Black Robes and Buckskin: A Selection from the Jesuit Relations

Black Robes and Buckskin: A Selection from the Jesuit Relations

CATHARINE RANDALL
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x02mv
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    Black Robes and Buckskin: A Selection from the Jesuit Relations
    Book Description:

    The Jesuit Relations, written by new world jesuit missionaries from 1632 to 1673 back to their Superior in France, have long been a remarkable source of both historical knowledge and spiritual inspiration. They provide rich information about Jesuit piety and missionary initiatives, Ignatian spirituality, the Old World patrons who financed the venture, women's role as collaborators in the Jesuit project, and the early history of contact between Europeans and Native Americans in what was to become the northeastern United States and Canada.The Jesuits approached the task of converting the native peoples, and the formidable obstacles it implied, in a flexible manner. One of their central values was inculturation,the idea of coming in by their door,to quote a favorite saying of Ignatius, via a creative process of syncretism that blended aspects of native belief with aspects of Christian faith, in order to facilitate understanding and acceptance. The Relations thus abound with examples of the Jesuits' thoughtfully trying to make sense of native-and female-difference, rather than eliding it. The complete text of the Jesuit Relations runs to 73 volumes. Catharine Randall has made selections from the Relations, some of which have never before appeared in print in English. These selections are chosen for their informative nature and for how they illustrate central tenets of Ignatian spirituality. Rather than provide close translations from seventeenth-century French that might sound stilted to modern ears, she offers free translations that provide the substance of the Relations in an idiom immediately accessible to twenty-first-century readers of English.An extensive introduction sets out the basic history of the Jesuit missions in New France and provides insight into the Ignatian tradition and how it informs the composition of the Relations. The volume is illustrated with early woodcuts, depicting scenes from Ignatius's life, moments in the history of the Jesuit missions, Jesuitefforts to master the native languages, and general devotional scenes.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4910-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Catharine Randall
  4. IN SPIRITU SANCTU: INCULTURATION AND THE ABORIGINAL RELATIONS
    (pp. 1-18)

    In the late sixteenth century, the essayist and political functionary Michel de Montaigne wrote an essay about a French exploration party to the New World, and the people they encountered. The essay, entitled “Des cannibales” (“Concerning Cannibals”), earned him recognition and praise as one of the first cultural or moral relativists of the Early Modern era. In his essay Montaigne argued that many of the practices of this reportedly cannibalistic society into which purportedly cultured Frenchmen had stepped were in fact much more civilized and humane than some European customs. At the end of the essay, Montaigne feigned overhearing a...

  5. CURA PERSONALIS: RECOGNIZING CHRIST IN THE OTHER
    (pp. 19-36)

    The very first document published in the compilation of the JesuitRelationswas written by Marc Lescarbot, a lawyer, poet, and historian from Paris who some historians have identified as a French Protestant, or Huguenot. Lescarbot arrived at Port Royal in Acadia in 1606 aboard the shipJonas. He had been invited to join two noblemen known to be sympathetic to the Protestant cause, Sieur de Monts and Baron de Poutrincourt. These two men had been granted a monopoly on the local fur trade, and they were hoping to found an agricultural colony in the New World.

    De Monts and...

  6. IMAGO DEI: “FINDING GOD IN ALL THINGS”
    (pp. 37-56)

    Lescarbot’s claims that the conversion of Native Americans to Christianity was underway belied the reality that very little missionary work seemed to occur in Acadia during the time when de Poutrincourt and the Calvinist or Calvinist sympathizer de Monts held the royal patent for Port Royal, the first settlement in New France. King Henri IV (a former Calvinist turned Catholic) became concerned, and put pressure on de Poutrincourt who, in 1610, asked a secular priest, Messire Fléché, to come help out in New France. Twenty-four members of the Micmac tribe and their chief were baptized shortly after his arrival. Still,...

