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22 February 1846 — Fr Jean-Pierre Frémont to Cardinal Giacomo Filippo Fransoni, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith, San Cristobal

Translated by Peter McConnell, October 2010

To the Cardinal Prefect
San Christoval, 22 February 1846

Death has removed from our mission station its first pastor, Bishop Epalle, Bishop of Sion, vicar apostolic of Melanesia and Micronesia. The virtuous bishop had hardly take up the apostolic vicariate when God hurried to call him to heaven by a death the world will call sad and deplorable. As his divine master, as he first apostles, as so many other evangelical workers, Bishop Epalle gave his life for his faith. With his blood he cemented the foundations of the church which he was so pleased to establish in Melanesia.
Eminence, here is an account of the event in a few words: Having consulted and reflecting on the matter, Bishop Epalle had decided before God to begin his mission work through the archipelago of the Solomons. To facilitate and consolidate the fruits of is mission, he wanted to make his first and main settlement on Ysabel Island. It being the most central spot of the archipelago. However, God who disposes of all things, in his wisdom, did not allow his servant to carry out his intentions which he had formed for God’s glory. It was in looking for a suitable spot that the brave prelate was struck down fatally. Providence allowed him to fall, with the men who were accompanying him, into the hands of a tribe more barbarous than the others. He was struck on the head more than five times which left him with a hair-breath of life which he kept for a further three days, after which he rendered his soul to God. After the assault on the bishop others were wounded, but our bishop was the only one to succumb. His life had edified us; his death left us with regrets and hopes. We want to believe that God wanted to put at the foot of his throne an intercessor for the welfare of the heathens whom the Holy See had entrusted to the zeal of Bishop Epalle. On a thousand occasions we have already received marks of God’s special protection. On leaving Ysabel for a time, after the bishop’s murder, we withdrew to San Cristoval, where we have a settlement which promises great things for the future.
May I be so bold as to express to his Eminence the wish that Bishop Epalle often expressed to us in his lifetime of seeing his vicariate limited to only the Solomon Islands, believing that the range of the archipelago and the population that it contains, was more than enough for a vicar apostolic.
We pray to God that the Holy See may leave us the least time possible to be without a bishop. In this hope I cast myself at the feet of His Eminence to ask for his blessing, begging him to accept the assurance of the very deep respect with which I am the most humble and very devoted servant of His Eminence,
Frémont, Provicar.