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Biography

Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière

LA SAINTE-CATHERINEBorn in La Flèche, in France, on March 18, 1597, Jérôme Le Royer de La Dauversière was the son of Jérôme Le Royer, first seigneur of La Dauversière and a tax collector, and Rénée (or Marie) Oudin.

At about the age of 10, Le Royer de La Dauversière started classical studies at the Collège des Jésuites in La Flèche. He considered entering the order but, following the death of his father in 1619, he succeeded his father as a tax collector.

His work did not reduce his attachment to the church. In 1630, Le Royer de La Dauversière dedicated himself to the Holy Family, along with his wife and children. He also worked on a project to found a congregation of nursing sisters for La Flèche, to help the sick and the poor. Following a serious illness in 1633, he decided to complete his project and, in 1636, he established the framework for the Confrérie de Saint-Joseph, the forerunner of the Institit des Religieuses Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph. He renovated the Sainte-Marguerite hospital, in La Flèche, and transformed it into the Hôtel-Dieu.

Le Royer de La Dauversière also wanted to establish a mission in New France to evangelize the First Nations people. In 1639, he went to Paris to present his project to Father Charles Lalemant, who was responsible for the Jesuit missions to Canada. He then asked for an audience with Pierre Séguier, chancellor of France, and met with him in the company of Jean-Jacques Olier, founder of the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, who shared his dream to establish a mission in the colony. Together, they founded a missionary society, called the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal. 

In 1640, the society acquired the Island of Montréal, with the help of Pierre Chevrier, Baron of Francamp. Le Royer de La Dauversière was responsible for providing the supplies and for recruiting the colonists needed for the project. In particular, he selected Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve to govern the new mission, Ville-Marie, and Jeanne Mance to found a hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal. The first settlers left La Rochelle on May 9, 1641 and founded Ville-Marie in 1642. Despite setbacks, Le Royer de la Dauversière, who remained behind in France, worked relentlessly to collect the funds needed to finance the mission and recruit colonists who set out in small groups each year. In 1659, he accompanied three nursing nuns from La Flèche to the port of La Rochelle; they were to assist Jeanne Mance at the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal. He died in La Flèche, on November 6, 1659. He married Jeanne de Baugé in 1621.

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