From Marist Studies
Jump to: navigation, search

September 1839 & 12 May 1840 — Father Pierre Bataillon to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, May-July 2013

Letter to Reverend Father Colin
in Lyons, France
From Wallis, near Tonga (Western Oceania)

September 1839

I received from the very hands of the new confrères the very precious letter with which you were so kind as to honour me.[1] I am sincerely grateful that in the midst of your many tasks, you still wanted to remember the least of your children. I will still count myself very happy when I receive only a couple of words from you – they will be more precious to me than anything else that could come from my homeland.
In May of this year 1839 I sent you a letter in which I mentioned I had received yours,[2] and in which I gave you very detailed information about the island of Ouvea and its mission, where, up till now, I have been on my own with Brother Joseph: I hope it has got to you; all the same I regret not having had the time to take a copy of it to send you by another way and so get it to you more safely. In this letter I am going to go back over the last bits which I gave you too hastily in the above mentioned account, and I will continue to set out for you all those things which might interest you since its date and up to the present day.
I told you at the end of my first letter that, when our new confrères arrived in Ouvea (Wallis), I had been, for a month, separated from the small number of catechumens that the good God had given me[3] and that during this time I had made only a few secret and quick visits to them. The King who in separating us had gone as far as issuing a decree to expel us, hadn’t had the courage to put it into effect, either the cause of fear or affection because of while hating the religion we were preaching, he was very much attached to us personally. He had to put off the matter until the arrival of the ship which was to visit us. So when the new confrères arrived, he had to decide whether to send us away or to keep us still with him, but what a difficult situation! From one side he was being advised to expel us, to stop the progress of Christianity at its origins; on the other, he had a liking for us; then he saw so much goodness in the new confrères who covered him with kindnesses, then, as well he had heard so much talk of the great missionary who was to come from New Zealand that he was afraid that such an act of authority on his part would end up in a bad result for the whole of his island. With all his heart he would have preferred us to stay with him but without preaching religion, or rather, he would have wanted us to ask him if we could leave; but as I knew the background, far from going to ask him if we could leave, I demanded that he take a step by which he would show publicly that he did not agree to our leaving, because having been invited to dine aboard the little schooner,[4] whether because of fear of his gods or human respect, he did not want to yield to the invitation of our confrères. Then I threatened to not come back to his house, and to go far away from his island if he did not come on board with me, and straight away he got up and went with us and without making any more difficulties. He spent 24 hours on board, during which time we are omitted nothing that could have more and more gained his affection and trust in us. As it was a Sunday, we sang a high Mass in his presence and during it played the fine organ which had just arrived, but he kept himself apart, forcing himself in some way not to see or admire, and at the end he seemed astonished that his gods had not brought about his death for having dared to come so near to the God of the Christians. It was while he was on board that he came and asked me for a favour, in words that were most submissive and supplicatory. It was to go with our confrères’ schooner to Horn Island – or Futuna, where Father Chanel was, to bring back about fifteen Ouvean natives, who had fled there on one of the local canoes. It would delay, by eight to ten days, the return of the schooner to New Zealand, it is true, but, as well, it would greatly oblige the King whose affection and trust we needed to win more and more for the good of the mission. So having deliberated over the matter with my confrères, it was decided that I would go with them to the island of Futuna, and on that very day, so as to save time, everything was got ready so as to be able to leave the next day. It was the 6th May, after only four days’ stay, that the schooner set sail for Futuna. Of course I left Brother Joseph to look after our little house, and I farewelled him for only six to ten days; the leader of our catechumens with some natives belonging to his retinue was with us. We took roughly 30 hours to cover the 40 leagues [200 km] between Uvea and Futuna. You can imagine the joy we all experienced when we saw good Father Chanel again; he could not find words to express his pleasant surprise, and neither of us could dare to bless the good God for, after we had been abandoned for so long, He had arranged the occasion for us to be brought together again, and as well, to find ourselves amongst a group of collaborators coming directly from France and vying with each other to tell us the edifying news they brought from there. We could not rejoice enough in the Lord over the progress religion seemed to be making in our country, and the growing expansion of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the wonders of zeal and charity that the good faithful of the diocese of Lyons had shown for their brothers in the Antipodes.
The island of Futuna which is one of the smallest inhabited islands in Oceania has hardly six or seven hundred inhabitants. They are Polynesians like the people of Uvea, and their language, though a little different, is nevertheless based on the same principles, but they are much more simple, much more innocent in some way than the people of Uvea. Far from thinking themselves superior to the whites with whom they are only beginning to have dealings, they still almost see them as gods, and are very far from seeing themselves as equal to them: an attitude or respect which is more advantageous for a missionary. As well, I think that Father Chanel would have baptised all his people but for the annoying circumstance of the war going on among them almost since his arrival.[5] Because apart from the fact that the war attracted their main concern, it made their dealings with him a lot more infrequent, and as a result his study of the language was considerably affected. So, when we were on Futuna, Father Chanel did not yet have enough understanding of the language to proclaim solemnly the word of God. The King[6] and his subjects were all disposed to listen, but he could not yet make himself understood enough. That, for him, was his great source of suffering and regret. So, on the very evening of the day we arrived, he got me to preach at length in the assembly of the natives who had gathered to see us and to celebrate us, and on the following day, which was the feast of the Ascension, after having solemnly sung the high Mass in the King’s palace, I again proclaimed the holy word to the crowd which had come to admire the beauty of the religious ceremonies; finally, during the eight days following, we gathered together every evening, with the help of an accordion and a little organ which had just arrived, all the natives from the villages nearby, and after having entertained them for a few moments with the sound of the music, Father Chanel got me to instruct them, and I did that with more pleasure as I saw in these poor people a greater desire to hear the divine word. But the time when we had to return to Uvea had already passed and also we foresaw more delays, arising both from the natives whom we had to take back, and from the winds which were always contrary for Uvea but excellent for New Zealand; so we all together decided to let the new confrères go directly to the Bishop who was waiting for them, no doubt impatiently, and I held back, so as to return to my island, a boat belonging to some European seamen living in these islands and which, at this time, fortunately, was at Futuna. After our confrères left for New Zealand, I spent a further six weeks with Father Chanel. The winds did not allow me to depart sooner, no matter how strong was my desire to return to the midst of my beloved children. However good Father Chanel had different desires and wanted circumstances to hold me back with him even longer because he claimed he needed me to teach him the language, and to speed up, in that way, the work of the mission. So he did not allow me to waste my time with him. Apart from our building a pretty little house for him in place of the first, which the wind had destroyed, we used whole days and parts of the night in studying the language, then in instructing the good people of Futuna in public and, in particular, every time circumstances allowed it. We also translated into Futunan everything I had in the Uvean language, whether concerning doctrine, or prayers and hymns, and he allowed me no peace until I had tried to rewrite [Author’s note: You will no doubt be pleased to see them as perhaps being the first tribute of praise given to our good mother in this part of Oceania, and to give you at the same time a slight idea of the relationship of the Futunan language to that of Uvea. It is a free paraphrase of the Ave Maria, with the main ideas of the Salve Regina, to the tune of O filii et filiae (each vowel is a syllable, and the ‘u’ is pronounced like ‘oo’[7] some verses in honour of Mary, although I had not yet done anything similar in the Wallisian language.
