PIJART, CLAUDE, priest, Jesuit, missionary, parish priest, teacher, founder of the parish of Charlesbourg; b. 1 Sept. 1600 in Paris, son of Claude Pijart and Geneviève Charon, brother of Pierre Pijart; d. 16 Nov. 1683 at Quebec.
Claude Pijart’s father was the jewellery dealer of Queen Marguerite de Valois and the leading figures at court. Claude was first educated at the colleges at La Flèche and Clermont before becoming a Jesuit 7 Aug. 1621, thus preceding his brother Pierre by eight years. While still a student he is said to have been cured of an infection in the knee by the appearance of the Virgin Mary the very day before an operation, which would have amputated the leg, was to take place. After some ten years of studying and teaching at Orléans, Caen, and Paris, he was ordained priest on 16 April 1631 and left for Canada in 1637. He worked for three years at Quebec and Trois-Rivières in order to learn Algonkin. Then he went off with Father Charles Raymbaut on a mission to the Nipissings and the Algonkins, among whom he worked until September 1643. He spent 1644 with the Algonkins again, and subsequently lived either in the Huron country or at Montreal, where he appears to have taken charge of the mission from 1646 on. After escaping from the Huron country in 1649, he proceeded to Montreal in 1650 and became the parish priest there in 1653. Four years later he handed his parish over to the Sulpicians and returned to Quebec. There he was parish priest and teacher at the Jesuit college. He was also the founder, in 1660, of the parish of Charlesbourg, near Quebec, and in 1664 he was confessor to Governor Saffray de Mézy. He continued to teach senior classes in rhetoric and philosophy until he was 80.
A handsome and very intelligent man, Father Pijart attracted people above all by his congenial personality. He had such a reputation for saintliness that after his death the population took relics from his remains.
ACSM, f.106, notes biographiques. Daveluy, “Bibliographie,” RHAF, VIII (1954–55), 450. Paul Desjardins, Les Jésuites à Montréal: le Père Claude Pijart (Montréal, 1941). Hunt, Wars of the Iroquois, 46. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle-France au XVIIe siècle, I, 419.