While heresy was spreading with such alarming rapidity that it threatened to deprive the Church of her fairest provinces in Europe, new continents were being opened up in the East and the West, and Christian missionaries were being sent forth to bear an invitation to strange races and peoples to take the place of the millions who had strayed from the fold. The restless energy and activity so characteristic of the fifteenth century manifested itself strikingly in the numerous naval expeditions, planned and carried out in face of enormous difficulties, and which led to such important geographical discoveries. The Portuguese pushed forward their discoveries along the west coast of Africa till at last Bartholomew Diaz succeeded in doubling the Cape of Good Hope (1487), thereby opening the way for Vasco de Gama's voyage to the Malabar coast in 1498. Spain, jealous of the new south sea route to the East Indies discovered by her rival, availed herself of the offer of Christopher Columbus to provide a western route, and it was while engaged in this attempt that he discovered the great continent of America. The importance of these discoveries in both East and West both from the spiritual and temporal point of view was understood clearly enough by both Spain and Portugal. The rulers of these countries, while anxious for the spread of Christianity among the pagan races of Asia and America, were not unmindful also of the important service that might be rendered by religion to their work of colonization. Fortunately these new fields for the Christian missionaries were opened up, at a time when the religious spirit of Western Europe was beginning to recover from the state of lethargy to which it had been reduced by abuses, and the cry went forth for volunteers in an age when the older religious orders had begun to feel the influence of reform, and when the new religious orders, particularly the Jesuits, were at hand to render invaluable assistance. The foundation of the Congregation /De Propaganda Fide/ (1622), the establishment of the Collegium Urbanum (1627) for the education and training of missionary priests, and the organization of the Societe des Missions Etrangeres (1663) in Paris helped to unify the work and to put it upon a solid and permanent basis.
The first place in this remarkable missionary development must be assigned to St. Francis Xavier (1506-52), the friend and disciple of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the most successful Christian missionary since the days of St. Paul. On the invitation of John III. of Portugal, who had heard something about the contemplated new Society of Jesus, St. Francis sailed from Lisbon, and landed at Goa, the capital of the Portuguese Indian colony (1542). Franciscans and Dominicans had preceded him thither, but the scandalous example of irreligion and immorality set by the colonists had made it nearly impossible for these devoted men to win converts amongst the pagan races. St. Francis threw himself generously into the work of re-awakening the faith of the Portuguese before attempting the conversion of the natives. When the condition of affairs in Goa had undergone a complete change for the better, he set out for West India, where he preached with wonderful effect, and succeeded in extending his efforts as far as the Island of Ceylon. He next visited Malacca, the Molucca Islands and Sumatra. Everywhere he went he won thousands to the faith. His extraordinary kindness and charity, his untiring zeal, his simple straightforward exposition of Catholic doctrine, and the numerous miracles by which God confirmed the truth of his preaching, were the principal causes of his success. In the meantime several other members of the Society of Jesus had arrived. These he dispatched to different parts of India to tend the flock whom he had won for Christ, while at the same time he established a novitiate and a house of studies to prepare a native clergy for carrying on the work.
Not content with what had been accomplished in India he set out for Japan (1549) in company with a Japanese convert, who assisted him to acquire a knowledge of the language. He landed at Kagoshima, where he remained nearly a year learning the language and preparing a short treatise in Japanese on the principal articles of faith. When he had overcome these preliminary difficulties he began the work of evangelization, and notwithstanding the energetic opposition of the bonzes or native priests he formed a flourishing community. Through central Japan he made his way preaching with success in the principal towns, but the political troubles then raging in the capital proved a serious obstacle to the success of his work. For two years and a half St. Francis continued his apostolic labors in Japan, and then returned to Goa, not indeed to rest but only to prepare for a still more hazardous mission. In Japan he discovered that one of the principal arguments used against the acceptance of the Christian faith was the fact that the Chinese, to whom the people of Japan looked with reverence, still preferred Confucius to Christ. Inspired by the hope of securing the Celestial Empire for the Church, and of ensuring thereby the conversion of the entire Eastern races, he had himself appointed ambassador to China and set off to reach the capital. On the voyage, however, he became to seriously ill that it was necessary to land him on the little island of Sancian, where in a rude hut constructed to shelter him he breathed his last. During the ten years of his mission he had won close on a million people to the faith, and he had given Christianity a hold on the people of India and Japan which no political revolutions or religious persecution could ever loosen. He was canonized in 1622.
