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22nd December 1847 − Bishop Pierre Bataillon to Father Jean-Claude Colin

Based on the document sent, APM OC 418.1.

Translated by Mary Williamson, October 2014.

Two sheets of paper forming eight written pages.

Mission of Our Lady of the Martyrs, Island of Futuna, 22nd December 1847.

My Very Reverend Father,
I am taking advantage of the worthy Mr Marceau’s return to send you all the documents that we have on the apostolic life and blessed death of the Reverend Father Chanel; and to provide you, at the same time, with a detailed letter concerning our affairs in central Oceania.
According to an article in the regulations of the Provincial, I should keep you informed, each year, firstly of matters concerning the personnel of our mission and then of the mission itself; I am going to try, in the one letter, to fulfil this double requirement.

Mission of Our Lady of Good Hope − Uvea.
There are, in this mission, the Reverend Fathers Mathieu, Junillon and Mériais and the beloved brothers, Augustin, Paschase and Joseph, the locksmith. [1].
The Reverend Father Mathieu, who is Provincial apostolic, has responded well to the confidence we had in him. − He is of good character, he is quite well suited to the task of getting along with the natives and he earns the affection of those around him. He is sound in his judgement, he is prudent and competent in business matters; however, not being very robust, he is not blessed with a lot of energy, nor with that gift of oratory which rouses and commands the populations; apart from this he is very willing and does the best he can; he is punctilious in carrying our his duties; he is pious, humble, obedient and respectful and we get along well together. He is in charge of the entire mission in Uvea; but he is especially occupied with the parish of St. Joseph, where he lives. − Every fifteen days he sees his colleagues and Brothers.
Father Junillon is of good character, though rather austere and sometimes sharp; he is very experienced and very active; he is very good at managing and busying himself in the areas of culture, household tasks etc. He is remarkable for his energy, prudence, courage and diligence in all his duties; he is, as well, very compliant and devout and I am very fond of him. − When he is more fluent in the language, we think that he will be in a position to manage the parish of Our Lady of Good Hope, where he lives. He is situated between Father Mathieu and Father Mériais, two leagues from the former and one league from the latter. − They see each other almost every week. Peace and a great unity exists between them.
Father Mériais accords well with what you have told us about him. He is permanently established in the small seminary of the Immaculate Heart. A certain discipline is already apparent there and we understand he has things functioning well.
Dear Brother Augustin is an excellent Brother, who has contributed greatly to our missions with his activity, his courage and his aptitude in everything. He is one of those who has worked hardest in Oceania. Apart from somewhat fixed ideas, he is of good character, always well balanced and finds himself well loved by the natives. − As well as this, he is virtuous, conscientious in his religious practices and leaves nothing to be desired where morals are concerned. He is at the small seminary.
Dear Brother Paschase, who caused me a lot of anxiety at first has changed somewhat for the better since he arrived at the missions. He gives the impression of being a rather difficult character, who you need to know how to handle, but he seems virtuous and precise in his small tasks. − His attitude towards people of the opposite sex has not caused any anxiety up till now and if he continues thus we will be able to make good use of him. Whilst waiting to get some fabrics to keep him occupied, I am employing him in the printing works.
Dear Brother Joseph, the locksmith, is very skilful at his job and serves us well; he is pious, very simple and his conduct with the natives is reasonably suitable. − but he is as volatile as gunpowder. He lives at Notre Dame. He was of great help to the Arche d’ Alliance when she broke her rudder at Wallis.

Mission of Our Lady of the Martyrs − Futuna.
At the moment I am at this mission with the Reverend Fathers Servant, Favier and Grézel and dear Brothers Joseph Luzy and Marie Nizier.
The Reverend Father Servant is a good man, a good priest and a good religious worker. He is zealous, hard working, humble, obedient, respectful and very conscientious in his duties, but he is not very capable of supervising nor especially of founding a mission; finding an easily manageable population in his little world of Futuna, he has more or less controlled them like school children, without foreseeing that this type of strictness and inflexibility, whilst producing a positive effect locally and short term, could have dire consequences for the future and especially for the other missions where we are up against the Protestants. But this will not happen; without in any way compromising the missionaries, we are going to put this mission on the same footing as the others and the good Father Servant will conform to our schemes, because he is full of good intentions and is obedient.
Father Favier is a resolutely virtuous priest and a good religious worker, very loyal to the Society of Mary. He is conscientious in his duties, full of enthusiasm, very willing, obedient and respectful − but he lacks tact, judgment and prudence. − He has no overall view of things and he needs to be directed; he is obedient and has willingly followed his superior, Reverend Father Servant’s way of doing things and, in agreement with each other, with the best intentions in the world, they have made imprudent decisions which could have been able to devastate their mission and have the most serious consequences for all our missions in general, but as their intentions were good, the good Lord did not let this happen. Things have been sorted out on Futuna and we will not go back to the course that we were following before. As for the consequences that they might have had for the other missions, we hope that they will not eventuate, because what has happened has not had the chance to filter out, the island of Futuna being absolutely isolated and very little frequented. These Reverend Fathers accepted our observations with great deference, very resolved to do whatever we ask of them. I am sending Father Favier to Rotuma to replace Father Villien; when some new missionaries arrive, we intend to bring him back to Futuna, where he has done a lot of good work and where, as a result of the advice we have given him, he will act more wisely and with more discretion.
Father Grezel has changed greatly since he has taken holy orders; he has made a lot of effort to correct his brusque manner and a certain military air which he displays especially with the natives. He has a somewhat difficult and unstable nature; nevertheless he is virtuous, precise in his practices and will have sufficiently good judgement and capability to be able to assist a colleague in a mission − but the best service we will be able gain from him will be in education. It is with this in mind that we have brought him to Futuna, for the establishment that we envisage for this island and about which I will speak to you soon.
Dear Brother Joseph Luzy is always just as he was at Belley, a great stirrer, a great talker and thinks he has the right to say anything he likes to anyone. Apart from this, he has a basic goodness, a kind heart and behaves in a Christian manner. The natives are very fond of him even though he is not very kindly towards them. I wanted to be able to say that he could deal with everything on Wallis and even that he could master everything; these were hasty judgements based on a superficial and incomplete acquaintance with things and based on incorrect factors or on misunderstandings. − however that might be, we have brought him to Futuna so that he can help with the churches, which are entirely constructed in the native style.
Dear Brother Marie Nizier is one of the most enlightened we have, in every way; he does not lack intelligence nor insight. However he is not in a position to do a great deal, even though he is very willing. − He comes and goes between the two establishments on the island.

