The jesuit relations


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The jesuit relations

  1. 1. The Jesuit Relations By Paige Ellis
  2. 2. IntroductionIntroduction • ““The Jesuit Relations” were annualThe Jesuit Relations” were annual publications for the benefit of audiences atpublications for the benefit of audiences at home in France.home in France. • The Jesuits dealt with the Algonquians andThe Jesuits dealt with the Algonquians and the Iroquoians.the Iroquoians. – Algonquians lived in small, mobile bandsAlgonquians lived in small, mobile bands – Iroquoians lived in concentrated, year-roundIroquoians lived in concentrated, year-round settlementssettlements • The French never really conquered theThe French never really conquered the Indians by force of arms, but the natives didIndians by force of arms, but the natives did suffer from epidemics, the demands of the fursuffer from epidemics, the demands of the fur trade, and political instability at the hands oftrade, and political instability at the hands of the French.the French.
  3. 3. Introduction • The Jesuits were members of the “Society of Jesus” who took special vows of poverty and obedience. • Their activities included education, literary and scientific activities, and pastoral missions. • The pain and affliction of a missionary life allowed them to identify with Christ • Instead of retreating from worldly influences like monks, they set out to conquer the secular world. • They lived in the native villages of New France, learned the languages, and got to know the people.
  4. 4. Jean de Brébeuf on the Hurons • Missionaries struggled to translate European religious concepts into the Huron language. • Like in romance languages, their nouns had genders. • They frequently used comparisons, weather lore, and proverbs. • Huron religious beliefs were somewhat ambiguous as to the origin of man. • They believed objects like rocks and trees were animate, and that spirits resided there. • They frequently made sacrifices and believed dreams were divinely inspired.
  5. 5. • The Jesuits were surprised at the Hurons’ general civility and politeness. • They had no organized government, but they had laws, punishments, and councils. • For the most part they were against vengeance, yet they were very cruel to their enemies. • Every 12 years all Hurons would unite for the Feast of the Dead. • They would dig bodies out of their graves, clean the flesh off their bones, and prepare a feast for them. • Many Jesuits were impressed by their constant recognition of their own mortality. Jean de Brébeuf on the Hurons
  6. 6. Disease and Medicine • The Hurons’ medical practices were largely dictated by superstition. • They believed illnesses were caused by demons. • Shamans would prescribe dances, sports, and gambling as cures. • The patient would always profess to be cured afterward, even if they were not. • In 1637 the Hurons were struck by Influenza. • The Jesuits were inconvenienced, but the natives were devastated. • Some Hurons approached the Jesuits for help from God. • Some blamed the Jesuits for the illness and planned to kill them.
  7. 7. Disease and Medicine • 2 years later, smallpox hit and killed more natives • Again, they blamed the Jesuits • The Jesuits were no longer allowed to approach the sick, and were dreaded as sorcerers. • The Huron shamans and the Jesuits both called on their deities to cure the sick • The Jesuits considered the real battle to be over how the disease was understood, not the disease itself.
  8. 8. Writings on the Natural Environment • The Natives did not differentiate between natural and supernatural. • To explain natural phenomena, they told fables that involved magic. • For example, a solar eclipse was explained by a magical dwarf-man who caught the sun in a net by accident • Even the Jesuits had a somewhat supernatural explanation for phenomena, despite their knowledge of science • They saw meteors and earthquakes as signs from God, and responded with prayer and repentance
  9. 9. Writings on the Natural Environment • With the arrival of the French military, the natives were more inclined to seek friendship with the Jesuits. • The Jesuits then found it easier to use the natural resources to benefit France. • They developed fisheries for fish, seals, and beluga whales. • They mined for minerals and cut down timber and grew hemp for textiles.
  10. 10. Martyrs and Mystics • Issac Jogues was a Jesuit who asked God to make him suffer for God’s glory. • He arrived in New France in a time of war between the Algonquians and the Iroquois. • His whole party was captured by the Iroquois and tortured. • The Iroquois equated their success in war to their cruelty to their prisoners • Those who were not killed were given to Iroquois families as a replacement for family members they had lost.
  11. 11. Martyrs and Mystics • The Jesuits also recorded the life story of Catherine Tegahkouita, a Mohawk who pursued a “Life of Christian perfection.” • The first encountered missionaries as a young woman, and showed much more fervor than the other converts. • She took a vow of chastity and lived a saintly life that greatly impressed the Jesuits and their supporters in Europe. • It is an unusual account, because it focuses on the piety of a native woman.