Today, July 31, the day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, one of the most influential Basques in History, The Boston Pilot has published an op-ed piece by Violet Hurst, the archivist for the Archdiocese of Boston, analyzing the presence and influence of the Society of Jesus there and throughout the northeastern US.

We learned two things in the article.  Firstly, we learned all about the presence and influence in New England of the order founded by the Basque saint.  And secondly, we discovered the role some of the Jesuits had in defending the Native Americans during the French and Indian wars before the American Revolution.

The story of Jesuit Sébastien Rale is his implication in the defense of the Native Americans, which led to his death at the hands of the British colonists, leading one of the wars that took place at that time to be named Father Rale’s War.  This is right in line with other Jesuit missions with the Guarani which the Jesuits had organized a century earlier in South America, which also ended up being destroyed by (this time Portuguese) colonists and the expulsion of the Society of Jesus from all the domains of the Spanish Crown.

It is noteworthy that in that war, the Native Americans which participated were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, made up of the Maliseet, the Passamaquoddy, the Miꞌkmaq, los Abenaki, and the Penobscot.  These five Native American nations all speak Algonquian languages.

The Basques had a relationship with some of these peoples long before the British and French colonists dominated the region, as can be seen in our blog.  This is because they inhabited an area the Basques reached while whaling and fishing, and the relationship was so close it led to the development of a Basque-Algonquian pidgin.  We can still find people of these First Nations with the surname “Basque”.  There’s even the extraordinary story of the Basque ax that became the first metallic instrument in the history of this area of what is now the US and Canada, showing the extent of the Algonquian-speaking nations.

So, quite an interesting tale to remember on St. Ignatius’ Day.  And a good opportunity to recall that he never served the “King of Spain”, which was a political concept that didn’t even exist at that time.  He served the King of Castile in his struggle against the King of Navarre in the consolidation of that kingdom.  Similarly, he should not be considered “Spanish” in the political and social sense that the word has today, or even “Castilian”.  He was a Gipuzkoan at the service of the King of Castile, which is entirely different.  To understand the relationship between the Basques of Biscay, Gipuzkoa, and Alava with the King of Castile, the best would be to read what someone of extraordinary historical and political weight in the US, John Adams, had to say when he described the Foral territories on his trip from the US to France.

The Boston Pilot – 31/7/2020 – USA


Friday, July 31, marks the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. In honor of the occasion, and in thanksgiving for the immeasurable contributions of the Jesuits to the Archdiocese of Boston, the following is a brief history of his life and legacy.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)

Foto de cabecera: A Sketch Of St. Ignatius Church, Chestnut Hill C. 1949. Pilot Photo/Courtesy Archdiocesan Archives

Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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