+ François was a member of one of the most distinguished families in France and, at the age of twelve, he was received the tonsure (which marked his status as a cleric) and he became a canon of the cathedral of Evreux. He was ordained a priest in 1647.
+ At the age of thirty, François was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Vietnam but he was unable to move to Vietnam because of a series of wars that were ravaging the country at that time. He resigned the post a short time later.
+ In 1658, he was appointed Apostolic of “New France.” He arrived in Canada in May 1659.
+ François established parishes and schools, worked to oppose the abuse and exploitation of Native Americans, and combatted the anti-clerical and anti-Catholic prejudices of the civil authorities. In 1662, he established the first seminary in Canada. François was named first bishop of Quebec in 1674.
+ François Montmorency-Laval died on May 6, 1708, and was canonized in 2014.
Prior to the reforms of the General Roman Calendar approved by Pope Saint John XXIII in 1960, May 6 was celebrated as the Feast of Saint John “Before the Latin Gate.” This feast traditionally commemorated the attempted martyrdom of Saint John the Apostle outside one of the gates of the city of Rome. While this legendary story is based on the apocryphal “Acts of John,” it seems that this celebration was originally inspired by the dedication of a church dedicated to Saint John at the Porta Latina on this day during the pontificate of Pope Gelasius I (492-496).
“If men have the power to destroy, Our Lord’s hand is infinitely more powerful to build. We need only be faithful to Him and let Him work.”—Saint François Laval
O God, who gave increase to your Church through the zeal for religion and apostolic labors of blessed François, grant, through his intercession, that she may always receive new growth in faith and in holiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For Missionaries)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.