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Thanksgiving Part III: The Catholics In New France

The Puritans of Plymouth Plantation were not the only immigrants to the New World giving thanks to God. To the North in New France, today's Quebec, a group of Jesuit missionaries,named "blackrobes" by the natives,under the leadership of St. Jean de Brebeuf arrived in 1625 and traveled up the St. Lawrence River to bring the Catholic faith to the Huron tribe. De Brebeuf and seven of his companions were eventually martyred. Their stories make fascinating reading, especially for boys. There is also lots of material here for a homeschool unit study.

Jean de Brebeuf: Saint Among the Hurons by Francis Xavier Talbot S.J., is a renowned biography of the saint which reads like an adventure novel. It is perfectly suited for young adults. Originally published in 1949, this fascinating book has been republished by Ignatius Press in 2018.

In 1935, Father Francis Xavier Talbot wrote an equally fascinating biography of the most famous of St. Jean de Brebeuf's Jesuit companions: Saint Among Savages: The Life of St. Isaac Jogues.

Published under the Vision Books series by Ignatius Press, Saint Isaac and the Indians by Milton Lomask is a page turner children's account of the life of St. Isaac. It is recommended for ages 6-13.

In Cross among the Tomahawks Milton Lomask tells the story of St. Jean de Brebeuf from the point of view of two Huron boys who experience adventures with the saint. Another page turner for ages 6-13.

Lily of the Mohawks: The Story of St. Kateri by Emily Cavins is a well written and well researched biography of a holy convert of the French Jesuit missionaries. St. Kateri Tekakwitha was baptized by Jesuit Father Jaques de Lamberville at age 19 in the year 1676. She died of disease in 1680. She was canonized only recently, in 2013, by Pope Benedict XVI. This biography was written for adults and is suitable for young adults.

Kateri Tekakwitha by Evelyn M. Brown is another excellent book for children ages 6-13 published by Ignatius Press under the Vision Books series.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Lily of the Mohawks by Anne E. Neuberger is a simple, beautifully written picture book about the saint.

I will follow up with some fun stuff about the Jesuits missions in New France, something to include little ones into a school project or just to enjoy. These items also make great Christmas gifts for Catholic kids.

Saint Jean de Brebeuf was a brilliant and well trained linguist. The Jesuits arrived well equipped to learn the culture and the language of the Indian tribes they were to evangelize. St. Jean de Brebeuf studied the Huron language, mastered it, compiled a dictionary and translated a catechism into Huron, which became the first printed book in the language.

The Huron Carol, illustrated by Francis Tyrell, is a book about Canada's oldest Christmas Carol attributed to St. Jean de Brebeuf. This beautiful book inlcudes the lyrics and a musical arrangement.

Listen to the Huron Carol:

One commenter under this YouTube video explains that the waving of the cloth is a Huron custom, not just a creative idea of the singer.

While you are listening to the Huron Carol, you may want to gather your children around a table and cut out paper dolls from this kit:

Blessed/La Bienheureuse Kateri Tekakwitha by Patricia Anderson Milan. The kit consists of a 20 paper dolls, 10 inches high, of Kateri, her family and friends including the blackrobes she knew. There are many colorful outfits,. a booklet telling Kateri's story as well as the Our Father and the Hail Mary in Mohawk, Kateri's language.

The paper dolls are somewhat hard to cut out. Advanced motor skills of older siblings or parents are required. The kit is bilingual, French and English.

Here is one of the oldest portraits of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha by Father Claude Chauchetière around 1696. Click on the title to view a larger size.

A Blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours and happy reading!

You may also like to read Thanksgiving Part I: Of Plymouth Plantation, and Thanksgiving Part II: Giving thanks in the Eucharist.


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