Mission of the Guardian Angel

The Mission of the Guardian Angel (French: Mission de l'Ange Gardien) was a 17th-century Jesuit mission in the vicinity of what is now Chicago, Illinois. It was established in 1696 by Father François Pinet, a French Jesuit priest.[1] The mission was abandoned by 1700; its exact location remains unknown.

Father marquette preaching
Jesuit missionary and Indians


In the 17th century the Chicago area was inhabited by a number of Algonquian peoples, including the Mascouten and Miami tribes, who had migrated into northern Illinois and Wisconsin as a result of the Beaver Wars. Jesuit missionaries exploring the Great Lakes region had first encountered these tribes in the 1650s.[2] The Miami had established some villages on the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers in the mid-17th century, but these were abandoned in the 1650s as they moved west of the Mississippi and then to Wisconsin.[3] Father Jacques Marquette on his first encounter with the Miami at a large village near what is now Portage, Wisconsin during his expedition with Louis Jolliet to the Mississippi River in 1673 described them as "the most civil, the most liberal, and the most shapely [of the three nations that occupied the village]."[4] In the 1690s the Miami returned to the Chicago area, establishing two villages; one at the mouth of the Chicago River, and another about 3 miles (4.8 km) upstream on the north branch of the river.[3]

Pinet's Mission

Pierre François Pinet was born at Périgueux in France on November 11, 1660, and entered the Jesuit novitiate at Bordeaux in 1682.[5] He travelled to Canada in 1694, arriving first in Quebec then travelling to Montreal, Ville-Marie, and Michillimackinac.[6] In 1696 Pinet established the Mission of the Guardian Angel at Chicago,[7] but he was soon forced to abandon the mission by Louis de Buade de Frontenac, the Governor General of New France.[8] An appeal was made to François de Laval, bishop of New France, and the mission was re-established in 1698. Sometime after 1700, the Miamis started to move to the Maumee and Wabash valleys in Indiana,[3] and the mission was permanently abandoned.[7] After the closing of the Mission of the Guardian Angel at Chicago, Pinet moved to work amongst the Illiniwek tribes living at Cahokia. He then moved with the Illiniwek to join the Kaskaskia tribe on the north bank of the River des Peres in what is now St. Louis, Missouri. A letter by Father Bergier dated March 1, 1703 states that Pinet died at River des Peres on August 1, 1702.[9]


The exact location of the Mission of the Guardian Angel in unknown but various historians have proposed a number of sites in the Chicago area.[1] The only contemporary source that gives any clues as to the location is a letter, dated January 2, 1699, from Jean-François Buisson de Saint-Cosme to François de Laval in which he relates a visit to the mission.[10] John Gilmary Shea published an English translation of the letter in 1861;[11] however, Chicago historian Milton Milo Quaife, writing in 1913, noted that Shea's translation "frequently departs from the original manuscript" and that differences in translation may account for some of the different sites proposed.[10]

Describing his visit to the Mission of the Guardian Angel, Saint-Cosme wrote:

We remained five days at Kipikaoui, leaving on the 17th and after being windbound on the 18th and 19th we camped on the 20th at a place five leagues[12] from Chikagou. We should have arrived there early on the 21st but the wind which suddenly arose on the lake compelled us to land half a league from Etpikagou.[13][14][15] We had considerable difficulty in landing and in saving our canoes; we all had to jump into the water. One must be very careful along the lakes, and especially Lake Mixcigan, whose shores are very low, to take to the land as soon as possible when the waves rise on the lake, for the rollers become so high in so short a time that one runs the risk of breaking his canoe and of losing all it contains. Many travellers have already been wrecked there. We, Monsieur de Montigny, Davion, and myself, went by land to the house of the Reverend Jesuit Fathers while our people remained behind. We found there Reverend Father Pinet and Reverend Father Binneteau, who had recently arrived from the Illinois country and was slightly ill.

