Religion

 

Back
Royal Colony
Colonial Administration
Religion
The Economy
Fur and Expansion
French-English Rivalry

 

Religion was kept under tight royal control under the system of "gallicanisme", i. e. all church officials nominated by the King, not the Pope. Religious orders answering directly to the Pope were discouraged from operating in the colony (particularly the Jesuits, who mainly worked in missions established among the Native peoples). The Church was perceived as a servant of the state, charged with running schools, hospitals, charitable institutions. Bishop Laval, the first bishop of New France, created a parish system to serve the needs of the community. A seminary was created in 1663 and the tithe was introduced to support the church. Hospitals, bureaux des pauvres and schools were opened and registres des paroisses were established.

 

Jews and Protestants were ruthlessly persecuted (revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685). Protestants were barred from immigration to New France. Hence in New France virtually everyone belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, which explains the development of a very religious culture, with many shrines and an intense worship of the Virgin Marie. Religious holidays and processions were key moments of the colony's life.

 

All education was supervised by the Church and all reading material checked for heresy and morality. The Church created excellent educational facilities with the Jesuit college for boys and the Ursulines school for girls.