MÉNARD, RENÉ, priest, Jesuit, missionary; b. 2 Mar. 1605 in Paris; disappeared into the forest in the Wisconsin district in August 1661.
Father Ménard joined the Jesuits on 7 Sept. 1624 in Paris and studied at La Flèche, Bourges, and Orléans. After his solemn profession in the order, he was sent to Canada, where he arrived on 8 July 1640. In 1641 he went off to Sainte-Marie-des-Hurons and later was a missionary to the Nipissings and Algonkins. From 1651 to 1656 he was the superior of the residence at Trois-Rivières. Then he took part in the move to the Onondaga country, which was a consequence of Simon Le Moyne’s diplomatic mission, and went to spend two years among the Iroquois. In 1660 he accompanied an expedition of Ottawas who were returning to their home in the region of modern Michigan. The following year he started out from there to go to join some Hurons who were encamped near the mouths of the Black River, in the Wisconsin district, but he became lost in the woods. Several years later his breviary and his cassock were discovered in the possession of the Sioux, who had found them and placed them among their manitous on an altar upon which they offered up prayers to the Great Spirit. In confidential memoranda to Rome Father Ménard’s colleagues praised highly his intelligence and judgement, adding that he had a special talent for winning the Indians’ confidence.
ACSM, MS biography based on the catalogues of the Archivium Romanum Societatis Jesu in Rome, which corrects some of the data given in JR and Rochemonteix below. JR (Thwaites), XVIII, 256, 257; XLVI, 144. Perrot, “Memoir,” in Indian tribes (Blair) I, 171f., M.136. BRH, XXXVI (1930), 23. H. C. Campbell, Père René Ménard (Parkman Club publications, XI, Milwaukee, 1897); Pioneer priests, I, 215. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle-France au XVIIe siècle, I, 429.