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May 6: St. François de Laval

François de Montmorency Laval (1623-1708) was the first Bishop of Quebec City.

Born in France to a noble family, he was educated by the Jesuits and ordained in 1647.  Despite controversy, he was made bishop in 1658 and arrived in New France the following year.  In 1663, he founded the Seminary of Quebec – now Laval University – to supply priests for his vast diocese, which extended to all the French-speaking territory of North America.  He later established a minor seminary and an industrial school.  His pastoral concern for the settlers and the Native people often resulted in conflict with civil authorities.

François was an outstanding educator and administrator, a generous benefactor, a caring bishop and a pious man whose spiritual influence was widespread.  He well deserved his title “Père de la Patrie” (Father of the Homeland) and was canonized in 2014.

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