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MISSIONS


379


MISSIONS


their gentleness and their devotion to their interests, they were everywhere greeted with maledictions and raillery. Nevertheless it would seem as if their patience and fortitude must have at length struck those uncouth savages, for in 1645 they invited them to their country, promising a better reception for the tireless apostles. The days of the Neutrals, however, were numbered; the Iroquois were to be the uncon- scious executors of the justice of God upon them.

To the north of Huronia lay the territory of the Algonquins who counted at that time no less than one hundred and four distinct groups. One of these, the Nipissings, was visited by Fathers Claude Pijart and Raymbault (1640), who were cordially received. Though they soon made a number of baptisms, their success was scarcely commensurate with their exer- tions. Little by little, however, the Nipissings tired of the missionaries, and, as if by way of punish- ment, they were in 1650 exterminated tiy the Iroquois. Unfortunately good and bad alike had too often to suffer by the invasions of those warlike aborigines. In the summer of 1652 Father Jogues and Brother Ren6 Goupil were surprised by a party of that nation, who shockingly mutilated and .shamefully tortured the former, and put the latter to death (see Goupil and Jogues). In common with practically all the missionaries of the time, Father Jogues was a native of France; an Italian, Father Francis Joseph Bressani, was soon to walk in his footsteps (see Bhess.\ni). Nothing daunted by torments which, humanly speaking, should have proved fatal, Bressani, after his experience with the Mohawks, returned to Canada (1645) and consecrated his unfailing energies to the welfare of the Hurons, who could not help re- garding him as a hero. Meantime, constantly har- assed by the Iroquois, who had burnt several of their villages, the Hurons were rapidly marching to their doom. Yet, thanks to the fearlessness of their spirit- ual guides, mission work grew apace among them. Indeed about 1648 Father Bressani felt warranted to write that "whereas at the date of their arrival they foimd not a single soul possessing a knowledge of the true God, at the present day, in spite of persecution, want, famine, war, and pestilence, there is not a single family which does count some Christians." Better still, the converts were living up to the Christian standard of morality, and the general tone of the nation's society was gradually undergoing a decided change for the better. But the implacable Iroquois woiild not allow them to profit peacefully by the min- istrations of their priests. One by one their villages were attacked and destroyed. In the spring of 1648 St. Joseph's was annihilated and its mission- ary, Father Daniel, killed while comforting his flock. Next came the turn of the fortified town of St. Louis where the lion-hearted Brcbeuf and his companion, Father Lalemant, were martyred (see Brebeuf). St. Ignatius village suffered a similar attack, and most of its inhabitants were butchered. Then St. Mary's was assailed by the enemy; but, warned in time, it succeeded in repulsing the attack. Numer- ous Huron villages were successively razed, and many of their people massacred, while others were led off to the land of^ the invaders, there to undergo torture, perpetual captivity, or death.

No wonder, then, if the Hurons lost heart and sought safety in (iii^ht and dispersion. Their de- voted pastors followed them in their exile. They at first gathered remnants of their once powerful nation on an island in Lake Huron, called to-day Christian Island, while the Petun village of Etharita succumbed imder the blows of the southern aborigines, and with it Father Charles Gamier who, thougli in the grasp of death, dragged himself to minister to the spiritual needs of his afflicted flock. His com- panion, Father Noel Chabanel, was at the same tunc the victim of an apostate Huron who flung his body


into the river. The one consolation in the midst of these ruins was the constancy with which the con- verts stuck to their faith, even when in the land of their executioners. So thoroughly did they share the fortitude of their pastors, that many of them not only confessed their faith in Christ at the peril of their lives but even exliorted their persecutors to embrace it themselves. Some of the fugitives went west, while others fovmd a temporary refuge on the desert islands of Lake Huron, or among the Neutrals who had soon themselves to flee for their lives. Mean- while the exiles of Christian Island, after untold sufferings, retired in the spring of 1650 to the neigh- bourhood of Quebec, finally settling at the Lorette Mission (.see Huron Indi.ins). Their chief occupa- tion having ceased with the practical extinction of the Hurons as a people, the Jesuit missionaries now turned their attention to the fierce Iroquois, repeating the prodigies of self-denial with which their victims had been favoured. Against their tenacious perse- verance and devotion to Jut v no bigotry can stand . To Protestants as well as to Catholics they are nothing short of heroes of Christian fortitude. To the west of Huronia proper was the land of the Petims who boasted nine or ten villages with a population of per- haps ten thousand in 1640. Two missions, that of St. John's and that of St. Mathias, had been established among them. These Indians were commencing to yield to the influence of grace when they, too, had to retire before the victorious march of the ruthless Iroquois. In 1652 we find them at Michillimakinac, whence they set out on a scries of peregrinations whicli liiiiilcil tliem ;imi)iigtril)ps cif tlie I'nited States, by whom Ih.v were ultimately absorbed. The other reninanl i.f ilic Huron nation fa red better. Aliout 1665 they enjoyed the mini-strations of an able and pious priest , Father Joseph M . Chaumonot, a pioneer mission- ary who had given no less than fiftv-three years of his life to the ill-fated Hurons (d. 1692).

Considered as a nation, the Hurons had been wiped off the face of the earth. Such of the priests as were not required for missionary work within what is now the American Union then turned their attention toward the more pacific tribes nearer home. The Micmacs had from the first accepted Christianity (see MiCMACs). On 29 July, 1657, Gabriel De Queylus, Gabriel Souart, and Dominique Galinier, members of a newly founded ecclesiastical society, the Sulpicians, accompanied by M. d'Allet, a deacon of the same institute, arriving at Quebec, immediately proceeded to the village of Ville-Marie, now Montreal, where they replaced the Jesuits in the charge of the local parish. Though more especially destined for work among the whites, the Sulpicians did not overlook the salvation of tlie native tribes. Thus, ten years after their arrival in Canada (1667), they ministered to the Ottawas and other Algonquin groups. BLshop De Montmorency- Laval, the first prelate in the colony, entrusted to them the care of a mission established at Quints Bay on Lake Ontario, for the benefit of the Cayugas, an Iroquois tribe, and many adopted Hurons settled in their midst. Their succe,ss with the adult population was not complete; but their very presence paved the way towards cstablisliing missionary sta- tions all along the western shnre of Lake Ontario (1609). Soon after, the Sulpicians were succecfled in that field by the Ken.llccis who had just rclunied to Canada. Father Louis llciiiic-piii and iilhi'is l.iboured with energy, but harvested only t.-ires, and the natives gradually returned south; all traces of a mission on the Canadian side of the lake disappeared.

It was then that, (juite a number of Iroijuois of the American Union having been won over to the I'aith, a step was taken by their spiritual advisers of which the results were to last to our day. To withdraw them from the dangers of their pagan environment, the Jesuits induced them (1668) to settle at La Prairie,