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Br Attale to Fr Colin, Tonga, 14 December 1846

Clisby Letter 68. Girard doc. 580

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


Towards the end of 1845 Attale's health deteriorated so rapidly it was assumed he had not long to live. The symptoms suggest he had TB and later he suffered excruciating rheumatism as well. But he kept on as long as he could visiting the sick in all weathers, spending long hours in the chapel, and doing a little gardening. By the beginning of 1846 Chevron reports he was so feeble he could scarcely attend to the sick. But he lived on for a further seven months after this letter, the last he wrote, before he went to join his infant fore-runners in paradise on 7 August 1847. He lived long enough to see a significant breakthrough for the Catholic mission. In May 1847 the Tu'i Tonga, Laufilitonga, at last gave his permission for the establishment of a station at Mu'a, and the following year, with a number of his followers, he enrolled as a catechumen.

The text of this letter can be found in Fr A. Monfat's "Les Tonga" (1893) in a note at the foot of page 306.

Text of the Letter

Reverend Father Colin,
I am still in Tonga with Fr Chevron, that humble, pious, and prudent missionary whom the great God, in his great mercy to me, has given me as guide and model. I have been sick for the past fifteen months from a chronic catarrh, so they tell me. I get hardly any sleep because of violent coughing and continual difficulty in breathing. Since the last letter I had the happiness of writing to you, I have baptised about twenty children in danger of death, all of pagan parents. They have gone to Paradise. I hope they are waiting for me there. Please remember me, Reverend Father, so that the Blessed Virgin, our good Mother, will obtain for me perseverance and a holy death.
Reverend Father, your poor little brother Attale
greets you and embraces you with all his heart.
Brother Attale.

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