John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia

20 September -- Lesser Festival -- Martyr -- Red

Born in London in 1827, John Coleridge Patteson came under the influence of George Augustus Selwyn while John was still a scholar at Eton. Patteson went on to be ordained and, in 1855 at the age of twenty-eight, left Britain to begin his life's work among the Islanders of the South Pacific, founding the Melanesian Mission and becoming the first bishop of those Islands. His system of evangelisation was to train indigenous clergy and so to equip local people to share the gospel in a way that was within their own culture. This novel educative approach quickly bore fruit and Christianity spread rapidly. Also working in Melanesia were 'blackbirders', essentially European slave-traders, who carried off Islanders to work in British and other colonies in Australasia. When Patteson and his fellow-workers landed on the island of Nukapu, they were mistaken for such men. They were attacked and brutally put to death by the inhabitants. John Coleridge Patteson gave his life for the gospel on this day in the year 1871.


God of all tribes and peoples and tongues,
who called your servant John Coleridge Patteson
to witness in life and death to the gospel of Christ
amongst the peoples of Melanesia:
grant us to hear your call to service
and to respond trustfully and joyfully
to Jesus Christ our Redeemer,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

A reading from the Second Book of the Chronicles.

After the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and did obeisance to the king; then the king listened to them. They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and served the sacred poles and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs. Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the Lord; they testified against them, but they would not listen. Then the spirit of God took possession of Zechariah son of the priest Jehoiada; he stood above the people and said to them, "Thus says God: Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has also forsaken you." But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord.

This is the word of the Lord.         2 Chronicles 24. 17-21

Responsorial Psalm

RYou will show me the path of life;
[in your presence there is fullness of joy].
Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;
I have said to the Lord, "You are my Lord,
my good above all other." R

All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,
upon those who are noble among the people.
O Lord, you are my portion and my cup;
it is you who uphold my lot. R

My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;
indeed, I have a goodly heritage.
I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
my heart teaches me, night after night. R

I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.
My heart, therefore, is glad and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope. R         From Psalm 16

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" But the High Priest and the Council of the Synagogue covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.

This is the word of the Lord.         Acts 7. 55-60

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."

This is the gospel of Christ.         Mark 8. 31-35

Post Communion

God our Redeemer,
whose Church was strengthened
   by the blood of your martyr John Coleridge Patteson:
so bind us, in life and death, to Christ's sacrifice
that our lives, broken and offered with his,
may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.