From Marist Studies
2 August 1848 — Brother Sauveur (André Conil) to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis
Translated by Mary Williamson, April 2018
Based on the document sent, APM OW 208 Conil.
Sheet of paper forming four pages, three of which are written on, the fourth having only the annotation in an unknown handwriting.
- [p.4] [in an unknown handwriting]
- Brother Sauveur, Vuollis
- Jesus, Mary, Joseph.
- My Very Reverend Father,
- I impatiently awaited my arrival on Wallis so as to acquit a respectful and filial duty towards you. My heart will be comforted in reaching out to yours; it will feel the warmth of your tender and sincere love, even though separated from you. I will receive, I am certain, the same advice and encouragement towards virtue and probably more so, for, the further a child is separated from his loved ones, the more he is loved by them.
- I fear I would tire your patience if I went into details of our journey; however, Very Reverend Father, I would say that one suffers the same miseries on the sea as on the land and sometimes they are even more cruel. So many times I have found solace from my troubles, some rest, repose and calm in reading, respectfully, the admirable lines that your heart has outlined and etched on paper. Our journey began, so to speak, with the cross and has followed it right up until our arrival on Wallis, on 25th July,  with Bishop Bataillon who I had the honour of accompanying on his pastoral visit to the islands of Futuna, Fiji and Tonga. Without repeating all the past disasters of other missions, we have also had the difficulty, but also the gentle reassurance of seeing ourselves prepare the journey to heaven of Brother Anet  who was in the Fijian mission with Fathers Rouleau and Bréhéret.
- In these islands there is a considerable shortage of foodstuffs. Since the beginning of the year, they have been struck by the scourge of two storms and this has caused, if not famine, at least general difficulties and everyone is supposed to sympathise, the Fathers and Brothers as much as the natives; and at the same time, to humble themselves and bless this invisible hand that is striking them, certainly because it wishes to lead them into its fold. Add to that a sort of contagion which has a hold in Tonga and is claiming a number of victims; nevertheless, thanks to the care and devotion shown by Fathers Calinon and Chevron, they succeeded stemming it. An admirable example for religion! All those who have entered His care, gently, have recovered easily, whilst those who are Protestants have many victims and hardly any cures. All those who come to find the Fathers (and there are many of them, especially as nothing is expected in payment), come in this way to embrace our blessed religion. The Protestants demand a payment and only give a drop of water, their charity is so great. It is not long ago, as you know, that the Catholic missionaries arrived here and they now find a gathering of their flock larger than the Methodists. Oh! my Reverend Father, may our prayers never cease to be addressed to the Lord, so that he deigns to touch the hearts of so many infidel souls who rush at full speed towards perdition, through a lack of help from ministers of Jesus Christ and may the divine Master bless the work and privations of all these evangelical workers who have left everything and sacrificed everything to follow his lead and spread his name around these very distant regions.
- Admire, Very Reverend Father, how much it pleases the Lord to spread his blessings and his kindness to those who serve him faithfully and who hear his voice through the person of his ministers. In all the other neighbouring islands, they have experienced the same storms and the same destruction; in others there is war (in Samoa). Only Wallis is peaceful and free from storms and destruction!!!
- This island is a model for all the others. How many times, seeing these zealous natives worshipping before the holy sacrament with the exactitude that they have in following all the religious ceremonies, I have wept with joy and you would have wept too if you had been witness to it! What respect for this prelate, who they refused in the past! What a sincere attachment! With what pomp he has been received in this land that was formerly infidel and is now converted to the Catholic faith! A king, an emperor, a Ceasar, an Alexander was not received with more approbation; and what more would they still do, that was even more, noble if they knew how, or if it was within their power.
- There are three establishments on the island and each tribe competes as to who will best receive His Lordship. You see each tribe with ceremonial style rush, laden with foodstuffs, to present them to the Prelate, asking him for his benediction and this large multitude congratulate him and thank him for having been kind enough to come back amidst them as a support for the mission.
- During the absence of the bishop, there had been, on Wallis, something, so to speak, of the supernatural. I will not repeat the story here myself, for fear of adding something dubious, but you will find out about it later from the Fathers who know all about it.
- I cannot yet give you details of what I am going to print, my Very Reverend Father; I will simply say that I found almost everything in disorder and the press in a very bad state, as it is a long time since anyone printed anything much, since Mr Grezel left Wallis to go to Futuna. The good Brother Pascaze did everything that was necessary, but as he was obliged to see to other duties as well as those of a printer, there was much to be desired. Once we have finished all our checking of the goods that we have brought for the mission, I will not neglect anything, so that everything is going well and so that in working at this noble task, I can also contribute to having people sing praises to the Lord and at the same time gain merits towards heaven, where I hope to see all the children of Mary reunited and of whom you, yourself, are the very respectable father.
- I will beg you to forgive me, my Reverend Father, if I allow myself to inform you of a small complaint from the Brothers, in general; it is this: It is that most of them find themselves deprived of essentials; some of footwear, some of clothing, some of everything. There is Brother Pascaze: He is obliged to claim for those who really like, for charities sake, to do without, even though there are necessities they need.
- The articles that are lacking almost everywhere, are shoes; and on this matter, kindly give Mr Bret  a deluge of baton blows because all the shoes of the Fathers and Brothers  come unstitched the first time they are worn and several have even found the same problem without having even worn them.
- I commend myself always to the prayers of all the Society and mainly to you, very worthy Father, whose benediction I request, at this moment, on my knees and which I hope will not be without fruit.
- 2nd August 1848, Wallis,
- 2nd August 1848, Wallis,
- That date, written underneath the line, seems inexact: Brother Sauveur (Conil) left from Samoa with Palazy on 5th May 1848 and arrived in Futuna on 11th May (cf. doc. 761, § 5-6), then he went with Bataillon to Wallis, (cf. doc.716, § 9). Therefore, it must be noted that Brother Sauveur says in this paragraph that he had already accompanied Bataillon on his visit to Futuna, Fiji and Tonga; given that he wrote the current letter from Wallis on 2nd August 1848, he must have begun this voyage with Bataillon well before 25th July.
- Brother Annet Pérol died on 17th March 1848 on the island of Lakeba in the Fijian islands (cf. doc. 729, § 6).
- Jacques Bret, shoemaker: After his son Claude Bret died at sea on 18th January 1837 during the first of the missionary voyages, the Society of Mary took care of the parents of this colleague; Mr Bret was taken in by the Fathers at Puylata, where he carried out his profession, working for the missionaries of Oceania (cf. OM 4, p.206 and 208).
- [note from the author at the bottom of the page] with whom we left together from Marseille aboard the Stella del Mare
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