Devotion of the Wanbanakki Indians to Monarchy

September 1, 2016

Bishop (and later Cardinal) Jean-Louis Anne Madelain Lefebvre de Cheverus. Painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1823. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Bishop (and later Cardinal) Jean-Louis Anne Madelain Lefebvre de Cheverus. Painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1823. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Our Indians were dirty; but though that caused him much suffering, it was not that which he saw most clearly. But this¹—sentiments so noble and so commonly prevalent, that the civilized world might well blush at the comparison: such simplicity of gratitude for small kindness; such tenderness of mothers; such heroism of filial piety. They could not believe that the French had murdered their king (Louis XVI). “It was a lie,” they said of their neighbors, “invented to make them hate the French.” In vain did Monseigneur de Cheverus declare to them that the nation disavowed the crime, that a handful of miscreants in power had committed it; the distinction was too fine for the Wanbanakki.

Pictured here are three Wabanaki Indians with a Jesuit priest.

Pictured here are three Wabanaki Indians with a Jesuit priest.

It was an old white-headed Indian who questioned the missionary, and who, comprehending the atrocity, was incapable of comprehending the excuse. “I love the French no longer,” said the ignorant savage. “But,” urged the priest, “the people, as a nation, disavow the crime.” “Disavow it, do they,” cried the unlettered barbarian, “they should have stood between their king and his assassins, and died in his defence.”

Later, when, as Archbishop and Cardinal, he spoke of his barbarous red children, it was with tears in his eyes, and with these words often repeated, “Ces àmes si grands si nobles,” those grand and noble souls.

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¹Vie de Jean Louis Anne Madelaine Lefebvre de Cheverus de Bordeaux. Paris, Jacques Lecoffre, 1850; pp. 61-74.

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in North America by the Rev. Xavier Donald MacLeod (New York: Virtue & Yorston, 1866 p. 349)

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 540

 

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