I cannot describe to you, my lord, with what cordiality and manifestations of friendship these Reverend Fathers received and embraced us while we had the consolation of residing with them. Their house is built on the bank of a small river, with the lake on one side and a fine and vast prairie on the other. The village of the savages contains over a hundred and fifty cabins, and a league up the river is still another village almost as large. They are all Miamis. Reverend Father Pinet usually resides there except in winter, when the savages are all engaged in hunting, and then he goes to the Illinois. We saw no savages there; they had already started for their hunt. If one may judge of the future from the short time that Reverend Father Pinet has passed in this mission, we may believe that if God will bless the labors and the zeal of that holy missionary there will be a great number of good and fervent Christians. It is true that but slight results are obtained with reference to the older persons, who are hardened in profligacy, but all the children are baptized, and the jugglers even, who are the most opposed to Christianity, allow their children to be baptized. They are also very glad to let them be instructed. Several girls of a certain age and also many young boys have already been and are being instructed, so that we may hope that when the old stock dies off, they will be a new and entirely Christian people.[16]

In 1907 Frank Reed Grover, used Shea's translation to propose that the mission had not actually been located at Chicago, but rather further north on the north branch of the Chicago River, near Skokie, Illinois.[17] Quaife, working from a duplicate of the original manuscript concluded that the mission was built on the banks of the main stem of the Chicago River, somewhere between the forks and its mouth in what is now downtown Chicago.[18] Other locations proposed include Lake Calumet and a location near Goose Island.[1][19]

Other locations suggested have been Evanston by the Evanston Historical Society, Lake Calumet by Hurlbut, Churchill Woods by V. P. Web, Winnetka by the Saints Faith Hope and Charity Parish Winnetka, the Merchandise Mart by Swenson, Highland Park by Bower and Dooley, the area around LUMA (a Loyola University campus) by Loyola University Chicago, Gross Point by Grover, and Wilmette.


  1. ^ a b c Briggs, Briggs (2005). "Mission of the Guardian Angel". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  2. ^ Anson, Bert (2001). The Miami Indians. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 0-8061-3197-7.
  3. ^ a b c Edmunds, R. David (2005). "Chicago in the Middle Ground". The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  4. ^ Thwaites, Reuben Gold (1908). Father Marquette. D. Appleton & Company. p. 180. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  5. ^ Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. (1900). The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Volume LXIV. The Burrows Brothers. p. 278. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  6. ^ Grover (1907), pp. 159–164
  7. ^ a b Quaife (1913), p. 39
  8. ^ Thwaites, Reuben Gold, ed. (1900). "Letters by Father Jacques Gravier to Monseigneur de Laval". The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Volume LXV. The Burrows Brothers. pp. 53–57. Retrieved 2010-08-06.
  9. ^ Garraghan (1921), p. 20-21
  10. ^ a b Quaife (1913) p. 40
  11. ^ Shea (1861), pp. 45–75
  12. ^ One league (lieue) is equal to about 2.5 miles (4.0 km). See French units of measurement
  13. ^ Shea (1861), p. 52, has this word as Apkaw, which he suggests may be a transcriber's blunder for cette place (that place); later translations use Chikagou.
  14. ^ Quaife himself, the great doubter of both Grover and Shea, has the place-word as "Etpikagwa" Quaife(1913), p. 40, which supports the Quaife-discredited Grover, who lists both "Apkaw" and "Elpikagiou" Grover (1907), and, a life-long resident of the area, had a greater knowledge of both the natives and the locale
  15. ^ Here is the line cite reference from the primary source, St.-Cosme's letter of 2 January 1699: "…nous obligea a debarque a une demy lieux de Etpikagou." Jean-Francois Buisson de Saint-Cosme, Les Missions du Seminaire de Quebec dans la callee du Mississippi: 1698-1699
  16. ^ Kellogg (1917), pp. 346–347
  17. ^ Grover (1907), p. 156
  18. ^ Quaife (1913), p. 42
  19. ^ Garraghan (1921), p. 14


Christianity in the 17th century

17th-century Missionary activity in Asia and the Americas grew strongly, put down roots, and developed its institutions, though it met with strong resistance in Japan in particular. At the same time Christian colonization of some areas outside Europe succeeded, driven by economic as well as religious reasons. Christian traders were heavily involved in the Atlantic slave trade, which had the effect of transporting Africans into Christian communities. A land war between Christianity and Islam continued, in the form of the campaigns of the Habsburg Empire and Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, a turning point coming at Vienna in 1683. The Tsardom of Russia, where Orthodox Christianity was the established religion, expanded eastwards into Siberia and Central Asia, regions of Islamic and shamanistic beliefs, and also southwest into the Ukraine, where the Uniate Eastern Catholic Churches arose.

