Saint François de Laval

First bishop of Quebec

François de Laval (1623-1708) was canonized by Pope Francis on April 3rd, 2014. In 2018, the government of the province of Quebec, under the law regarding cultural heritage, designates him «person of historical interest», a title attributed only to persons having contributed significantly to the development of society. The same year, the Catholic bishops of Canada recognize him as their model and protector.


Each year, more than 15,000 persons seek his intercession to help them with various addictions or financial problems, the arrival of a long awaited child, finding a soulmate, curing a sick person, academic, professional or economic success.

Born in a noble family, promised a great career in France, François chose instead to involve himself with missionary work in a foreign land. Initially destined to go to Tonkin, now Vietnam, he was chosen to set up the young Canadian Church. Despite the lack of means and great challenges, he dedicated 50 years of his life to this mission, wishing also to die here.

He arrived in Nouvelle-France in 1659, much later than the Jesuits, the Ursulines and the Augustinian nuns. Initially, the young bishop resided in each of these communities, while awaiting the construction of a rectory or episcopal palace. He quickly realized the futility of building churches or establishing parishes. Instead, he optimised available resources to be used to evangelize, thus serving better the needs of the faithful and the Natives scattered in the vast territory. In order to reach this goal, he showed great daring and much creativity.

Without hesitation, he undertook long trips either using canoes made of bark, snowshoes or on foot to visit the settlers. Nobody escaped his solicitude, especially the most destitute. All his life, he strove to preserve the dignity of the Native people. He opposed, for instance, merchants exploiting the Natives, trading alcohol for furs. Grateful, the Hurons gave him the nickname of Hariaouagi, which translates as «the man of the great deed of salvation.»

Life is difficult and dangerous in Canada. He decided to soften certain religious obligations, poorly adapted to the harsh Canadian living conditions.

Convinced of the importance of cultivating healthy family ties, he promoted in his diocese the devotion for the Holy Family. The Universal Church recognized him as a great promoter of this devotion.

His determination to “go out and meet others,” as he teached, was fed by a life of prayer centered on an all consuming love of God.

Centre François-De Laval


To learn more, please visit the website of the Centre d’animation François de Laval: who is François de Laval?

“While the tongue is useful (…), it is nevertheless one of the less important part of a good missionary. Similarly, in France, the mastery of the French language may not make preaching fruthful. (One must) not display in our lives and our morality anything that contradicts what we say.”

(François de Laval, advices to missionaries, 1668)


Daily holiness

“Getting up every day and at all time at 3:00 am, despite the rigors of the climate, adopting every day the duties of the doorman, opening the doors, lighting the lamps, (…) spending daily long hours before the Holy Sacrament, praying the Liturgy of the Hours with rigorous punctuality, this was the way the first bishop rested from his tiring zeal. One could say that he endured the martyr of his constant attendance in the church.”

(Funeral eulogy for Msgr. de Laval by Joseph de la Colombière,1708)