was consecrated by Archbishop Polding, of Sydney, and returned to New Zealand as Coadjutor to Pompallier. From 1846 to 1850 he remained at Russell where, after 1848, he acted as Apostolic Administrator to the newly formed See of Wellington. In 1850 he moved to Wellington where he busied himself arranging the affairs of the diocese, which included the whole of the South Island. By Papal Brief, dated 3 July 1860, Viard ceased to be Coadjutor and was constituted first Bishop of Wellington. During the Maori Wars he rendered signal public service by using his influence to prevent the spread of unrest among the West Coast tribes. He attended the Oecumenical Council in Rome (1869–70). On 26 November 1869 Otago, Southland, and Stewart Island were separated from Wellington Diocese and formed into the See of Dunedin, Bishop Moran, then Bishop of Dardania (South Africa), being translated to the new See. While he was in Rome, Viard's health failed. He returned to Wellington in 1871 where he died on 2 June 1872.
During his lifetime Bishop Viard was noted for his “singularly gentle and tolerant disposition”, and, on the occasion of his death, the Evening Post paid tribute to “his large hearted charity, urbanity and genuine kindness” which “have won the heart of all with whom he has been in contact”. He was succeeded in his diocese by Bishop Redwood.
by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.
- Annales des Missions d'Océanie, tome I, Nouvelle Zélande, Ocanie Centrale, Sociét de Marie (1895)
- Yearbook, 1927, the Marist Fathers of New Zealand and Australia (1926)
- Evening Post, 3, 10 Jun 1872 (Obits).