After the death of the Apostle of India the work that he had begun was carried on by his brethren of the Society of Jesus in face of very serious difficulties. They were opposed by the Brahmins, who tried to stir up persecutions, and their progress was impeded by political disturbances. The arrival of the Jesuit, Robert de' Nobili (1577-1656), in 1605 marked a new stage in the history of the conversion of India. After a visit paid to the city of Madura, where one of his brethren had been laboring for years without any visible fruit, de' Nobili came to the conclusion that the comparative failure of the Christian missionaries was due to the contempt of the Brahmins for them as Portuguese or friends of the Portuguese and as associates of the pariahs, who were regarded by the Brahmins as being little better than beasts. He determined to adopt new methods, to come to them not as a Portuguese but as a Roman, to avoid all contact with the pariahs or outcasts, to respect the national customs and caste divisions of the country, and to secure a sympathetic hearing from the Brahmins by his learning and specially by his intimate knowledge of the Indian literature.
His method was crowned with instant success. In a short time he had made hundreds of converts in the very city where his colleague had labored in vain for years; and he had secured his converts, not by minimizing or corrupting Catholic truth, but by a prudent regard for the caste system and for certain rites and customs connected with it, which he tolerated as partaking of a national rather than of an essentially religious character. Objections were raised against his methods by his fellow Jesuit in Madura. He was charged with countenancing superstition by allowing the use of pagan rites, and with encouraging schism and dissension by permitting no intermingling between the Brahmins and the pariahs even in the churches. In justice to Father de' Nobili and to those who favored his methods, it ought to be said that they did not like the system of castes. They hoped that under the influence of Christian charity such divisions might disappear, and that just as the Church undermined rather than condemned slavery in the first centuries, so too the missionaries in India might respect the prejudices of the Brahmins till these prejudices should have been extinguished by a closer acquaintance with the doctrines and spirit of Christianity. The highly colored reports sent in against him produced an unfavorable impression on his superiors, but when his defense was received at Rome Gregory XV. refused to issue any condemnation (1623).
During the lifetime of Father de' Nobili he pursued his own method with success, though at the same time he never neglected an opportunity of providing secretly for the spiritual welfare of the poorer classes. After his death in 1656 many of the Jesuits continued his policy, notwithstanding the fact that grave objections were raised by some of the other religious orders. A crisis came, however, in Pondicherry which belonged to the French. The Capuchins were in charge of the mission, and attended both to the colonists and the natives. The bishop decided to share the work between the Capuchins who were left in charge of the colonists, and the Jesuits who were entrusted with preaching to the natives (1699). The Capuchins appealed to Rome, and brought forward against the Jesuits the old charges that had been leveled against Father de' Nobili, and that had given rise to such bitter controversies. The question of the Malabar Rites was carried once more to Rome, and de Tournon, Patriarch of Antioch, was sent as legate to investigate the case (1703). After remaining eight months in the country, and before he had an opportunity of considering both sides of the question, he decided against the Jesuits (1704). This decision was confirmed by the Pope in 1706. The controversy continued, however, till 1744, when Benedict XIV. in the Bull, Omnium sollicitudinem, issued a final condemnation of the Malabar Rites (1744).
In deference to the prejudices of the Brahmins a scheme was then formulated with the approval of the Pope for organizing two classes of missionaries, one for the Brahmins and another for the outcasts, but the suppression of the Jesuits in the Portuguese dominions (1756) put an end to this system. The Carmelites did good service by their efforts to reconcile the Nestorian Christians with the Church. The further progress of the Catholic Church in India was impeded by the suppression of the Jesuits, the invasion of India by the Dutch, the insistence of Portugal upon its rights of patronage over all the churches of India, the downfall of the religious spirit in Europe during the eighteenth century, and finally by the destruction during the French Revolution of the colleges and religious houses that supplied workers for the mission.
