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[Illustration: SISTER MARGARET BOURGEOIS
Foundress of the Congregation of Notre Dame
ESTABLISHED IN MONTREAL. CANADA. 1659.]






THE LIFE OF VENERABLE SISTER MARGARET BOURGEOIS,


FOUNDRESS OF THE SISTERS OF THE
CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME.

_ESTABLISHED AT MONTREAL, CANADA, 1659_.

_TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH_

BY A RELIGIEUSE,
CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA.






AUTHOR'S PREFACE

* * * * *

Having read a French edition of the Life of Venerable Sister Bourgeois,
published in 1818, the translator of the present work was so charmed by
its perusal that she resolved on rendering it into English for the
spiritual edification of others.

Many years ago the work of translation was commenced, but from some
preventing cause or other, was as often laid aside. Yet the idea of
presenting it to the public remained, as no _English_ Version of Sister
Bourgeois' life exists, at least in the United States.

Therefore determining at last to obey an impulse of long standing, the
scattered translation sheets have been prepared for publication, with
the humble hope that the reader may derive as much benefit from their
perusal as did the writer.

In this age of miscellaneous and corrupt literature, when people of
every condition of life are literally devouring irreligious magazines
and serials, it surely cannot be amiss to add another volume to the
already rich store of our libraries in order to help roll back the
torrent of universal depravity that threatens the rain of our beloved
country, and also to place before the minds of the young, the glorious
example of one of God's heroines.

The _Second Centennial_ of Sister Bourgeois' advent to America is
already past, and more than a hundred years before the _Declaration of
Independence_, was she laboring in the cause of humanity for the glory
of God in the New World.

If reading the lives of such women as Mrs. Seton - a Protestant American
lady, who after her conversion to the Catholic Church in Italy so burned
with the love of God, as to return to her native land in her early
widowhood to form a flourishing religious sisterhood in New York; of
Nano Nagle, an Irish aristocrat, who turned from a useless fashionable
life to the lowly spirit of the gospel on seeing the poor artizans of
Paris crowding to early Mass in the Church of Notre Dame before
beginning their daily toil, while she lolled weariedly in her carriage
after a midnight ball; heroically putting her hand to the plough, she
never turned back, and left behind her another religious Sisterhood in
Ireland to perpetuate her philanthropic sanctity: of Catharine McAuley,
who receiving from her adopted Protestant parents a princely fortune,
expended every shilling of it in building up the Order of Mercy, one of
the latest and most flourishing outposts of the Church of God; of St.
Jane de Chantal, who after having been tried in the fire of affliction
for years - founded in her advanced widowhood the Order of the
Visitation, under the direction of St. Francis de Sales - and who
attained such an extraordinary degree of perfection as to be seen
ascending to heaven like a luminous meteor after her happy death.

If the perusal of the lives of these, and a host of other sainted women,
such as the Catholic Church alone can produce, has filled many a young
heart with high and holy aspirations - perhaps the contents of this
little volume will not be less efficacious for the glory of God, the
interests of religion, and the salvation of souls.

A literal translation has been adhered to as far as possible - one or two
remarks at the close being the only additions. So if any defects exist
in the work they belong solely to the translator, whose aim has not been
rhetorical composition, but the greater glory of God. And if but one
heart be won more closely to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ by
its perusal, she will be amply repaid, and prays that the blessing of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus may be given to her humble effort to advance
His honor and glory.

Respectfully, THE AUTHORESS.






CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

THE DISCOVERY OF CANADA AND COLONIZATION OF MONTREAL.

CHAPTER II.

MESSRS. DAUVERSIERE AND DE MAISONNEUVE VISIT MONTREAL

CHAPTER III.

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HOTEL DIEU - ECCLESIASTICAL APPOINTMENTS
FOR CANADA, ETC.

CHAPTER IV.

EARLY YEARS OF MARGARET BOURGEOIS AND HER VOCATION FOR THE
CANADIAN MISSION

CHAPTER V.

MARGARET BOURGEOIS, AFTER MANY TRIALS AND MORTIFICATIONS,
AT LENGTH SAILS WITH M. DE MAISONNEUVE FOR CANADA

CHAPTER VI.

