(from “History of the Catholic Mission in the Hawaiian Islands” by Father Reginald Yzendoorn, SS.CC., Honolulu Star-Bulletin Ltd., Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii, 1927)
(continued from June 6th)
The Hawaiian circumcision rite, which probably was accompanied by baptism, reminds of many ceremonies of Catholic baptism; like Christian baptism it was evidently a dedication to the Trinity.
A Hawaiian historian gives this account of the ceremonies which accompanied the circumcision of a Hawaiian child:
‘To have a child circumcised, the father with some relatives went to the priest, carrying for the sacrificial purposes, a live pig, a red fish, a coconut, a white bird, and a lighted torch.
On coming before the priest, he said: Priest, here are the offerings for my child. Whereupon the priest asked: What for are they?
The father then answered: They are the offerings for circumcision.
After this the priest went with his servants up to the altar, meanwhile praying mentally. The fire and the offerings were taken along.
The parents and family of the child went also with the priest, and at their arrival before the altar, the priest planted three little flags in honor of Ku, Kane and Lono, and he also lighted three torches in their honor.
Then the priest made holy water in which salt was mixed; he prayed to Ku, Kane and Lono, and thus the water became taboo-water and was called the taboo-water of Kane.
When all these things had been prepared, the priest proceeded to the ceremony of circumcision. And when the circumcision was performed, the priest put a piece of white cloth on the head of the child.
After these rites, the priest with his servants prayed mentally, and whilst praying he gave away the offerings which had been put on the altar. The prayer was as follows:
O God, O Ku, Kane and Lono, behold the offerings of the child. O Kane, look upon, preserve and have mercy on thy worshipper, that he may live unto an advanced old age. Be it so. Amen.
Then those that have assisted at the ceremony return home with great rejoicing, and partake of a festive dinner at the house of the person who has been circumcised, the entire family assisting.’
The resemblance existing between these Hawaiian circumcision rites, and the ceremonies of a solemn baptism as administered in the Catholic Church, coupled with the popular Spanish and Portuguese customs, seem too striking than that they could be explained by mere coincidence.
(to be continued tomorrow)
Blessings, pono and pule!
Fr. Brian Guerrini, ss.cc.