Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits

By Allan Greer | Go to book overview

4
Kahnawake:
A Christian
Iroquois
Community

WHEN CLAUDE CHAUCHETIèRE AND CATHERINE TEKAKWITHA FIRST CAME TO Kahnawake in 1677, both could feel they were at the outer edge of their respective worlds. From Claude’s point of view, Kahnawake was “the mission of Saint Francis Xavier at Sault St. Louis,” a Jesuit establishment housing an Indian community just at the point where French civilization met the wild North American forest. When he looked out over the broad St. Lawrence, he could make out the clearings where Canadian habitants (settlers) were establishing their farms in the parish of Lachine. Coming from his left, he could hear the roar of the rapids—the “sault” that gave the mission its French name—where the river plunged over and around the scattered boulders, then calmed down, just as it reached the place where he stood, before proceeding on its placid way, past the little town of Montreal, past the capital and port city of Quebec, and on to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the sea lanes led back to La Rochelle. To the east of Lachine, the young Jesuit could see the mountain that loomed over Montreal, one of the few bumps on Kahnawake’s generally flat horizon. Atop the mountain was a wooden cross, a reminder of the Catholic idealists who had come to this war-torn land in 1642 to found the “City of Mary” as a perfect Catholic society of French settlers and converted savages. That utopian vision was never realized, but Montreal remained; with the surrounding agrarian settlements, it marked French Canada’s farthest extension to the southwest. French imperial claims, and the native alliance system that underpinned them,

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Mohawk Saint: Catherine Tekakwitha and the Jesuits
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Contents xv
  • 1 - Beautiful Death 3
  • 2 - Gandaouagué: a Mohawk Childhood 25
  • 3 - Poitiers: the Making of a Jesuit Mystic 59
  • 4 - Kahnawake: a Christian Iroquois Community 89
  • 5 - Body and Soul 111
  • 6 - Catherine and Her Sisters 125
  • 7 - Curing the Afflicted 147
  • 8 - Virgins and Cannibals 171
  • 9 - Epilogue: [Our Catherine] 193
  • Abbreviations 206
  • Notes 207
  • Index 243
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