St. Francis Xavier had planned to introduce the Christian faith into the Celestial Empire, but he died almost in sight of the coast. The first missionary who made any progress in that country was another Jesuit, Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) who arrived in China in 1582. He was a man of great ability, well versed in mathematics and in the natural sciences, and well qualified to make an excellent impression on the educated classes. He was protected by the mandarins, and respected by the Emperor, who invited him to the imperial palace at Peking (1600). Although it was his scholarly attainments that attracted the Chinese rather than his religion, Father Ricci never failed to seize every opportunity of directing the thoughts of his pupils and admirers towards Christianity. At his death in 1610 many of the mandarins had been converted, and most of the old prejudices against the new religion had disappeared. Other Jesuits equally learned and equally prudent were ready to take his place. His successor, Father Schall, was summoned by the Emperor to Peking, and was appointed president of the mathematical society. By his influence at court he obtained permission for his fellow-workers to open Christian churches in China, and secured the publication of various Christian books in the Chinese language. The revolution that preceded the establishment of the Manchu dynasty (1644) led to some persecution, but the trouble was only of a temporary character. On the death of Father Schall in 1666, he was succeeded by Father Verbiest who was also patronized by the court on account of his scholarly attainments. Finally in 1692 an imperial rescript was issued giving the Christian missionaries full permission to preach the gospel throughout the empire. At that period the number of converts was about twenty thousand. Two bishoprics were erected, one at Peking and one at Nankin.
In the beginning, as the Jesuits were practically speaking the only missionaries in China, it was reserved for them as their special mission-field by Gregory XIII. (1585). But later on Clement VIII. allowed the Franciscans to go to China, and finally the country was opened to all Christian missionaries by Urban VIII. The presence of the new laborers in the vineyard was not productive of so good results as might have been expected. A fierce controversy that broke out regarding the Chinese Rites principally between the Dominicans and Jesuits, did much to retard the progress of the Catholic Church in the Celestial Empire for a long period. To understand the meaning of this controversy it should be remembered that the Chinese people, deeply attached to the memory of their ancestors and to their veneration for Confucius, were accustomed to perform certain rites and ceremonies at fixed periods in memory of their departed relatives and in honor of Confucius. To prohibit these was to put an end to all hope of conversion, and to tolerate them looked like tolerating Paganism. Father Ricci decided to tolerate them, mainly on the ground that they partook more of a civil than of a religious character, that in themselves they were harmless, that the Church has been always very prudent in regard to the national and civil customs of its converts, and that with the acceptance of Christianity all danger of misunderstanding would soon disappear. Furthermore, for want of better names for the Deity Father Ricci allowed the use of Tien-tschu (Lord of Heaven), Tien and Shangti (supreme emperor), words that had been used hitherto in an idolatrous sense, but which in themselves and as explained by the Jesuit missionaries were orthodox enough. Both parties in the controversy meant well, and each could adduce very convincing arguments in favor of its own views. The Dominicans commissioned one of their number to denounce these customs to Rome as idolatrous. He submitted seventeen articles dealing with the Chinese Rites to the Inquisition, and after a long discussion a provisional condemnation was issued by Innocent X. (1645). Father Martini went to Rome to defend the Chinese Rites, and to point out the serious consequences which such a sweeping condemnation might have upon the whole future of Christianity in China. In 1656 a decision more or less favorable to the Jesuits was given by Alexander VII. The decision helped to prolong rather than to settle the controversy. A crisis was reached, however, when Maigrot, vicar-apostolic of Fu-Kien, one of the priests belonging to the Society for Foreign Missions, denounced the Chinese Rites as pure paganism, and interdicted their observance to all converts within his jurisdiction. The case was carried once more to Rome, and de Tournon was dispatched as papal legate to decide the case. In 1707 he issued a decree prohibiting the Chinese Rites, incurring thereby the enmity of the Emperor, who had him thrown into prison where he died (1710). All missionaries who obeyed his orders were banished. The decision of the legate was supported by several decrees from Rome, and at last in 1742 Benedict XIV. condemned the Chinese Rites, and ordered that all missionaries to China should take an oath against further discussion of the question.
The controversy was carried on with considerable earnestness on both sides on account of the importance of the issues at stake, and was embittered considerably by political and religious disputes in Europe that had no concern either with China or the Chinese Rites. The condemnation had a disastrous effect on the missions. Nearly all the missionaries were banished from the country, and the Christians were obliged to choose between apostasy and death.
In Japan St. Francis Xavier had begun the work of conversion. He left behind
him two of his brethren who were joined soon by other members of the Society of
Jesus, with the result that about the year 1582 there were between one hundred
and two hundred thousand Catholics in the country. An embassy consisting of
three of the native princes visited Rome in 1585. In many districts the local
chiefs granted full liberty to the missionaries, and in a short time the number
of Christians rose to three hundred thousand. Some of the authorities, alarmed
by the rapid growth of foreign power in the country, began to whisper among the
people that the Christian missionaries were only spies working in the interest
of Spain and Portugal. A violent persecution broke out against the Christians in
1587, and lasted for several years. Notwithstanding the savagery of the Pagans
and the punishments decreed against the missionaries the Jesuits weathered the
storm, and fresh laborers arrived to support them in the persons of the
Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Augustinians.
