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29 August 1848 — Father Louis Padel to Father Gabriel Mayet, Samoa

Translated by Mary Williamson, June 2018

Based on the document sent, APM ON 208 (Samoa) Padel.

Folded sheet of paper forming four written pages, the fourth having also the address and the annotation of Mayet.

To the Reverend Father Mayet, / of the Society of Mary, / Lyon.
[in Mayet’s handwriting]
Letter from Father Padel / 29th August 1848. / enclosed is a tract meant for the annals.
Jesus, Mary, Joseph.

Mission of Our Lady of Victories,
Island of Upolu, archipelago of Samoa or
the Navigators, 29th August 1848.

To the Reverend Father Mayet in Lyon.

My Reverend Father,
It would not be necessary to be a Marist to not have received and read with pleasure the letter that you have been so kind as to send us. I think that all my colleagues have read it with the same pleasure and the same interest as I have. I assure you that we need to receive from time to time more small items of this nature. Isolated as we are, amidst people who, although praised by several who have only seen them in passing, are simply a savage people; having frequently, before our eyes, things that are more or less evil and struggling endlessly with the calumnies of the so-called missionaries from England and the harassment created by the too well-known Pritchard, we receive with much pleasure all the news of our dear colleagues in Europe and of the Society of which we are honoured to be members.
You will excuse me, my Reverend Father, for not giving you any details of our mission; I intend to soon send a detailed letter on this subject to the president of the office of the Propagation of the Faith. The country is now a war; as a result, our voice is not easily heard and consequently, any progress with religion is not very noticeable; nevertheless, we think in general that Catholicism can only gain ground.
Although I may not have the intention of writing to you at length about it and that the delicate principal that I propose in writing these few words to you might be to thank you for your kindly letter and your goodness in dedicating your leisure to instructing us, I cannot prevent myself from reporting to you a fact that is likely to interest you and which will be a new proof of the goodness of how our divine master repays so faithfully those who receive his envoys. The war which, at the moment devastates the island of Upolu was resolved in the final days of last May. One of the chiefs who was the first to welcome Father Roudaire, when he came to found his mission, organised for this to seal his reputation and his authority. His words were listened to, for formerly he had gained a great reputation because of his bravery and his fearlessness in combat. Following this and pleased to have an occasion to make people talk about him and forgetting all instruction that he had received, he went to consult the devil to find out whether or not he would be the winner. The reply was that he would be. Consequently, the decided day having arrived, he came to me to say goodbye and suggested that I pray for him; I embraced him and he set out. It was the day before, that he had gone to consult the devil; and I had not yet been informed. Having arrived at the site where the battle would take place and where he thought he should demonstrate his courage, the hand of God was on him: he was seized with a stomach problem that required him to stay in bed. His son, who he depends on greatly to uphold the glory of his name, fled at the first rifle shot he heard. Several days later, the ill man was brought back to his house which is beside the church; someone came to find me and I went to his bedside; he was suffering greatly and was very fearful of death. I gave him some remedies which had no effect. Seeing that he was no better, he had himself carried by his family to the home of some of his relatives who live in a village where there is a Protestant minister, so that he could be treated by this merchant of remedies; nevertheless, I went to see him every day and found him still greatly fearing death. Finally, on the fourth day, he asked me to baptise him; as he did not seem to be in immediate danger, I put it off till the next day and told him to prepare himself. The next day I baptised him, after having asked him all the questions listed in the ritual and which he answered perfectly. After the baptism I exhorted him to give witness to the Good Lord of his gratitude and he replied, whilst grasping my hand and weeping, that he would not fail to do so. Several days before his death, he gathered all the members of his family and urged them to abandon all their superstitious practices and especially their paganism; and to listen faithfully to “Lutovio” (my Samoan name). Finally, nine days after his baptism, he died, I would even dare to say, the death of saints. He is the first Samoan to receive extreme unction and plenary indulgence on dying; I was not able to give him holy communion. Fathers Trapenard and Ducrettet, who were witnesses when I administered to him, were very impressed by his piety. His last words were these: O my Lord, I have confidence in you. O Jesus, have pity on me. Mary pray for me. Then he rendered up his soul to God, as I held him in my arms. Here, my Reverend Father, is one of the most consoling fruits of my ministry.
I am united in prayers and holy sacrifices with the blessed hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Your very humble and obedient servant,
Padel, Missionary apostolic, Society of Mary

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