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The Martyrs of Melanesia - September 27

Martyrs of Melanesia

The Anglican Church in Melanesia, like most churches throughout Christian history, has a roll of those who are honoured as martyrs for the faith. The best known is John Coleridge Patteson, the first bishop, but there were many others. In 1864 Patteson and those with him were attacked on the island of Santa Cruz. Among those injured in the attack were Fisher Young and Edwin Nobbs, two Norfolk Islanders, who contracted tetanus as a result of arrow wounds. Fisher Young in particular is remembered for his forgiving attitude to his murderers. In spite of intense pain, Fisher’s faith never wavered. He sent a message to his father: “Tell my father that I was in the path of duty, and he will be glad. Poor Santa Cruz people!”. Both he and Nobbs died as a result of their wounds.

When Patteson himself was murdered seven years later on one of the Reef Islands, north of Santa Cruz, two others, Joseph Atkin, a New Zealand priest, and Stephen Taroaniara, also died. It was Atkin who returned to shore on Nukapu, even though he was wounded, to recover the body of Patteson. Taroaniara, in spite of intense suffering, asked his friends not to think of revenge. The way in which he endured his pain made a great impression on those who had known him before his conversion... Read more...

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