Hymn about the Blessed Virgin in the Futunan language
arofa atu
arofa, e maria-ro
ko re cinana e koe
o Iesu Kerisito
arofa atu
Greetings and love, Mary,
who are mother of
Jesus Christ.
Greetings and love.
E gata iato koe
e cinana fakatasi
mo taupoou roa,
arofa atu
There is no one but you who are
mother at the same time
virgin forever.
Greetings and love
E ke apere, e koe
i re karatie fua
o lo tatou atua,
arofa atu
You are filled
with all the graces
of our God.
Greetings and love
E iato koe roa
re aro mao kioki
o jeova mafimafi
arofa atu
With you forever
is the holy son
of almighty Jehovah.
Greetings and love
E ke manuia ake
i re fafina kafoa
o re lagi more kere
arofa atu
Happy are you
more than all women
in heaven and earth.
Greetings and love
Ci e Manuia foki
re fua o lou aro
ko iesu mafimafi
arofa atu
Blessed also is
the fruit of your womb,
Jesus, all powerful.
Greetings and love
Ke sufia matou nei
e koe, ko re cinana
o Iotatou atua
arofa atu
Pray for us here
you who are the mother
of our God.
Greetings and love
Io, sufia, aroa
ia matou katoa
kore agasara noa
arofa atu
Yes, pray, our mother
for all of us
who are no more than sinners.
Greetings and love
E Iesu puri ki a koe
ko matou katoa nei
ko re fanau a au
arofa atu
You know
that all of us here
are your own children.
Greetings and love
Io, io Mariaro
ko re cinana a koe
a matou katoa nei
arofa atu
Yes, yes, Mary, say now
you are the mother – you
of all of us here.
Greetings and love
Ci ko re cinana koe
ci mo re sufaga foki
o reu fenua furi
arofa atu
And you are the mother
and also the refuge
of all peoples.
Greetings and love
Ci vikiviki aroa,
ci arofa mai roa
ki lau fanau fua
arofa atu
So look on us, oh, our mother,
and be favourable
to all your children.
Greetings and love
Ci arofa mai mua
ki a Futuna irenei
ko lou fenua lelei
arofa atu
But above all look kindly
on this Futuna here
which is your fair land.
Greetings and love
Ci forafora irenei
le pureaga marie
o lou aro Iesu
arofa atu
And make it
the beautiful kingdom
of Jesus your son.
Greetings and love
We travelled together through the various villages of the island, instructed some sick people in danger of death, did some baptisms, and, for the first time, burnt a great number of their divinities that they call atua muri.[8] The atua muri, which I think I forgot to tell you about in my first letter, are, according to them, a sort of divinity, inferior and quite different from those they properly call their gods and who have the supreme control of their land.[9] They are, according to them, spiritual and invisible beings, and which they imagine however to be round like a ball, their sole concern is to do harm to people, and it is from them that come all the hideous sores, the swellings, and most of their diseases. Each of them is responsible for inflicting a particular disease, they each have a house or a tree in which they live in an invisible way; and these places are full of little baskets, ropes, wooden dishes and all sorts of rags and rubbish; there, properly speaking, is the dwelling of the atua muri; the person who would dare strike a bold blow against it would soon experience the punishment for its profanation. So when I suggested to the King the idea of setting fire to all this rubbish, he laughingly agreed, along with all his chiefs. They no doubt thought I would not be so bold, but the very next day we went for a tour with Father Chanel and burnt most of the formidable signs of their divinities. The natives stood far away from the fire, so afraid were they for us and themselves. They were quite surprised, the next day, to see us still alive and well, after we had been responsible for such a great sacrilege. These facts, added to everything we had told them about this matter, had already seriously weakened their belief in these sorts of idiocy, and give great authority to Fr Chanel. Finally things got to the point that two distinct villages urgently asked that Fr Chanel should instruct them the first, saying that they wanted to be the first to be Christians, but the King, however, with whom he was living, had also told him that he wanted to be the first to embrace the religion, if his island decided to embrace it, so that good Father Chanel, who was beginning to be able to make himself understood, was getting ready, when I left him, to carry out in the prescribed way the practices of the mission, while waiting for the helper that the Bishop was to send him. I envied this dear confrère and I wanted to share his efforts in the midst of so good and docile a people, but my duty was calling me back to my post in the midst of a people much more difficult, it is true, but who were still very dear to me, because they had been entrusted to me.
It was at the beginning of July that the winds allowed me to return to Uvea. Having received the pro-Vicar-Apostolic’s blessing and embraced good Brother Marie Nizier, I rejoined the natives from my island whom I had come to fetch, and we set sail with a calm sea and very favourable winds. I was on the little schooner owned by the Europeans with all the natives who could get on board, and those of them who could not find room there had embarked on one of the local canoes that had brought them to Futuna and which they did not want to leave there, under the pretext that it belonged to one of their divinities, in whom they put all their trust to successfully complete this journey. We had firmly agreed with them before leaving, that they would stay with our schooner, for fear of getting lost in the open sea, and on the very evening of the first day we strongly recommended them again to keep close to us all night, but these wretched people, entrusting themselves to their claimed divinity, the titular of their canoe, and wanting to prove their skill by getting to their island before us without a guide, did not want to moderate the very superior speed which their little vessel had over ours, and at dawn the next day were so far from us that it was only after having looked for them for a long time that we perceived them, almost out of sight, from the top of the masts. That would have been only a small problem if they had been on the right course, but, alas, they were heading for the navigators [Samoa]. So we then, the chief of the natives and I, immediately asked our captain to go in pursuit of these unfortunate people, but, terrible to say, the more they saw us heading towards them, the more they thought they must be certainly going the right way and, continuing to sail their canoe at its full speed, they got further and further away from us and took away all our hope of ever being able to catch them up. To make the situation worse, the weather became misty and rainy, the winds strengthened considerably and the sea became heavy, which meant we completely lost sight of our unfortunate companions. All the white men who were there with the natives agreed it was a waste of time and a risk to ourselves if we looked for them for a longer time, and reset the little schooner on course for Uvea. I alone had wanted to search to go on, but my pleas were useless: it was night, the sky was overcast, the winds threatened to become worse, and the captain did not want, he said, to risk all of us in vainly running after big-headed men. How sad was the night after that! I couldn’t close my eyes for a moment; the sea kept on getting rougher because of the violence of the wind, and led me to fear that the unfortunate canoe could resist the strength of the high waves. Perhaps, I told myself, they are struggling between life and death! If only, at least, they were baptised and in a state of grace! However, the wind having driven us all night, we found ourselves at dawn at the entrance to Uvea, and it wasn’t yet midday when I had embraced dear Brother Joseph and told the King everything that had happened. He was really saddened at the fate of his unfortunate subjects, but he only blamed their imprudence and presumption, and then consoled himself by thinking that they would arrive later or that they had landed on another island. I left him in this slight hope which I was far from holding myself, and although all their divinities had told them that they would arrive soon, I could only believe that they are no longer in this world.
