Wednesday, September 20, 2017

John Coleridge Patteson

(1 April 1827 – 20 September 1871) was an Anglican bishop and martyr.

Patteson was educated at The King's School, Ottery St Mary, Eton and then Balliol College, Oxford. He was ordained in 1853 in the Church of England. His old tutor at Eton, George Augustus Selwyn, was the first Bishop of New Zealand, and he persuaded Patteson to become a missionary to the South Seas.

In 1855 Patteson set out to found the Melanesian Mission. He founded a college on Norfolk Island for native boys, toured the islands on the ship Southern Cross, and learned many of the local languages. In 1861 he was made Bishop of Melanesia.

Patteson's aim was to take boys from local communities, educate them in western Christian culture and return them to their communities. Persuading local people to allow their young men to depart – sometimes for years – was his principal problem.

On 20 September 1871 he was murdered on the island of Nukapu in the Solomon Islands, where he had landed alone. The explanation of his death at the time was that natives killed him as revenge for the abduction of some natives by illegal labour recruiters months earlier. These recruiters, known as "blackbirders", were considered to be virtually slave traders by members of the mission, as they enticed or abducted youths to work on plantations.

His death became a cause celebre in England and increased interest both in missionary work and in improvement of the working conditions in Melanesia. His life is celebrated in the Church of England as a saintly one, and he is commemorated with a Lesser Festival on 20 September. There is a memorial to him in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford by Thomas Woolner, which depicts his portrait surrounded by fronds, beneath which he is shown lying in the canoe, as described above

John Coleridge Patteson - 20 September - Bishop and Martyr

The Collect.

Almighty God, who didst call thy faithful servants John Coleridge Patteson and his companions to be witnesses and martyrs in the islands of Melanesia, and by their labours and sufferings didst raise up a people for thine own possession: Pour forth thy Holy Spirit upon thy Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many, thy holy Name may be glorified and thy kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Epistle - 1 Peter 4:12-19.

The Gospel - St. Mark 8:34-38.

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