Introduction - The book is based on reports of French missionaries who wanted to convert “pagan savages” to Catholic Christianity. -The reports talk about evangelizing, colonization, devastation of epidemics, outbreaks of war, and other events. -The reports also talk about the customs, habits, and cultures of various native nations. -Francis Xavior was a successful Jesuit missionary who went all over the globe. -In France, the Jesuits operated schools, preached to illiterate peasants, and gave spiritual advice to kings. - In the late 16 th and early 17 th century, the Catholic Reformation happened which fought against the corruption and lack of activity among the clergy.
Introduction (cont.) - The natives of New France welcomed the missionaries because they appreciated the French as suppliers of goods and as allies in their wars against the Iroquois. -The Jesuits published their writings for their audience in France. - While reading the Jesuits’ reports, it is easy to think that they were ethnocentric but one must understand that things were different in the 17 th century world- Catholics believed that Christianity was the absolute truth. -The French colonized the Americas (mainly Canada) not through domination and subjection but through commercial/ diplomatic links between France and different Indian nations of Canada. - The missionaries gave insightful information because they immersed themselves into the Native American society and learned their languages and beliefs.
CH.2: Jean de Brebeuf on the Hurons - Brebeuf was a martyr who was tortured and killed during the Iroquois invasion of 1649. -Brebeuf notes that the Hurons do not know that God is the one who created them. -The Hurons have a fable that tells about their origins that gives a personage to the sun and the moon. -The Hurons believe that spirits reside in animate things, like the rocks, earth, lakes and sky. -The Hurons make sacrifices. -Brebeuf notes that the Hurons eat an immense amount of food during their feasts, he considers it to be gluttony.
CH.2 (cont.) -Brebeuf notes that the Hurons do indeed have some civilization; they live in assmebled villages, they cultivate the fields, and they live together in peace and friendship. -He also notes that the Hurons have laws; there are punishments for people who do wrong. -There are captains for affairs of the state (like feasts, dances, games, etc.) and there are other captains for affairs of war. -The Hurons also have a “Feast of the Dead.” -Corpses are taken out of the cemeteries and shown in a public place so that spectators can see what they will be someday. -Each captain makes a feast for all the souls in his village.
CH.3 Disease and Medicine -The “Jesuit Relations” tells us a lot about the spread of old- world diseases among the native populations of North America. -Jesuits didn’t like native medicine. -Sometimes native medicine did in fact cure illnesses and Jesuits believed it was from diabolical help. -There are dances that serve as remedies for sickness. -There was an influenza epidemic in 1637, the Hurons suffered from a terrible “fever.” -The influenza probably originated in New England. -Smallpox also spread in 1639, the Hurons believed that the presence of the Jesuits in their land was the cause of their misfortunes (sicknesses).
Ch.3(cont.) -The Jesuits were able to baptize some people, many were baptized only when they were very close to death. -The Jesuits kept their health through the winter and the praised God for it. -The father superior told the sick that if they wanted to serve God, thy needed to believe in Him and follow His commandments, they must renounce some of their customs and superstitions. -Father Allouez wanted God to cure the people, not diabolical forces of the native’s medical traditions. -Claude Allouez was able to cure several sick people, and when the natives tried their own method to cure the sick, the sick ended up dying.
Ch.5: Writings on the Natural Environment -Father Paul Le Jeune describes the tales of the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples that tell of the thunder and eclipses and how they happen. -Their stories include humans, animals, and magical/spiritual qualities. -There is a story where the sun was threatened to be killed and when the sun’s heart trembled, that is when the eclipse happened. -In 1663, there were many natural disasters that happened in New France. -People were unsure of whether the natural disasters were a positive or negative sign from God.
Ch.5 (cont.) <ul><li>Jesuits recommended prayer and repentance as the best response. </li></ul><ul><li>There was a meteor that appeared over Quebec . </li></ul><ul><li>In 1633, there was a huge earthquake. </li></ul><ul><li>People cried for mercy and some prayed. </li></ul><ul><li>The earthquake is believed to have affected all of France. </li></ul>-God protected the Jesuits’ settlements and none of them were injured. -There were several natives who experienced visions that the earthquake would happen. -In 1664, the first comet was seen at Quebec.
Ch.6: Missions to the Iroquois -One of the great goals of the Jesuits was to convert the Iroquois. -After 2 French invasions which had severe negative effects on the fields and villages, the Iroquois came to terms with the French. -There was peace between the French and the Iroquois for a little while. <ul><li>Captives were brought to the towns where the Jesuits stayed (their headquarters). </li></ul><ul><li>The Jesuits felt overwhelmed and shed tears of joy at seeing the poor captives se fervent in their devotions and so constant in their faith. </li></ul>
Ch.6 (cont.) -Father Jean Pierron went on a mission to the country of the Mohawks( the lower Iroquois). -Pierron said that even if he was able to save even one soul, then all of his efforts would have been worth it- “for Christ gave his blood for that soul.” -Pierron wanted to try to win over the Indians by being very gentle and kind, and having close relationships with them. -Pierron told the Mohawks that in order to have peace with the French, the Mohawks must “be like me and believe what I believe.” -The Mohawk council agreed to this. -Father Claude wrote about how a group of young women who renounced marriage and devoted themselves to a life of charity, prayer, and “mortification of the flesh.” -Father Claude tells of how one woman who was pregnant, took off her clothes in the middle of a snowstorm in penance for her sins.