drawn from the order's missionary experience in China (especially Matteo Ricci) and India (especially Robert de Nobili) that had accepted the possibility that non-western religions might contain a positive base on which Christianity could build. Thus, the Canadian Jesuits found at least some common ground in Huron commitment to personal relationships, Huron trust in visions, and Huron familiarity with migration (as an analogy to pilgrimage). For his part, Brebeuf translated biblical and liturgical material into Huron and probably composed at least one Christmas carol, which, however, has been translated with the name of an Algonquian deity: 'Twas the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled, That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead'.7
The relative cultural flexibility of the Jesuits notwithstanding, external factors were probably more important in the conversion of the Huron. Contact with the French had led to devastating epidemics of measles and influenza. Simultaneously the Huron were being pressed hard by the Iroquoian Five Nations Confederacy to the south. The Jesuits' arrival, in other words, coincided with personal and community trauma. Brebeuf and his colleagues struggled zealously to strengthen this Christian outpost in the American wilderness, but a final push by the Five Nations in 1648 and 1649 led not only to the destruction of the Huron mission, but of Huronia itself. In this debacle, many Jesuits were faithful unto death, including Brebeuf (who fell in 1649). In keeping with well-established Indian practice, Brebeuf as the honoured leader of a foe was subjected to exquisite torture, which he bore so stoically that when he died his captors respectfully ate his heart and drank his blood.
Converted Indians included the Huron Joseph Chihwatenha who joined the Jesuits in observing the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Later in the century, Kateri Tekakwitha, of mixed Algonquian-Iroquoian parentage, went to such lengths of pious self-mortification that even before her early death in 1680 she was an object of admiration for many. It was, however, a sign indicating the relatively superficial results of missionary activity that, although the Sulpicians eventually accepted a few native nuns, no native priests were ordained in the seventeenth century.
In the English colonies, missionary efforts came later and were even less effective. A very occasional convert might provide reason for self-congratulation, like Pocahontas, daughter of the Algonquian chief Powhatan, who espoused Christianity at Jamestown in 1614. But her life as a Christian was short, since she died three years later in England where she had been taken by her English husband, John Rolfe. More commonly in Virginia as also in New England, early English-Indian relations were marked by suspicion, conflict, and even massacre. Exceptions included Roger Williams, who interacted
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