Mission of the Immaculate Conception − Tonga.
In this mission there are the Reverend Fathers Chevron and Calinon with dear Brother Jean. [2] They live separated from each other by three leagues. Reverend Father Chevron, provicar apostolic, is a pious priest, and excellent religious worker, a man who is judicious, obedient, humble and very reliable; he is of good character, patient with the natives and knows how to make them love him. He works hard, but is not busily active; he seems a bit too meticulous and fussy about detail. − When fit, he is a very precious colleague and I hold him in esteem and am very fond of him, but his health is very fragile and I fear that he may soon be taken from us. [3]
Reverend Father Calinon is an educated man, of sound judgement and solid virtue, hardworking and who seems to manage well in our general affairs, but he is very rigid of character, appears stern and has ways of seeing and doing things which are quite different from those of Father Chevron when it comes to relationships with the natives, the running of the mission etc. Father Chevron wrote to me recently that to maintain the peace, he no longer exercises his position as Superior, but lets things flow along, each one doing what he thinks suitable. Each one of the two being of solid virtue and sound judgement, they contain themselves, they strive to get along and nothing shows on the outside, so that the mission is not obviously affected by their different ways of seeing things.
Dear Brother Jean is an excellent Brother; he has shown himself capable since he has been there. − He does a lot of things and does them well. − he is pious, discrete, prudent, very obedient, very gentle and of excellent character. Our dear Brother Attale has died; we all look upon him as a miracle worker.

Mission of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows − Fiji.
We have there the Reverend Fathers Roulleaux and Bréhéret with dear Brother Annet.
Reverend Father Roulleaux, who is the Superior in the mission, is a man full of energy and enthusiasm, with good judgement and proven virtue; hard working and thorough in his duties, but his nature is so stiff and contained that they say it is difficult to live with him. The good Father Bréhéret and the dear Brother Annet have had to suffer, it seems, from his difficult character. − His style, as regards the natives in Fiji, offers some advantages, but could cause difficulties. − All that is just a matter of character. − Besides, he is the most willing person in the world. We will do all that we can, on our next visit, to sort things out for the best.
Reverend Father Bréhéret is a very precious colleague, who hides behind a modest and humble exterior a sound judgement, a good education, a strong spirit of self-denial, a lack of concern for himself, self doubt and blind obedience, in a word all the virtues that make for a good religious worker.
Dear Brother Annet is a Brother who is capable in few areas, but is pious and full of good will.

Mission of Our Lady of Victories − Samoa.
We have there the Reverend Fathers Violette and Mugniéry on the island of Savaii and the Reverend Fathers Padel and Vachon with dear Brother Jacques on the island of Upolu.
The Reverend Father Violette, Superior at the mission on Savaii, is an excellent priest, and excellent religious worker and has all the qualities that make for blessed missionaries, a gentle nature, great piety and conscientiousness in his duties; he has courage, patience, a great spirit of privation, mortification and humility, is hard working, organised, very obedient, respectful and submissive and, more importantly, he would be an accomplished missionary. Not only would he enlighten the people and be loved by them, but also he would stimulate them and manage them.
The Reverend Father Mugniéry sees himself as a good priest. His unbending character and his singular manner will mean he will not get along well with the natives, nor with others. − We are already receiving letters that the natives are complaining and muttering about him. − I was not mistaken about him.
As for Brother Charles, who I left with Father Violette, I have just learned that he is no longer a Brother. − He left his post, without permission and, on the sly, embarked for Sydney on an English schooner. I am pained for him, but I rejoice for our missions. − He was a person of no judgement and very conceited. − He constantly caused difficulties and anxieties for all the Fathers who had dealings with him. At the time of my visit to Samoa, he had stopped going to confession. − I did what I could to set him on the right path and received absolutely nothing except impertinences, as had the others. − Nevertheless, he had concealed his plan and put on a fairly good front at the time of my departure, but he was actually unchanged. I have learned, since his departure, that he was accosting girls here and there and I would not be surprised if I learned, as well, something more serious. I do not doubt that this man had mistaken his vocation in coming to the missions.
The Reverend Father Padel, Superior at the mission on Upolu, as well as his companion Father Vachon, seem to us full of enthusiasm and good will. Time will reveal their aptitudes to us and their fitness for the missions.
Dear Brother Jacques is one of our best brothers in every way.

