Montmagny, a Knight of Malta, Becomes Governor of New France

July 14, 2022

Fr. Paul Le Jeune, SJ

Quebec was without a governor. Who should succeed Champlain; and would his successor be found equally zealous for the Faith, and friendly to the mission? These doubts, as he himself tells us, agitated the mind of the Father Superior, Le Jeune; but they were happily set at rest, when, on a morning in June [1636], he saw a ship anchoring in the basin below, and hastening with his brethren to the landing place, was there met by Charles Huault de Montmagny, a Knight of Malta, followed by a train of officers and gentlemen. As they all climbed the rock together, Montmagny saw a crucifix planted by the path. He instantly fell on his knees before it; and nobles, soldiers, sailors, and priests imitated his example. The Jesuits sang Te Deum at the church, and the cannon roared from the adjacent fort.

Charles Jacques Huault de Montmagny.

Here the new governor was scarcely installed, when a Jesuit came in to ask if he would be godfather to an Indian about to be baptized. “Most gladly,” repled the pious Montmagny. He repaired on the instant to the convert’s hut, with a company of gayly apparelled gentlemen; and while the inmates stared in amazement at the scarlet and embroidery, he bestowed on the dying savage the name of Joseph, in honor of the spouse of the Virgin and the patron of New France. Three days after, he was told that  a dead proselyte was to be buried; on which, leaving the lines of the new fortification he was tracing, he took in hand a torch, De Lisle his lieutenant took another, Repentigny and St. Jean, gentlemen of his suite, with a band of soldiers followed, two priests bore the corpse, and thus all moved together in procession to the place of burial. The Jesuits were comforted. Champlain himself had not displayed a zeal so edifying.

Francis Parkman, The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1897, 3:241–42.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 837

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