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21 December 1848 — Bishop Pierre Bataillon to Father Victor Poupinel, Wallis

Translated by Mary Williamson, April 2019

Based on the document sent, APM OC 418.1 Bataillon.

Sheet of paper folded to form four written pages, Poupinel’s annotations at the top of the first page and on the fourth page.

[p.1] [in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Bishop Bataillon
[p.4] [in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Wallis, 21st December 1848 / Bishop Bataillon

Fr Poupinel, Uvea 21st December 1848.

A chance word: I wrote to you last month via our schooner heading for Tahiti, after having made a tour of the missions to provide them with provisions. I am availing myself of a chance to send via Sydney, to write you these few lines in the hopes that the mail might still go to Europe.
We have visited all our missions during 1847 and 1848 - and currently our schooner is travelling around to take them all the provisions that will suffice for about two years.
What we need most are clothing and shoes. Our missionaries, especially in Samoa, are at the moment very much in need — but we have managed to gather together four soutanes and four pairs of trousers which we have sent to them via Tahiti. If these things reach them, they will be able to manage a few more months whilst waiting for us to perhaps receive the things that you have gathered for us. In any case, I have ordered some lengths of fabric from Valparaiso to fulfil the most pressing needs, with the help of Miss Perroton to whom, as a precaution I have supplied all the patterns necessary.
Father Rocher has written to us to say he has received a thousand books for us. That is not unsuitable in the current circumstances. If you still have some money for us, handle it carefully and what you don’t need, send it to us by the ships of the Society of Oceania, whose business in Sardinia should be continuing its operations, or else by some other safe means.
In the frightening period that we are in and where we cannot anticipate all the trials that the Good Lord has in store for us, as much for one group as for another, I do not need to once again commend to you our distant missions in Oceania. I know already the enthusiasm and interest that you have for them so am convinced that you will not miss any occasion or any means to assist us during all the time that the fighting and upheavals may last.
If the work of the Propagation of the Faith does not collapse entirely, you will be able to easily make those wise administrators understand that the missions in Oceania have first right to their charity; the reason for this is very simple, it is that anywhere else, (or almost anywhere else) if in extreme need one can beg for one’s food and one’s clothing, whereas in Oceania we would beg in vain for something to clothe ourselves in, unless we cover ourselves in the tapa of the country.
After having made all our observations and taken what measures we can, we will abandon ourselves to the care of God and the Holy Virgin and will endure with as much resignation as possible the direction changes and torments that seem to want to turn the whole world upside down. May all this torment completely change the face of the universe and oblige men, because of the upheavals, to finally submit and obey God!
If in the height of the storm, you can no longer hold course, let the hind wind come and set course for the Pacific Ocean. Here the weather is passable and there is no shortage of work.
No joking, if the need should arise, all of you come, if you wish. With the little money that we have, we will be able to clothe ourselves as best we can and for food we can always manage if needs be.
Please make our Father understand that he should not stop sending us workers just because of the reduction or disappearance of resources, as long as they can provide themselves with a wardrobe and what is needed for their passage, we will take responsibility for them once they arrive here. Besides, we will just make the best of things and who knows if the Good Lord, in his general list of impressive instructions, does not also give s few thoughtful lessons on ministry.
I do not need to tell you that if you are able to provide anything for us, always settle for the most necessary things, soutanes above all, then frock coats for the Brothers, then trousers, boots and hats and so on according to the list of needs and the amount of resources.
If you are not able, for whatever reasons, to have soutanes made, send us the fabric and we will manage to sew them.
We have on Wallis the trunks of Fathers Mondon and Piéplu. [1] We will only place them when we receive news of them. Kindly inform us.
On the great world stage, the scene is yours; consequently, it is your turn to provide some news. Any we might be able to give you is in no way comparable, as far as importance is concerned, with what we are awaiting from you. So please give us the pleasure of writing to us in detail (if possible) about the major events of the era, what direction they are taking or that you believe they will take. For, I hope that, after all the misfortunes the outcome will be happy.
Best of wishes from us to all our loved ones. We will not forget you in our prayers. Pray for us as well.
I remain, joined by prayers and holy sacrifices, my dear Father,
Your very humble and obedient servant,
Pierre Bataillon, Bishop, vicar apostolic.


  1. Fathers Hippolyte Mondon and Charles Nivelleau, because of the illness of Mondon, parted from their group of missionaries on the island of Madeira in November 1847; they did not arrive on Wallis till 2nd May 1849 (cf. doc. 902,§ 27). Father Louis-Alfred Piéplu, who is travelling with the following group, is en route for Oceania at the time that Bataillon is writing his current letter; he will arrive there in 1849.

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