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The Life of Father De Smet
Apostle of the Rocky Mountains

By Fr. E. Laveille, S.J.

What a story! Fr. Pierre De Smet (1801-1873) is mentioned in U.S. history books almost as a footnote, but there was in the mid-19th century America no single person the American Indians trusted as they did this Jesuit Priest. He was "more powerful than an army" at a huge treaty conference of U.S. officials and the Western Indian nations near Laramie in 1851, and he was the chief negotiator at another, with the Sioux, in 1868. He was invited to the White House in 1867 to a conference with the Indians.

As a young Belgian seminarian headed for the American Mission lands in 1823, he literally had to "escape" out of Europe to begin his apostolate, but in time--through his numerous letters to friends, which they published--he became the best-known missionary in the world, and even met Pope Gregory XVI in private audience, and many of the most famous people of his time.

Eight times he returned to Europe to raise funds and beg supplies for the Indians. He travelled through the wilderness in summer and winter, by every means of conveyance and on foot, braving hardships and going without food for days. The anecdotes, adventures and "quotes from the Indians" make this a masterful, captivatingly told story. In 1842 a Flathead Indian chief spoke to him the following:

"Black Robe, welcome to our country. Long have we desired to see you and be enlightened by your words. Our fathers worshipped the earth and the sun. I remember distinctly the day we first heard of the one and only true God. Since then it is to Him we have addressed our prayers and supplications, and yet we are much to be pitied. We do not know the teachings of the Great Spirit, and we sit in darkness. But now I hope you have come to bring us light. I have finished. Speak, Black Robe! Every ear is open and eager to hear your words."

This book is filled with many equally powerful passages. For the author, Fr. E. Laveille, S.J., quotes copiously from Fr. De Smet's letters, and he is a master storyteller with a masterful story to tell. A priest who went only where commanded, Fr. De Smet, by his own estimation, travelled 260,929 miles in his missionary journeys. Worn out from his labors, he spent his few waning years at the Jesuit Province of St. Louis.

If anyone will begin this book, he will want to finish it. For it is filled with adventures, descriptions of the Indians, their needs, their faith, their paganism, their willingness to convert, their being corrupted by the white man, etc., etc. Here is a book that will surprise, inspire and edify the whole family--or anyone who reads it.

Impr. 400 pgs, PB
No. 1749.
ISBN: 9780895556660
Sale Price $18.00

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