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Somerset, Wisconsin: 125 pioneer families and Canadian connection: 125th year
(1990?)

The great recruit of 1653,   pp. 89-92 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 90

"Sister Bourgeoys reports the incident:      As we
approached land, we would have Derished, but, for the grace
of God, the local people rescued us. I was very distressed
during this time of peril; we were 120 passengers without
a priest and our people were ill-prepared for death. Upon
landing, M. de Maisonneuve restricted   the soldiers to an
island which was escape-proof, otherwise all would have
vanished. In desperation some even tried to swim to main-
land, they believed they were doomed and had become discour-
aged. It took a long time to find and outfit another boat
as well as gather new provisions but finally we set sail
again after attending Holy Mass, on July 20th, the feast
day of Sainte-Marguerite".
indeed, the Villemarie project, to which this recruit
was dedicated with such resolution and courage, was a holy
cause for which eventually many were happy to offer their
lives. God prepated them for this great sacrifice by fur-
ther difficulties and chose to recall the elite of this
illustrious group. Sickness soon spread on the boat, many
were ill and of the 113 men inlisted in the service of the
Montreal Company by M. de Maisonneuve, 8 died in transit.
It was an occasion for Sister Bourgeoys to display great
charity by providing all services she could manage and by
helping them toward a saintly death.   Day and night she
remained at their side, she consoled them in their troubles
and shared among them everything she received in generosity
from M. de Maisonneuve and the Captain. She refused to eat
at the Captain's table, but accepted portions of food which
could be conviniently distributed among the ailing, keeping
a very modest ration for herself. The entire trip, for her,
became a mission of mercy. She deligently  instructed the
sick and the soldiers, taught them catechism, recited the
morning and evening prayers and often conducted spiritual
readings and other religious services in spite of suffering
the usual discomforts of a novice sea voyager.
While the recruitment was still at sea, the settlers
of Quebec, Three Rivers and Villemarie were vividly con-
cerned for their own welfare, extremely conscious of their
lack of protection against the furor  of the Iroquois;
although a tentative peace was being promoted, trouble with
the barbarians could erupt at any moment.    The anxious
settlers were unaware that M. de Maisonneuve had been
obliged to return to Saint Nazaire causing a forty day
delay and therefore worry and anguish prevailed as their
vigil brough no sight of the boat.   Sister Bourgeoys
relates:"They were finally giving up hope of our arrival"
To plead their cause for survival, the people of Quebec
prayed publicly and even had the Exposition of The Blessed
Host for adoration till God was stirred by their fervor and
answered their prayers. "We arrived at the site of Quebec
on St-Maurice day (Sept 22nd)" writes Sister Bourgeoys
"but unfortunately a bit of careless navigation overlooked
an obstruction which pierced the vessel so deeply that even
high tides could not dislodge it and the ship had to be
burnt on the spot. Our arrival, she adds "brought joy to


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