Pierre Cholenec

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Pierre Cholenec (June 29, 1641 – October 30, 1723) was a French Jesuit missionary and biographer in New France. He administered to First Nations in present-day Canada, particularly at the village of Kahnawake south of Montreal. He served as superior of the Jesuit residence in Montréal.

Early life and education[edit]

Cholenec was born in the Diocese of St-Pol-de-Léon, Finistère, in the west of Brittany. He attended Catholic schools.

After completing his education in seminary, Cholenec entered the Society of Jesus in Paris, 8 October 1659. He taught in the colleges of Moulins, Allier and Eu, Seine-Maritime from 1661 to 1670. He studied philosophy for three years at Collège Henri IV in La Flèche, Sarthe. After four years more of theology study in Paris, Cholenec departed for Canada in August 1674. In Montreal he learned the Mohawk and Algonquian languages before starting to work with the natives.


For many years, Cholenec was stationed among the Praying Iroquois at St. Francis Xavier du Sault, a Jesuit mission village also known as Kahnawake, located south of Montreal along the St. Lawrence River. This is where Catherine Tegakwitha, a converted Mohawk woman, came in 1677. She became part of a group of women in the village who were very devout and regularly practiced mortification of the flesh. She died two years later.

Father Cholenec completed an account of her life in 1696. It was published in the Lettres édifiantes (1781) and (1839). A translation is given in Kip, Jesuit Missions (New York, 1846). This is an abridgment of a more extended biography, which is preserved in the archives of the Jesuits in Montreal.

Kahnawake became a Mohawk reserve, as did Akwesasne, founded by Mohawk families upriver on the St. Lawrence in 1745.

Later years[edit]

Cholenec was appointed as the superior of the Jesuit residence in Montreal. He died there.


External links[edit]