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27 June 1845 – Bishop Pierre Bataillon to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis

Translated by Brian Quin, March 2009

Two copies made at that time give us supplementary details on the civil war in Wallis, no doubt taken from the “account of events” which Bataillon sent at the same time (see below [2]), but which is not preserved in APM; these details have been transcribed in a footnote at the place where they are found in the copies.

Wallis Island + Mission of Our Lady of Good Hope, 27 June, 1845.

Very Reverend Father,[1]
It was in May just past that Fathers Junillon and Violette, and Brothers Charles and Jacques got here; I have come here to thank you for this, in my name and in the name of all the people of central Oceania; because, under God, it is to you that we owe all the help that we receive from our country. I must also thank you for the interest you show in our missions and the efforts you make on their behalf. The last dispatch [of men and goods] was better than all the others by reason of the good choice and good quality of the articles. We hope that the last information we sent to the procurator will help you understand our needs more clearly. Beginnings are always difficult, and only time will give us here, as in France, a complete appreciation [“experience”]. We will do everything in our power to gain experience in our missions and to share it with you; and we are fully convinced that you will do everything you can for us and our works.
Something about our missions: I have not visited them since our last letters, but I can still tell you little bit about them. We have reason to believe that the mission of Our Lady of Martyrs in Futuna is still going from strength to strength. We left it in a good situation. As for the mission of the Immaculate Conception in Tonga, we have been informed by the Rhina[2] which has come from there and is going to carry our letters to Sydney, that it is still doing quite well; it is growing little by little and among many difficulties and is to be hoped that it will be solidly based. We have learned, by what we believe to be pretty reliable means, that the missionaries whom we left in Fiji already have a certain number of catechumens, and among others a high chief of Vava’u and a good number of his fellow-countrymen who live with him in these islands. May Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, to whom this huge archipelago is consecrated, watch over in a quite special way this so difficult mission and obtain success for it from her divine Son. Concerning Wallis, I am sorry to inform you that for almost a year now this island has been in the grip of a civil war,[3] but peace seems to be being established now, and we hope that this evil will turn to good for the mission. I append here the account of events, telling what happened there, so that if you need to, you can refute the calumnies which poorly- informed or poorly-intentioned people could spread against us about this matter. The beginning of the crisis at first really worried us, but the Blessed Virgin protected us; our neophytes, tested by tribulations became only more firm and fervent, while all that came from it for our enemies were shame and the regret of having failed in their plan. Everyone, even the British commanders and their own missionaries, disapproved of them. I could be mistaken, but I think that things will go better now than before. Calumnies are seen for what they are, prejudices are vanishing, and we seem to be more and more gaining the people’s trust, especially on Wallis. Please pray very much for us, reverend Father, and get the whole Society praying for all our missions, and especially for our much beloved mission of Good Hope.
I hasten to inform you of something that will please you. It is that during the last few days we visited a pretty little isolated bay in order to build a seminary there; I dream day and night about this establishment, and we definitely must begin. We will call it “The Seminary of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” [4] We will build a chapel there, where we will place the statue of the Blessed Virgin and the Way of the Cross which we have just received. There we will mainly carry on the exercises of the arch-confraternity for the conversion of sinners which meanwhile we have already set up in another church, as soon as we have received faculties from venerable Father Desgenettes.[5] I am writing a letter to that good old man to tell him about the establishment of the wonderful arch-confraternity in our vicariate apostolic and to commend to his prayers the chiefs Pooi and Tuungahala (I can’t see anything wrong in naming them) who are the most influential on the island and who however are a long way from being good for us and for the mission, because one is a self-styled Protestant, and the other is still only a very bad catechumen. Those are the two who have brought about the war on Wallis. We commend them in a quite special way to your prayers and to those of the whole Society. We commend to you as well King Lavelua and all the kings and chiefs of the islands who through their influence do most harm to our works.
When you receive this letter the little seminary of the Immaculate Heart will probably be completed and studies begun. I am keeping Fr Junillon here to start things off. I will later replace him with the priests whom I have already asked you to choose ad hoc [for this purpose] and who are probably already on the way. The site we have in mind is magnificent. It is a little hill between two little valleys. We will have as much land as we want to cultivate, and I am going to get clearing and planting done straightaway. On a hill which is a little higher I am thinking of building later on, a new Fourviere with a calvary. Among the seminary buildings there will be one which will be used as a rest home for sick Fathers and Brothers. Please pray, reverend Father, that this establishment is a success. What a consolation for your fatherly heart it would be if, before [your ] dying we could ordain a Polynesian priest and enlarge Mary’s family by forming Marist Fathers and Brothers in the various islands of our mission. The children are quite good here and offer the finest hopes. I believe, and it is the general opinion that they offer many more possibilities here than in China, for example, where already we have such a numerous indigenous clergy. So as to not be forced to delay further this undertaking, Fr Roudaire has willingly agreed not to join as soon the Bishop of Amata, to go with Fr Violette to found a mission in the Navigators’, [6] islands about which we have excellent information. I am thinking of sending them next month on a little schooner which we have inherited and which has just been finished by the workers on the Rhin. This schooner was built in Wallis by an Englishman who died before finishing it. He entrusted us with the care of his children and in return made us the heirs of his work. This little vessel will be useful for us until we can get ourselves something better. I have just got from the commandant of the Rhin a man to take charge of it, with a seaman. We will find the rest of the crew in Wallis. What a delight and advantage if we can now visit or have our missions visited more often; but that is going to cause a lot of expense and you will do us a kindness to bring that to the notice of our benefactors, the members of the office of the [Society of the] Propagation of the Faith.
Fr Roudaire has handled the printery very well. He has very good qualities which have won our entire confidence, and I have no fear of sending him to Samoa to begin the mission there. Very soon, if we don’t go and join him ourselves,[7] we will probably send Fr Mathieu there, who would have been rather difficult for me to send right now. M. Grezel is going to be given charge of the printery. He has a liking for it and does it well. He is now much better than at first, and we are close to believing that we will soon call him to orders. He will be especially good for the college.
Please try, reverend Father, to send us some priests each year. Apart from the college, we have several missions in view, where I hope that we will be received. I am not saying that people are waiting for us there with open arms, ignoti nulla cupido [There is no desire for the unknown].[8] I desire only one thing, to be able to get missionaries into the islands. Keep on sending us men and, when we find that there are no more doors open, I will warn you.
Concerning Brothers, these are our needs: they would always be needed, at least one for two priests: I say “at least” because from time to time we would like to see as many Brothers arriving as priests, for replacements and unforeseen needs; apart from that it would be very advantageous if we could have two Brothers in each establishment. The professions which we would most like to see among the Brothers would be those of doctor and pharmacist. Those of carpenter and tailor and weaver. After that we would need 1) a Brother who serves as the manager on board the schooner, that is to say a man who is experienced in business, who could accompany our schooner in the various missions to bring help there, and go into European ports and especially to Sydney, where the procure will be, to bring help from there for the mission; he would be a sort of procurator for the schooner. That would avoid having to give a priest the job, because without a Brother of that sort, we would hardly be able to send the schooner without one of our own number on board. It is very unusual to find captains who are like one of us and whom we could trust totally. 2) a Brother printer to help and to replace M. Grezel if we were to call him to orders and employ him at the seminary, which is very probable. It would be very advantageous to have even continually two men for the printer. 3) a Brother blacksmith. 4) for the college we need a Brother carpenter and a Brother tailor.
I would very much like to have the time to talk to you about many things which would interest you very much no doubt, like our schools, the procession of the Blessed Sacrament which we had this year for the first time, the 110 marriages we performed last month etc. But our Fathers will no doubt write to you about all these things and we are sending you all our letters unsealed so that you are the first person to know what is being written from the Vicariate of the Centre [of Oceania], and so you may improve what needs to be improved; the sealed letters are those which are of no importance.
Allow me now, very Reverend Father, to commend myself in a very special way to your prayers and holy sacrifices and to assure you always of the feelings of respect, submission and gratitude with which I have the honour to be, Very Reverend Father, your most humble and obedient servant,
+ Pierre, Bishop of Enos
Vicar Apostolic
[10] (in the margin and across [what was already written]).
In what concerns the care to be taken on behalf of the missionaries and the help to get for them, I agree with you completely and, if I have not yet been able to carry them out, it is because it has not yet been possible for us, but here we are right now on the point of improving the position of our poor missionaries whose sufferings really distress me.


