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Paul Ragueneau

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Jesuit missionary, b. in Paris, 18 March, 1608; d. 8 Sept., 1680. He entered the Society in 1626. In 1636 he went to Quebec and was soon sent to the Hurons with Le Moyne , Depron, Jogues, and Garnier, to labour under Brébeuf during the long and painful period preceding the conversion of that nation. He was one of the heroic band who, in 1637, being exposed to death at every moment, signed and sent to their superior as their last will a joint act of resignation to martyrdom. In 1645 Ragueneau was superior of the Huron mission which counted eighteen workers. He possessed a perfect mastery of the language. The death of the martyr Jogues was the signal for many conversions, and Ragueneau writes with admiration of the fervour of his neophytes. Five of his fellow missionaries won the martyr's crown in different posts under Ragueneau's direction, the first being Father Daniel (4 July, 1648). He remained at his post on St. Mary's on the Wye until persuaded by the Huron captains to join the fugitives on St. Joseph's island (1649). The notable increase in the number of conversions (3000 Indians being baptized in 1649) rewarded his zeal. After a bloody defeat, followed by the massacres of Fathers Chabanel and Garnier, Ragueneau, yielding to the entreaties of the few whom famine, pestilence, and the fury of the Iroquois had spared, led the small band of 400 survivors, the remnants of a nation of ten thousand, to their final refuge, Quebec, after a long and perilous journey. In 1650 he became vice rector of the College of Quebec and superior of the Canadian mission. It was during this time that he directed in the ways of holiness a highly privileged soul, Sister Catherine of St-Augustine, whose life he wrote. His influence in the supreme council and with Governor de Lauzon was the occasion of his removal to Three Rivers (1656). The year following he was sent as superior to the Iroquois mission. On his way to Onondaga he witnessed the butchery of his Huron companions, for which he reproved the murderers, the Senecas and Onondagas, at the peril of his own life. Informed of the impending massacre of all the French in the Iroquois country, Ragueneau's genius planned and realized their escape and return to Quebec (1658). He returned to France (1662) with Bishop Laval, and remained there as procurator of the missions. Besides a life of Sister Catherine of St-Augustine (Paris, 1671), Ragueneau wrote "Relations" of 1648-9, 1649-50, 1650-1, and 1651-2. No other Jesuit in Canada wrote so much as he. On one of his missions he saw and mentioned Niagara Falls thirty-five years before Hennepin, the alleged discoverer, described the cataract.


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