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Jacques Gravier

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Jesuit missionary; born 1651 at Moulins, where he studied classics and philosophy under the Jesuits ; died in Louisiana in 1708. He joined the Jesuit Order in 1670, studied theology at the college of Louis-le-Grand, Paris, and was sent to Canada in 1685. In 1686 he went to Michilimackinac. In 1687 he succeeded Allouez in the Illinois mission begun by Marquette. He is the true founder of that mission, where he spent ten years of incredible hardship and suffering. He was the first to master the Illinois idiom, and reduced it to grammatical form. He grouped Kaskaskia and Peoria Indians, at the Rocher , near Ft. St. Louis, and despite the machinations of the medicine-men he moulded his flock into a model Christian Church. In his task he was seconded by a saintly woman, daughter of a Kaskaskia chief. In 1696 he was superior at Michilimackinac, with the title of vicar-general of Bishop St. Vallier. In 1700 he returned to the Illinois mission. In 1706 the ungrateful Peorias attacked and cruelly wounded the missionary. An arrow-head imbedded in his arm could never be extracted even by the surgeons in Paris. In 1708 Gravier returned to Louisiana, where he died of his wound that same year.

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