There was a very large volume of Christian literature published, particularly controversial and millennial but also historical and scholarly. Hagiography became more critical with the Bollandists, and ecclesiastical history became thoroughly developed and debated, with Catholic scholars such as Baronius and Jean Mabillon, and Protestants such as David Blondel laying down the lines of scholarship. Christian art of the Baroque and music derived from church forms was striking and influential on lay artists using secular expression and themes. Poetry and drama often treated Biblical and religious matter, for example John Milton's Paradise Lost.

Fort Chécagou

Fort Chécagou, or Fort Chicago, was a purported seventeenth-century fort that may have been located in what is now northeastern Illinois. The name has become associated with a myth that the French continuously maintained a military garrison at a fort near the mouth of the Chicago River, and the future site of the city of Chicago on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Some sources mention that the fort was built in 1685, and that Henri de Tonti sent his aide, Pierre-Charles de Liette, as commander of the fort through 1702. Although this fort was marked on a number of eighteenth century maps of the area, there is no evidence that it ever existed at the described location, but may have instead actually been located at the mouth of the St. Joseph River, on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan.

Fort Dearborn

Fort Dearborn was a United States fort built in 1803 beside the Chicago River, in what is now Chicago, Illinois. It was constructed by troops under Captain John Whistler and named in honor of Henry Dearborn, then United States Secretary of War. The original fort was destroyed following the Battle of Fort Dearborn during the War of 1812, and a second fort was reconstructed on the same site in 1816. By 1837, the fort had been de-commissioned. Parts of the fort were lost to both the widening of the Chicago River in 1855, and a fire in 1857. The last vestiges of Fort Dearborn were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The site of the fort is now a Chicago Landmark, located in the Michigan–Wacker Historic District.

History of Chicago

The history of Chicago, Illinois, has played a central role in American economic, cultural and political history and since the 1850s the city has been one of the most dominant Midwest metropolises. The area's recorded history begins with the arrival of French explorers, missionaries and fur traders in the late 17th century and their interaction with the local Pottawatomie Native Americans. There were small settlements and a U.S. Army fort, but the soldiers and settlers were all driven off in 1812. The modern city was incorporated in 1837 by Northern businessmen and grew rapidly from real estate speculation and the realization that it had a commanding position in the emerging inland transportation network, based on lake traffic and railroads, controlling access from the Great Lakes into the Mississippi River basin.

Despite a fire in 1871 that destroyed the Central Business District, the city grew exponentially, becoming the nation's rail center and the dominant Midwestern center for manufacturing, commerce, finance, higher education, religion, broadcasting, sports, jazz, and high culture. The city was a magnet for European immigrants—at first Germans, Irish and Scandinavians, then from the 1890s to 1914, Jews, Czechs, Poles and Italians. They were all absorbed in the city's powerful ward-based political machines. Many joined militant labor unions, and Chicago became notorious for its violent strikes, and high wages.

Large numbers of African Americans migrated from the South starting in the World War I era as part of the Great Migration. Mexicans started arriving after 1910, and Puerto Ricans after 1945. The Cook County suburbs grew rapidly after 1945, but the Democratic party machine kept both the city and suburbs under control, especially under mayor Richard J. Daley, who was chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party. Deindustrialization after 1970 closed the stockyards and most of the steel mills and factories, but the city retained its role as a financial and transportation hub. Increasingly it emphasized its service roles in medicine, higher education, and tourism. The city formed the political base for national leaders of the Democratic Party, especially Stephen A. Douglas in the 1850s, Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and Barack Obama in recent years.