One of the first items of news that I was told by Brother Joseph after my arrival, was of the death of the King’s youngest child. During my absence he had performed six baptisms in the various villages of the island, and the King’s son had slipped away from him almost under his eyes. He had found out about his death before hearing of his illness, and he was inconsolable because that poor little child had died without baptism. This incident had caused a great sensation throughout the island. It was known that the King had promised that if his divinities took one of his children from him, he would reject them, and everyone regretted that I was not there to take advantage of a situation which seemed so propitious for determining the King to finally reject his false divinities, all the more so because during that same time death or sickness had otherwise ravaged the pagans, and all the catechumens on the little island had still been in good health and happiness, no matter what threats the local divinities had made to go and kill them during my absence. But God’s designs are deep – nimis profundae factae sunt cogitationes tuae.[10] The King, far from letting himself be misled by these remarkable circumstances, in some way pretended not to have noticed them, and because, it seems, even more an enemy of [Christian] religion, because during my absence he had left the catechumens in peace. Several people had joined them, and no one had disturbed them in their commitment to their little exercises. They were completely happy, and each one, when I came back, took pleasure in telling of the signs of protection and good will that the great God had bestowed on them. I myself blessed the Lord for them, and I hoped, in view of all the circumstances, that the moment had come when God wanted to expand his work on this island. But 15 days after my arrival, an old chief, almost the only one opposed to our cause, came to meet the King, told him what he knew and didn’t know about the catechumens, and declared to him that his land would be lost if he did not immediately stop the progress of the new religion by an act of violence. The King, angered again by all these stories, secretly began looking for these so-called rebels. He and those with him were well armed with stones and rods, and they had, I was told, agreed among themselves to say they were hunting for pigs. After having in vain scoured the forest near several villages on the main island, where some of his own relatives were, who had recently joined the catechumens, he and those with him crossed to the little island to hunt them all down. As he came near, everyone ran off into the forest, with the exception of their chiefs, of whom two at least were well known to the catechumens. He struck one of them, destroyed his house, and sent him to the main island so as to better keep an eye on him. Having then come upon the other, who is the young prince royal, whom I often mentioned in my first letter,[11] he bitterly condemned him for having, in spite of repeated warnings, still continued the practices of his new religion. He again ordered him to give them up, under threat, this time, of pitilessly killing all those who adhered to him, and then, he added, if I drive the missionaries from this island when their ship returns, take care to keep them near you, but let them go far from here. I was at the King’s village when these things were going on. I had not known of his Majesty’s departure, and it was only when he returned that I found out some of what had happened. Some of those he had brought back by force from the little island came secretly to tell me about their fear and their sorrow, and to ask us to pray for them so that they might have the strength to remain firm in their belief, whatever might be the rough treatment they would have to endure. I energetically accepted their situation and I omitted nothing that could console them and encourage them. I then went on two different occasions to the little island and I experienced the extreme sorrow of seeing my little flock really scattered. Several had been sent to the main island, and those who remained still did not dare to come together, but each one on their own and in secret carried out their little [spiritual] exercises. Those poor children! How touched I was by their fate! What affected me was not the punishments that they could be made to endure, faith, to the contrary, taught me to rejoice at them; but it was the fear that being so little instructed, they might waver and renounce their belief on seeing the trials they could be made to endure! I would have liked to stay with them, but prudence did not allow me to do that. The good of the mission in general still demanded my separation from my flock and staying with the King. That is why, after my return from the island of Futuna, I made only a few quick visits to them to encourage them and support them, and my normal home was with his Majesty. I am waiting there, as best I can, while waiting for the Bishop, who when he returns will show me what I should do. For the time being I believe it is appropriate to maintain my friendship with the King, by even ignoring his extreme actions towards us, and trying to overcome, with kind deeds, his ingratitude and his humiliations. Reacting otherwise would at least risk us being pitilessly expelled from the island when the Bishop comes.
Such is, Reverend Superior, the precise situation in which the little mission on Wallis is. It is a harvest which is whitening, with the exception of two or three main ears which are rising in the middle and which are still green, and what is really trying is that one cannot hope to gather the rest of the harvest before these few plants have become ripe themselves. What a cause of suffering for us. There is nothing comparable to it, or, rather, it is our sole cause of difficulty and sufferings, because, I can truly say, that a missionary would have nothing painful to put up with if he did not see perishing so many souls which had been entrusted to him, and for whose welfare he had, nevertheless, come so far. Yes, all our sacrifices, all our troubles, all our bodily sufferings are not as extraordinary as might be imagined; here, it is true, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,[12] and, to attain it, every day of your life you have to carry the shared cross which is the precious characteristic of Our Lord’s disciples, but apart from that our fate is hardly different from that of anyone who wants to love according to the spirit of his vocation in whatever part of the world he finds himself, but what constitutes our greatest difficulty is finding ourselves in the heart of the empire of Satan and unable to destroy it as quickly as we would like. What afflicts us is everything that holds back the knowledge of our good master among these unfortunate brothers who up till now have not known the One who created them. Oh! Allow me therefore, Reverend Superior, to call for in a special way, at this point, the help of your prayers and your holy sacrifices [of the Mass] for my very dear but too obstinate King: allow me to commend him in a quite special way to the prayers and holy sacrifices of all our dear brothers. It is from our common mother that I expect his conversion, and it is through the help of your prayers and your merits that I hope to obtain it. God’s justice, perhaps too offended by the crimes of our poor pagans, no doubt requires to be satisfied beforehand so as to then give way to mercy, and not being really able to offer by myself what can even in a small way satisfy this aroused justice, I am offering it continually the prayers and good works performed by all our brothers, and the good faithful of our country. May the Creator and Saviour of all peoples at last hear the yearnings of so many good souls who, we know, continually raise to him their suppliant voices on behalf of their unfortunate brothers. May he at least not deter his mercy to them because of the numberless sins and failings of his unworthy representative! Domine non secundem iniquitates nostrias retribuas (illis). [13]
We have heard, with utmost joy, of the blessing which our Lord is bestowing on the little family of Mary, and we have offered him very humble thanksgivings; may our good mother multiply her children in such a way that they may be able to carry everywhere the knowledge of her divine son! Especially may she always obtain for them such an abundance of the spirit of that divine Master, that they may be, in the sight of the whole universe, the sweet smell of her virtues!
