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Black Robes and Buckskin

A Selection from the Jesuit Relations

Catharine Randall

Publication Year: 2010

The Jesuit Relations, written by new world jesuit missionaries from 1632 to 1673 back to their Superior in France, have long been a remarkable source of both historical knowledge and spiritual inspiration. They provide rich information about Jesuit piety and missionary initiatives, Ignatian spirituality, the Old World patrons who financed the venture, women's role as collaborators in the Jesuit project, and the early history of contact between Europeans and Native Americans in what was to become the northeastern United States and Canada.The Jesuits approached the task of converting the native peoples, and the formidable obstacles it implied, in a flexible manner. One of their central values was inculturation,the idea of coming in by their door,to quote a favorite saying of Ignatius, via a creative process of syncretism that blended aspects of native belief with aspects of Christian faith, in order to facilitate understanding and acceptance. The Relations thus abound with examples of the Jesuits' thoughtfully trying to make sense of native-and female-difference, rather than eliding it. The complete text of the Jesuit Relations runs to 73 volumes. Catharine Randall has made selections from the Relations, some of which have never before appeared in print in English. These selections are chosen for their informative nature and for how they illustrate central tenets of Ignatian spirituality. Rather than provide close translations from seventeenth-century French that might sound stilted to modern ears, she offers free translations that provide the substance of the Relations in an idiom immediately accessible to twenty-first-century readers of English.An extensive introduction sets out the basic history of the Jesuit missions in New France and provides insight into the Ignatian tradition and how it informs the composition of the Relations. The volume is illustrated with early woodcuts, depicting scenes from Ignatius's life, moments in the history of the Jesuit missions, Jesuitefforts to master the native languages, and general devotional scenes.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

Several years ago, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the founding of Fordham University, Father Joseph McShane, S.J., president of the university, suggested to the Board of Directors of Fordham University Press that a special selection...

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In Spiritu Sanctu: Inculturation and the Aboriginal Relations

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pp. 1-18

In the late sixteenth century, the essayist and political functionary Michel de Montaigne wrote an essay about a French exploration party to the New World, and the people they encountered. The essay, entitled...

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Cura Personalis: Recognizing Christ in the Other

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pp. 19-36

The very first document published in the compilation of the Jesuit Relations was written by Marc Lescarbot, a lawyer, poet, and historian from Paris who some historians have identified as a French Protestant, or Huguenot. Lescarbot...

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Imago Dei: ‘‘Finding God in all Things’’

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pp. 37-55

Lescarbot’s claims that the conversion of Native Americans to Christianity was underway belied the reality that very little missionary work seemed to occur in Acadia during the time when de Poutrincourt and the Calvinist or Calvinist sympathizer...

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‘‘We [Engage Them] In Devout Conversations’’

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pp. 57-71

At the request of Samuel de Champlain, who wanted to pacify the native tribes through conversion to Christianity for the purposes of colonial expansion and commercial activity, King Louis XIII sent the Recollets, a very strict branch...

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‘‘The World is our Church’’

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pp. 73-93

Father Paul Le Jeune wrote the following two letters in 1636 to report back to Old France on what was going on in New France. When Father Le Jeune first arrived in Quebec, he was greeted with great joy and relief by Madame Hebert, widow...

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‘‘Friends in the Lord’’

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pp. 95-116

Women played a small but crucial role in the Relations. During the foundational days of the order, such powerful women as Vittoria Colonna gave succor, shelter, and financial support to Ignatius’s earliest followers, Fathers Jay and Rodrigues...

Image Plates

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Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam: To the Greater Glory of God

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pp. 117-129

Father Jogues, born in Orleans, France, in 1607, was about thirty-five years old when he came to the New World. He had been well educated in France, and was shy and introverted by nature. He was also very devout. When he heard...

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Familiariter: The Theological Sense of Daily Life

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pp. 131-157

In late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Europe, the devil was a well-known presence, and witches were feared and discerned everywhere. When the Jesuits came to the New World, they found this cosmogony replicated...

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Spiritu, Corde: Practice, Heart, Soul, and Worship

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pp. 159-179

By 1642, the Jesuits had four residences (at Quebec, Notre-Dame des Anges, St. Joseph, and Trois-Rivie`res) and were administering the sacraments on a regular, daily basis to the natives in the area. However, despite this success...

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Conclusion: Inculturation Assessed

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pp. 181-183

In conclusion, the historian Francis Parkman’s assessment of the grand project of the Jesuit Fathers in French Canada may yet be—some decades after Parkman’s monumental study, France and England in North America—the most fitting...

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Appendix: Cathedrals of Ice: Translating the Jesuit Vocabulary of Conversion

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pp. 185-207

The Jesuit Relations is an important document not only for historical reasons, but also because of the complex vocabulary, both theological and literary (to date unexamined in an interdisciplinary way) through which the work...


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pp. 209-212

E-ISBN-13: 9780823249107
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823232628
Print-ISBN-10: 082323262X

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2010