From Marist Studies
Jump to: navigation, search

2 June 1854 – Father François Palazy to Father Victor Poupinel, Samoa

Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, February 2015.

To Reverend Father Poupinel, priest, Montée St Barthélemi, No.4, Lyon

Savai’i – Samoa 2 June 1854

Reverend Father,
I am hastening to write you these few lines so as to profit from a rare and compelling opportunity. For almost two years I have received no letter from Europe. Yet I wrote to you in September 1852 to send you all the required bills for the three payments made by my older brother. I don’t know whether that letter was lost on route.[1] In any case, I sent the third bill again, since you told me that you had only received the first and the second.
At that same time (September 1852) I also sent a letter to Very Reverend Father Superior General[2] and another to my sister Catherine Palazy, religious in the Bon Sauveur convent at Albi. But I have received no reply to any of these letters. This is the first time since I left France that I have received letters from my country. Yet I have already written twice. I didn’t know if my mother was still alive or if my relations deigned to answer me. Today I am venturing to send a third letter to my mother who is now quite elderly. She told me that there has been quite a lot of goings on in my family and that she has retired to Albi for a more peaceful life.
My dear confrere, we have quite a few problems here also, especially since we have been left to ourselves. Since 1850 we have received no clothes from France and have had to live by saving as much as possible and make our own clothes and even our shoes. Not having a brother to help us we had to turn our hands to all kinds of trades.
Since the big illness I had in June 1850 which nearly cost me my life, my health has improved a bit, the bouts of fever are less frequent and not so severe. I have got my swollen leg down with the help of a heavy cotton stocking that I wear all the time, and I have also put a tourniquet below the knee.
I was about to leave the mission to go and recuperate in Sydney. At present my mission is to be carpenter, woodworker, the grass cutter and rope-maker.
Our mission on Savai’i is not growing fast, but progresses little by little. The bishop has finally sent us Brother Lucien after closing the mission in Rotuma which was not productive. Reverend Father Vachon is well, and also Brother Lucien. Reverend Father Vachon is now prefect apostolic of Savai’i.
Before finishing I must tell you that I have just heard that this year we have finally received three soutanes and some trousers from France.
His Lordship Bishop Bataillon is leaving to do the rounds of his vicariate. After that, it seems, he will be getting ready to go to France.
Pray for us, Reverend Father, so that God will bless the missionaries and the mission of Samoa which has been well tried up to now in many ways.
Your very humble and obedient servant,
François Palazy,
apostolic missionary of the Society of Mary
Reverend Father
It is a pity that our tailors in France are so parsimonious with their cloth when it comes to making our clothes. My soutanes they are at least two inches too short, they scarcely reach half way down my calves, and the body and the sleeves are so narrow that they tear when they are put on; and you can imagine how uncomfortable one is in such tight clothing in these countries where one is always sweating. We need soutanes which have roomy sleeves and are loose around the waist. That way we would be a bit more at ease wearing them and they wouldn’t wear out so fast or rot from perspiration.
As for the trousers they are generally so narrow and close to the body that the minute one bends over they split and tear especially when one is sweating, which is quite frequently. And often, if I wasn’t wearing a soutane over them, I wouldn’t dare appear in such indecent trousers which allow the form of the body to be seen, which would considerably scandalise the Oceanians who believe they more modestly dressed with a belt of leaves than us with our simple trousers.
Your very humble and very obedient servant,
François Palazy, S(ocietatis) M(ariae)


  1. In his letter to Poupinel dated 16 July 1852, Palazy mentioned three bills which he had sent to him; he also said that he did not want ‘to hear any more said’ about the affairs of his family. (cf. Doc 1159 §2,10)
  2. See his letter to Colin 8 October 1852 Doc. 1187