With what joy have we also found out about everything that the spirit of faith and charity aroused the good faithful of our country to undertake for the salvation of their unfortunate brothers! With heart and soul we unite with the Bishop and all our confrères to offer our most sincere thanks to all the good souls who have become concerned in so edifying a way about their brothers in the Antipodes. Gratitude makes it a duty for us to commend them often to God in our holy sacrifices, and we are consoled in the thought of the hundredfold that is preserved for them in heaven.[14] These examples of charity given by our compatriots have already produced a great good in all this ocean in favour of the Roman church. The natives have already compared us with the ministers of heresy and they have decided! Apart from them, the multitude of English and Americans who move about all these island groups and who are the most desperate enemies of the religion that their compatriots preach, have also opened their eyes: they have compared the disinterestedness and the charity of the ministers of the true religion with the heretical spirit of self-interest and selfishness, and they are beginning to realise that a religion really exists which is what they have imagined it should be, and far from using their influence to drive it away from the islands where they live, they are trying to attract it to them, and to embrace it themselves. This favourable idea of Catholicism is not restricted to just one island; the various whaling ships that visit all our islands examine it, judge it, and carry the result of their examinations into the neighbouring islands, and from port to port and back to their own countries, and where do all these good results come from? From the charity of the children, the children of the Roman church who, while remaining in the bosom of their families, contribute more to the good of the mission than the missionaries themselves. Oh! If only the members of this one true church of Jesus Christ could more and more show their zeal them to glorify the name of this Divine Master throughout the world. The enemies of this holy church of Jesus Christ are not at all asleep, they arrived before us in this ocean, and it is really sad to be aware of all the efforts they are making to spread their heresy, and the calumnies with which they smear the true spouse of Jesus Christ, the Church of Rome.
There are, in the three neighbouring island groups of Tonga, Fiji and the Navigators at least 30 Protestant missionaries: both men and women, because, in these countries, women are as eligible for this task as much as men, they have the same faculties as them, and of course they are paid the same salary. They all come from England, but are not all of the same religion: those in the Navigators are members of the Church of England and honour as their founder Henry VIII and his allies,[15] while those in Tonga and Fiji glory in belonging to an even newer religion and recognise as founder a certain Wesley[16] who is, it is said, one of the most famous devisers of the Methodist religion. Most of these alleged apostles are seamen or poor workers who, being able to survive only with difficulty in their occupations, go and offer themselves to various evangelical organisations to work, in return for a financial reward, at creating proselytes for them everywhere it pleases (these organisations) to send them. After having seen in them the required signs of a vocation, they are sent out with the necessary faculties, and they are allocated a sum of 500 fr [£20] for the wife, and 250 for each child up to the fifth inclusively, and 300 for a servant. The organisation pays, over and above that, all their travelling costs, food and lodging, and everything they need in terms of books and personal property, with the exception of clothing. This means that the sums of money allocated to them are simply a benefice, which they do not even use, but leave in their home country to increase more and more up to the level of a fair fortune. To attain it more quickly, these gentlemen get into various other branches of business which are best suited to their situations; it is true, it is said, that this sort of business activity is forbidden them, but they say that it is their wives who want to get involved in it, and what can one say by way of reply? Some of them have as well the clever money-making strategy of demanding a little pig or half a dozen hens as a sign of gratitude for each little volume that they provide as a gift to the natives, in the name of the organisation. Most of these volumes are pieces of the Bible; some of them contain up to eight or even ten pages. But that it is enough about these little charges for generosity. Let us come from there to the point, let us add up the sums of money allocated and the expenses supported by the various Biblical organisations, and by taking into account the 15 families of Protestant missionaries in the three above mentioned island groups, one will realise the huge sum of money which the two organisations already mentioned alone spend each year on this one little corner of Oceania. After that, if you calculate what these two same organisations spend on their other so-called missions, and if you add to this sum the expenses paid for by each other organisation, whether English or American, for their various respective missions, you will be astounded at the efforts that Hell is making to multiply its victims. Isn’t this thought enough to overwhelm any child of the true Church of Jesus Christ with sorrow? Oh well! We who are the possessors and guardians of the true faith, should we have less zeal to save our brethren than Hell has to bring them to damnation? It is true that here, as everywhere else, we see the always adorable plans of God, who is happy in some way to contrast, in the sight of the whole universe, his almighty power with the weakness of his enemies, because, after all, whatever might be the effects of heresy, they have hardly any other results than proving that they are sustained only by weapons of the flesh, hi in curribus … nos autem in nomine Domini,[17] but it is always the duty and the glory of any child of the Roman Church to show more zeal for the interests of its holy Mother as enemies spend more in attacking them.
So how great was our joy and consolation when we found that this was exactly the attitude of the good faithful people in France! Oh! May God be a thousand times blessed for that! The Society [for the] Propagation of the Faith, that truly divine work, is a growing in our country and our world in a prodigious way. Born in our pious city of Lyons, this outstanding work has spread like a flood throughout France and all of Europe, and overcoming all the barriers of calumny and suspicion, it has overstepped barriers and here it is, come into the far end of the world, because I have been informed recently by a letter from Valparaiso that the illustrious Bishop of Santiago (Chile)[18] was busy and establishing it in his diocese at the extremities of South America, and who indeed is the pastor, who is the servant of Jesus Christ who would not to use all his zeal and strength to more and more spread a work so useful to his divine master and for the salvation of souls.[19] Who is the Christian who had so little love for his fellow man that he would not make so little a sacrifice for the salvation of his soul? Yes indeed! Jesus Christ would have given all his blood for the salvation of our brethren, and we, we would hum and haw over a mite when it involved the salvation of these same brethren.
At this point, a feeling that I cannot describe takes hold of me, a voice I think I can hear, the voice of all the peoples of Oceania who rise up as one man to call from there to all the peoples of the earth: Listen, all of you, and here it is not a figment of my imagination, just listen, listen, consider, and decide for yourself.
