LA RIBOURDE, GABRIEL DE, Recollet priest, missionary, chaplain and companion of Cavelier de La Salle; b. c. 1620 in the Champagne section of Brie; killed in the territory of the Illinois in 1680.
Scion of a noble Burgundian family, of which he was the sole heir, he gave up his entire inheritance and took his vows on 1 Nov. 1638. After a period of preaching, he was named superior and director of novices of the monastery at Béthune in Artois.
In May 1670, he came to Canada with Father Allart, the provincial of the province of Paris, with Fathers Landon* and Guénin, and with Brothers Luc François and Anselme (or Ignace) Bardou. In the autumn of that year, after being named provincial commissioner and superior, he strove to recover the former Recollet seigneury and to restore the monastery and church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges. In the autumn of 1673 he went to the newly built Fort Cataracoui (Frontenac), where he acted as chaplain for nearly three years. He then returned to the monastery at Quebec, of which he was to be the superior until September 1677.
After spending four months at the Trois-Rivières mission, he returned to Fort Frontenac; two other Recollets, Fathers Louis Hennepin* and Zénobe Membré, joined him there on 2 Nov. 1678. La Salle arrived on 16 December to prepare for his expedition to the Gulf of Mexico. Father de La Ribourde was named spiritual leader of the expeditionary party, which arrived at Fort Niagara on 30 July 1679, went on board the Griffon on 7 August, crossed lakes Orléans (Huron) and Conty (Erie), landed at Baie des Puants (Green Bay), crossed Lake Michigan in birch-bark canoes, then descended the Miami and Illinois rivers. In this area some of the party passed the winter and the following summer. Then, reduced by desertions, absences and sickness to six persons, the party embarked on 18 Sept. 1680 in a dilapidated birch-bark canoe to go back up the Illinois River and try to return to Canada. The following day, 19 September, they went ashore to repair the canoe. Father La Ribourde decided to pass the time saying his breviary in the coolness of the woods. His return was awaited in vain; he did not come back. He had been killed, scalped and stripped, probably by Kickapoo warriors. Thus perished this saintly missionary whose piety, virtue, courage and tact were praised by all who knew him.
ASQ, MSS, 200, Mortuologe des Recolets. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry) I, passim. Louis Hennepin, Description de la Louisiane . . . (Paris, 1683), 19f.; Nouvelle découverte d’un très grand pays, situé dans l’Amérique entre le Nouveau Mexique, et la mer glaciale . . . (Utrecht, 1697), 108, 239, et passim. Le Clercq, First establishment of the faith (Shea), I, 15; II, 71, 73, 145–49, et passim; Premier établissement de la foy, II, 93f. BRH, XVIII (1912), 26; XX (1914), 59; XXVI (1920), 14. O.-M. Jouve, Le Père Gabriel de la Ribourde, récollet (Québec, 1912).