Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

conjectures to have been an angel descended to his relief, and who was probably some penitent or devotee bent on works of charity or self-mortification. With a voice of the greatest kindness, he proffered his aid to the wretched boy, whose appearance was alike fitted to awaken pity and disgust. The conquering of a natural repugnance to filth, in the interest of charity and humility, is a conspicuous virtue in most of the Roman Catholic saints; and whatever merit may attach to it was acquired in an extraordinary degree by the young man in question. Apparently, he was a physician; for he not only restored the miserable wanderer to a condition of comparative decency, but cured him of a grievous malady, the result of neglect. Chaumonot went on his way, thankful to his benefactor, and overflowing with an enthusiasm of gratitude to Our Lady of Loretto.1 1 "Si la moindre dame m'avoit fait rendre ce service par le dernier de ses valets, n'aurois-je pas dus lui en rendre toutes les reconnoissances possibles? Et si après une telle charité elle s'étoit offerte à me servir toujours de mesme, comment aurois-je dil l'honorer, lui obéir, l'aimer toute ma vie! Pardon, Reine des Anges et des hommes! pardon de ce qu'après avoir reçu de vous tant de marques, par lesquelles vous m'avez convaincu que vous m'avez adopté pour votre fils, j'ai eu l'ingratitude pendant des annees entières de me comporter encore plutôt en esclave de Satan qu'en enfant d'une Mère Vierge. O que vous êtes bonne et charitable! puisque quelques obstacles que mes péchés ayent pu mettre à vos graces, vous n'avez jamais cessé de m'attirer au bien; jusque là que vous m'avez fait admettre dans la Sainte Compagnie de Jésus, votre fils." — Chaumonot, Vie, 20. The above is from the very curious autobiography written by Chaumonot, at the command of his superior, in 1688. The original manuscript is at the Hôtel Dieu of Quebec. Mr. Shea has printed ii

1637.] JOSEPH il ARTE CHAUMONOT. 193 As he journeyed towards Rome, an old burgher, at whose door he had begged, employed him as a servant. He soon became known to a Jesuit, to whom he had confessed himself in Latin; and as his acquirements were considerable for his years, he was eventually employed as teacher of a low class in one of the Jesuit schools. Nature had inclined him to a life of devotion. He would fain be a hermit, and, to that end, practised eating green ears of wheat; but finding he could not swallow them, conceived that he had mistaken his vocation. Then a strong desire grew up within him to become a Récollet, a Capuchin, or, above all, a Jesuit; and at length the wish of his heart was answered. At the age of twentyone, he was admitted to the Jesuit novitiate.1 Soon after its close, a small duodecimo volume was placed in his hands. It was a Relation of the Canadian 1 His age, when he left his uncle, the priest, is not mentioned. But he must have been a mere child; for at the end of his novitiate he had forgotten his native language, and was forced to learn it a second time.

"Jamais y eut-il homme sur terre plus obligé que moi à la Sainte Famille de Jésus, de Marie et de Joseph! Marie en me guérissant de ma vilaine galle ou teigne, me délivra d'une infinité de peines et d'incommodités corporelles, que cette hideuse maladie qui me rongeoit m'avoit causé. Joseph m'ayant obtenu la grace d'être incorporé à un corps aussi saint qu'est celui des Jésuites, m'a preservé d'une infinité de miseres spirituelles, de tentations très dangereuses et de péchés très énormes. Jésus n'ayant pas permis que j'entrasse dans aucun autre ordre qu'en celui qu'il honore tout à la fois de son beau nom, de sa douce présence et de sa protection spéciale. O Jésus! O Marie! O Joseph! qui méritoit moins que moi vos divines faveurs, et envers qui avez vous été plus pn ligue?" — Chaumonot, Vie, 87.

