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LYONNE (Lionne, Lyonnes), MARTIN DE, Jesuit priest and missionary; b. 13 May 1614 in Paris; met his death by accident On 16 Jan. 1661 in the Baie de Chedabouctou (Guysborough, N.S.).

He was admitted into the Society of Jesus on 8 Dec. 1629 at Nancy. After three years of philosophy at the university of Pont-à-Mousson (1631–34), Martin de Lyonne taught at Sens and Charleville (1634–38), then was sent to study theology in Rome (1638–42). He was ordained priest at 1641, returned to France to complete his spiritual training at Rouen (1642–43), and sailed for Canada, reaching Miscou on 15 Aug. 1643. Father de Lyonne was intended for the Huron mission, but he agreed to replace Father Jean Dolebeau, the priest for Miscou, who was obliged to return to France. This fur-trading and fishing post was set up on an island in the Baie des Chaleurs. The settlement had suffered considerably from scurvy, and in 1637 only 9 of the original 23 settlers were left, the others having died meanwhile. The Jesuits who had succeeded one other there had not been more fortunate: one had died and three others had had to leave the spot. Father Lyonne was ill himself from May to September 1644, so much so that there was talk of sending him back to France, but he refused to go. In fact he recovered, and the epidemic came to an end.

The evangelization of the Indians, for which Father Lyonne shared the responsibility with Fathers Jacques de La Marche and André Richard, began to have some success in this region in 1645. The chief obstacle was alcohol, which the French exchanged with the Indians for furs. Nevertheless the missionaries did baptize a good number of adults, especially in 1647, both at Miscou itself and in a reduction founded in 1644 at Nipisiguit (Bathurst, N.B.), to the south of the bay. This success prompted the three fathers to go to Quebec in the summer of the same year, probably to confer with Father Jérôme Lalemant on missionary strategy. Father Lyonne was kept at Quebec by his superior, who perhaps wished to prepare him for his solemn profession. He set off for France on 23 Sept. 1648 and took his vows on 2 Feb. 1649, sailing back afterwards to Miscou. Yet in September 1649 he was again at Quebec. From 1650 to 1659 he was to go to France almost every year, leaving in the autumn and returning in the spring, in order to obtain the essentials required by the missionaries. These journeys involved considerable fatigue and danger; one might cite, for example, that of 1651, which was undertaken at the approach of winter, and in which one of the two vessels was lost, and the other, after narrowly escaping shipwreck, was pillaged when it arrived in port.

Father Lyonne did not however forget his missions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and wished to go back to them. He intended to do so in 1657, but he had to prolong still further his career as a traveller. It was not until 1659 that he was back in Miscou, taking part in the work of bringing religion to this region. In 1660 he looked after the Indians of Chedabouctou. When illness broke out among his flock he gave of himself unstintingly, until he was himself stricken. And even then, when an Indian requested his services in the depth of winter, he hastened to him, falling into an icy stream on the way. When he got back he was ridden with fever, which brought him to his grave at the age of 46.

Lucien Campeau

Charlevoix, Histoire, I, 222. JR (Thwaites). Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle-France au XVIIe siècle, I, 198–99.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Lucien Campeau, “LYONNE, MARTIN DE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 1, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/lyonne_martin_de_1E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/lyonne_martin_de_1E.html
Author of Article: Lucien Campeau
Title of Article: LYONNE, MARTIN DE
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1966
Year of revision: 1966
Access Date: September 1, 2014