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Joseph Le Caron

Pioneer missionary of Canada and first missionary to the Hurons (q.v.), b. near Paris in 1586; d. in France, March 29, 1632

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Le Caron, JOSEPH, one of the four pioneer missionaries of Canada and first missionary to the Hurons (q.v.), b. near Paris in 1586; d. in France, March 29, 1632. He embraced the ecclesiastical state and was chaplain to the Duke of Orleans. When that prince died, Le Caron joined the Recollects and made his profession in 1611. On April 24, 1615, he sailed from Honfleur, reached Canada on May 25, and immediately went to Sault St. Louis. After a short time he travelled to Quebec, provided himself with a portable altar service, returned to the Sault, and went into the land of the Hurons, being the first to visit their settlements and preach the Gospel. He stayed with them about a year, and was again among them in 1623. In 1616 he returned to France to look after the spiritual and material interests of the colony. The following spring saw him in Canada again, as provincial commissary. During: the winters of 1618 and 1622 he evangelized the Montagnais of Tadousac. In 1625 he was once more in France, returned to Canada a year later, was elected superior of his order at Quebec, and filled this office until the capture of Quebec by the English in 1629, when he and his colleagues were sent back to France by the conquerors.

Le Caron was a saintly man, given to the practice of austerities, but gentle towards others. He died of the plague in the convent of Ste-Marguerite in France. We owe to him the first dictionary of the Huron language. The “Bibliotheca Universa Franciscana” of Jean de S. Antoine, II (Madrid, 1732), 243, says on the evidence of Arturus in his “Martyrologium Franciscanum” under date of August 31, that Le Caron wrote also “Quaerimonia Novae Franciae” (Complaint of New France).

ODORIC-M. JOUVE


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