Énemond Massé

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Énemond Massé (3 August 1575 – 12 May 1646) was a French Jesuit missionary, one of the first Jesuits sent to New France.


Nesmes Massé was born 3 August 1575 at Lyon.[1] He was the eldest son of François and Philippe Bica Massé. His father was a baker. On August 22, 1595 he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Avignon, taking the name Énemond.[2]

After completing his novitiate he taught at the Collège of Tournon from 1597 to 1599, and was also assistant to the bursar. He completed his theological studies at the Collège of Dole in 1602. Sometime after his ordination to the priesthood, he went to the Collège in Lyon, to serve as minister or bursar. In 1609 he left the province of Lyon to join Father Pierre Coton, the confessor to Henri IV, at the court.[2]

In September 1610 Father Massé was selected to accompany Father Pierre Biard to New France. Before leaving, he had served as confessor for Antoinette de Pons, the Marquise de Guercheville. Her interest in financing the Jesuit mission led to his deployment and helped provide financial support.

He and Biard left from Dieppe and arrived in Acadia on 22 May 1611. There they spent much time and energy learning the new languages, compiling dictionaries and grammars to help them, and translating the Apostles' Creed, the Lord’s Prayer. Fr. Massé displayed a practical common sense along with carpentry skills which earned him the nickname of Père Utile (Father Useful). When the mission failed, they established a new mission at the present Bar Harbor, Maine, which was soon after destroyed by the English. Massé was set adrift on the sea in an open boat. He succeeded in reaching a French ship and returned to France.[1]

In 1625 he again set sail for Canada, and remained there until 1629. He returned a third time in 1632, but, as he was in advanced in age, he no longer laboured among the natives, but lived mostly at Sillery, which he built as a reservation for the converts.[1] He died at Sillery, and a monument was erected to his honour at this place on the site of the old Jesuit Church which stood on the bank of the St. Lawrence River, a short distance above Quebec.

Unlike many of the Jesuits who went to New France in the seventeenth century, Massé left few written accounts of any significance. We learn about his experience at Port Royal, Nova Scotia, Acadia (present day Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia) primarily though the works of Biard and Marc Lescarbot, who wrote on behalf of Jean Biencourt and Charles Biencourt.



 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Enemond Massé". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.