IGNACE DE PARIS, priest, Capuchin, chronicler; d. 1662 in Paris.
It is unfortunately impossible to give precise details as to this person’s birth and family. We do know however that he made his profession in the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin of Paris On 2 Feb. 1621. In 1641 he landed at Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.), the principal religious centre of the region served by his community since 1632. He spent 11 years in the following Capuchin missions: Port-Royal, the Saint John River, Canseau, Saint-Pierre, Nipisiguit (Bathurst, N.B.), Kennebec, and Pentagouet (Castine, Maine). He was the superior at the latter place in 1646 and 1647. There he welcomed the Jesuit Gabriel Druillettes, who in 1646 carried out a special mission among the Abenakis. In May 1650, after the accidental death of Menou d’Aulnay, the syndic of the Capuchins, it was Ignace de Paris who received the body and buried it in the chapel at Port-Royal. Two years later the intrusion of the La Rochelle merchant Emmanuel Le Borgne into the government of Acadia forced him to return to France for good. He died 29 Jan. 1662 at the convent of Saint-Honoré in Paris, after having been a preacher in Tours.
Father Ignace de Paris has left, among others, two important writings: a letter dated 6 Aug. 1653 giving evidence in favour of d’Aulnay, and a “Brève relation de la mission d’Acadie,” drawn up in 1656 at the request of the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda. According to Father Alexis the second work constitutes the best extant account of the Capuchin mission in Acadia at that period. It is an official document, remarkable for the precise and authentic nature of the facts presented in it. Father Ignace’s object was first to advocate the return to the French of important places such as Pentagouet, the Saint John River, and Port-Royal, and the restoration of the Capuchin mission; he wanted next to demonstrate the flourishing state of the Acadian mission under the Capuchins and the illogicality of replacing them by new missionaries; he hoped in addition to develop his views as to the most suitable means of spreading the gospel in Acadia. The Capuchins had had to withdraw to France following the second conquest of the country by the English in the preceding year. Ignace de Paris’s statement, intended to induce the Propaganda to encourage the return of his order to Acadia, had no success. Indeed it was not until the end of the 19th century that the Capuchins were to resume their missionary activity. In this same account Ignace de Paris holds Le Borgne responsible for the loss of three French posts and the departure of Mme de Brice, the directress of the college for young Indian girls at Port-Royal, and the governess of d’Aulnay’s daughters.
Father Ignace was full of admiration for the native tongues of Acadia. While conceding that they were particularly difficult, he saw in them great beauty and richness of expression. According to Father Albéric, Ignace de Paris is the first historian of the Acadian church. He was undeniably one of the most competent and zealous members of his order to exercise his apostolate in Acadia.
Archivum Sacrae Congregationis de Propaganda, Rome, Lettere Antiche, 260, f.25, Ignace de Paris, “Brevis ac dilucida . . .” (“Brève relation de la mission d’Acadie . . . 1656”) (photocopy with a translation in PAC, M.G. 17, I; see PAC Report, 1904, App. H, 333–41). BN, MS Fr. 25055, f.79. Coll. de manuscrits relatifs d la Nouv.-France, I, 136–39 (Father Ignace’s letter of 1653). Maurice Albéric, “Les capucins en Acadie, 1632-1654,” La Nouvelle-France, XIV (1915), 337–45; 416-25, 565, 573; XV (1916), 27–34. Alexis. Le Canada héroique et pittoresque (Bruges et Paris, ), 50–58. Candide de Nant, Pages glorieuses, 215, 233–34, 273.