Bataillon, Pierre Marie

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Pioneer Marist missioner in oceania; b. Saint-Cyrles-Vignes (Loire), France, Jan. 6, 1810; d. Wallis Island, April 10, 1877. He joined the marist fathers and was ordained. Leaving France with Bp. Jean pompallier, (Dec. 24, 1836) he arrived at Wallis Island in the southwest Pacific (Nov. 1, 1837), where he and Brother Joseph Luzy began their apostolate in the face of privation and violent hostility. His courage, forcefulness, and charity so impressed the savage Polynesian chiefs that the entire population of about 2,700 was converted (1842). When Pompallier's Vicariate Apostolic of Western Oceania was divided (1842), Bataillon became the first vicar apostolic of Central Oceania, which included New Caledonia, New Hebrides, the Fiji Islands, the Tonga Islands, Samoa, the Tokelau Islands, and Wallis and Futuna Islands. Consecrated bishop (Dec. 3, 1843), Bataillon began with his slender forces an immediate evangelization of Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa, all three of which later became vicariates, and also of Rotuma. To train a native clergy he opened on Wallis the first seminary in Oceania (1874). The vicar was an extremely apostolic man of vision and perseverance, but such an exacting taskmaster to his missionaries that Marist superiors became disturbed and promulgated new directives defining mission administration. As Fiji and Samoa became established missions, Bataillon's Central Oceania vicariate was restricted to Wallis, Futuna, and Tonga (1873).

Bibliography: a. m. mangeret, Mgr. Bataillon et les missions de l'Océanie Centrale, 2 v. (2d ed. Lyon 1895); La Croix dans les îles du Pacifique: Vie de Mgr. Bataillon (Paris 1932). n. weber, Brief Biographical Dictionary of the Marist Hierarchy (Washington, DC 1953).

[j. e. bell]