All of you, my brothers who live throughout the world, how long will you abandon us? You have received from the father of us all a share in the inheritance very much greater than ours: you enjoy there all the goods and delights of life: we who are your brethren, we are stripped of everything! You are covered in gold and radiance and we, we who are your brethren, we have only leaves to cover our nakedness! But, no matter: these temporal advantages that you enjoy do not make us envious; one sole treasure is the object of all our desires, and this treasure, it is the only real good here below – the light of faith. This precious blessing for long centuries has been in your power to give, and we poor Oceanians, we are the only ones who are still deprived of it! And you have no compassion on us! And we are actually your brethren!
But you especially, who can realise your blessedness, you, true children of the Church of Jesus Christ, the saviour of all of us, how long will you forget us, your unfortunate brethren? That those among our brethren who laugh at our common creator may have no feeling towards us, we can understand, but you, the most fortunate people in the world, you who know and serve your God, you who hope for an eternity of happiness, can you not have any compassion for your unfortunate brethren who have no other expectation than an eternity of suffering?
If your forgetting us had been only for a few years, we could have been patient and excuse it, but to have forgotten us for so many centuries and you still call us “our brethren”!
Some brethren , it is true, have already come to look for us, but, alas! these have only been false brethren! They have pulled us out of one abyss only to throw us into another, and you who alone possess the real treasure of the faith, the true source of blessedness, you are still insensible to us! And you call us your brethren!
You are the true children of God, you have been enriched with all Heaven’s graces, you are covered with the blood of our common redeemer, who gave his life for us all, you are the true inheritors of that fire of love which he came to cast on the earth, and you are cold to us! And you tolerate false brethren, with quite human opinions, coming to visit us first in our sad situation! And nonetheless you alone are our true brethren!
Your fathers and your ancestors have gone to their blessed home, you know of it, you yourselves know the way there, and we, we only have the bitter thought that our ancestors are in eternal torments, we even have one foot already in the abyss, and you show no concern! And yet you are the disciples of him who gave his life for all of us! And you are our brethren!
If, in order to save us, we asked you to give up your lives, your goods, your comforts, we would be less surprised to find you insensible, but that is not what we are on about; a mere mite from each of you is enough to get us out of our awful situation, and several of you refuse us this, and these people are your brethren! They are the disciples of him who gave his blood for the salvation of all of us! Yes, a mite from each of you would be enough to bring us missionaries who would pull all of us out of the bad situation which we are in, and you are afraid to make the sacrifice involved! But, whoever you are, you who refuse us this, listen, please, to our complaints, and decide if they are justified.
You, first of all, rich and powerful, you on whom our common God has lavished so many advantages in preference to us poor Oceanians. Although we are your brethren, we are not asking to share the inheritance that comes to you from the father of us all; it is true that we receive with gratitude the cast-offs that you reject, to cover our nakedness, but if you held on to them, it doesn’t matter, our leaves are enough. One treasure only, that you have also received from our common father, is the object of all our desires, the light of faith. Tell us, our dear brethren, without leaving your comfort zone, could you not sacrifice a mite to procure this for us? Keep your superfluities, your comfortable circumstances, and your conveniences, but, please, a mite only for the love of Jesus Christ and that of your brethren! After this life, which you spend in comfort, you look forward to eternal happiness. And we who are your brethren, after all our misery here below, have only eternal suffering to expect, and you think twice about a mite to assure us, as much as you, of that endless happiness, to which, thanks to the blood of Jesus Christ, we have as much right as you! Without any merit on your part, you have been destined to possess God in eternity, and we will be deprived forever of the enjoyment of that same God, who is our creator as much as yours, and however rich you might be, you would begrudge a mite, to ensure as well the blessedness of your poor brethren!!!
But you, our dear brethren, who have been less favoured with material blessings, however modest may your savings be, you are still better off than us who are your brethren. If you can give us nothing to cover our nakedness, oh, what does it matter? But, please, consider our wretchedness! We are still deprived of the faith. Each day we are falling into eternal disgrace. Would it therefore be totally impossible for you to hold out to us a helping hand; couldn’t you in any way save a tiny mite a week for the love of Jesus Christ and your brethren? You find it hard, you say, to put your affairs in order, to feed and clothe your family, but please do not forget that we are also part of your family because we are your brethren. Well then! Clothe your children, your brethren will go naked; feed your children, your brethren will willingly put up with hunger, but, at least, please concern yourselves in the salvation of your brethren as well as that of your children. You can do it, however poor you may be: you can do it, without denying yourself in any way, and if it was necessary to deny yourself to do that, to deny yourself of a little satisfaction, of a vanity, of a convenience, of a nothing; would you refuse it for the salvation of your brethren and the love of Jesus Christ? Oh! If that were really the case, please be so charitable as to help us with your good prayers; understand our wretched fate, do not lose sight of it, and do not stop raising your suppliant hands to heaven to that the creator and saviour of us all may at last raise up among you some brethren charitable enough to come and undo our chains and snatch us from the edge of the frightful abyss into which we are on the point of being thrown for eternity!! You especially, the peoples of France, whose privileges of any sort are the envy of the rest of the universe, oh! may your blessedness lead you to appreciate the wretchedness of your brethren!! But particularly you, children of St Irenaeus,[20] you who can glory in being truly the well-beloved children of our common Father, you at least continue to have pity on us. The light of faith has just appeared for the first time in our huge Oceania, and it is you, children of St Irenaeus, who have given the supreme leader of the Church the two liberating prelates whom he has just sent us, so even if all our other brethren were deaf to our tears and cries, we still hope for your charity. You have already brought God to many peoples in all parts of the world. We also, poor Oceanians, we whom you call your children, we are waiting for our deliverance and our salvation from your love of Jesus Christ and for your brethren. Miseremini, miseremini mei, saltem vos, amici mei.< ref>Job 19:21 – “Have pity on me, have pity on me, you my friends.</ref>
But forgive, Reverend Superior, the sort of freedom with which I express to you here the thoughts which come to me about our beloved Oceanians: at any rate it is not an effect of enthusiasm or a desire to use high-flown language to no effect; it demands only a little thought to realise that in it you have only a slight expression of the truly frightful tale of our poor brethren, of the quite distressing insensitivity that many Christians show towards them: several, it is true, have already been moved by their misfortune, but how numerous are those who entirely forget them. They are disciples. They claim to be going to heaven, and they don’t even have the compassion to hold out a hand to their brethren to drag them along after them! I don’t know how they imagine the situation, but from my standpoint, I cannot understand how those people can be admitted to heaven who during their lives have refused to give even a mite to open the gates of this sojourn of happiness to their wretched brethren. Oh, this is a situation in which Holy Scripture’s words are really applicable: Desolatione desolata est terra, quia nullus est qui recogitet corde.[21] It wasn’t a lack of compassion but a lack of thought which has led us to forget our brethren. People are born and raised in the bosom of blessedness, and forget that many of our brethren are in the most wretched situations, because, finally, if you seriously think that thousands of people, created by the same Father as us, created in the same image, are plunged in the greatest distress, what sort of, I don’t say Christian, but philanthropist even, who, however poor he might be, would not find a way to save at least a mite per week to help his fellow creatures in their misfortune?
