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Simon Le Moyne

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A Jesuit missionary, b. at Beauvais, 1604; d. in 1665 at Cap de la Madeleine, near Three Rivers. He joined the Society in 1622, and reached Canada in 1638. He worked on the Huron mission with Chaumonot, Bressani, and the future martyrs. Second to Chaumonot alone in his mastery of the Huron-Iroquois language, he was unequalled in the knowledge of the character of the Indians their customs and traditions, even the artifices of their savage eloquence and diplomacy. The ascendancy he thereby enjoyed made him a desirable ambassador on all delicate and arduous occasions. He was the first European to penetrate among the Onondagas, where his eloquence and acquaintance with their traditions won their admiration. They begged for a missionary to teach them about the Great Spirit (1654). His second mission was to the fierce Mohawks, the murderers of Father Jogues, jealous of the favour shown to the Onondagas. They received him well, and he journeyed to Manhattan or New Amsterdam, where the governor, Peter Stuyvesant, treated him courteously. When a fresh outburst of Mohawk jealousy threatened to disturb the peace, Le Moyne again volunteered to pacify them, visiting Ossernenon a second and third time, and, though outwardly honoured, he frequently faced death. When after two years of warfare against the French and their allies the Cayuga Iroquois sued for peace in Montreal, and craved for a "black gown", Le Moyne went to test their sincerity (1661). This was his fifth embassy and during it he was seized, tortured, and even condemned to death. He was always ready for martyrdom. He owed his preservation to the chief Garakontié, whom Bishop Laval had baptized. He consoled the Indians and French captives, many of whom owed hirn their release. When the regular missions were established he longed to return to the Onondagas, but death overtook him at Cap de la Madeleine. Garakontié eloquently eulogized his undaunted courage and eminent virtues.


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