Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fr. De Smet and the Flatheads

The aged wrinkled chiefs [of the Flathead Nation], patriarchs, wanted to be children to him – and he [Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J.] was only thirty-six. Every word of his they remembered. Words were still a treasure to them, a wisdom. It was dangerous to speak lightly. They forced him to preach to them four times a day. The day after he arrived he translated for them into their tongue with the aid of an interpreter the prayers that it was best for them to know. Two weeks later he held up a medal of Our Lady, and promised it to the first who could recite "the Pater, the Ave, the Credo, the ten commandments and the four acts" of faith, contrition, hope, and love. An aged chief stood up. "Give it to me." He knew the prayers and acts word for word, and, wearing Our Lady's medal, was appointed the catechist of the tribe. — Daniel Sargent, Our Land and Our Lady, NY, 1940, pp. 194–195.