Annual Pere Receveur Commemoration Mass
Annual commemorative Catholic Mass that has been held regularly since 1988 to remember the two French priests of the Laperouse Expedition who are likely to have conducted the first Masses in Australia. Commemorative Catholic Masses at the gravesite were reported as early as 1879 while in 1933, 5,000 people attended the first mass 'pilgrimage'.
The Latin Mass, the same ancient Latin Rite used by the two priests of the Laperouse Expedition in 1788, is held at La Perouse each year on the Sunday nearest 17 February on the verandah of the La Perouse Museum, close to the altar style tomb erected in 1829 over the grave of one of the priests, Père Laurent Receveur. His death at Botany Bay on 17 February 1788 occasioned a Requiem Mass by his brother priest, Abbé Jean- André Mongez, and the Latin Office of the Dead which was mandatory at the funerals of naval personnel
The first two Masses were probably celebrated on board the ships, on either the day of the expedition’s arrival, Saturday 26 January, 1788, the feast of St. Polycarp, or the next day which was Sexagesima (the second Sunday before Ash Wednesday). Under the 1765 royal Ordonnance de la Marine, which specified the duties of all types of French naval personnel, chaplains in the royal navy were obliged to say Mass on Sundays and feast days without exception unless bad weather prevented it, and on other days as often as possible.