Mission of Our Lady of Peace − Rotuma.
The Reverend Fathers Verne and Villien have been sent to Rotuma with dear Brother Lucien. − We do not know them well enough to discuss them. Father Favier leaves tomorrow, on the Arche d’Alliance, to replace Father Villien who will depart on the same ship to go and join Bishop Collomb, as was understood. − It seems that they have set up two establishments on their island, something dictated by circumstances.

Mission in New Caledonia.
The Reverend Fathers Rougeyron and Grange, with three or four Brothers, were on this island when their mission was overthrown and Reverend Father Roudaire arrived on the corvette that saved the lives of the remaining missionaries.
The Reverend Father Rougeyron, superior at the mission seems, from the little contact that I have had with him, to be a good man and a good priest, full of enthusiasm and good will.
I believe that Father Grange is a good priest. − He has the talent and aptitude for many things, but he has too vivid an imagination and too many inconsistencies. He is unusual in his ideas. − He is dissatisfied wherever he is and is only pleased with the places where he is not. He left Tonga without our permission, but certainly not against our wishes.
Father Roudaire has the ability, the knowledge and the aptitude for things. − He has a manner that suits the natives quite well and he was successful in Samoa. If he employed his time and talents better, he would be able to be much more successful in the missions.
We hardly know anything of the Brothers who are in New Caledonia.
I will not discuss with you, my Reverend Father, the distressing catastrophe that has just taken place in the mission. I have just learned of it, but with no details − and you will not fail to be up to date with all that has happened. I understand that all these dear colleagues are now in Sydney. I am going to write to them.
I am pressed for time. Just a word on the state of each one of our missions. Wallis remains the same since our last letters. But since our departure, there has been an epidemic that threatened to destroy the whole island. There were only the protestants who were not dying, as usually happens in these sorts of circumstances. The faith of these poor people was shaken when the Good Lord revealed certain visions and revelations, claimed or real, that produced an amazing effect. Throughout the island those who had been to heaven and come back recounted the destiny of all the people of Wallis who died before and after the arrival of religion. They had seen hell, purgatory, limbo and heaven. They had seen the great book where everything is written and they had read writings that were hidden or forgotten on earth; and those who were guilty of spreading this story vowed that it was true, to the great astonishment of the whole island. And so, there was such a huge renewal of faith, of fear and of fervour, that the churches were never empty, day or night, with those who made the stations of the cross, for the deliverance of those who were in purgatory. We will find out later if there is any truth in this affair; whilst waiting, I rejoice in the positive effect that it has produced in this poor mission, which has been so tested. Please do not divulge this until there is a new investigation.
Futuna is progressing well, one can even say, without exaggeration , very well. At the end of a one month stay on the island, we had had two good houses built on a fine site that we had been given and that we have called the new hermitage. We already have six or seven young people there who we are thinking of making Brothers. I will speak to you more fully about all these things when we know what has taken place in Rome on the subject of the curacy of the centre. As for you, once you know that Futuna is still ours, send us a Brother capable of training others and a Father capable of raising children for the priesthood and we will achieve something on Futuna, God willing, but do not celebrate our plans; we will talk about results when they are achieved.
Our missions in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji continue to grow and things there are the better for it . God be praised for this.
Mr Marceau is taking back to France one of our novices from Wallis. He is a good and virtuous young man who does not lack good will or intelligence. If you come across him, bless him, he and the one he calls his father and who calls himself the youngest of his children. See if you cannot influence some of your colleagues to make him a priest or Brother − if not send him back to us straight away please.
[in the margin on an angle]
Mr Marceau deserves well of us; he will tell you all about our missions and our way of looking at things as far as the societies on the islands are concerned. Let us encourage this and give it time to define itself and clarify itself.
I have been waiting for news from you for two years and it is slow to arrive; when it reaches us, we will write to you more fully. The youngest of your children in Jesus and Mary,
Pierre, Bishop of Enos,
Vicar apostolic of central Oceania.


  1. Brother Joseph Muraour arrived on Wallis (Uvea) on 23rd October, 1846, with the other missionaries of the twelfth group to depart. ( cf. doc. 609, § 3-4 ); this is to distinguish him from Brother Joseph-Xavier Luzy, who has been on Wallis from 1837 until his transfer to Futuna.
  2. Brother Jean Reynaud arrived with other missionaries in Tonga on 12th July 1844 (cf. doc. 312, § 14, n.9; 337, § 1).
  3. In fact, Chevron only died in 1884.

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