SISTER BOURGEOIS'S ARRIVAL IN CANADA

CHAPTER VII.

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SISTERS OF THE CONGREGATION OF NOTRE DAME
AT VILLE-MARIE

CHAPTER VIII.

M. FRANCOIS DE LAVAL DE MONTMORENCI IS APPOINTED FIRST BISHOP OF
CANADA - SISTER BOURGEOIS SUCCEEDS IN BUILDING THE CHURCH OF NOTRE DAME

CHAPTER IX.

THE RULES OF THE CONGREGATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF MISSIONS

CHAPTER X.

THE PRIVATE AND SOCIAL VIRTUES OF SISTER BOURGEOIS

CHAPTER XI.

SISTER BOURGEOIS'S HAPPY DEATH AND THE WONDERS THAT FOLLOWED IT

CHAPTER XII.

THE EXCELLENCE OF HER INSTITUTES, HER MAXIMS, INSTITUTIONS, ETC.

CHAPTER XIII.

A RECAPITULATION OF THE PRINCIPAL EVENTS OF THE LIFE OF SISTER BOURGEOIS

CONCLUSION






LIFE OF THE VENERABLE SISTER MARGARET BOURGEOIS.

* * * * *

CHAPTER I.

THE DISCOVERY OF CANADA AND COLONIZATION OF MONTREAL.


Every one knows that America is called the New World because, until the
close of the 15th century, it was unknown to the other nations of the
earth - at least it was then unknown to Europe. Until quite near the end
of that century, Canada was absolutely a _terra incognita_ - being one
vast forest, inhabited only by the red man, and by beasts as wild and
untamable as he. In the year 1534, James Cartier, a skilful navigator,
being provided with a commission from the King of France, set sail from
St. Malo, with two ships of sixty tons burden, carrying one hundred and
twenty-two well-equipped seamen, in order to reconnoitre that part of
the New World. Cartier's first voyage was quite successful. He
discovered Canada and took possession of it, in the name of the French
King. Having made his observations from the different posts which
surround the Gulf that receives into its bosom the waters of the great
river of Canada, since called the St. Lawrence, he conversed as well as
he could with the savages, whenever an opportunity offered, in order to
study their characters, and thought he occasionally discovered in them
dispositions favorable to Christianity.

This led him to hope that the King would form a colony in the country,
that might be equally useful to commerce and religion. He accordingly
returned to France, to acquaint his sovereign with his projects and the
success of the expedition that inspired them.

His plans met with a very favorable reception, and were immediately
acted upon. The following year he received a new commission from the
King and three well-appointed ships, several Breton gentlemen at the
same time volunteering to accompany him. They left the port of St. Malo
on the 3rd of May, but did not arrive at the Canadian Gulf until the
10th of August. This being the festival of St. Lawrence, they called the
Gulf by the Saint's name, in thanksgiving for their safe arrival. Having
entered the river with his little fleet, he sailed as far as the Jacques
Cartier River, so named in _his_ honor. Here they landed, and tradition
says, he lost one of his ships at this place, although his biographers
make no mention of the occurrence. Perhaps the vessel was stranded, and
therefore became useless. But whatever accident happened, it did not
cool his enterprising spirit in the least, nor prevent him from
ascending the river as high as the Isle of Fochelagu (the present city
of Montreal), which was described to him as a delightful place by the
savages he met along his route. At Lake St. Pierre, three leagues above
Three Rivers, he failed to procure material to repair his ships, and was
compelled to leave them there. However, he manned two shallops and
embarked on them with the bravest of his volunteers, arriving safely at
Fochelagu on the 2d of October. Here he found a village of savages at
the foot of a mountain (the site of the City of Montreal is a little to
the right of that old Indian village), who received him very kindly - and
he completely gained their friendship by making them various little
presents. He was enchanted by the situation of the island, and surprised
and dazzled by the beauty of the scene that presented itself to his
view. He called it, in the enthusiasm of the moment, Mont Royal - since
corrupted into Montreal. He remained, however, but a few days, as the
season was advancing, and on the 5th of October set out to rejoin his
fleet and return to Europe, convinced that the beautiful island was the
most desirable locality in the country for a new colony. He related his
success a second time at the French court, but as all attempted
discoveries then had only one object in view - viz., the finding of gold
and silver - and as Carrier's journal of discovery made no mention of the
precious metals, he met with a very cool reception. However, in 1540 the
King deemed it advisable to appoint Francis de la Roque his viceroy and
Lieutenant-General of Canada. To be sure, the office was not a lucrative
one - as for many years he had only the woods and forests to govern, and
though boundless wealth lay concealed in these woods and forests, he had
not the means to bring it forth. He made some voyages to Canada in
virtue of his appointment, and attempted the foundation of a few
colonies, which proved sadly unsuccessful, as France, being then
occupied with domestic troubles, seemed to have forgotten Canada. It was
not until 1598, in the reign of Henry IV., when a commission was given
to the Marquis de la Roche - a Breton gentleman - (such as had been given
to Francis de la Roque more than forty years before), that renewed
interest in the affairs of the New World was awakened. This commission
expressly provided that he should have chiefly in view the establishment
of the _Catholic Religion_ in all the countries under his jurisdiction.
He received no assistance from the government, however, for the success
of the enterprise, and it therefore failed, like the preceding ones.