A few years before we arrived in Wallis, several exotic plants were brought into this island, some of which had already died for lack of care: there still remained the cotton plant, the water melon, maize, tobacco and the sweet potato, and we have added the vine, the orange tree, the pineapple, the potato, the flax plant, the pumpkin, green peas, melons, the beet, chicory, rape, mustard, the palma Christi,[22] we have, as well, an onion, a cabbage and a carrot; we have sown a great number of other seeds, among others wheat, rye and hemp, but they did not come up, no doubt because they were too old, or the season in which we sowed them was not suitable for them. As for those which did come up, they showed great vigour at first, and then some died, damaged in the roots, others are flowering without producing seeds, which is caused by the excessive heat, or because we have not discovered the right time to sow them. But what is most important is that the cotton plant is doing marvellously well, and if we had workers, we could very quickly have enough cotton to make material with which to clothe our natives. Brother Joseph has already spun a good amount of it, and as soon as the opportune time comes, he will teach the natives to spin. After that, the Bishop will easily be able to get us a machine from Sydney, which will be model we can use for building others, and if we cannot get a skilful weaver, we will try, anyway, by putting our ideas together, to make something. The orange tree, which is so beneficial in hot countries, is also thriving; we already have nearly a hundred [oranges] from it. The vine is growing vigorously, but I doubt whether it will bear fruit. The flax plant also seems as if it will succeed, I hope the hemp plant will as well. Every time we get reinforcements, it seems that it would be advantageous if they brought all sorts of seeds, so that after several trials, made in different islands and at different seasons, some worthwhile successes could be gained for the benefit of humanity and even for religion.
Another thing would also contribute very much to this same good for humanity and religion: finding some remedies which cure or prevent certain sicknesses or infirmities which are a cross for our poor natives. As it is probable that the Bishop will not have encountered in New Zealand the same sicknesses that are prevalent here, I alone am the one who is obliged to tell you about the ones that distress our poor Oeanians. The most notable and most pitiable is a sort of canker which usually is found on the legs or arm, and sometimes on the face; it forms large sores which close over sometimes, and then open up again, change place, or spread over almost the whole body. If it stops in a certain place, it eventually disfigures him so much that he is not recognisable afterwards. I have seen people whose sore had at first formed on the shoulder, then had come down to the fingertips and had eaten away at them so as to make them disappear completely. I have seen 12 to 15-year-old children whose whole bodies were almost nothing more than a sore. Those people are segregated from the rest of society for the remainder of their lives. Those who are affected by a certain disease called kilia[23] are also excluded from society; it is a deposit which forms most often on the feet and the hands, it suppurates from place to place without forming large sores, but it cripples the limbs, twists and contorts them in a really pitiful way. The natives attribute these illnesses to their divinities’ eating them, and if a missionary had a remedy to cure these, it would be enough to win over whole islands to Christianity, because the islanders would realise that their gods are false, or, at least, that the God of the missionaries is better and stronger than theirs. I have been told by many natives from Tonga that the Protestants who were there had a sort of pill or something of that sort, which, when swallowed, made these sorts of sore disappear; while waiting until I can be sure about this sort of remedy, couldn’t doctors guess what it is so that it comes to us more quickly?
Another very common infirmity involves a certain swelling of the arms and the legs which usually occurs at a mature age, and then remains for the rest of their life, without producing any sores; it extends nearly always from the knee to the tips of the toes and from the elbow to the fingertips. The white men have nicknamed them the “booted ones” because, indeed, on seeing a similar disorder in the legs, you would think you were seeing a large pair of boots. It would seem to be an excrescence of flesh rather than a swelling, because the skin is not stretched, and the flesh is soft and natural in colour. Our doctors in France must certainly be able to work out the causes of this illness, and would they know of any remedies to get rid of it, especially when it is just beginning to appear? As well, many men are seen with remarkably swollen testicles; this particular disease often hastens death; [and] as far as I can tell after that, several children have been attacked by disease involving tiny worms. I have seen a great number of them languishing for a very long time, then dying as emaciated as skeletons, but with their abdomens extremely large. I have seen other children becoming hunchbacked from their earliest years, then dragging out a feeble and languishing life. It seems that they do not live long. Wouldn’t there be any remedies to stop this disease when it is just beginning to show itself.
I very much regret not having taken enough advantage of opportunities that I had in France to get experience in these matters, and all possible subjects, because it would be good that a missionary in Oceania be a man of vast knowledge. But I should have at least got myself a good book on medicine, and I completely forgot about it before leaving France. If you think it appropriate, would you be kind enough to send me some? I hear that Tissot[24] would be very suitable for us. Since I am on the subject of forgotten things, I am going to go on making requests of you; I find myself here right in the heart of heretical territory. Apart from Protestant ministers, there is a host of Americans and Englishmen living in our islands. We have to refute what the first group say, and instruct the others. Now I am not experienced enough in controversy, not expert enough in the English language to be able to make a good job of it and defend the holy Church of Rome as it should be, so I would like to have some [books by] English writers who deal with, in a solid and clear way, the various points of controversy between the true Spouse of Jesus Christ and the various heretical groups. A series of talks, given in London only a few years ago by a well-known preacher would suit me very well. Apart from that, I do not know everything on this matter that is worthwhile, in English, but you know what I mean. Only please, do not forget it. I would also like some brief catechisms in English, and some pious books, lay people’s missals, New Testaments, imitations etc[25] – everything in English. Many times already I have regretted not having these sorts of books, and I foresee that in the future I will have an even greater need of them. I have found in the possession of nearly all the unfortunate white men who are teeming in this ocean, abominable books, containing the most absurd calumnies against Catholicism, and several of these unfortunate people have admitted to us that before getting to know us, they had such prejudices against Catholics that they believed that they were sorts of monstrosities in society, ignorant, superstitious, idolatrous and as bad as savages. They were born and brought up in these prejudices and never heard anything but evil about the true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation. So how important it is to have some good books to put in their hands so as to do away with their harmful prejudices by instructing them about the true beliefs of the Church. You understand well enough all the good that would result from that, for the salvation of their souls and the general good of the mission. From the fact that they are living in the islands where we are, we have become responsible for their souls, and their salvation is as much our concern as that of our pagans.
