Saint Marie Among the Hurons

Hail Brave hearts

It is with great courage that we settle this country, filled with new adventures and difficult times.  It is with bravery that we meet these new people in their own homeland and on their own terms.  It is with faith and prayer that we negotiate a peaceful settlement, and with determination and recognition of the mission, that is required, proceed to our duty.  To the new land, and to the people of it, we meet.

Such is the sturdy vow of the missionary, the Jesuits who landed to fulfill their duty.  Bring the people religion.  Bring them to Christianity.  It is the solemn vow of the faith, these people must be saved.  Saved in the eyes of God, save their everlasting soul.  Save the people, even in death.

The mission was built in Huron (Wendake) territory, 1200 kilometers from Quebec.  Started in 1639 and lasting only 10  years, it was the first settlement in New France, in the province that is now Ontario.   It was set on a large tract of land between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay, in  Huron territory.  The the mission itself was on the Wye River.

Only a small group of men made the long journey from Quebec City to this remote place.  All martyred for their faith.  The Huron themselves, were curious and peaceful.  They allowed the mission on their land and allowed the Jesuits to preach to them.  Some converted, some did not, but pursue the faith is a must.  Fulfill the mission of their lives, they must.  Bring religion to the people.  Serve God.  No matter what the price is , it is not too high.  Serve God.  Bring Christianity to the people with the intention of everlasting peace.  Peace on Earth, goodwill to your fellow human.

Canada’s first Christmas Carol, the Huron Carol, written in 1642 probably by Jean de Brebeuf.

Saint Marie among the Huron is a historical place of hope, dreams, hardship and abandonment.  The security of the Jesuits, lost to the increasing hostility of the Iroquois in the insistent war with the Huron.  Iroquois with guns, Huron with bow and arrow, missionaries with prayer.  Peace among us, oh mighty human.  This territory belongs to the Huron, the land of the Wendake.

http://www.saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca/sm/en/HistoricalInformation/TheSainteMarieStory/index.htm

But the dreadful incessant war proved the Iroquois to be a stronger and more aggressive people.  Intent on murder, they continued their assault on the Huron and would not leave.  Some of the Huron  who survived  fled to neighboring tribes, and to Quebec to re-establish themselves, on Ile de Orleans , just east of Quebec city in 1650.  By 1649 the mission was in ruin, burned by the Jesuits so that the Iroquois couldn’t inhabit it.  The Huron had departed, the Jesuits were gone.  Gone, but saved.  Other peace remained.  The fur trade was still active, with trade and negotiation still intact.  With the loss of this mission is an uncanny coincidence.  The city of Montreal, founded in 1649.

 

written by Dr. Louise Hayes

March 10, 2020

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