Family tree of Jean DE BREBEUF


FrenchBorn Jean DE BREBEUF

Jesuit missionary, martyred in Canada

Born on March 25, 1593 in Condé-sur-Vire, France , France

Died on March 16, 1649 in Sainte-Marie Among The Hurons, Canada

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Brébeuf was born in Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France. He was the uncle of the poet Georges de Brébeuf. He studied near home at Caen. He became a Jesuit in 1617, joining the Order. He was almost expelled from the Society because he contracted tuberculosis—an illness which prevented both studying and teaching for the traditional periods.

In 1622 he was ordained. Against the voiced desires of Huguenot Protestants, officials of trading companies, and some native North Americans, he was granted his wish and in 1625 he sailed to Canada as a missionary, arriving on June 19, and lived with the Huron natives near Lake Huron, learning their customs and language, of which he became an expert (it is said that he wrote the first dictionary of the Huron language). He has been called Canada's "first serious ethnographer." Because of a war with England, Brébeuf was forced to return to France but when the peace was signed, he returned to the Hurons in 1634, travelling 1 280 km (800 miles) from Quebec via the Ottawa River. Brébeuf told many of his experiences in Canada in the Jesuit Relations, an invaluable source of early Canadian history. He was head of the Huron mission, a position he relinquished to Father Jérôme Lalemant in 1638. His success as a missionary was very slow and it was only in 1635 that he made his first converts [Jesuit Relations, p. 11, vol. X]. He claimed to have made 14 as of 1635, and as of 1636 he said the number went up 86 [Jesuit Relations, p. 11,vol. X]. The Jesuits were frequently blamed for disasters like epidemics, battle defeats, and crop failures and once Brébeuf was condemned to death and another time beaten.


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