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Brother Claude-Marie to Father Colin, Kororareka, 12 February 1844

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, August 2005

APM Z 208 12 February 1844


Very Reverend Father Superior

It is from Hokianga that I addressed to you my last letter, dated in January 1843, in which I told you of many things, and in which I spoke to you about my next change of station as I believed it to be, because it was impossible for me to do my duty at Puru Kau [sic: Purakau], as much because of Reverend Father Petit, and you have seen that we could not get on together very well, and equally because of the manual work,[1] which far from diminishing has considerably grown. However, in spite of my requests, I had to stay there until the 21st of August, that I was destined to go to Te Rangi [2] with Father Lampila, a new mission station which His Lordship has located near the mouth of the Hokianga River.

To tell you, Very Reverend Father, of the happiness, the happiness[3] I experienced on leaving Purakau, would be difficult for me to describe; it was still almost the same thing as you saw in the last letter, which very much upset me.[4] But the separation of Father Lampila from Father Petit was only a [brouillamini – muddle?]. (Father Lampila stayed at Purakau with Father Petit.) [p2] They told each other that he [5] would stay at his place, and I would stay at mine: they were in that situation for some time, and they finally ended up being reconciled and becoming brothers. [6]

I will tell you nothing about our situation in this station – it would be too long. For the rest, although we were in great poverty, we were content, we [vivions? Heurex – sic – vivons heureusement – lived happily].

I gave thanks for finding myself with so good and charitable a Father, and I told myself that after the thorns, roses have come! May the God of all goodness be blessed for it!

But if the body was enjoying wellbeing, alas! the soul had its troubles – and very great. The good Father suffered on seeing me in such a situation, and this was what brought about my change in situation.

This is what happened. I believe I have already let you know, Very Reverend Father, in two letters I sent you from Hokianga, about the violent urge [passion] I have for caressing children and the desires of the flesh against the holy virtue of purity which result from that. It was even worse in this station because of some children there, with captivating faces and very easy to manipulate [manier]. Already many times I had fallen into quite serious sins [avec? – with] two especially [d’entre eux – among them], so that after having received a [ordre? – directive] from His Lordship, to whom I had described my sad situation, he allowed me to go to the Bay of Islands if I wished, so that by living in community, I would not experience the same dangers.

Some days after my arrival at Kororareka, I found out that Reverend Father Tripe was leaving for France. My first thought was to inform you of my problems,[7] but finding myself overwhelmed with work I wasn’t able to, and to put things right to some extent, I begged Father Tripe to speak to you about them. He was kind enough to take note of them, [and] I have every reason to believe that you have come to know [p3] something about them. I am doing quite well here with the Rev[erend] F[athers] and the dear B[rothers]. I am very content to live in community. Many of the faults I would commit if I was on my own, which I am careful not to commit now, however, I really have to freed from this cursed tendency. [8] I still suffer a lot, and I have many desires, when I see certain little children, to caress them; sometimes I withdraw myself a bit too much. Apart from that, I have, here, in spite of my [illegible word] weakness, a lot more work than I can do, but what tires me most is the cooking, which is very great, and the heat of a big fire brings about very great pain in my stomach, and violent headaches. Sometimes as well I spit blood. I have told you this, and I say it again, Very Reverend Father, I am the feeblest member of the mission in every respect.

That is roughly what I wanted you to know. I believe that in France I was much more religious than I am now, and I am afraid of not continuing to grow [9] because here there are too many obstacles coming together to bring about my fall. The greatest, and the one which is always before my eyes, is the native children, and even the big ones, who being not at all, or very little, clothed, leaving to be seen a naked part of their bodies. Quite often the children are as naked as worms – a great temptation, Very Reverend Father, for one like me who experiences so strong an attraction to evil. I leave your wisdom to judge the matter for the best and for the salvation of my soul. It seems to me that my salvation is really in danger in this country.

Please believe me to be, very Reverend and most tender Father Superior, the smallest and most unworthy of the children of Mary.

Brother Claude-Marie
Kororareka, 12 February 1844


  1. that he had been given - translator’s note
  2. that may be what is today known as Rangi Point, on the north side of the Hokianga Harbour, and not far from the entrance - translator’s note
  3. The repetition is his - translator’s note
  4. ce qui m’ennuyais beaucoup – I can only guess that his ending ennuyais with an s rather than a t is a slip of the pen - translator’s note
  5. Father Petit most likely? - translator’s note
  6. Ils disaient l’un et l’autre qu’il deneure (ra?) chez lui, et je resterai chez moi; ils ont été quelque temps dan cette état, et ont finis enfin par se raprocher et devenir des frères
  7. in writing, presumably - translator’s note
  8. This preceding is not good English, but the French is the product of a man writing under some emotional stress, and I have tried to reproduce that - translator’s note
  9. in religious spirit - translator’s note