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NAU, LUC-FRANÇOIS, priest, Jesuit missionary, superior of the Sault-Saint-Louis mission (Caughnawaga, Que.); b. 17 Jan. 1703 at Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, France, son of Lucas Nau, a skipper, and Françoise Lorin; d. 5 Sept. 1753 at Luçon (dept. of Vendée), France.

After his studies at the Jesuit college in Poitiers, Luc-François Nau was admitted into the noviciate of the Jesuits of the province of Aquitaine in Bordeaux on 12 Dec. 1720. He was a teacher of grammar at Tulle from 1722 to 1724, and completed his philosophical studies at Poitiers in two years. He taught grammar and humanities at the Jesuit College in Luçon from 1726 to 1730 and did his theology in Bordeaux from 1730 to 1734. He then left for Canada, sailing on the Rubis along with the new bishop of Quebec, Dosquet*, and the superior of the Canadian mission, Father Pierre de Lauzon. They embarked at La Rochelle on 29 May 1734, and landed at Quebec on 16 August after a difficult 80-day crossing.

Lauzon decided immediately to send the missionary to the Sault-Saint-Louis mission to help Father Jacques-Quintin de La Bretonnière. Nau went there the following November. The Indian village of “some 1,200 Christians” was made up mainly of Iroquois and Hurons, who were continually being joined by prisoners of war from other tribes. Nau learned Iroquois and Huron. Huron was, however, spoken more than anything else, and religious services were conducted solely in that language. Some time after his arrival the new missionary submitted to the Indian custom of adoption and the bestowing of a surname. This cost him “an ox, some bread, two bushels of peas, and some tobacco.” Adopted by the Bear clan, he received the name Hatériate, the great-hearted man.

In 1738 Nau went to Quebec, and on 2 February he took his final vows. In the summer of 1739 La Bretonnière, who was accompanying “300 Iroquois warriors” on an expedition against the Chickasaws, handed direction of the Sault-Saint-Louis mission over to Nau. He fulfilled this function for some months, until the arrival of Lauzon, who had finished his term of office as superior general and came to take over the running of his former mission. Lauzon was not of much help to the missionary, since he was continually ill and confined to bed. After Lauzon’s death in 1742, Nau, aided by Father Jean-Baptiste Tournois, ran the mission again until 1744, at which time he left the colony. When he left for France he was hoping to find a cure for his gout, from which he suffered well before his departure for Canada, and to return to his Canadian mission. But he never again saw New France, and from 1749 on his name no longer appears on the rolls of the province of France. He had probably returned to his original province of Aquitaine; he died at the Jesuit college in Luçon on 5 Sept. 1753.

Lucien Campeau

AD, Vendée (La Roche-sur-Yon), État civil, Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, 17 janv. 1703. ASJCF, 566; 572; 616; BO 80, 16, 18; Fonds Rochemonteix, 4008, 1–324; 4018, 290, 363, 365. JR (Thwaites), LXVIII, LXIX. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIIe siècle, II, 23–29.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Lucien Campeau, “NAU, LUC-FRANÇOIS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 2, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/nau_luc_francois_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/nau_luc_francois_3E.html
Author of Article:   Lucien Campeau
Title of Article:   NAU, LUC-FRANÇOIS
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1974
Year of revision:   1974
Access Date:   October 2, 2023