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1 October 1847. – Fr Charles-Eugène Mathieu to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis

Based on the document sent, APM OW 208 Mathieu.

Translated by Mary Williamson, November 2011.

Sheet of paper forming four pages, three of which are written on, the fourth having only the address.

To the Rev. Fr Colin • Superior General of the • Society of Mary • Lyon


My Reverend Father,
Here are the letters from the children of Wallis in reply to those that were written to them by the children of Quirce. You will also find a long letter that I have written to Fr Maître-Pierre. I beg you not to make too much of it. I wrote it as a means of distraction, during a few moments of leisure and I would not like to suggest that all my ideas are fair or exact. It is only after a long period of time that one would be able to have any concrete idea of the character and customs of the inhabitants of Oceania; for that it would need men of true judgment and ones who had grown old in these islands.
During the absence of the Bishop, which lasted eight months, I had much to suffer and the Devil certainly did everything in his power to frustrate this little mission. It was no longer only his usual activities. He carried out extraordinary manoeuvres to spread a feeling of feverishness, especially among the young people, so that there was no doubt that He received some satisfaction from it. Is it the commotion that has been stirred up in France about the mission in Wallis that was the cause and which excited His jealousy, I do not know, although the Holy Virgin has always held her own and has not allowed Him to go too far.
Now, here is what has happened since the arrival of the Bishop. Not long after his arrival, the Protestants tried to start up the war again. On the sly they burnt down houses, sometimes their own, sometimes those of Catholics. Every day there was a fire or some other disaster, without anyone knowing who were the culprits. They even went so far as to burn down a house belonging to the King. The Protestants attributed these adversities to the Catholics and vice versa. Finally while the Bishop was at St Joseph, these people, (all Protestants), went and openly ravaged the plantations belonging to the high chiefs of Notre Dame. – War was immediately declared and they came to blows. The action was very grim. One of the leading Protestant chiefs had his eldest son killed and two of his other children wounded. Tuugahala also made ready, on his own behalf, to do battle with them. They wished this time to have done with Protestantism and conclusively. They were overcome with fear. They acknowledged their wrongdoing and wished to make peace. They established it first with the king and then came to see Tuugahala. God’s blessing had brought about a vast change in this young man, especially in recent times; he received the envoys of Pooi[1] so graciously that Pooi himself then came to meet him. They spent some time together and reached a perfect reconciliation. Then both of them decided to go together to the Notre Dame stronghold to make peace, but feelings there were still so bitter that they were very unpleasantly received and things were on the point of breaking down again, not only between the two sides but also between the Catholics themselves. It was the patience of Tuugahala that shortly afterwards sorted everything out, so that nowadays the island is at peace. Although this peace had been accorded to the Protestants without any special conditions, it is to be hoped that it will lead them to a sincere conversion. With the political aspects not longer existing, Protestantism here is no longer attached to a particular place and I hope it will soon be defeated and entirely wiped out. What gives me this confidence is that we ourselves have had no part in these last happenings. The Holy Virgin has wished to deal with this situation on her own and so that we will not doubt her intervention, peace was declared on the day of the celebration of her immaculate heart.[2]
The Bishop’s short stay here did a lot of good. He carried out two first communions for children, one at Notre Dame and the other at St Joseph and these were, for these two parishes, a time of renewal. As well, he married a large number of young people, using the same methods as he employed the first time, that is to say in marrying them all together on the same day. This will now be, I believe, a ceremony which will become common usage on this island and which will need to be renewed from time to time.
We still have to build some houses for the college. Nothing has yet been started. Fr Mériais does not yet know enough of the language. I believe that after his visit to Futuna, the Bishop is going to get things moving. What a need we have to be a few more in number! But the work of God must be done in its own time.
The Bishop intends to stay for a lengthy period in Futuna and he means to draw up a legal document concerning the martyrdom of Fr Channel, which may be of use to you if the one sent to you some time ago by the Rev. Fr Servant is not in the correct form or has not reached you. May this Holy Martyr pray for me during the absence of the Bishop.
My Rev. Father, kindly remember me too at the Holy altar, for I am weaker than all the others and I am not the least burdened.

I am, with the deepest respect,
My Reverend Father,
Your very devoted servant and child
Mathieu missionary.
Uvea 1st October 1847


  1. Pooi, chief of a group composed mainly of Protestants (cf. doc. 1263).
  2. At that time, the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was celebrated on the third Sunday after Pentecost which fell on 13th June in 1847.

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