These successive failures damped the ardor of the French court, and
further colonization plans hung trembling in the balance. But during the
period of this fluctuating policy several navigators and merchants of
Normandy, Bretony, and elsewhere, sailed up the St. Lawrence on their
own account, established many trading posts, and carried on a
sufficiently lucrative trade with the savages. Their mercantile success
excited the emulation of M. Chauvin, a sea-captain, who solicited and
obtained from the King a continuance of the commission that had been
formerly granted to Lords Roberval and de la Roche, with the additional
privilege of an exclusive trade in furs. The subject of religion did not
trouble M. Chauvin very much, his negative Protestantism being quite
satisfied with the good things of this life. He made two voyages - one in
1601, the other in 1602 - realizing great wealth each, time, but died
while preparing for a third enterprise. The Commander de la Chappe,
Governor of Dieppe, succeeded him in 1603, having the same privileges
accorded to him that had been bestowed on his predecessors. In order to
extend his commercial pursuits he formed a company of traders and other
persons of wealth and distinction. They prepared a considerable fleet,
entered the St. Lawrence, and reconnoitered the island of Montreal a
second time. On their return to France they heard with regret of the
death of de la Chappe, and learned that his commission had been given to
Pierre Dugats, a Protestant gentleman, but an honest man, who intended
in good faith to establish the Catholic Religion according to the
articles of the Commission. But God had not chosen any of these people
to found _Montreal_, although Pierre Dugats continued the trading
association formed by his predecessors, and increased its wealth very
considerably, by carrying on commerce with the principal ports of
France. He prepared a much more considerable fleet than any that had
been hitherto attempted, and sailed again from France in 1604. Lord
Champlain was one of his companions on this voyage, which, however,
accomplished nothing beneficial for France. In 1608 he carried into
effect the intentions of the court by establishing a permanent colony at
Quebec on the St. Lawrence, and erecting a barrack for its security.
This he did in the name and at the expense of the colony.

Champlain remained there through the winter to prepare ground for
agriculture - but in the spring of 1609 he made war against the Iroquois,
who had been constantly harrassing the military post since its
establishment. He pursued them as far as Lake Champlain, to which he
gave his name, having first left a light garrison at Quebec, and in the
autumn returned to France. About this time the name of _New France_ was
first given to Canada. Champlain returned in 1610, and visited Montreal,
intending to establish another colony there. But Providence had other
designs in view. He was not successful, and contented himself with
building a few huts for the purpose of trading with the savages.

The death of Henry IV., which occurred at this time, produced a great
change in the affairs of the new country. The commission of Governor of
Canada was transferred from M. de Monts to Champlain, by the Queen
Regent - who also appointed him Lieutenant-General to the Prince of
Conde, which step was intended to pave the way for his additional title
of Viceroy of New France.

Champlain gave quite a different form to the Mercantile Company of
Canada, and by his influence with Conde, obtained from the King letters
patent and many new privileges. He returned to Canada in 1614 with a
goodly number of colonists, and also a few Recollets to minister to
their spiritual wants. Intending to pass the summer at Montreal, with
some of his companions for the purpose of trading more advantageously
with the savages, he left Quebec. But again his plans met with very
partial success.