But national jealousy of the foreigners, more especially of the Spanish and Portuguese, fomented as it was by the Dutch and English, led to new troubles for the Christian communities. In 1614 a royal decree was issued against the Christians, and a determined attempt was made to destroy the work of the missionaries.
Punishments of the most awful kind were inflicted on those who would not abjure the Christian faith, and many, both priests and people, were put to death. From 1614 till 1640 the persecution was carried on in a systematic and determined manner, so that by that time all the missionaries were either dead or banished, and the whole of the young communities they had formed were scattered. For years Japan remained closed against the missionaries who made various attempts to escape the vigilance of the authorities.
Whatever may be the explanation, whether it was due to the severity of the climate or to the savage character of the inhabitants, the Christian missions in Africa were not productive of much fruit. St. Vincent de Paul sent some of his community to work in the district around Tunis and in the island of Madagascar. Missionaries from Portugal made various attempts to found Christian communities along the whole western coast of Africa. In the Congo the results at first were decidedly promising. Here the work was begun by the Dominicans, who were assisted at a later period by the Capuchins, the Augustinians, and the Jesuits. Many of the inhabitants were won over to the faith, but as years passed, and as the supply of missionaries failed, much of what had been accomplished was undone, though the Capuchins still continued their efforts. In Angola the Jesuits led the way, in Upper and Lower Guinea the Jesuits and the Carmelites, in Morocco and in Egypt the Franciscans, while various religious bodies undertook the work of evangelizing the Portuguese colonies in Eastern Africa.
By far the greatest triumph of the Church during this age of missionary effort was that which was achieved by the conversion of the native races in the territories occupied by Spain and Portugal in the western continent. The hope of extending the boundaries of the Church was one of the motives that induced Columbus and his supporters to undertake their voyage of discovery, as it was also one of the motives urging the rulers of Spain to increase the sphere of their jurisdiction. Hence from the very beginning great care was taken to provide for the conversion of all the natives. Priests were dispatched from Spain with all the expeditions. Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians, Fathers of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy, and after the establishment of the Society of Jesus, Jesuits vied with each other in their eagerness to risk their lives in the work. Generous provision was made by the rulers of Spain for the support of the clergy and the maintenance of religion. Churches were erected, episcopal and archiepiscopal Sees were founded and endowed, colleges and monasteries were established by the various religious orders, and in the course of less than a century the Church had gained in the new world almost as much as she had lost in the old.
The Spanish rulers were not inclined to destroy or to maltreat the native races, but they were unable to supervise the greedy officials, many of whom acted savagely towards the Indians, killing hundreds of them and forcing the others to work as slaves. The hatred of the Indian races for the Spaniards made the work of the missionaries more difficult, but from the beginning the Church espoused the cause of the Indians, sought to secure protection for them against the officials, and to restrain if not to extinguish entirely the practice of enslaving the natives. Bartholomew de Las Casas (1474-1566) at first a secular priest, then a Dominican, and afterwards a bishop, took a prominent part in the struggle on behalf of the natives, and though his methods were not always of the most prudent character he helped to put down some of the most glaring abuses. Charles V. was most sympathetic towards the Indians, laid down very strict rules for his subordinates, and invited the bishops to become protectors of the Indians, while Paul III. insisted strongly on the freedom of the natives and their rights as men (1537).
Some of the West Indian Islands which Columbus discovered were thickly populated. The Franciscans and Dominicans set to work at once to convert the native people of Haiti, many of whom were destroyed by the Spaniards despite the efforts of the missionaries. Cuba was taken possession of by the Spaniards in 1511, and Mexico or New Spain was conquered by Hernando Cortes in 1519. The people that inhabited this country were much more intelligent and cultured than the other native races. They had flourishing towns, beautiful temples and public buildings, and a fairly well organized form of government. Cortes invited the Franciscans to undertake the work of conversion. They were followed by the Dominicans, by the Order of Our Lady of Mercy and by the Jesuits. Bishop Zumarraga, the first bishop in Mexican territory, opened schools for the education of the Indians, as did also the Franciscans and the other religious orders. The Jesuits established the great college of San Ildefonso, and in 1553 the royal and pontifical University of Mexico was opened for the reception of students. By the Bull, Universalis Ecclesiae regimini, full rights of patronage over all the churches of New Spain were conferred on the rulers of Spain, and religious affairs were placed under the control of the Council of the Indies.
