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Br Pierre-Marie (Pierre Pérénon) to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Kororareka, 29 December 1845

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, January 2006 See Clisby's translation of this same letter or McConnell's translation

APM Z 208 29 December 1845


Very Reverend Father

It is shameful on my part to have remained so long without writing to you. However it wasn’t that I hadn’t though of it very often, but I was still waiting for the arrival of some Fathers from France, then the war started in the Bay of Islands between the British and the Maoris. The British have blockaded the harbour for a long time, and they allow into the harbour only their warships and some others they use for this purpose, with the result that we do not find very often in the Bay any ships from Oceania[1] to get letters circulated where we wish. I think I had told you in my last letter that for some time I had given up studying theology because of poor health, but today I am telling you, Reverend Father, that I have given it up entirely, because since then I have always been in poor health, and there is no sign that it is getting better. [p2] My health problems consist in rheumatic pains which I experience continually throughout my body. I was already experiencing them a bit in France, but they have got a lot worse since I have been on the mission. I think this development comes from the frequent showers that occur here, from cold winds that blow almost all year round, even in summer – they are very cool; and from the pigs’ fat which we continually use.[2] With all that, this rheumatism renders me almost totally useless as far as the mission is concerned. Several people have told me that this rheumatism, entrenched in the bones for so long, will not get less, rather it will get worse as I get older. I do not know whether the good God wanted me to come on mission, but from three days before my departure from Lyons I have experienced a continuous bodily sickness. I almost died on my arrival in Sydney. Since then I have really cracked hearty as much as I could in the hope that this indisposition would go away, but now I am losing hope. I would very willingly return to France if the Bishop allowed me to do so and if I could find a favourable opportunity. I would not lose my liking for the mission if I could do something; on the contrary I would find it very satisfying, but as I see that I would do no more than drag through the rest of my days, and always the more so, as I see it, from one year to another [p3] I would prefer, if I wasn’t afraid of going against the will of God, to go back to L’Hermitage.[3] I think I would be much better of in terms of my spiritual welfare, because I would be, at least, in the shelter of isolation. Reverend Father, I would be very content to know your attitude to all this, but in the meantime I will depend on the decision of the Bishop and Father Forest.

Very Reverend Father,
I have the honour to be your very submissive son in Jesus and Mary
B[rother] P[ierre] Marie
Kororareka, 29 December 1845[4]


  1. des océanicas
  2. To experience this in the “winterless north” may seem surprising, but there is evidence to show that because of the poor financial state of the mission and the war going on in the area, their diet was poor, and could have made them more susceptible to the cold - translator’s note
  3. the mother house and training centre of the Little Brothers of Mary - translator’s note
  4. This was Brother’s last letter from New Zealand. On 3 February 1846 he left Auckland on the naval vessel Rhin with Bishop Pompallier and Father Chouvet. He died at the Hermitage on 25 August 1873.

See Clisby's translation of this same letter.