Illinois Country

The Illinois Country (French: Pays des Illinois, lit. "land of the Illinois (plural)", i.e. the Illinois people) — sometimes referred to as Upper Louisiana (French: la Haute-Louisiane; Spanish: Alta Luisiana) — was a vast region of New France in what is now the Midwestern United States. While these names generally referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, French colonial settlement was concentrated along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in what is now the U.S. states of Illinois and Missouri, with outposts in Indiana. Explored in 1673 from Green Bay to the Arkansas River by the Canadien expedition of Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, the area was claimed by France. It was settled primarily from the Pays d'en Haut in the context of the fur trade. Over time, the fur trade took some French to the far reaches of the Rocky Mountains, especially along the branches of the broad Missouri River valley. The French name, Pays des Illinois, means "Land of the Illinois [plural]" and is a reference to the Illinois Confederation, a group of related Algonquian native peoples.

Up until 1717, the Illinois Country was governed by the French province of Canada, but by order of King Louis XV, the Illinois Country was annexed to the French province of Louisiana, with the northeastern administrative border being somewhat vaguely on or near the upper Illinois River. The territory thus became known as "Upper Louisiana." By the mid-18th century, the major settlements included Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Chartres, Saint Philippe, and Prairie du Rocher, all on the east side of the Mississippi in present-day Illinois; and Ste. Genevieve across the river in Missouri, as well as Fort Vincennes in what is now Indiana.As a consequence of the French defeat in the Seven Years' War, the Illinois Country east of the Mississippi River was ceded to the British, and the land west of the river to the Spanish. Following the British occupation of the left bank (when heading downstream) of the Mississippi in 1764, some Canadien settlers remained in the area, while others crossed the river, forming new settlements such as St. Louis.

Eventually, the eastern part of the Illinois Country became part of the British Province of Quebec, while the inhabitants chose to side with the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Although the lands west of the Mississippi were sold in 1803 to the United States by France—which had reclaimed possession of Luisiana from the Spanish in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso—French language and culture continued to exist in the area, with the Missouri French dialect still being spoken into the 20th century.Because of the deforestation that resulted from the cutting of much wood for fuel during the 19th-century age of steamboats, the Mississippi River became more shallow and broad, with more severe flooding and lateral changes in its channel in the stretch from St. Louis to the confluence with the Ohio River. As a consequence, many architectural and archaeological resources were lost to flooding and destruction of early French colonial villages originally located near the river, including Kaskaskia, St. Philippe, Cahokia, and Ste. Genevieve.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (also spelled Point de Sable, Point au Sable, Point Sable, Pointe DuSable; before 1750 – August 28, 1818) is regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of what later became Chicago, Illinois, and is recognized as the "Founder of Chicago". A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor. The site where he settled near the mouth of the Chicago River around the 1780s is identified as a National Historic Landmark, now located in Pioneer Court.

Point du Sable was of African descent but little else is known of his life prior to the 1770s. During his career, the areas where he settled and traded around the Great Lakes and in the Illinois Country changed hands several times among France, Britain, Spain and the new United States. Described as handsome and well educated, Point du Sable married a Native American woman, Kitiwaha, and they had two children. In 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, he was arrested by the British military on suspicion of being an American sympathizer. In the early 1780s he worked for the British lieutenant-governor of Michilimackinac on an estate at what is now the city of St. Clair, Michigan.

Point du Sable is first recorded as living at the mouth of the Chicago River in a trader's journal of early 1790. He established an extensive and prosperous trading settlement in what later became the city of Chicago. He sold his Chicago River property in 1800 and moved to St. Charles, now in Missouri, where he was licensed to run a Missouri River ferry. Point du Sable's successful role in developing the Chicago River settlement was little recognized until the mid-20th century.

Timeline of Chicago history

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Timeline of Christian missions

This timeline of Christian missions chronicles the global expansion of Christianity through a listing of the most significant missionary outreach events.

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