  7. “WE [ENGAGE THEM] IN DEVOUT CONVERSATIONS”
    (pp. 57-72)

    At the request of Samuel de Champlain, who wanted to pacify the native tribes through conversion to Christianity for the purposes of colonial expansion and commercial activity, King Louis XIII sent the Récollets, a very strict branch of the Franciscan order, to missionize New France. However, since the Récollets were an itinerant and mendicant order, they had no funds of their own and very little resources; their mission was not very successful. Six friars established five missions; they went to the principal French outposts of Tadoussac, Quebec, Montreal, and Trois-Rivières, said mass, and tried to preach to the natives. They...

  8. “THE WORLD IS OUR CHURCH”
    (pp. 73-94)

    Father Paul Le Jeune wrote the following two letters in 1636 to report back to Old France on what was going on in New France. When Father Le Jeune first arrived in Quebec, he was greeted with great joy and relief by Madame Hébert, widow of Monsieur Hébert, and their children. They had been the first family to settle there. They were devout Catholics and had been frightened and greatly concerned when Quebec had been evacuated by the English in 1634. Le Jeune and Father De Noue reassured them of France’s continued concern for her colony, and they reinstated a...

  9. “FRIENDS IN THE LORD”
    (pp. 95-116)

    Women played a small but crucial role in theRelations. During the foundational days of the order, such powerful women as Vittoria Colonna gave succor, shelter, and financial support to Ignatius’s earliest followers, Fathers Jay and Rodrigues, who also, through her, came into contact with the Italian Evangelicals orspirituali. Jesuits heard women’s confessions, becoming confessors who could incline the potential patronesses’ hearts to give money and material aid to the Jesuit mission. In 1553, the Jesuits were urged to cease from hearing women’s confessions so as not to cause scandal, but Ignatius refused, and as late as 1561 Jesuits...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. AD MAIOREM DEI GLORIAM: TO THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD
    (pp. 117-130)

    Father Jogues, born in Orleans, France, in 1607, was about thirty-five years old when he came to the New World. He had been well educated in France, and was shy and introverted by nature. He was also very devout. When he heard of the Jesuit mission to Canada, he decided not to pursue the literary career that he had been contemplating, and instead offered himself to do whatever work might need to be done.

    Although he was bookish, he was also a great athlete, much admired for his ability to outrun almost anybody. On June 9, 1642, however, he did...

  12. FAMILIARITER: THE THEOLOGICAL SENSE OF DAILY LIFE
    (pp. 131-158)

    In late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe, the devil was a well-known presence, and witches were feared and discerned everywhere. When the Jesuits came to the New World, they found this cosmogony replicated. Not only did the Native Americans whom they met believe in Manitou (the Great Spirit), they also believed in witches and demons. They also accused the Jesuits of being witches and sorcerers (in this way acknowledging their power at various times.)

    Indeed, supernatural power or spiritual insight was regarded by Native Americans as neither positive nor negative, but rather as a gift or tool that could be...

  13. SPIRITU, CORDE: PRACTICE, HEART, SOUL, AND WORSHIP
    (pp. 159-180)

    By 1642, the Jesuits had four residences (at Quebec, Notre-Dame des Anges, St. Joseph, and Trois-Rivières) and were administering the sacraments on a regular, daily basis to the natives in the area. However, despite this success, the Jesuit impulse was always to harvest more souls and, in some frustration, Father Vimont wrote to the Superior that “the door to Christ will remain forever closed” to nations above Quebec, if more creative and fruitful ways were not found of evangelizing the nomadic, often hostile tribes. As one historian put it, “two forces were battling for the mastery of Canada: on the...

  14. CONCLUSION: INCULTURATION ASSESSED
    (pp. 181-184)

    In conclusion, the historian Francis Parkman’s assessment of the grand project of the Jesuit Fathers in French Canada may yet be—some decades after Parkman’s monumental study,France and England in North America—the most fitting summary: he deems the Jesuit order “a vast mechanism for guiding and governing the minds of men, this mighty enginery [sic] for subduing the earth to the dominion of an idea.” It is possible that he overstated his case; the syncretism we have observed suggests that “a mighty enginery” might be more aptly stated as “a well-disciplined mission directed toward saving souls” with those...

  15. APPENDIX: CATHEDRALS OF ICE: Translating the Jesuit Vocabulary of Conversion
    (pp. 185-208)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 209-212)