LYON DE SAINT-FERRÉOL, JEAN, priest, a director of the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris, France, superior of the seminary of Quebec, parish priest of Quebec, and vicar general; b. 1692 in the diocese of Sisteron, France; d. sometime after 1744 in France.
Jean Lyon de Saint-Ferréol studied theology at the Sulpician seminary in Paris and apparently was still living there when he was admitted into the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in 1726. He was immediately elected one of the directors of the seminary in Paris and was appointed superior of the seminary of Quebec. The directors of the Missions Étrangères felt, however, that there was a risk in choosing someone whom no one in Canada knew and who knew nothing of the customs there. Therefore, to reassure their Quebec colleagues, they endeavoured in their letter of 31 May 1726 to draw a most flattering portrait of M. de Saint-Ferréol: “He is in his prime, being 34 years of age,” they pointed out, “serious-minded, naturally discreet, of good morals, sound in doctrine, a doctor of the Sorbonne, a man of rank, full of piety and detachment from all worldly things. . . . We have appointed him in the proper manner, and it will be for you to present him to His Excellency your bishop; there is every reason to believe that he and you will be pleased with him later on.”
Contrary to the expectations of the directors in Paris, the superior was badly received when he presented himself at the seminary of Quebec on 28 Aug. 1726. For some years the Canadian-born clergy had been complaining, not without reason, of being systematically kept out of the important offices, both by Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*] and by the authorities in the mother country [see Jean-Baptiste Gaultier* de Varennes]. The appointment of Abbé Lyon de Saint-Ferréol was naturally interpreted as further proof of the policy of discrimination of which the Canadians were victims. Moreover, the new superior made a few blunders, such as becoming friendly with Abbé Clément Robert*, visitor from the Sulpician seminary, who advocated openly the union of the seminaries of Quebec and Montreal. It did not require anything more for the superior to be accused of favouring the Sulpicians’ plans. Luckily this crisis did not last long, and by dint of patience and tact Jean Lyon de Saint-Ferréol succeeded in getting himself accepted. The following year the seminary in Paris noted with satisfaction that “the slight troubles” in Quebec were disappearing. The directors recommended to the superior and his assistants, however, that they “administer the seminary of Quebec as formerly, without changing anything for the time being, always taking care not to offend the Canadian ecclesiastics and making use of them as much as possible.” In 1730 the same officials referred in a letter to the order which they saw prevailing in the seminary, the application to studies, and the increased piety among the seminarists and the pupils: “all that taken together is a very great matter of comfort for you and for us.”
The prejudice against M. de Saint-Ferréol, however, had not entirely disappeared, particularly among certain members of the chapter. This was quite evident in 1731 when Bishop Dosquet*, who did not hide his own preference for the French clergy, proposed conferring upon the superior of the seminary the dignity of theologal. The canons, mostly Canadians, were opposed, and the bishop had to give up his plan. This persistent ill will distressed Abbé Saint-Ferréol considerably, to the extent that for a moment he thought of going as a simple missionary somewhere in Acadia. Moreover, from the letters that Abbé Henri-Jean Tremblay wrote him, Lyon de Saint-Ferréol seems to have been a rather poor administrator. The directors of the Missions Étrangères consequently decided that it was better to find a replacement for him. In 1734, although Bishop Dosquet had chosen him to be vicar general, they appointed him parish priest of Quebec and named François-Elzéar Vallier to be superior of the seminary in his stead. At first M. de Saint-Ferréol seemed to submit to his lot; but the following spring he sailed for France with the firm intention of never again setting foot in Canada. On 6 May 1737, indeed, Jean Lyon de Saint-Ferréol, who had become canon and treasurer of the “royal and venerable chapter of Sainte-Marthe de Tarascon,” sent the seminary his resignation as parish priest of Quebec. In 1744 the former superior was still living at Aix-en-Provence, where since 1739 he had been fulfilling the duties of vicar general. The place and date of his death are unknown.
AAQ, 12 A, Registres d’insinuations B. AN, Col., C11A, 53, f.371. ASQ, Documents Faribault, 184; Lettres, M, 48ff.; Paroisse de Québec, 5, 6; Polygraphie, XXII, 46; Séminaire, V, 51; VIII, 7. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, II.