I would really want to have as well, some detailed treatises on the history of the so-called reform of the Church; I get a lot of questions about this both from the whites and from the natives, and the least error would be enough to give an advantage to our enemies, if they found themselves able to find one. In a word, all the authors who have refuted heresy and defended the Roman faith would be of use to us. I rely on you to make the choice; the copies would not need to be many, but it will be better, always, if they are in the English language, because then they would be as useful to others as to ourselves. The only one I would like in Latin is the commentary of Menochius.[26] I have written to my cousin Father Chevenat[27] to send me one I had left to him. If, due to any circumstance, it hasn’t been sent to you, would you be so kind as to get me one in some other way, or to replace it with some other commentary that you think more suitable. The Protestants in these island groups quite recently have translated the whole Bible into the native language, and various parts of it are in the hands of all the natives. I have seen the translation made in the Tongan language. It is a man named Mr Thomas, whom we saw in Vava’u, who is its author.[28] He has been more than 12 years in that island group, and it must be said to his credit that he has grasped very well the genius of the language, and that his translation is not without merit and shows a lot of work on his part. But error has been intermingled in it, and among other proofs of bad faith, I want to quote to you at this point the passage which has most disgusted me, the 20th verse of the 1st chapter of the 2nd letter of St Peter: Hoc primum intelligentes quod omnis prophetia Scriptura, propria interpretatione non fit, [29] he translates thus: Mou tomua il ae mea-ni, koeuhi oku ikai ha balosifai e taha i he tobi tabu, nae tubu noabe i be balofite. [30] Word by word: “Try this at first, be aware that there is not a single prophecy in the sacred book which comes in vain (from the mouth) of the prophet.” At least there is a proof that they still have the ability to understand what in the Scriptures condemns their error. I have not come across any falsification in what concerns the doctrine of the Eucharist, and I have, however, found that every year a so-called communion was given in Tonga under the appearances of bread and water; it is said that elsewhere it is given under the appearances of breadfruit… Good heavens! What disorder! But, in a word, we really need a good commentary on all of Holy Scripture to distribute and spread, in all its purity, the holy Word of God which the enemies of the Church are disfiguring at their whim.
I fear that your other concerns will not allow you to do the needed research about these various books, but if you wish to make a confrère responsible for it, I am certain he will find what we need, and even that he will find, in the charity of some good souls, the costs needed for this purchase.

12 May 1840
Reverend Superior,
Bishop Pompallier, being unable to visit us yet, as it seems, has sent us Father Chevron[31] to see what our situation was. It was a year since the other confrères came through here. Since then I have received no news from anywhere, and the Bishop had heard that I had been killed or driven out, but, thanks be to God, the rumour was false. I am still fit and well, and the good God has deigned to bless our works. Since last September [1839] when I wrote what precedes this, many interesting things have happened that you should be told about, but with Father Chevron staying here only two or three days, I am forced to send the details of everything that has happened since the last months of last year until today, when the Bishop arrives. I will just tell you quite briefly that the gospel has been preached and embraced in the midst of continual persecutions and that the number of converts has remarkably increased now that we have nothing more to fear from the pagan group although it is led by the King. If Father Chevron had come only a month sooner, I would certainly have been driven out by the pagan group which, stronger then, was acting harshly against our beloved catechumens, but today I am close to counting seven or eight hundred Catholics, most of whom are the powerful chiefs of the island. We are all assembled together on a small island named Nukuatea.[32] We built the first church last Holy Week, and I carried out in it, as they should have been, the mission ceremonies. On Sundays there are two instructions and one only on the other days of the week. I have several young people who already know how to read and write, and I only have to give them the catechism, the prayers and the hymns so that they very quickly teach all these things to all the others. On this matter, how necessary a little printing press would be. I received your estimable letter. Thank you very much for it. As Father Chevron has not yet made his vows, I will wait for another visit to renew my vows. You should have received a long letter from me – this one follows it up. I will send you its third part when the Bishop arrives. I have also taken advantage two or three times of doubtful opportunities to send you brief messages. Have they got to you?[33] I hope that when the Bishop arrives, if it is not for two or three months yet, the whole island will be converted, and His Lordship will have a lot of baptisms to do. Every day, and especially on Saturdays, families or whole villages come from the main island to Nukuatea to join the catechumens. In the last three weeks I have registered nearly 200. Dominus regnavit, exultet terra, laetentur insulae multae.[34] May God and Mary be thanked.
I throw myself at your feet, Reverend Superior, to ask you for your blessing and to urge you to remember in a special way the least of your children who wants always to be in union with your prayers and holy sacrifices.
Your most humble and obedient servant and child,
P(ierre) Bataillon
Miss(ion)ary ap(ostolic)
In Western Oceania.
PS I believe I have already promised you an attempt at a grammar with the Wallisian dictionary. It was finished several months ago, but having caught sight of many faults and mistakes in it which I presently have not enough time to correct during the little time Father Chevron has been here, I will postpone the carrying out of my promise until the Bishop arrives.


  1. Cf The letter from Colin to Bataillon of 31 July 1838 (CS, Doc 44). The second group of missionaries called at Wallis and Futuna in May 1839 (cf Doc 28 [26], 32 [1])
  2. In fact, the letter from Bataillon to Colin begun in July 1838 and finished in May 1839 (cf Doc 28 [27]) only speaks in general terms about letters from Lyons and St Etienne, without making any mention of a letter from Colin in particular.
  3. The catechumens of the islet called Nuku-atea, under the young chief Tu’ugahala (cf Doc 28 [19] f/n 40)
  4. The Reine de Paix (cf Doc 32 [1] f/n 2)
  5. The war at that time between the two kingdoms in Futuna, that is, between Tua (Alo) and Sigave, is described in Frimizacci p 141-50; Chanel gives a long description of it in his letter to Bataillon on 7th September 1839 (Rozier Ecrits Chanel Doc 51 [3-14] p 240-51)
  6. Niuliki, King of Tua (cf Doc 22 [5] f/n 9)
  7. See the supplementary note at the end of the present document
  8. They burnt, no doubt, the things in which dwelt the atua muli; the third category of divinity spirits (cf Doc 28 [9] f/n 16)
  9. According to Henquel (p40) and Burrows (p84) the first category of the Uvian gods was that of the immortal gods, the great gods, the true masters of the country, but they did not concern themselves with it; the second category included the “buried gods”, ancestral gods, ancestors (mainly chiefs) who had been divinised, who alone took possession of a man or a woman and who, being the sole masters of the life and the death of human beings, found pleasure in creating various diseases. In Bataillon’s remarks in his previous letter, on the pre-Christian religion of Uvea, he distinguishes between “the spirit who had formerly animated bodies” (the ancestral gods) and the “principal spirits who, they say, had not been in people” (Doc 28 [6])., so, if in the present letter such a categorisation seems less clear, it is perhaps because Bataillon is somewhat aware of the Futunan religion, where the great Polynesian gods are absent, with the exception of Tangaloa and Maui; and where the gods, “Futunian” mainly, are deified ancestors, with the exception, perhaps, of the animal gods (cf Frimigacci, p22, and his essay on the gods of Futuna - p22-26)
  10. Ps 91 (92): 6 – and unfathomable your designs
  11. Tu’ugahala (cf Doc 28 [19] f/n 40)
  12. Cf Matt 11:12 – “since the days of John the Baptist up till now, the kingdom of God has been subjected to violence, and the violent are taking it by storm.”
