LE SUEUR, JEAN, also called Abbé Saint-Sauveur, priest, chaplain of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec; b. c. 1598 in Normandy; d. 29 Nov. 1668 at Quebec.
He was the first secular priest to come to the St. Lawrence colony. He arrived in 1634 and carried on his ministry in the region around Quebec, under the jurisdiction of the Jesuits, who at that time had spiritual charge of the colony. He had been ordained a priest around 1623 and had first been a parish priest in Normandy, in the parish of Saint-Sauveur in Thury-Harcourt (diocese of Bayeux, department of Calvados).
The history of Abbé Le Sueur is interesting because it is connected with that of Jean Bourdon, who had arrived on the same ship. This fact provoked some queries on the part of Abbé Auguste Gosselin: “Had these two men known each other previously? Had they collaborated in their plans to emigrate to New France? Or had they simply met by chance? What is certain is that from that moment they contracted an unbreakable friendship, a friendship such that their fates were henceforth linked together and their lives inseparable.”
Jean Bourdon had settled in the suburbs of Quebec, on a fief that he named Saint-Jean, and there Abbé Le Sueur joined him in 1650, when a chapel was being built near the house. Hence the modern appelations: rue Saint-Jean and faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The chapel of Saint-Jean served from that time on as the parish church for the inhabitants on the Sainte-Geneviève hill, under the direction of Abbé Le Sueur, who was also the tutor of Jean Bourdon’s children. Bishop Laval* mentioned the chapel in his 1660 report to the Holy See, in which he enumerated the eight churches or chapels in the government of Quebec. Jean Bourdon finally left this chapel to his friend in a codicil dated 20 Sept. 1664.
Bourdon received another grant from Governor Huault de Montmagny on 10 Mar. 1646, and on 31 October of the same year Abbé Le Sueur obtained for himself the grant of an adjoining piece of land situated on the Sainte-Geneviève hill. These two grants made up the fief of Saint-François, of which the holders obtained, 30 Dec. 1653, an extension as far as the St. Charles River. Finally Abbé Le Sueur made over his holdings of land to his companion by donations dated 3 May. 1654 and 26 Feb. 1655.
Abbé Le Sueur was closely connected with the founding of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec. In the year before the arrival of the nuns, the foundress had obtained for them lands near Sillery, which were subsequently called “the Virgin Mary’s lands” (“terres de Sainte-Marie”), and he was entrusted with overseeing the workmen who were sent to clear the land and build the dwelling. When the nuns did arrive in 1639, he made for them a mattress of branches with his own hands. At the request of the superior of the Jesuits he served as chaplain to the nuns; in their name he took official possession of their lands on 26 Jan. 1640 and of another grant on 9 May 1650. Over a period of 10 or 11 years he rendered them a thousand temporal and spiritual services; he was the confessor of Mother Catherine de Saint-Augustin [see Simon].
Meanwhile he remained at the Jesuits’ disposal for the parish of Quebec and for the mission at the Beaupré shore, which he went to visit periodically at the request and the expense of the Compagnie de Beaupré. Several details of his ministry are recorded in the Relations and especially in the Journal des Jésuites. He took pleasure in acting as godfather to the Indians, and he was very well versed in church singing, even directing it on great occasions. Abbé Le Sueur died at the Hôtel-Dieu, after lingering for several months. A Quebec parish, partly situated on the lands that he had owned, bears the name Saint-Sauveur.
AJQ, Greffe de Louis Rouer de Villeray, 26 févr. 1655. ASQ, Documents Faribault, 28. JR (Thwaites). JJ (Laverdière et Casgrain). Juchereau, Annales (Jamet). P.-G. Roy, Inv. concessions. Ivanhoë Caron, “Les censitaires du coteau Saint-Geneviève (banlieue de Québec), de 1636 à 1800,” BRH, XXVII (1921), 105–6, 132–33. Auguste Gosselin, Jean Bourdon, 1634–1668 (Les Normands an Canada, Évreux, 1892); M. Jean Le Sueur, ancien curé de Saint-Sauveur-de-Thury, premier prêtre séculier du Canada, 1634–1668 (Les Normands au Canada, Évreux, 1894). P.-G. Roy, La ville de Québec, 203–4.