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Issue 10 – Easter 2022

Historia Ecclesiastica

Servant to a Sorcerer

On Canada.


Pierre-Antoine Pastedechouan was once a Christian. In 1620, when he was still a young boy, he was sent from the New World by the Récollets to study in France, where he received a Catholic education and the sacraments of the Church. And after he returned six years later, he kept the faith, although he faced unrelenting pressure from his brother Carigonan, a prominent witch doctor among the Montagnais people, to abandon it. English privateers soon drove the French out of the country, and Pastedechouan’s only tangible bonds to his newfound faith were severed in an instant.

When the French returned in 1632, Pastedechouan entered the service of the newly dispatched Jesuits as a tutor in the Montagnais language. But he was a different man. The Jesuit superior of the province of New France, Father Le Jeune, soon found this when he encountered Pastedechouan, Carigonan, and Mestigoit, another brother caught between the two. Le Jeune described Pastedechouan as “an apostate, renegade, excommunicate, atheist, and servant to a Sorcerer.” After Easter the next year, Pastedechouan simply stopped teaching and left the French settlement to rejoin his pagan brothers. Le Jeune, undeterred, followed, and Mestigoit took him in. 

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About the author

Declan Leary