  13. Cf Ps 102 (103):10 – “He does not deal with us according to our sins, he does not repay us according to our faults.”
  14. Cf Mark 10:19-20 – “Jesus said to him, truly I say to you, ‘There is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecution – now, in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.’”
  15. The evangelisation of Samoa was due mainly to the London Missionary Society (Cf Doc 28 [15] f/n 24). Bataillon is wrong in identifying these missionaries with the Anglicans. The LMS was founded by Anglicans, it is true, but with a Calvinist tendency. Right from the start, it saw itself as independent of the Churches in England (cf Garrett P 9-10) and in Samoa, as elsewhere in the Pacific, it gravitated towards the nonconformist Congregational church, from which it received the greatest support. In the later part of this present paragraph Bataillon mentions “various evangelical organisations”, “Biblical organisations”, and even “two organisations”; and these are certainly the London Missionary Society and the Methodists, on the other hand, the Church Missionary Society of the Anglican Church, very active at this time in New Zealand, had not gone beyond that country during the first days of the [Catholic] mission in Oceania (cf Doc 16 [6] f/n6).
  16. John Wesley (1703-91), an English theologian and founder of Methodism.
  17. Cf Ps 19 (20):8 – “Some trust in chariots, [others in horses] but we in the name of the Lord [he is the one we call on]” Bataillon will cite the whole sentence in his letter of 1st November 1839 to Father Etienne Séon (cf Doc 43 [2] f/n 2)
  18. Emanuel Vicuñe, Bishop of Santiago de Chile from 1832, Archbishop from 1840, died in 1843 (cf Ritzler and Sefrion Vol 7, p 219)
  19. It seems that the rest of the present paragraph [11] and paragraphs [12-21] were written with a view to being published in The Annals of the Propagation of the Faith (see in the Annals Vol 13 (1841) pp 396-97, the article being a rewriting of the present document – pp388-401-
  20. That is, the people of Lyons: St Irenaeus, one of the earliest bishops of the city where he is specially honoured.
  21. Jer 12:11 – The whole countryside is desolate and no one is concerned about it.
  22. No translation findable - translator’s note
  23. Rensch’s Wallisian dictionary gives ‘leprosy’ for ‘kilia’
  24. Andre Tissot (1728-97), a Swiss doctor. A new edition of his Oeuvres Complètes [Complete Works] in eleven volumes appeared in Paris 1809-1813, then was reprinted in 1830; as well in 1820 the first five volumes were reprinted under the title Oeuvres Choisies [Selected Works]. Several of his treatises were published in Lyons between 1763 and 1832 (Cf Catalogue general ds lives inprimés de la Bibliotheque nationale – Auteurs [Works published before 1960] Vol 190, Col 94-97, under the name of Tissot, Samuel Auguste André David)
  25. Imitation of Christ, no doubt - translator’s note
  26. Giovanni Stefano Menochio (1575-1655), an Italian Jesuit theologian; Brevis explication sensus litteralis S. Scripturae optimis quibusque auctoribus per epitomen collecta (Cologne 1630, republished several times, notably the edition of 1825, published in Lyons in six volumes under the title: Totius Sancta Scriptura commentarii ex optimis quibusque auctoribus collecti. Menochius’ commentaries were also incorporated in the editions of the Biblical text: for example, the one published in 15 volumes in Lille and Lyons in 1833-34 (cf Bibliotheque de la Compagnie de Jesus Vol 5, pp 948-51)
  27. No doubt Father Jean-Claude Chevenat (1812-1972), the only priest with this name at the time; ordained 9 June 1838, he was first of all a curate at Fleurie, then in October 1843 at St Paul in Lyons, and finally serving at Marlhes and Saint-Genest-Mailfaux (cf Vachet p 626,, 665, Archives of the Archdiocese of Lyons, register of ordinations (No 4) Liber ordinationum 1835-57), Microfilm in ALM.
  28. John Thomas, Methodist minister whom Bataillon and the others of the first group of Catholic missionaries met during their stay in Tonga in October 1837 (cf Doc 22 [3] f/n 3; see also Doc 28 [15] f/n 22, 25). Thomas no doubt shared with other ministers in the translation of some parts of the Bible into Tongan (cf Latukefu p 54), but it was James Edgar Moulton who translated the complete Bible into that language (cf Garrett p 273).
  29. 2 Peter 1:20: “At the same time we must be most careful to remember that the interpretation of Scriptural prophecy is never a matter for the individual” (Jerusalem Bible)
  30. The author write as ‘b’ instead of a ‘p’ in the words ‘palosifai’, ‘tapu’, ‘noape’ and ‘palofita’ – this last word he writes with the final ‘e’, but in current Tongan (Father Mateo Kivalu of Wellington the source) it is ‘palofita’.
  31. Father Joseph-André Chevron, entered the Society of Mary 15 May 1839, was professed in it 11 July 1842 (cf Doc 172 [4] and Memoriale Societatis Mariae 1996 p66). He left London 15 June 1839 with four Marist priests, arrived at Bay of Islands 9 December 1839, left again 17 December 1839, and, via Tonga and Fiji, arrived in Wallis 9 May 1840 – then arrived in Futuna 16 May (cf Doc 63 [2, 6-53])
  32. Nukuatea (cf Doc 28 [19] f/n 40) – this is Bataillon’s spelling. Chevron (Doc 153 [8]) has Noukouatea, and Brigham (p121), Henquel (p 36) and Poncet (p 23-25) the same, but on certain maps it is Nukuaeta (cf Atlas of the S Pacific, Plate 10)
  33. Apart from his first letter (Doc 28) and the present one, the only letter written from Oceania by Bataillon before 12 May 1840 and preserved in the APM is that of 1 November 1839 (Doc 42)
  34. (Ps 96 (97):1: The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice, the many islands be glad.

Previous Letter List of 1839 Letters Next letter