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15 September 1846. — Bishop Pierre Bataillon to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis

Translated by Peter McConnell, September 2010

+ Mission of Our Lady of Good Hope, Ouvea, 15 September 1846
To Reverend Fr Colin

Very Reverend Father,
Father Servant is sending me by way of a French ship which was in Futuna and is setting out from here for Tahiti and then to France, he is sending me, I tell you, a large exercise book in which he talks about Futuna almost more than is possible to be said. I am getting it sent to you such as it is, leaving you the task, if you consider it necessary, of making suitable alterations. The history of the missions station itself is accurate, but when he talks about the physical aspects of the island, you mustn’t take everything he says literally. May you erase completely what he calls public penance! I think we should abolish that practice which is not used elsewhere, for several reasons which Father Servant will not have foreseen and which would be too long, Reverend Father, to explain to you here.
I have the honour of writing to you at leas four times since the arrival of Father Junillon who brought me our last letter. I was about to write to you at length a fifth letter when I learnt that the Arche d’Alliance is in Tahiti with some priests and some letters undoubtedly from you so that this letter does not count---After I receive your letters, I will write to you at length an consequently I will be then that I will send you the catechism made by the vicariate and which we have finished printing some time ago, with a translation which the new arrivals must copy beforehand.  ;
Father Dubreul, who at the time I am writing this letter is close to arriving in France, will tell you of the sorrowful news of the slaying of Bishop Epalle. His death was noble, but we have the impression it was too soon after a dozen years of working in the mission field such a death is to be envied. But the calculations of God are not ours; his judgements are impenetrable. I am writing on the same occasion to the government of Tahiti to inform it officially of his news and to ask it to send a state vessel to visit the poor missionaries who are abandoned at San Cristobal and to make the wretched natives respect their lives. I have asked the government to send the vessel here before leaving.
I have more and more happy news about our mission station in Tonga. We have not had any news from Fiji for a year. We hope in a short time to visit and bring help to all our mission stations.
I must tell you a really comforting piece of news. The famous young chief Tunugahala who was as full of malice and wickedness as he had power and influence in he island, has at last just been converted, has had himself baptized, abandoned all his wives and has married only one. As much as he has given me trouble for near on six years, he has given me as much consolation. Our big king who had himself baptized while promising to reject his wives went back on his words and has lived until now in a polygamous state, although he is a Christian. At last I got him to get married. He has to do it the day after tomorrow; there will be a festival. I have recommended both spouses to the archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart almost a year ago; I have attributed their conversion to nothing else but the prayers of that powerful association. Do inform the venerable Father Desgenettes of this news before I do. I had recommended to him also the chief of the little group of Protestants. I hope that in a short time we will have it too through the Holy Virgin.
But Reverend Father, in finishing I can’t stop myself telling you that I am almost jealous. Suddenly ten priests and in the beginning for Melanesia while the centre which was founded almost ten years ago and whose doors are open for missionaries has scarcely any more--- I hear that there are only three for us on board the Arche d’Alliance, three for Melanesia and two for New Caledonia. From our humble point of view such a great number of priests to create a mission station rather a burden than an advantage and would be better use in a mission station already up and running. But what can I do? Instead of thanking you for the goodness that you have done to us in sending three men, I seem to be reproaching you. Sorry; it’s the freedom of a child regards his good father. Be assured that I will be always very grateful of the men you have he goodness to send us, however small the number may be. Pray for me, please, and receive, very reverend father, the assurance of my profound respect and of the perfect devotion with which I have the honour of being,
my Reverend Father,
your very humble and obedient servant,
Bishop Pierre Bataillon.