mission, and contained one of those narratives of Brdbeuf which have been often cited in the preceding pages. Its effect was immediate. Burning to share those glorious toils, the young priest asked to be sent to Canada; and his request was granted. Before embarking, he set out with the Jesuit Poncet, who was also destined for Canada, on a pilgrimage from Rome to the shrine of Our Lady of Loretto. They journeyed on foot, begging alms by the way. Chaumonot was soon seized with a pain in the knee, so violent that it seemed impossible to proceed. At San Severino, where they lodged with the Barnabites, he bethought him of asking the intercession of a certain poor woman of that place, who had died some time before with the reputation of sanctity. Accordingly he addressed to her his prayer, promising to publish her fame on every possible occasion, if she would obtain his cure from God.1 The intercession was accepted; the offending limb became sound again, and the two pilgrims pursued their journey. They reached Loretto, and kneeling before the Queen of Heaven, implored her favor and aid; while Chaumonot, overflowing with devotion to this celestial mistress of his heart, conceived the purpose of building in Canada a chapel to her honor, after the exact model of the Holy House of Loretto. They soon afterwards embarked together, and arrived among the Hurons early in the autumn of 1639. 1 "Je me recommandai a elle on lui promettant de la faire eonnoitre dans toutes les occasions que j'en anrois jamais, si elle m'obtenoit de Dien ma guerison." — Chaumonot, Vie, 40.

1037.J NOEL CHABANEL AND ISAAC JOGUES. 195 Noel Chabanel came later to the mission; for he did not reach the Huron country until 1643. He detested the Indian life, —the smoke, the vermin, the filthy food, the impossibility of privacy. He could not study by the smoky lodge-fire, among the noisy crowd of men and squaws, with their dogs, and their restless, screeching children. He had a natural inaptitude to learning the language, and labored at it for five years with scarcely a sign of progress. The Devil whispered a suggestion into his ear: Let him procure his release from these barren and revolting toils, and return to France, where congenial and useful employments awaited him. Chabanel refused to listen; and when the temptation still beset him, he bound himself by a solemn vow to remain in Canada to the day of his death.1 Isaac Jogues was of a character not unlike Garnier. Nature had given him no especial force of intellect or constitutional energy, yet the man was indomitable and irrepressible, as his history will show. We have but few means ot characterizing the remaining priests of the mission otherwise than as their traits appear on the field of their labors. Theirs was no faith of abstractions and generalities. For them, heaven was very near to earth, touching and mingling with it at many points. On high, God the Father sat enthroned; and, nearer to human sympathies, 1 Abrigi de la Vie du Pere Noll Chabanel, MS. This anonymous paper bears the signature of Ragueneau, in attestation of its truth. See also Ragueneau, Relation, 1650, 17,18. Chabanel's vow is here given verbatim. Divinity incarnate in the Son, with the benign form of his immaculate mother, and her spouse St. Joseph, the chosen patron of New France. Interceding saints and departed friends bore to the throne of grace the petitions of those yet lingering in mortal bondage and formed an ascending chain from earth to heaven. These priests lived in an atmosphere of supernaturalism. Every day had its miracle. Divine power declared itself in action immediate and direct, controlling, guiding, or reversing the laws of Nature. The missionaries did not reject the ordinary cures for disease or wounds; but they relied far more on a prayer to the Virgin, a vow to St. Joseph, or the promise of a neuvaine or nine days' devotion to some other celestial personage; while the touch of a fragment of a tooth or bone of some departed saint was of sovereign efficacy to cure sickness, solace pain, or relieve a suffering squaw in the throes of childbirth. Once, Chaumonot, having a headache, remembered to have heard of a sick man who regained his health by commending his case to St. Ignatius, and at the same time putting a medal stamped with his image into his mouth. Accordingly he tried a similar experiment, putting into his mouth a medal bearing a representation of the Holy Family, which was the object of his especial devotion. The next morning found him cured.1 The relation between this world and the next was sometimes of a nature curiously intimate. Thus, 1 Chaumonot, Vie, 73.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »