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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013
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Raymond Breton

French missionary among the Caribbean Indians (1609-1679)

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.


Breton, RAYMOND, a noted French missionary among the Caribbean Indians, b. at Baune, September 3, 1609; d. at Caen, January 8, 1679. He entered the Order of St. Dominic at the age of seventeen and was sent (1627) to the famous priory of St. Jacques, at Paris, to finish his classical education and make his course of philosophy and theology. Having obtained his degree in theology, he sailed with three other Dominicans for the I' rench West Indies (1635). Nearly twenty years were devoted to the Antilles missions. During twelve of these he was on the Island of San Domingo, practically alone with the Indians. The other eight years he spent going from island to island, teaching and evangelizing the natives in their own tongue, becoming an adept in the various Carib languages. Returning to France in 1654, he devoted much of his time to preparing young priests for the West Indian missions. To this end he wrote: A Catechism of the Christian Doctrine in Carib (Auxerre, 1664); a French-Carib and Carib-French Dictionary, with copious notes, historical and explanatory, on the Carib language (ibid., 1665); a Carib grammar (ibid., 1667). At the request of the general of the order, he also wrote a valued history of the first years of the French Dominicans' missionary labors among the Caribbean Indians: "Relatio Gestorum a primis Praedicatorum missionariis in insulis Americanis ditionis gallicai prwsertim spud Indos indigenas quos Caribes vulgo dicunt ab anno 1634 ad annum 1643" (MSS). This is considered of great historical importance, and has been used by several writers.

VICTOR F. O'DANIEL


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