From the West Indies Christianity made its way into Central America which was acquired by Spain in 1513. The Dominicans, Capuchins, and Jesuits preached the faith in Guiana. Venezuela was evangelized at first by the Franciscans (1508) and by the Dominicans (1520). Later on Capuchins, Jesuits, and Augustinians took part in the work. By the year 1600 fully two-thirds of the natives were converted. Peru was conquered for Spain by Francis Pizarro in 1532. The inhabitants of this country were highly civilized, with a regular government, and with a form of religious worship much superior to any of the Pagan systems with which the Spaniard had come into contact. For a while the conversion of the country was delayed owing to the cruelties inflicted on the natives and the conflicts between the Spanish leaders, but in a short time the Franciscans and Dominicans undertook missions to the natives with great success. In 1546 Lima was created an archbishopric, and in a few years a university was opened. St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617) was the first saint of American birth to be canonized officially (1671). By the beginning of the seventeenth century the majority of the natives were converted.
Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese, Alvares de Cabral (1500), who named it Vera Cruz because his ship came to anchor there on Good Friday. The Franciscans were early in the field to tend to the spiritual wants of the natives, who stood in need of some defenders to protect them from the greed of the Portuguese officials. At the request of King John III. St. Ignatius dispatched some of his followers to Brazil (1549). A great college was opened by the Jesuits for the education of young men. The wars with the French, the invasion of Brazil by the Dutch, and the opposition of officials who were annoyed at the protection afforded the natives by the missionaries, rendered the work of conversion exceedingly difficult. But "reductions" or settlements of Indians were formed by the Jesuits, Capuchins, Carmelites, and others, and episcopal Sees were established throughout the country. The expulsion of the Jesuits in 1759 was a severe blow to the missions in Brazil.
Paraguay was taken possession of by Spain in 1536. The Franciscan Fathers who accompanied the expedition addressed themselves at once to the conversion of the natives; but the difficulty of making themselves understood, the cruelty of the first conquerors towards the natives, and the bad example of the early colonists, made their work much more difficult than it might have been.
The Dominicans, the Augustinians and the Order of Mercy came to the assistance of the first missionaries, and three episcopal sees were established. One of the bishops, a Dominican, invited the Jesuits to come to Paraguay (1586). They established colleges in several of the leading centers, and sent out their members in all directions to preach to the Indians, over whom they acquired in a short time a very salutary influence. But the harshness of the Spanish officials, and the bad example they gave to the native converts, made it necessary for the Jesuits to form "Reductions" or special settlements, where the Indians might live apart from the Spaniards, and where they might be free from oppression and the corrupting influence of their Spanish masters. Philip III. of Spain approved this plan, and ordained that the Reductions should be subject directly to the Crown. In these settlements the Jesuits trained the natives in agriculture and in trades, but the peace of the communities was disturbed frequently by the slave-hunters against whom the Spanish officials refused to take action. As a last resource the Jesuits organized an Indian force, and provided them with arms for self-protection. Close on a million converted natives were attached to the thirty-one Reductions that formed a kingdom of independent principality subject only to Spain. This happy condition of affairs was not destined to last forever. By a treaty made in 1750 Spain, in return for some territory ceded by Portugal, handed over to Portugal seven of the Reductions. The Jesuits pleaded for delay in carrying out the eviction of the Indians who were settled in this territory, and when their appeal was refused they advised the Indians to submit. Some of them followed this advice while others of them flew to arms only to be defeated (1756). The blame for the rebellion was attributed to the Jesuits by Pombal and the other enemies of the Society in Portugal. By a royal decree issued in 1767 the Jesuits were expelled from Paraguay, and in a few years the flourishing communities which they had established were completely dissolved.
Christianity reached the territory now known as the United States from three distinct sources, namely, the Spanish colonies in the south, the French settlements in the north, and from the English Catholic colony of Maryland in the east. The sphere of influence of the Spanish missionaries was Florida, California, New Mexico, and Texas. In 1526 an expedition under the command of de Narvaez and accompanied by several Franciscan Fathers was sent to explore Florida, but the expedition ended in complete failure. Several other attempts of a similar kind were made with no better results till at last, aroused by the danger of a French occupation, Menendez established a permanent settlement at Fort St. Augustine and prepared the way for Spanish occupation (1565). Menendez, zealous for the conversion of the natives, invited the Jesuits to come to Florida, as did also the Franciscans. At first the work of conversion was attended with great difficulties and proceeded very slowly, but by the year 1700 many Christian villages had been established. The attacks of the English on Florida injured the missions, and the cession of Florida to England (1763) completed the work of destruction.
