(INSULARUM S. PETRI ET MIQUELONENSIS).
Prefecture apostolic comprising the only French possession in North America, a group of islands situated 48°46' N. lat., and 58°30 W. long. (Paris standard), having an area of 177 square miles. Geologically and geographically connected with Newfoundland, it was once likewise so historically. Known to the earliest Breton and Basque fishermen, this group already bore its present name when Jacques Cartier identified it in 1535, The first settlement dates from 1604. In 1689 Bishop St-Vallier visited it from Placentia, blessed a chapel, and left a priest in charge. The Recollects sent to Placentia (1691) attended this mission. The islands were successively ceded to England (Treaty of Utrecht, 1712), restored to France (Treaty of Paris, 1763), thrice captured by the English (1778, 1793, and 1808), and thrice retroceded to France (Treaties of Versailles, 1783, of Amiens, 1802, and of Ghent, 1814). Many Acadians fled thither after the dispersion of Grand Pré (1755) and the fall of Louisbourg (1757). The first missionaries who came after the Treaty of Paris were the Jesuits Bonnecamp and Ardilliers, with dubious jurisdiction from the Bishop of La Rochelle (1765). The islands now separated from the jurisdiction of Quebec were erected by Propaganda into a prefecture Apostolic, and formed the first mission confided by Rome to the Seminary of the Holy Ghost. MM. Girard, prefect, and de Manach, who sailed the same year, were driven by a storm to Martinique. They were replaced (1766) by MM. Becquet and Paradis, likewise of the Holy Ghost Seminary, or Spiritains, as well as several of the following. In 1775 the prefect, M. Paradis, with his companion and 300 families were expelled by the English. M. de Longueville succeeded him in 1788. In 1792 M. Allain, vice-prefect, and his companion, M. Le Jamtel, were forced by the French Revolution to leave for the Magdalen Islands, with a number of Acadians who, remaining faithful to the King of France, refused to take the oath of the Constitution. The former inhabitants returning in 1816, M. Ollivier, who accompanied them, applied for jurisdiction to the Bishop of Quebec. He was appointed vice-prefect in 1820. His successors, with the same title, were MM. Charlot (1841), Le Helloco (1854), Le Tournoux (1864), Tiberi (1893); the two last named belonged to the newly-restored Congregation of the Holy Ghost .
The present titular is Mgr Christophe-Louis Legasse, b. at Bassussary, France, 1859, appointed in 1898, prelate of His Holiness in 1899. His chief work was the erection of the cathedral of St-Pierre, his residential town. The population, almost exclusively Catholic, varies from 4000 in winter to 8000 in summer, owing to the presence of the fishing crews. They are all Bretons, Normans, and Basques. Besides the six resident missionary priests, the fishermen, on the great banks are visited every month by a chaplain on board a hospital ship which also distributes their mail. There are 7 churches or chapels, 4 stations, 6 schools, those for boys managed until 1903 by 16 Brothers of Ploermel (Christian Instruction) ; 37 Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny (teaching and nursing) were subsidized by the Government until 1903. A classical college opened by the Holy Ghost Fathers in 1873 was closed in 1892.
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