COUVERT, MICHEL-GERMAIN DE, priest, Jesuit, missionary; b. 5 Jan. 1653 in the diocese of Bayeux; d. 1715 at Quebec.
On 5 Nov. 1672 he entered the Jesuit noviciate in Paris. He seemed destined for the highest offices in his order when, having completed his preparation, he asked for and obtained permission to go to Canada as a missionary. He arrived in 1690, the year of the expedition led by Phips* against Quebec. Couvert has left us a “Relation de la defaite des Anglois à Québec.” In this eye-witness account the facts are dated exactly and presented in a sober style.
In 1691 he was appointed to the Huron mission at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, located three leagues from Quebec on the seigneury of Saint-Gabriel, which belonged to the Jesuits. He had the privilege of living there with Father Chaumonot*, whose long career was reaching its end. In 1694 Father Couvert became the superior of this mission.
In 1697, at the request of Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix ], the Jesuits gave up their residence and four acres of land around the church to facilitate the setting up in this locality of a parish for the French. Nouvelle Lorette than became Ancienne Lorette, and the Huron mission, henceforth located near the falls on the St Charles River at three leagues’ distance from Quebec, was called Jeune Lorette (Loretteville). It was while Father Couvert was superior that this change of location took place, as did the building of a church at the mission which preserves several treasures from Ancienne Lorette. Father Couvert submitted with humility to this administrative measure, which was desired by the bishop and which he turned to the best possible account.
The Hurons, whose earlier fervour had fallen off somewhat, again became an exemplary Christian community under Father Couvert’s guidance. Crippled with infirmities, he withdrew to the college in Quebec, where the lofty quality of his inner life was a source of edification to all. Certain historians say that he died in 1713, others in 1714, and others still in 1715. The last date, it seems, is the correct one, for his obituary letter, written by Father Joseph-Louis Germain and dated at Quebec on 1 Nov. 1715, begins as follows: “This is to inform Your Reverence of the loss which our Mission suffered these past days in the person of Father Michel de Couvert . . .” He had lived for 25 years in Canada and was, according to Father Rochemonteix, one of the most consummate apostles in New France.
ASJCF, 410; Fonds Rochemonteix, 4010, 285, printed in JR (Thwaites), LXIV, 40–52, and in 1690, Sir William Phips devant Québec (Myrand), 115–20. L. St-G. Lindsay, Notre-Dame de la Jeune-Lorette en la Nouvelle-France, étude historique (Montréal, 1900) Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au, XVIIe siècle, III, 247n., 393n.