Saint Francis de Laval

Saint Francis-Xavier de Montmorency-Laval (1623-1708) was one of eight children born to one of France's most illustrious families. He learned his piety from his mother, and like his namesake desired to become a priest and missionary. This dream was realized when he was appointed by Pope Alexander VII to be the first Apostolic Vicar of New France (Canada). His territory covered all of what is now Canada and the central section of what would become the United States, an enormous frontier which he undertook as a great spiritual work. He landed in Quebec in 1659 when the population was just 500 people. He supported the missions, built a cathedral to the Immaculate Conception, taught devotion to Our Lady under this title, founded a seminary and an industrial school, and began the first Catholic school system in Canada. In all seasons he made long and perilous journeys by land and water to minister to his flock. When Quebec became a diocese he was consecrated as Canada's first bishop. He fought the sinister alcohol trade to the Indian tribes by having it outlawed within his territory and excommunicating those involved with it. He converted and baptized an Iroquois chief who then became a promoter of the Christian faith and won other converts among the local tribes. St. Francis de Laval was a man known for his great influence and holiness of life. His feast day is May 6th.

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