Br Joseph-Xavier to Fr Poupinel, Villa Maria, 6 September 1870
As with many of Joseph’s letters during this period, this one contains a detailed list of requests, mainly for the chapel and the printery. The first thirteen have been omitted from the translation (rf [ ]), though other requests are distributed through the text. The 14th item on the list, concerning bed linen, gives an idea of the size of the community at this stage, almost 20 persons in residence or in transit. The 11 brothers comprised 6 PFM and 5 coadjutors, including Louis Meyronin from Tonga.
Amelia Lavelua, daughter of Vaimua, succeeded her aunt Falakika as queen of Uvea in February 1869. Closely linked with the mission, she was responsible for a new code of laws, replacing traditional customary law, adopted by a grand ‘fono’ in June 1870. This code was to serve as a constitution for the kingdom for almost a century (rf Angleviel 154). Seeing that it was put into effect was of major concern for Bataillon and this is probably why he was spending so much time on Wallis. His presence, too, might well explain why Meriais had no news of interest for Joseph . As for Sage and Samoa, we already have the letter announcing Abraham’s death in May (L 199).
The translation has been made from a photocopy of the original in the APM. The letter of 12 July in that collection contains the brother’s will referred to in  but not reproduced in this series.
Text of the Letter
- Reverend Father,
- In sending you some news, I thought I would remind you of the requests I made you. If they are already on the way, that’s fine. If not, you could send them if you judge it fit. I don’t know if my memory will let me down. But you will see what I may have forgotten. [Requests 1-10 for the chapel, 11-12 for the printery] 14. We go quickly through our sheets. There is a big crowd of us here – 11 brothers, 3 or 4 fathers, 3 or 4 visitors, etc. A dozen pairs will not be too many.
- You see, my Reverend Father, that the list is not a short one, and you must see there are many other things I am short of. But I am leaving it to others to ask for those. For myself, if you think it good, send 2 or 3 rosaries, not made up, but everything necessary to make them, thread, cross, and a few dozen medals of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows for the Glorias, etc.
- I would appreciate very much a small amount of attractive printed cotton cloth and a fine chain with a big medal for Amelia. That’s the only thing missing to make her a great Queen. I am not asking for a gold or silver one, but one that is all white would be very pretty. I would be pleased to get a large abridged dictionary as well as an annual of the Ain. The Fathers of Wallis and Futuna are asking me for news of the Council. They have heard nothing. I cannot send them any papers. Since your departure, the good Fr Yardin has stopped sending us the papers from Lyon. Try to get some books for them which would give them all the information.
- There is not much news from Villa Maria. Br Louis from Tonga has just arrived. He has an affliction of the throat which could become serious if it is not treated immediately. That is why Fr Chevron made him come. I don’t really need to tell you any more. I think everyone is writing to you. The good Br Abraham has died. Father Sage should tell you all that is happening in Samoa. Father Meriais has written me a long letter without telling me anything. Monsignor B. is still there. The natives who have written to me say he will be there a little longer. For myself, I can tell you nothing except that the good God is looking after everything.
- It appears my sister and her husband have been pained by a letter I wrote them. The others have kicked up such a fuss that I did my sister and her husband some wrong. I think that the letter I am sending them will please them, and if you have not yet arranged all my affairs, do so in favour of my sister. She can keep everything if she wishes. She will pay out the legacies too. She will give 100 francs to each of the nephews and nieces, Henri’s children, and to the two Letivant nieces, so there will be no disputes.
- Your entertaining letter gave us all pleasure. I am happy to know you are coming back. As for the procession of the palms it went off well because I did not get involved. I think you are mistaken, but it doesn’t matter. At least I know it was done the way I did it the first year. For the Corpus Christi one, I didn’t stick my nose in. I had provided everything that was necessary for the altar and the children. Then for your information I do the arranging of the chapel and looking after the house and surrounds. That has kept me busy. Pray always to the good God for me, my Rev Father, and accept the very humble respects of your entirely devoted servant who loves you and embraces you in the holy hearts of J.M.J.
- Luzy Br J-X.
- PS. I enjoyed reading the notice of Victor’s death.
- A further request written in the margin: I would be pleased with a large magnifying glass for enlarging the letters.
|Letters from Oceania: 1870-1