Baptism & the Blessing of a Marriage

Saint Pierre Celestin Catholic Church set at the foot of Mt Pahia which fronts Mt Otemanu. Legend holds that god descended on Bora Bora, the land of the gods, on a rainbow atop Mt Otemanu. It is truly a majestic setting for such an auspicious occasion:


Proceedings commence with the priest addressing parents as ‘guardians’ of those to be baptized as to the commitments that are about to undertake; a sufficiently powerful message so as to see (baby) Kaci himself reading the details with his parents, Toby & Yayoi!


Family & friends fill the church, impressed by the stained glasswork:


Godparents & immediate family in the front pew:


Those to be baptized in the company of their parents:


How wonderful is the image of mother & son:


Kaci’s cousin, Jordan, joins closely into the celebration:


In the case of the Catholic faith it is rare nowadays to have a priest on the island. Today, however, with a priest present, a busy schedule of baptisms, Mass & the blessing of a marriage are programmed.

Notice of a priest ‘being in town’ is short; in the case of a baptism it can mean that godparents from abroad can find it difficult to attend. For those being married it can be very much a question of luck to have a priest present at the time any guests from abroad are in Bora Bora. Such is island life!

A sign of the cross is placed on the forehead to signify an attachment to Christ:


White symbolising purity & innocence; the holy baptismal water, a sign of cleansing & of the washing away of all sin, is held in a massive pahua (clam):


The baby is anointed to symbolize a strengthening for the struggles of life ahead, & a candle lit to represent the movement from death to life in Christ:



A Thanksgiving Mass follows. Bora Bora is a profoundly Christian community. Although predominantly Protestant & Catholic most major denominations are represented on the island. Rather than being somewhat somber, somewhat staid ceremonies church services on Bora Bora strongly reflect Polynesian culture – they are vibrant & colourful, happy & joyful gatherings where singing & the closeness of the community are paramount as witnessed by the following photos. Children that wander are tolerated; participants are not measured ‘by the colour of their tie’, it is very much a ‘participation experience’:






Dan & Moana are to marry in 3 day’s time. The separation of powers between State & Church in France sees that couples must wed in a civil ceremony in the Town Hall for the marriage to be recognized. A church wedding will often follow……provided a priest is in town! Dan & Moana in learning of the presence of a priest on the island to conduct the baptisms the subject of this report seized the opportunity to have their impending marriage blessed before God.

Moving to the altar:



Their joy thereafter:




How lucky we are that Mal Lyons a professional photographer from Sydney & close family friend of Toby & Yayoi & of Dan & Moana is here to take the photos accompanying this report.


I write truly & sincerely when I record that, moved by the warmth & friendliness of the celebrations visitors to Bora Bora would claim it to be the best religious service they had ever attended.

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