Mission des Loupes

Mission des Loupes was a mission established in the Coos region around Newbury, VT by the Jesuit priest/martyr, Father Sebastian Râle.

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Following is information about the mission:

Koas (also Coos or Coosuc) was located, according to P.-Andre Sevigny at the confluence of the Connecticut River and the Lower Ammonoosuc, what is now the town of Newbury, Vermont.The area was a popular rendezvous even after the village was abandoned since the Native Americans used to return to it to plant corn and to fish.

The Jesuits, like Sebastian Râle, even though he was centered at Norridgewock, roamed throughout the area of Canada and New England with the Native Americans. In the case of the Jesuit Joseph Aubery (1673-1756), who drew the map with the missions on the rivers of New England, it seems that he at least visited there. Since Aubery refers to the mission on his map as ancient, this certainly indicates that it was there before 1713, perhaps round 1675.

Since Jesuit missionaries paved the way for evangelization among the Native Americans as early as 1611 in Maine, one can presume that the Bigot brothers, Jacques (1651-1711) and Vincent (1649-1720), were at least familiar with it if they did not actually go there.

After the Native Americans from St. Francis raided Deerfield, Massachusetts in February of 1704, the inhabitants of Northampton, Massachsuetts retaliated on June 14 that year by destroying Koas for the most part on. As for the move to the St. Francis River, the Native Americans were already there when they had obtain that land back in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. However, with the death of Father Râle in 1724, many flocked there as more did with the fall of Quebec In 1759.

It is written that the mission was a stockaded area and that it was not a very large village like that at Norridgewock , the one on the St. Francis River in Canada, which seems to have had about 500 residents at one time. In any case, given the association of Koas with the Native Americans on that river, there was a connection.

Following is a bibliography for the information written above. They also serve as good resources for those wishing to do more research.

• Thomas M. Charland - Les Abenakis des Odanak published in Montreal in 1964

• P.-Andre Sevigny - Les Abenaquis: Habitat et migrations, 17e et 18e siecles (Cahiers d'histoire des jesuites ; no 3) (French Edition)published in Montreal in 1976.

• Vincent A. Lapomarda - article, The Jesuit Missions of Colonial New England, published by Essex Institute Historical Collections, volume 126, Number 2 (April 1990), 91-109.

• The following was taken from a homily given by Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S.J. The full homily can be found on the following website along with other pertinant information about Sebatian Râle: Click Sebatian Râle

SEBASTIAN RÂLE Homily of Rev. Vincent A. Lapomarda, S. J. Preached at the Dedication of the Plaque at St. Sebastian Church, Madison, Maine, on 23 August 1999

The details of the life of Sebastian Râle can be summarized very briefly. A native of Pontarlier, France, he was baptized on 28 January 1652 and joined the Society of Jesus on 24 September 1675. He came to America on 13 October 1689 and, after spending some time with the native Americans in Illinois (1692-95) and at Becancour (1705-11) in Canada, he lived most of his life among the Abenakis of what is now the State of Maine. This was a period when England and France were engaged in a struggle for the control of North America. In that struggle, which was a religious as well as a political conflict, Father Râle incurred the wrath of the English who placed a price on his head because he kept the native Americans loyal to the French centered in Quebec, as they maintained a defensive perimeter of forts on the rivers between New England and New France. Determined to stand by his flock, the native Americans of the Kennebec River Valley, and to defend their rights while caring for their pastoral needs and nurturing their religious beliefs and practices, Râle was cut down at his mission in Norridgewock, Maine, on 23 August 1724, as he defended his Abenaki flock with his life. This caused his enemies throughout the region to rejoice at the death of this most famous Jesuit in colonial New England.