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Entries : Mission of the Guardian Angel
Mission of the Guardian Angel

Mission of the Guardian Angel

The Jesuits established the Mission of the Guardian Angel at Chicago in 1696. Its short existence left no visible traces, and it has been placed everywhere from Goose Island to Wilmette. A contemporary account by J. F. Buisson de St. Cosme, a Seminarian missionary (member of the Seminary of Foreign Missions) from Quebec, locates it on the north bank of the Chicago River between Michigan and Rush, a “dry” area where the ancient Indian Green Bay Trail also began. This area was constantly transited by Indians using the trail, and Indian villages settled nearby: St. Cosme counted 250 Miami cabins in the vicinity.

This was a logical location for a mission: solid ground, easy access to the lake, the river, and the portage, great numbers of passing Indians and Indian villages nearby. And this is probably where the Mission of the Guardian Angel was located.

Infighting between Seminarian missionaries from Quebec and the Jesuits caused the end of the mission. In 1699, the royal governor, Count Frontenac, mediated an agreement: the Jesuits gave up their mission at Chicago but kept their huge mission to the Kaskaskia Illinois just across the Illinois River from Starved Rock. The Seminarians got the Mississippi Valley.

The Kaskaskia were, however, moving to the banks of the Mississippi on the Illinois side, some 65 miles south of the future St. Louis. The Jesuits had little choice but to follow. With Chicago gone and Kaskaskia deserted, northeastern Illinois was left without any missions.

A manuscript copy of St. Cosme's report is with the History Department of the Université Laval, St. Foy, Quebec.