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MARCOL, GABRIEL, priest, Jesuit, missionary, superior of the Jesuit missions in New France; b. 14 April 1692 at Saint-Sébastien de Nancy, in the duchy of Lorraine, son of Pascal Marcol, provost of Nancy, and Catherine Lorson; d. 17 Oct. 1755 at Quebec.

Gabriel Marcol received the tonsure 17 Sept. 1706 and entered the noviciate of the Jesuits of the province of Champagne at Nancy 8 Sept. 1708. After two years of noviciate he taught the first and second forms at Reims (1710–12), studied philosophy at Pont-à-Mousson (171214), taught the fourth form and the classics class at Reims (1714–16), classics at Pont-à-Mousson (1716–17), and the senior class at Nancy (1718–19); then he studied theology at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris (1719–23). After a final year of spiritual instruction he left Nancy for the Canadian missions on 3 June 1724, without saying farewell to his family in order, he wrote his brother, a member of the Society of Jesus, to avoid the objections to his vocation which he feared he would encounter from them. On 5 July he sailed from La Rochelle on board the Chameau, but contrary winds kept the ship in the roads until 24 July. On that day the intendant Edme-Nicolas Robert, who was going to take up his office at Quebec, suddenly died on board the vessel. On 9 Oct. 1724, after a 78-day crossing, the vessel reached Quebec.

On 6 Oct. 1725 Marcol wrote from Bécancour: “I am at present the only missionary in a village of Abenaki Indians 30 leagues from Quebec; I am beginning to understand these poor savages . . . in matters concerning religion.” On 5 Oct. 1727, at Quebec, he made his solemn profession before Father Jean-Baptiste Duparc. But his health suffered from the harsh Canadian winter, and during the winter of 1730 he was gravely ill with smallpox; he was taken to Quebec, where he was delirious for 16 or 17 days. The following year he fractured his arm in a fall on the ice. In 1733 he was again very ill. The glare of the snow and the smoke in the lodges damaged his sight and he became almost incapable of reading. In 1735 he was recalled to Quebec to teach philosophy, but he yearned after his mission.

From 1737 to 1740 he was the superior at Montreal, then at his own request he returned in 1741 to the Saint-François-Xavier mission near Bécancour. He remained there until October 1748, when he was appointed rector of the college of Quebec and superior general of the Jesuit missions in New France. He held this office for six years; few details are known about this period of his life. The most unpleasant matter he had to deal with was undoubtedly the ukase in May 1750 from Governor La Jonquière [Taffanel], which ordered Father Jean-Baptiste Tournois to leave the mission of Sault-Saint-Louis (Caughnawaga); Marcol defended his fellow priest before the governor. In October 1754 Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Pé succeeded him as superior of the Jesuit missions in New France. Marcol died at Quebec a year later, on 17 Oct. 1755.

Gabriel Marcol’s correspondence reveals a man of energetic character, full of affection for his family and friends, whom he kept informed of the temporal and spiritual progress of the colony. The author of these letters appears as a perfect religious, completely engaged in God’s business.

Joseph Cossette

Archives municipales de Nancy (France), État civil, Saint-Sébastien de Nancy, 14 avril 1692. ASJCF, 582; 607; 695; 759; 760; Fonds Rochemonteix, 4018. ASJ, Gallo-Belge (Lille), Lettres de Gabriel Marcol (38 pièces). Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. aux XVIIIe siècle, II, 35–65.

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Cite This Article

Joseph Cossette, “MARCOL, GABRIEL,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 19, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/marcol_gabriel_3E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/marcol_gabriel_3E.html
Author of Article: Joseph Cossette
Title of Article: MARCOL, GABRIEL
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1974
Year of revision: 1974
Access Date: April 19, 2014