In 1620 the Prince of Conde conferred the viceroyalty of Canada on the
Marechal de Montmorenci, his brother-in-law, who in turn bestowed it on
the Duke de Ventadour, his nephew. Until this period the affairs of the
colony had been entirely in the hands of Protestants, who sought nothing
but material wealth. Everything was languishing, and there were not more
than fifty persons at Quebec. Some Jesuit Fathers arrived this year,
having been sent over to assist the Recollets, and it was proposed to
exclude Protestants from the colony, as they were becoming more numerous
than was convenient for a Catholic settlement. Cardinal Richelieu, then
minister of France, during the minority of Louis XIII., lent them his
powerful assistance in their designs for the glory of God. By an edict
dated May, 1627, given at the camp before La Rochelle, all the old
Commercial Companies of Canada were suppressed and dissolved, new ones
being erected in their stead, with the express conditions and
stipulations that the colony was to be exclusively _French_ and
_Catholic_, that the new company should, at its own expense, support a
sufficient number of priests, and that agriculture should be actively
encouraged.

His majesty empowered the company to make grants of land throughout the
whole extent of New France, in such proportions and with such
title-deeds, as they deemed most prudent for the settlement of the
country. He gave them also the exclusive control of the fur-trade,
particularly that of the beaver, requiring the colonists to bring this
kind of merchandise to the store-houses of the company, where they were
to receive fixed prices for it, in order to ensure the success of the
colony during the first ten years of its existence. He promised to all
classes of persons, no matter what their rank or condition of life might
be, whether ecclesiastics, nobles, military men, or others, that by
incorporating themselves in the association they should not in any case
forfeit the privileges of their rank. The Duke de Ventadour resigned his
viceroyalty to the French minister, and Cardinal Richelieu, with M.
Marechal d'Effiat, were named the heads of the Association. Many
ecclesiastics and seculars at once became members of the Society, and
with them were soon incorporated several of the wealthiest and most
enterprising merchants of the kingdom. But while the Company was being
thus enthusiastically formed in France, the English made an attack on
Quebec, and the effect of the edict was suspended for a season. The King
came almost to the conclusion of abandoning Canada forever, as he had
only been influenced by religious and honorable motives in preserving
the treaty of peace he had made at St. Germain in 1632. The newly-formed
company, in this predicament, began to assert their own rights. They
presented Champlain to the king as the man best suited to their wants,
and his Majesty at once appointed him Governor of New France. He had the
command of several well-appointed ships, and many Jesuit missionaries
offered to accompany him to labor for the salvation of souls in the new
field that was opened to them. The Associates decided that the sons of
St. Ignatius would be more useful in the colony than the Recollets, who
complained that they did not find sufficient support in Canada, and who
had in fact left it for a time, nor did they return until 1670, when the
colony had become quite populous. Champlain died at Quebec in 1635, and
the same year the Jesuits of New France began to build their _first
college_. The following year Chevalier de Montmagni succeeded Champlain
as Governor of Canada. The settlers had now become very numerous, being
encouraged by their trade with the new company, and many of the savages
had embraced the faith, a mission having been opened for them at
Sillery, near Quebec. France again took an active part in the success of
the enterprise, and as the settlements were more French than Indian, an
organization for a hospital was set on foot, and also a school for
children. The Duchess d'Aiguillon took upon herself the foundation of
the Hotel-Dieu, and defrayed the entire expense of the undertaking.

She sent over some experienced Hospital Sisters from the hospital at
Dieppe, who were glowing with zeal for the New World missions - Madame de
la Pelleterie, a rich young widow of high birth, undertook at the same
time the establishment of the Ursulines, consecrating herself also to
the good work. She was ably seconded by the celebrated Sister Mary of
the Incarnation, and Sister Mary of St. Joseph, whom she brought from
the Ursuline Monastery at Bourges. All these pious women met at Dieppe
in 1639, and thence set sail for New France, arriving the same year at
Quebec.

