LE ROY, HENRI, priest, Recollet, provincial commissioner; b. 1639; d. 28 April 1708 at Paris.
In 1670 Father Henri Le Roy and 19 other Recollets were put in charge of the chaplain services at the military camp of Saint-Sébastien. Two years later he took part in the campaign in Holland as chaplain to the troops. We meet him again in 1677 at Nantes, where he was confessor to the nuns of the order of St Clare.
In 1681 Le Roy was elected provincial commissioner of the Recollet mission in New France. Father Pacôme Perrault, who had been appointed to this office, had declined it. Le Roy was going to succeed Father Valentin Leroux; but for reasons that are unknown to us his departure was delayed until 1683. He arrived in Quebec on 25 August and was to remain only two and a half months in Canada. Bishop Laval’s intransigence in the famous “affair of the bell-turret” made him so disgusted that he went back to France, never to return.
It is not easy to elicit the facts of this “affair of the bell-turret,” and even less easy to decide between the good and bad faith of the parties concerned. It must be noted that the difficulties that the Recollets encountered never bore upon the authorizations to build the famous hospice; these had been received from the king and the bishop. They bore essentially on the following three points: the real reasons which caused the Recollets to ask for the construction of a hospice; the bishop’s restrictive placet; the use that the Recollets were alleged to make of the hospice.
An unsigned report, which the historian Jouve attributes to Father Exupère Dethunes*, lists nine reasons proving the necessity for this hospice. The basic argument can be summed up thus: the convent at Notre-Dame-des-Anges was too remote from the centre of Quebec; the ministry was becoming very difficult, for it was necessary to return to the convent every evening; religious who were ill were too far from doctors; the population was complaining of the constraint being exercised on people’s consciences, and because of the bishop’s niggling demands penitents were reduced to meeting the Recollets secretly; alms-giving was insufficient; and finally, the chaplains to the fort in Upper Town were too far from their source of income.
In the act granting the site of the seneschal’s court to the Recollets, dated 28 May 1681, Louis XIV specified that “their house being half a league distant from the town of Quebec, they would need to have in the town a hospice to which to retire when darkness and bad weather overtake them in the exercise of the functions of their institution, whereas they could continue with them more easily if it pleased us to grant them a site that is not necessary to our service. . . .” The king did not speak of an infirmary intended solely for the sick, but rather of a sort of relay station which would facilitate for the religious their ministry in the Upper Town.
It was difficult for Bishop Laval to refuse what the king had granted, but he was going to limit as much as he could the consequences of the royal grant. In his written authorization, given at Quebec on 27 Oct. 1681, he declared that “for your comfort and consolation we give you permission, when you have a house built on the aforesaid site and when one of your religious is detained there by malady, to have holy mass celebrated there by one of your religious in private, and when the infirm are convalescent, to celebrate mass themselves until they are able to return to the aforementioned convent.” The Recollets were not taken in by the bishop’s craftiness. Employing expressions such as “ill-will” and “Jealousy” with regard to the prelate, the author of the report mentioned previously foresaw by two years the multiple vexations to which the Recollets were to be subjected. “He [the bishop] was biding his time with this to trouble us and find fault with us according to his restriction in this sort of hospice which we would have at Quebec, to raise incidents and subjects of reproach every day when our religious would stop over there, since it is not a regular house. . . .”
With the aid of Buade* de Frontenac, the Recollets” syndic, the construction of the hospice went on for two years, under the displeased eye of the bishop, who was only waiting for a pretext to intervene. This pretext came as a godsend when, at the end of March 1683, the Recollets wanted to add a bell-turret, “which was then and still is today nothing more than four sticks enclosed with boards, without a cross or a weather-cock, without a bell, large or small, and without any construction prepared for hanging it, being in a word only a simple lantern-turret intended to support a small bell such as religious have in every infirmary.”
In vain the Recollets protested that they had never had the intention, and never would have it, of saying mass other than in private, januis clausis, nor of exercising their functions publicly without the bishop’s permission; in vain they claimed that, if ever it was hung in the bell-turret, the little bell would not be used to call the people to services; in vain they said that they were ready to tear down the tiny bell-turret; nothing was of any effect. The bishop suspended all the religious except the superior and laid the hospice under interdict.
