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16th July, 1847. – Bp Jean-Georges Collomb to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Ballade

Based on the document sent, APM OMM 411 Collomb.

Translated by Mary Williamson, July 2010

Sheaf of four pages, written on three sides, with Poupinel’s annotation carried over to the fourth page. In the register of letters, ED 2, it was numbered 32.

[p.4] [in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Melanesia/ New Caledonia, 16th July, 1847.
Bishop Collomb


Ad majorem Dei gloriam
Dei genitricis honorem

Ballade, New Caledonia,
Day of our Lady of Mount Carmel,
16th July, 1847.

My very Reverend Father,
Before leaving the Bay of Islands, I despatched a bundle of letters to you, some for you and some for others, in particular for our Holy Father the Pope, for the Institution for the Propagation of the Faith and for our gentlemen friends the Archbishop of Chambéry and the Bishops of Tarantaise and of Pignerol.
Although I have only covered about 200 leagues since then, heading towards San Cristobal, I do not want to miss the opportunity of sending you a few lines on the Spec, which should be leaving tomorrow for Batavia. From there this letter, passing through the Indies, could reach you, I think, even before those which I sent, a month ago, from New Zealand.
We left the Bay of Islands on 18th June. With a favourable wind we progressed rapidly at first, till we were close to the Isle of Pines, to the south of New Caledonia. Since then calm periods and unfavourable winds have hampered our progress and it was not until 29th, the day of the holy apostles Peter and Paul that we arrived in Ballade harbour.
In Ballade we met Rev. Fr Grange and Brothers Blaise and Bertrand, as well as Dr Baudry and the carpenter from the Arche d’Alliance, who had been left here by Captain Marceau. They were more than pleased to see us, as they had for some while been worried by the attitude of the natives towards them. I will not bother to give you the details; Rev. Fr Grange is writing to you about it and Rev. Fr Rougeyron to the Lord Bishop of Amata. I would simply say to you that it seems to me there is no need at the moment to fear for the lives of our brothers in New Caledonia. However we all thank divine providence for not having allowed us to establish the proposed settlement at Hienghène, 15 leagues to the South East of Ballade. The natives there have guns; they have already killed an English gentleman living amongst them. Our colleagues, although they will miss Montrouzier for his good qualities, feel that it is not a disaster that he has left his current mission and returned to the one to which he previously belonged. They acknowledge that, given the circumstances and the attitude of the natives, this is a sensible decision.
Because of a misunderstanding or a mistake on the part of someone other than myself, we have spent far more for the use of an English schooner than it would have cost us to get the Anonyme to pick us up in Sydney and we have also wasted a lot of time. The captain of this brig had orders to leave for Port Jackson if the Arche was not back from Ballade by mid-May: I did not know this. They had looked for a ship to come back here by way of New Zealand, they paid a large sum of money and on arriving in Ballade on 29th June I learned that the Anonyme had left on 26th May, that is to say only about 15 days before our departure from Sydney for the Bay of Islands. It is very annoying that such a mistake should be made; but may God be praised.
The Anonyme has not yet arrived back; it is even possible, according to rumour, that she will not be coming back, at least not immediately and not with the same captain. For myself, I certainly hope to see her again; probably it will not be too long, because our men in Sydney will be keen to hasten her return; I think she will need about two months here to reintegrate the establishment at Ballade with that of Puebo, if indeed it can be done and to take on board our timber and other equipment. All of this, for me, is a great exercise in patience, as it is for our dear Fathers and Brothers in San Cristobal, who have been waiting for us for perhaps a month. What particularly troubles me is the fear of finding ourselves in the unfavourable season and having to sail seas with dangerous hidden coral reefs. Apart from that, the less we exercise our own will the more we have reason to rejoice, knowing that we carry out the will of our Divine Master. Thanks to him, I do not torment myself too much over our vexations; I am even convinced that our life will just be a continual series of them.
What will become of our French Society? Here we very much fear that it will not be able to sustain itself and we wish for its success because of the needs of our mission.
We already have too many examples which prove to us that in general we are bound to suffer some losses or encounter other adversities in making use of ordinary ships, especially those sailing under a certain flag. When will we be able to deal only with captains who consider us brothers? When will we be able to at least communicate without feeling threatened? Very recently someone said to Fr Grange, when he had cause for complaint; Justice is a separate issue, our laws are different, our laws will say that I am right. Apart from this, by means of paying up for everything, without any discount for dissatisfactions which seemed to us well founded, everything was concluded amicably: there was even a gift of two pounds sterling for our mission after the conclusion of our business and our payment.
The Rev. Fr Verguet is at Puebo at the moment, where he has asked me if he can stay eight days: he has regained his health, he is cheerful: although he is always a little confused I hope that God will keep him with us.
I will conclude by commending myself to your prayers and those of the whole Society, whilst humbly entreating you to send us as many colleagues as you can: our success is perhaps going to depend on our numbers. I have many reasons to believe this. It is also true that the more of us there are, the safer we will be. As for the rest, may the holy will of God, to which I wish to devote myself entirely,,be done in all things: libenter impendam et superimpendar ipse,[1] dummodo consummem cursum meum et ministerium verbi quod accep' a Domine Jesu.[2]
Please present my most affectionate greetings to all our colleagues in Lyon and at La Favorite, especially my Novice Master to whom I am so very much obliged
I am with much respect, affection and trust,
my very Reverend Father,
your very humble, devoted
and obedient servant
Jean-Georges, Bishop of Antiphelles,
Vicar apostolic of Melanesia and Micronesia.


  1. Cf. 2Cor 12:15: Ego autem libentissime impendam, et superimpendar ipse pro animabus vestris. (As for me, I will quite willingly give all that I have and all that I am entirely for you.)
  2. Acts 20:24: Sed nihil horum vereor, nec facio animam meam pretiosiorem quam me, dummodo consummem cursum meum, et ministerium verbi quod accepi a Domino Iesu, testificari evangelium gratiae Dei. (Besides I truly do not attach any value to my own life: my goal is to carry to a successful conclusion my role in life and the duties that the Lord Jesus has entrusted to me: to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.)

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