Chanel, Peter Louis Marie, St.

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Missionary; b. Cuet (Ain), France, July 12, 1803; d. Futuna Island, Oceania, April 28, 1841. After ordination he joined the recently founded marist fathers (1831) and sailed (1836) with Bishop Pompallier as provicar and superior of the seven Marists to whom was entrusted the vicariate of Western Oceania, established that year. When still 1,500 miles from his eventual headquarters in New Zealand, the bishop left Pierre bataillon and one brother on Wallis Island, and Chanel and Brother Nizier on neighboring Futuna (1837). Pompallier proposed to return in six months, but circumstances delayed him for five years. In his isolation Chanel struggled with an unknown known language and was wholly dependent on inconstant chiefs for material needs, but he made the difficult adjustment to a world of whalers, traders, and warring tribes of savages. His serene, gentle character endured with profound faith, patience, and fortitude the frustrations of apparent failure, severe privations, and finally, active persecution by the principal chief. A few had been baptized, a few more were being instructed, when Chanel was surrounded in his hut and clubbed to death, becoming thereby Oceania's first martyr. In 1843 the whole island became Catholic and has remained so. Chanel was beatified November 17, 1889, and canonized June 12, 1954.

Feast: April 28.

Bibliography: l. laurand, La Croix au bout du monde (Brussels 1968). j.-c. marquis, St. Pierre Chanel: de lAin au Pacifique (Bourg-enBresse 1991). c. rozier, Écrits du Père Pierre Chanel (Paris 1960), with full bibliog. w. symes, Life of St. Peter Chanel (Bolton, Eng. 1963).

[j. e. bell]