The construction of the hospice was carried out under the provincialate of Father Valentin Leroux. When his successor, Father Le Roy, arrived at Quebec on 25 Aug. 1683, things were completely deadlocked and he was being counted on to find a solution. From August till October the new provincial commissioner had at least four interviews, either with the bishop or with the vicars general, and the ordinances that resulted from these interviews attribute to Le Roy obvious absurdities, even to the extent of claiming that he did not know that Recollets were living in the hospice, when he was the superior of these religious.
The ordinance of 24 Oct. 1683 makes a more precise accusation, which some historians, in particular Bertrand de Latour*, were to believe without question. The Recollets were accused “of having administered the sacraments of penitence and communion to lay persons.” Names were even given. In a report to the court Bishop Laval wrote: “It was considered an established fact that Mademoiselle D’Ailleboust had received communion to fulfil a vow that she had made to St Anthony of Padua.” Being aware of the false accusations that were being brought against the Recollets, this lady of high rank, wife of Charles-Joseph d’Ailleboust* Des Muceaux, insisted upon declaring before the notary Maugue*, in the presence of witnesses, that on 20 October, when she had gone to the Recollets” hospice, “Fathers Luc and Joseph” told her “that they did not confess or give communion to anyone.” Marie Pournin, wife of the Sieur de La Marque, who accompanied her when this vow was taken, confirmed Madame d’Ailleboust’s declarations before the same notary.
The bishop decided to have recourse to the king; the Recollets did the same. They prepared a file on the affair which was certified and confirmed by the intendant, de Meulles. Father Le Roy sailed on 11 Nov. 1683, convinced that this whole affair arose simply “from the antipathy which His Excellency the Bishop has always had for them.” Fathers Valentin Leroux, Luc Buisset, Maxime Le Clercq, and probably Adrien Ladan and Luc Filiastre, who were still under suspension, left New France with him.
In the spring of 1684 the king made the following points in a letter on 10 April to the governor and the intendant: he did not want the Recollets to establish a regular convent under the guise of the hospice, but he considered it right that they have a place to betake themselves to in town, since their convent was far away. As for the bell-tower, they were not to build one against the bishop’s wishes, but he felt that permission to celebrate mass in private should be granted to them. Finally, he expressed his great surprise that the bishop refused the Recollets the necessary authorizations to go on missions and to carry out their functions outside their convent since, in so doing, he was depriving the settlers of help which he could not furnish through other ecclesiastics. During the year 1684 several reports were drawn up by the Recollets and sent either to the intendant or to the bishop. In particular they said that they were ready to pull down the bell-tower for the peace and welfare of the population. We do not know whether, in fact, the famous bell-turret was ever torn down, but just before he went to the court the bishop restored to the Recollets the authority to preach and confess in his diocese, while the hospice continued to be closely watched by the ecclesiastical authorities to see that no religious lived there permanently.
In France Father Henri Le Roy can be found among the chaplains of the royal armies which besieged and captured the city of Luxemburg in the spring of 1684. He was appointed superior of the convent of Clamecy, in the former province of Nivernais, in the same year. He was guardian of the convent of Versailles twice, from 1703 till the chapter of the province held at Paris on 18 April 1704, and again from 3 July 1707 till his death, which occurred at that convent on 28 April 1708.
AAQ, Registres d’insinuation A, 203, 204, 206, 211, 223, 299. AN, Col., B, 11, ff.2v, 4v; 21; 71, f.34; C11A, 6, ff.240, 399; F3, 6, f.37; 142A, ff.109–10. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), I, 3–33. Caron, “Inventaire de documents,” APQ Rapport, 1939–1940, 249–54. Hyacinthe Lefebvre, Histoire chronologique de la province des Récollets de Paris, sous le titre de Saint-Denys, en France, depuis 1612, qu’elle fut érigée jusqu’en l’année 1676 (Paris, 1677), 139–42, XX. Le Tac, Histoire chronologique de la N.-F. (Réveillaud), 199–208, 222.