Simon Le Moyne
Father Simon Le Moyne, S.J. (22 October 1604 – 24 November 1665) was a Jesuit priest who became involved with the mission to the Hurons in the New World. Le Moyne had 16 years of education and experience in the priesthood in France before his arrival in Quebec in 1638. During that same year, he headed out to his mission in Huron country. The destruction of the Huron nation by the Iroquois brought him back to Quebec in 1650. He undertook numerous missions to the Iroquois at great risk to his personal safety. He is most notable in Canadian history for his work as an ambassador of peace to the Iroquois.
Simon Le Moyne was born at Beauvais, France in 1604. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen on 10 December 1622 and studied philosophy at the Collège de Clermont in Paris (1624–27). He taught at Rouen from 1627 to 1632. Le Moyne was sent to Canada in 1638. He worked on the Huron mission with Pierre-Joseph-Marie Chaumonot and Francesco Giuseppe Bressani. Second only to Chaumonot in his mastery of the Huron-Iroquois language, he was unequaled in the knowledge of the character of the Indigenous people, their customs, and traditions. This made him well-suited to serve as ambassador in difficult matters.
Around 1653, Le Moyne set out on an Iroquois Mission, at great risk, that would take him through the St. Lawrence valley and into Lake Ontario, where he would reach a fishing village at the mouth of the Oswego River in present-day New York State. From there, he traveled south to Onondaga Lake, home of the Onondaga, keepers of the council fire of the Iroquois Nation. After converting a large number of the Iroquois, including some chiefs, Le Moyne returned to Canada with a favorable report. He was assigned to several more missions, including work with the Mohawks.
Onondaga salt springs
Le Moyne was the first from Europe to discover the Salt Springs of Onondaga, located near what is today Syracuse, New York. On August 5, 1654, Father LeMoyne arrived in the Onondaga village. During his short stay, LeMoyne drank from a spring which the Onondagas believed to be tainted due to an evil spirit. Unlike the Onondagas who considered the salt springs evil, the French instead saw them as a commercial enterprise.
Father Le Moyne noted in his diary that "We tested the water of a spring, which the Indians are afraid to drink, saying that it is inhabited by a demon, who makes it foul. I found the fountain of salt water, from which we evaporated a little salt as natural as that from the sea, some of which we shall carry to Quebec."
Le Moyne made a number of journeys into Mohawk territory in an effort to further peace negotiations. During 1657-1658 he journeyed from Ossernenon (Auriesville, N.Y.) to New Amsterdam (New York) to attend to the few Catholics residing there as well as some French sailors who had recently arrived in port with a prize. He paid a call on the Dutch Reformed minister Johannes Megapolensis, who had shown kindness to Father Isaac Jogues after Jogues had been ransomed from the Mohawks by Dutch traders from Fort Orange (Albany, N.Y.). Lemoyne was cordially received by Pastor Megapolensis, and arrived back in Quebec on 21 May 1658.
On 21 July 1661, Father Le Moyne went again to Iroquois territory to seek the release of French captives. He returned to Montreal on 31 Aug. 1662 with nineteen.
His last journey appears to have been in 1662, when he returned to Quebec with a number of French who had been held captive by the Iroquois. He died of fever in 1665 at Cap de la Madeleine, near Three Rivers.
Le Moyne College is a Jesuit college located in Syracuse, New York and named after Simon Le Moyne. The Le Moyne College seal includes downturned arrowheads which symbolize his work on behalf of diplomacy and peace. It also depicts flowing waters, to symbolize both the ritual of baptism and Father Le Moyne's discovery of the value of the Onondaga salt springs.
Since 1968 Le Moyne College has honored local and national figures with the "Simon Le Moyne Award" for outstanding leadership to the benefit of society.
- Lindsay, Lionel. "Simon Le Moyne." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 11 Jun. 2014
- Corrigan, Michael. "Register of the Clergy Laboring in the Archdiocese of New York", Historical Records and Studies, Vol. 1, United States Catholic Historical Society, 1899 p. 22
- "Early History of Syracuse". Shades of Oakwood, 2010. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
- "Among the Salt Makers". The Syracuse Standard. Syracuse, New York. January 19, 1878.
- "Ecclesiastical Records", Documents of the Senate of the State of New York, Vol. 14, New York (State). Legislature. Senate, E. Croswell, 1902, p. 404 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Pouliot, Léon. “Le Moyne, Simon", Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003, accessed June 11, 2014
- Le Moyne College