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23 September 1848 — Father Gilbert Roudaire to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Isle of Pines

Translated by Mary Williamson, August 2018

Based on the document sent, APM ONC 208 Roudaire.

Folded sheet of paper, forming four written pages, the annotation of Poupinel is at the top of the first page.

[p.1, at the top of the page][in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Father Roudaire, Isle of Pines, mission of Our Lady of the Assumption, 23rd September 1848.

My Very Reverend Father,
I venture these few words, so that, if God wishes them to reach you, you might be reassured about some of those in whom you have such a great interest, written in a few lines and in the form of a journal:
19th April 1848, Fathers Rougeyron and Roudaire leave Sydney on board the Arche d’Alliance; also Brothers Jean, Auguste, Bertrand and Prosper, for port St Vincent and Anatom Father Grange for Tonga-tapou (Tonga-tapu). Port Saint Vincent having not been suitable for an establishment, we went back to Anatom. We were warmly received by Captains Padden and Somaville, [1] established in the country to trade in sandalwood and by the natives who are not in the habit of troubling the missionaries.
On 28th May, Fathers Chatelut etc. arrived on Anatom on the schooner Léocardie… they embarked on the Stella Maris. In Valparaiso they became aware of a letter that I had written to the Fathers of Picpus, asking them to warn our missionaries, should they arrive, of the place they would be able to find us. That is what lead them to Anatom.
On 8th August 1848, Fathers Roudaire, Chatelut and Gougon and Brothers Jean and Joseph left Anatom for the Isle of Pines. Arrived on 12th, first mass on 15th, day of the Assumption. The natives are friendly, especially the chief, who is very respected by his subjects. They are used to seeing Europeans, who come for the sandalwood. Seven years before, they had massacred a crew and some Samoan catechists who were on board. Today they are ashamed of this; they reproach themselves for the habits of the Polynesian people: They like to see and to learn. The country is very healthy, on Anatom not so much so. We have food supplies for at least six months. We find some resources in the country and especially if we are able to tame the five or six cows that the chief has given us, but it is necessary to find them in the woods.
We are sawing some planks to make ourselves a house, and meanwhile sleep in a native hut, which is quite big, but the daylight only comes in through the door which is

three feet high and two feet wide. We know of the events in France in the month of September and we had a letter from Father Rocher at the same time. He informed us of what he had heard by letter from France and of the letter that the Father Superior sent to the Fathers and Brothers from New Caledonia, on the occasion of the disasters that they had suffered.

Everyone is impatiently awaiting the arrival of Bishop Douarre. Those of the senior missionaries who have not received any supplies since the departure of the Arche d’Alliance, are beginning to wish that some would arrive and I am one of those. I bought nothing for myself in Sydney because I was waiting for our colleagues who were coming on the Stella Maris.
Since I left Samoa, there has been a purely political war; many villages have been ravaged and burnt and quite a number of men killed. The two sides are composed entirely of Protestants who have become deaf to the instructions and voices of their ministers. The Fathers who are in Samoa are calm, but they have only one brother for four establishments. The Arche d’Alliance left for Anatom after having left us here. This ship and her Captain carry away all the regrets and all the blessings of the missionaries. Mr Marceau is a devoted friend, a brother, a missionary… even in the midst of the missionaries. May God keep him and send him back to us again…and may he give to all those who make up the Society of Oceania, the same intentions and outlooks as he has.
The necessities for the Isle of Pines, as far as the natives are concerned are: a large amount of calico, tobacco, pipes, large knives, blankets and also made up blouses; they would be very useful as men and women both go entirely naked… the only thing that has caused us to suffer up till now. There is no danger to our lives; they steal nothing, even though they would be able to a hundred times a day.
The natives of Anatom fill us with pity, there is nothing that raises hopes for the future. Those of the Isle of Pines are probably the best in all the curacy of Bishop Duarre. How many times already, I have missed my dear Samoans! There, at least, one can truly do mission work and live amongst real men!
Your very devoted and very respectful servant in our Lord,
Roudaire, Provicar.


  1. James Paddon, English merchant and his associate on Anatom, Somerville Irish Catholic (cf. O’Reilly, Caledonians, p.305),

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