Yet, notwithstanding the philanthropic exertions of so many holy people,
the colony was backward and languishing. The cruel and ceaseless attacks
of the Iroquois had nearly disheartened the Christian world, men, women
and children being mercilessly butchered, burnt alive, or carried into a
still more horrible captivity. But Divine Providence remedied this
terrible state of affairs, by means not naturally looked for, and which
in the commencement seemed not only foolhardy, but little suited to the
end. Yet a very special providence was visibly at work, in a chain of
events that were altogether miraculous, as the sequel proved. A new
colony was founded at _Montreal_, which was intended as a barrier
against the inroads of the savages, and of which it will be necessary to
speak a little in advance. While the French seemed to be taking an
enthusiastic interest in the colonization of Canada - partly from
political motives, partly from individual and and private interest, and
partly from zeal for the spread of religion and the conversion of the
Indians, Almighty God was quietly preparing a number of pious persons
who would have His glory _really_ at heart. The first to whom He was
pleased to manifest His designs, was Jerome le Royer, Receiver-General
of the King's domains. This gentleman was an exemplary Christian, and
quite remarkable for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin. It would appear
that God had specially chosen him for the accomplishment of the work we
are going to relate, and that the glorious Virgin herself had revealed
to him the means by which he would succeed, as he rendered the greatest
assistance to Sister Bourgeois in after years, in the establishment of
her Congregation. Although he had never been in Canada, nor had ever
seen the isle of Montreal, he had a supernatural and distinct knowledge
of it, and knew it better than its present inhabitants. It was a vision
that he never lost sight of, and he felt confident he would obtain from
the king the proprietorship of the island, in order to consecrate it to
the Blessed Virgin, and build a city on it, which he intended to call
Ville-Marie (City of Mary). The aim of all his enterprises and hopes of
the future centered in one grand idea, viz., the propagation of the
Faith among the savages, and the greater glory of God. But as he knew
well that he alone could not accomplish so great a work, he conceived
the idea of forming a new company, that would not be devoted either to
self-interest or commercial pursuits, like the preceding Associations,
but whose chief desire would be the propagation of the Faith in America,
and the conversion of the Indians. Full of these pious aspirations, he
came to Paris, for the purpose of procuring means to put them into
execution. He had many interviews with persons of distinction there,
but, as generally happens with the works of God, he experienced so much
difficulty, and encountered so much opposition, that a person less
devoted to the divine honor, and less susceptible of the impressions of
grace, would have been completely disheartened. Cardinal Richelieu
himself, who was so clearsighted in human policy, when spoken to on this
subject, treated it as a chimera full of imprudence and temerity. M.
Dauversiere (le Royer) made no reply to his distinguished opponent, but
went quietly to seek an interview with M. Olier, then professor in the
Seminary of St. Sulpice, a man who had devoted all his masterly energies
to that great undertaking. This true servant of God generously assisted
every good work, and when there was question of promoting devotion to
the _Blessed Virgin_, his unbounded confidence in her made him act
instantaneously. One cannot doubt by the splendid sequel that he had a
very strong presentiment of the ultimate success of the pious project.
Therefore he applied himself earnestly to the task of persuading
influential persons to join the company when formed, and also took the
necessary steps to secure to the company, when formed, the
proprietorship of the isle of Montreal. In 1656 he did secure it, with
ample concessions from M. Jean de Lanzon, the King's counsellor and
minister of finance.




CHAPTER II.

MESSRS. DAUVERSIERE AND DE MAISONNEUVE VISIT MONTREAL.


It has been stated that Cardinal Richelieu at first opposed the building
of Ville-Marie, but this he did, not through apathy for anything
relating to the spread of religion, but lest the work was a human
impossibility, as indeed it then appeared to be. However, his
opposition, from whatever cause it had arisen, disappeared before the
reasoning of M. de Lanzon, for whom the Cardinal entertained the most
sincere respect. He now gave the project his unqualified approbation,
and obtained from the King a renewed confirmation of all the privileges
conferred on the preceding associations, with undisturbed possession of
the land. Being thus furnished with the best means of procuring funds,
and being under the protection of His Eminence the Cardinal, Messrs. de
Faucamp and Dauversiere, with a great number of other influential
persons, who were pledged to support them, no longer hesitated to
announce themselves as "The Company of Montreal," bound to uphold the
Catholic Faith in Canada, and more especially to convert the savages,
which was the real end they proposed to themselves. But it was not only


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