  1. Although the title “Very Reverend” could indicate that the addressee could be someone like Fr Poupinel, the latter, addressed as “Reverend Father”, was the addressee of another letter written the following day, the 28th. As well, the two copies of the present letter indicate clearly that it is the Superior –general to whom this one is written.
  2. no doubt the naval vessel Rhin
  3. [Additions to the text in the two copies:] [ .. a civil war being carried on by the two chiefs Pooi and Tungahala (sic – later Tuungahala) the most influential in the island, without even excepting the king. The first is a self-styled Protestant, and the second is no more than a very bad catechumen who claims to be our protector, but wreaks our ruin. In all, jealousy and ambition have been the sole causes of the war: it concerns which one will reign after Lavelua and will dominate him during his lifetime. Both of the claimants have adopted religion as a mask to attract supporters; but the war is virtually only between the people of their tribes.
  4. The seminary was at Lano. See also docs 709 [23] and also 691, [4]
  5. Father Charles – Eleonore Dufriche-Desgenettes, parish priest of Our Lady of Victories in Paris, founder and director of the Archconfraternity of the Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners.
  6. now called Samoa
  7. Bataillon seems to be using “the plural of majesty” here – trans. note
  8. A quote from the Roman classical author, Ovid, Ars Amandi (The Art of Love) 3: 397