Museum of Ontario Archaeology, Martyr’s Shrine
Fade in: The Newcomers: Jesuits Across the World
Father Michael is sitting in his office that overlooks the stone façade of the Martyr’s Shrine.
(Fr.Michael Knox (PhD), Martyr’s Shrine)
Moving forward the missions took a great emphasis on the east so you have when we are talking present day India with a strong center in the north part of India. And then at the same time with a push to move into Japan so that in the 16th century you have Valignano the famous Italian humanist and leader of the missions in Japan. And then you also have the presence of the Jesuits moving with the colonial enterprise of Spain into South America and really establishing themselves in colleges, in their work with the native peoples in Latin America, what we now call Latin America, and then also in there formation of churches and the early creation of the church in the Americas before local clergy could come and be present on a regular basis.
Jesuits were the ones at the forefront building the churches for those of European descent but then also expanding evangelization to the native peoples and so on. So that by the middle of the 17th century you have an expansive project of missions that really, by that time, had gone through what was known of Asia at the time, was well established in Latin America, and was also in Northern Africa, and don’t forget was also present in Europe because there is the unchurched of the villages around the main cities in Europe.
The fruits of their writings were the Jesuit Relations. So the Relations des Jésuites de la Nouvelle-Francee and those texts were gathered together over the years that they were printed. Of course they were written as letters and sent to France, the were printed in text and read by a large audience. In those texts people were being exposed to not only the evangelical efforts of the missionaries but also their observations of the new world, of everything from its geography to its horticulture to its weather to the views it allows for the different astronomical events, and really also within the text, we find a very thought out, meticulous observation of the various native cultures that the Jesuits were interacting with, meeting, encountering. And these texts now form, really, a solid basis of how most historian would have access to early modern Canadian history, and also sadly form really the only principle corpus of its size for us to enter into an understanding of pre-colonial native culture as well.
Fade out: End credits.
Special Thanks: Ron Williamson, Peter Carruthers, Fr. Michael Knox
Filming: Nicole Aszalos