Lower California was discovered by Cortez in 1533, and Upper California by Cabrillo eleven years later. In the beginning the missionaries encountered great opposition, but after 1697 the Jesuit Fathers were very successful. They formed the natives into permanent settlements or reductions, and so rapidly did the work of evangelization proceed that in 1767, the year in which the Jesuits were expelled by Spain, nearly all the Indians were converted. The Franciscan Fathers succeeded the Jesuits, continuing their reductions in Lower California, and introducing missions of a similar kind among the Indians of Upper California. The Dominicans, also, rendered valuable assistance. In 1822 California was ceded to the United States, and the missions were broken up owing to the hostility of the civil authorities.
The Franciscans were the first to undertake missions in New Mexico (1539). Several of the missionaries suffered martyrdom in their attempts to convert the natives, but it was only after 1597 that any considerable progress was made. In Texas the earliest real effort at introducing Christianity among the natives was made in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. The work of the Franciscans was disturbed by rebellions among the Indians and by war, but notwithstanding these obstacles several flourishing Indian settlements were established. In 1813 the Spanish Cortes issued a decree that the missions in Texas should be secularized.
Although others had preceded him, yet the honor of discovering Canada is assigned generally to Jacques Cartier who made three voyages to the country (1534-42). Early in the seventeenth century the two Jesuits Biard and Masse arrived and began the conversion of the Indian tribes settled in Acadia, which embraced Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1608 Samuel de Champlain, "the Father of New France" arrived and laid the foundation of Quebec. He invited the Franciscan Recollects to preach to the Indian tribes, namely, the Algonquins and the Hurons (1615). The Franciscans went to work with a will, preaching to the people and opening schools for the young, but finding their numbers too few for the mighty task, they invited the Jesuits to come to their assistance (1625). Several Jesuits including Fathers Brebeuf and Lallemant hastened to Canada and undertook missions to the Hurons. The invasion and capture of Quebec in 1629 by the English interrupted the work for a time, but on the restoration of the territory to France in 1632 the Jesuits continued their labors with renewed vigor. The fierce tribe of the Iroquois were the strongest opponents of the Christian missionaries, many of whom they put to death. Father Jogues was put to death in 1646, and a little later Fathers Daniel, Brebeuf, and Lallement together with several of their companions met a similar fate.
But notwithstanding these reverses the work of Christianizing the native races of Canada proceeded apace. In 1642 the city of Montreal was founded, and in 1657 the superior of the Sulpicians dispatched several of his community to labor in the new colony. Two years later Francois de Montmorency-Laval arrived as first bishop and vicar- apostolic of New France. West and east the missionaries continued to win new conquests for the Church. The English, however, gave great trouble to the missionaries by stirring up the Indian tribes to make war on the Christian settlements. Nor was the French colony, practically deserted as it had been by the mother country, able to hold its own against the English colonists. In 1713 France ceded to England Acadia, Newfoundland, and the Hudson Bay territory. In Acadia the Catholic missions had been very successful, but in 1755 the unfortunate Catholics, who refused to take the oath that was tendered to them, were seized and deported. In 1759 Quebec was taken, and by the Treaty of Paris (1763) Canada passed under the dominion of the English.
Many French missionaries from Canada worked in the district stretching from the St. Lawrence to Lake Superior, and missions were established by the Jesuits in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In 1673 Father Marquette (1636-75) undertook a journey southward to visit the great river about which he had heard from the Indians, and to open up new fields of work for himself and his associates. He succeeded in reaching the Mississippi, and sailed down the river as far as the mouth of Arkansas. As a result of the information acquired from those who returned from this voyage of exploration, expeditions were sent out by the French to take possession of the new territories and to erect fortifications against the further advance westward of the English colonists. The city of New Orleans was founded in 1717. Missionaries--Capuchins, Jesuits, and priests of the Society for Foreign Missions--preached the gospel with great success to the natives in Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Arkansas, and Ohio.
The Jesuits, under the leadership of Father White, who settled in the colony founded in Maryland (1534), devoted themselves to the conversion of the Indians, but the expulsion of Lord Baltimore in 1644 and the victory of the Puritans led to the almost complete destruction of these Indian missions.
Original text by James MacCaffrey, edited and revised by William Mackis - this text © 2005. Please note: all applicable material on this website is protected by law and may not be copied without express written permission.
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