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Biard, Pierre (1576-1622)

Pierre Biard (1576-1622)

Jesuit missionary

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Acadia. Pierre Biard, a Jesuit missionary in Acadia, was regarded by the Micmac tribe as a European with shamanistic powers. Born in Grenoble, France, in 1576, he was summoned from his position as professor of scholastic theology and Hebrew at the University of Lyons to head the mission to Acadia. The choice of Biard was controversial: the founder of Acadia and many of its settlers were Huguenots and did not welcome a Catholic in their midst. Finally, after three years of waiting, the Jesuits arrived at Port Royal in May 1611.

Conversion Efforts. In Acadia, Biard and his colleague, Enemond Massé, attempted to catechize the natives in their own language, though this took time. Biard was well-respected and recognized as having shamanistic powers after presiding over the Grand Sagamores son, who had been left for dead as a result of illness. Later, during an Abenaki epidemic, he preached the Gospel and offered crosses to those who were ill. Biard recognized that successful conversion required proving to the Native Americans that Christian healing methods were superior to their own ways. Ultimately, however, Biards conversion record was poor.

Later Career. French Huguenots remained hostile to Biard and Massé and took the Jesuits hostage on Mount Desert Island in 1613. Biard was exiled to Virginia but was compelled by the English to return to Port Royal in order to participate in an attack on the new French colony. Along with Massé, Biard was forced to take responsibility for the marauding that resulted. Ultimately, Biard was returned to France, where he was blamed for his participation in Port Royals destruction. Samuel de Champlain vindicated him. He returned to his position as a professor of theology and later became a missionary in the south of France. He died in Avignon, France, in 1622.

Source

Jesuit Encounters in the New World: Jesuit Chroniclers, Geographers, Educators, and Missionaries in the Americas, 15491767, edited by Joseph A. Gagliano and Charles E. Ronan (Rome: Institutum Historicum, 1997).

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Biard, Pierre

Pierre Biard (pyĕr byär), c.1567–1622, French Jesuit missionary in North America. He left a professorship of theology in Lyons to head the first Jesuit mission to Canada, coming to Port Royal (later Annapolis Royal) in Acadia in 1611. He was one of the founders (1613) of the French settlement at Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, in what is now Maine. He and all the colonists were soon taken prisoners by Samuel Argall. After a long captivity and a stormy return voyage Biard finally reached France, where he was accused of being in league with his English captors. His Relation de la Nouvelle France (1616), which has been of much value to later historians, embodied his reply to these charges.

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