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The Makers of Canada: Bishop Laval eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about The Makers of Canada.

FOOTNOTES: 

[3] The house was first the presbytery.

CHAPTER V

MGR.  DE LAVAL AND THE SAVAGES

Now, what were the results accomplished by the efforts of the missionaries at this period of our history?  When in their latest hour they saw about them, as was very frequently the case, only the wild children of the desert uttering cries of ferocious joy, had they at least the consolation of discerning faithful disciples of Christ concealed among their executioners?  Alas! we must admit that North America saw no renewal of the days when St. Peter converted on one occasion, at his first preaching, three thousand persons, and when St. Paul brought to Jesus by His word thousands of Gentiles.  Were the missionaries of the New World, then, less zealous, less disinterested, less eloquent than the apostles of the early days of the Church?  Let us listen to Mgr.  Bourgard:  “A few only among them, like the Brazilian apostle, Father Anthony Vieyra, died a natural death and found a grave in earth consecrated by the Church.  Many, like Father Marquette, who reconnoitred the whole course of the Mississippi, succumbed to the burden of fatigue in the midst of the desert, and were buried under the turf by their sorrowful comrades.  He had with him several Frenchmen, Fathers Badin, Deseille and Petit; the two latter left their venerable remains among the wastes.  Others met death at the bedside of the plague-stricken, and were martyrs to their charity, like Fathers Turgis and Dablon.  An incalculable number died in the desert, alone, deprived of all aid, unknown to the whole world, and their bodies became the sustenance of birds of prey.  Several obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom; such are the venerable Fathers Jogues, Corpo, Souel, Chabanel, Ribourde, Brebeuf, Lalemant, etc.  Now they fell under the blows of raging Indians; now they were traitorously assassinated; again, they were impaled.”  In what, then, must we seek for the cause of the futility of these efforts?  All those who know the savages will understand it; it is in the fickle character of these children of the woods, a character more unstable and volatile than that of infants.  God alone knows what restless anxiety the conversions which they succeeded in bringing about caused to the missionaries and the pious Bishop of Petraea.  Yet every day Mgr. de Laval ardently prayed, not only for the flock confided to his care but also for the souls which he had come from so far to seek to save from heathenism.  If one of these devout men of God had succeeded at the price of a thousand dangers, of a thousand attempts, in proving to an Indian the insanity, the folly of his belief in the juggleries of a sorcerer, he must watch with jealous care lest his convert should lapse from grace either through the sarcasms of the other redskins, or through the attractions of some cannibal festival, or by the temptation to satisfy an ancient grudge, or through the fear of losing a coveted influence, or even through the apprehension of the vengeance of the heathen.  Did he think himself justified in expecting to see his efforts crowned with success?  Suddenly he would learn that the poor neophyte had been led astray by the sight of a bottle of brandy, and that he had to begin again from the beginning.

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