Thesis / Dissertation

‘The Bishop with 150 Wives’: Interrogating the Missionary and Ecclesiastical Career of Monsignor Francis Xavier Gsell MSC (1872-1960)

Michael Philip Francis, Catherine Kovesi (ed.)

Published : 2020


This thesis provides the first comprehensive scholarly investigation into the missionary and ecclesiastical career of Monsignor Francis Xavier Gsell MSC (1872-1960). Remembered as the apocryphal ‘Bishop with 150 Wives’, Gsell is famous for his work among the Tiwi people, from whom he purchased the marriage rights of young women as part of a broader evangelisation strategy. A mythic figure in popular histories of the Northern Territory, Gsell’s complex legacy, however, has rarely received thorough academic scrutiny. Going beyond the many myths and legends, this thesis uses Gsell as a lens through which to examine race relations in northern Australia during the first half of the twentieth ce..

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