Black Robe: Reflection on the life of Fr Pierre Jean de Smet SJ

Among the Indians

This audio meditation on the life of a Jesuit missionary who worked among the Native Americans is the third reflection from the UK Jesuits commemorating the 200th anniversary of the restoration of the Society of Jesus.

Pierre Jean de Smet (1801-1873) was born in Belgium, but as a young man he travelled to Baltimore in north America and entered the newly-restored Society of Jesus in 1821.

He asked to be allowed to work with the native people of the New World and to meet and work with native communities. He made a number of expeditions through the unchartered regions of the continent and assisted in the first mapping of the Missouri river system.

As one of the Jesuit 'Blackrobes', de Smet came to be trusted by many native tribes such as the Sioux, the Iroquois and the Flatheads.

He was appalled at the brutality and violence and tried to protect the native Americans from this invasion into their culture. In a time of great instability and war, he visited Chief Sitting Bull and managed to persuade him to enter peace-treaty negotiations.

In all de Smet is estimated to have travelled more than 180,000 miles around America and made many sea-journeys back to Europe to raise funds for the ministry to the native Americans. Among his many achievements he helped to establish St Louis University.

To read more and to listen to this special meditation on the Gospel and the life of Pierre Jean de Smet, CLICK HERE

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