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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Vallier

Second Bishop of Quebec, b. at Grenoble, France, Nov. 14, 1653; d. at Quebec, Canada, Dec. 26, 1727

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Errata* for Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Vallier:

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.

Saint-Vallier, JEAN-BAPTISTE DE, second Bishop of Quebec, b. at Grenoble, France, November 14, 1653; d. at Quebec, Canada, December 26, 1727; son of Jean de La Croix de Chevrières, and Marie de Sayne. He was educated at the local seminary and took the degree of Doctor of Theology at the Sorbonne at the age of nineteen. While acting as almoner to Louis XIV his regularity and piety not only preserved him from the dangers of the Court, but maintained and redeemed others, who were edified by his charity and zeal toward the poor and infirm. He accompanied the king in a campaign to Flanders and devotedly attended the wounded and dying. Through humility he successively refused the Sees of Tours and Marseilles, preferring a field of missionary labor and hardship. He was chosen to replace Bishop Laval on his resignation (1684), and pending the reception of his Bulls, he left for Canada as vicar-general (1685). At first his bearing towards the seminary and the other institutions showed a disposition to continue his predecessor's policy. His zeal moved him to visit every parish between Quebec and Montreal, and even distant Acadia. Under the title "Etat present de l'Eglise et de la colonie de la Nouvelle-France" (Paris, 1687), he published a glowing account of the piety and devotedness of the clergy, and of the morality of the people. The contrast between Laval's paternal rule, and St-Vallier's often untimely zeal and anxiety to reform caused apprehension. His consecration (1688) promoted the king's liberality in behalf of the incipient Church and the propagation of the Faith. The young pastor's activity spent itself in creating parishes, building churches, and founding homes for the poor, beginning with "La Providence" (1689), which was to develop into the general hospital (1692). In 1689 he visited Newfoundland and founded at Placentia a Franciscan convent. When Phipps (1690) besieged Quebec, the bishop hastened back from Montreal to comfort his flock, and published for the occasion a mandement full of faith and patriotism. In 1692, to Laval's displeasure, he altered the system of joint administration of the diocese by bishop and seminary.

In 1694 St-Vallier went to France for the third time to exonerate himself from the charges brought against him. In spite of the king's desire to retain him, he returned to Quebec (1697), and finished constructing his spacious palace, destined to give hospitality to all the clergy. That same year, he founded at Three Rivers a monastery of Ursulines, who combined hospital work with teaching. He likewise approved the charitable foundation of the Charron Brothers, which lasted till 1745. In 1689, he had summoned to Quebec the Sisters of Marguerite Bourgeoys, who still teach there. He encouraged the extension of the Faith by confiding to the Jesuits the Illinois, Miami, Sioux, and Ottawa missions; Ile Royale to the Recollects, and the Tamarois mission, on the left bank of the Mississippi, to the Quebec seminary (1698), one of whose missionaries represented Msgr. Saint-Vallier as vicar-general for the Louisiana region, then comprised, as well as all the vast territory included in the future "Louisiana Purchase", within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Quebec. He visited Rome (1701), and on his return voyage was captured by the English. During his five years of captivity he exerted his zeal in behalf of the Catholics of his neighborhood. Although released in 1709, his departure from France, where he again refused to relinquish Quebec for a richer see, was delayed till 1713. His venerable predecessor had died in 1708. St-Vallier was firm in doctrine and in perfect union with Rome. The results of his zeal for ecclesiastical discipline still abide. He published a "Rituel du diocese de Québec" (Paris, 1703); "Catéchisme de Québec" (Paris, 1702), presided at four synods (1690, 1694, 1698, 1700), and issued a great number of mandements, letters, and other episcopal documents, over one hundred of which have been published in the collection of "Les mandements des évèques de Québec". He died after forty years' episcopate, nearly half of which he was forced to spend far from his diocese. Though his overbearing zeal and excessive desire to perform all the good that he had in view occasionally elicited measures that were displeasing and even offensive, these were fully outbalanced by his generosity towards the poor, and his genuine disinterestedness.


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