Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 13, 2005
The search for the saint goes on
The birthplace of the Canadian founder of St. Charles, Mo. is still unknown
St. Aloysius Gonzaga — Feast Day June 21
By TED FITZGERALD
Special to the WCR
Searching for the birthplace of the Canadian founder of the southern city of St. Charles, Mo., the travellers were directed to the pretty town of Pintendre near Quebec City.
A stop at the parish office there quickly disclosed that Pintendre had never been known as St-Louis de Lauzon, reputed place of origin of Louis Blanchette on about 1740.
And although the church here, St-Louis de Gonzague, and the town are within the boundaries of the ancient (1636) Seigneury of Lauzon, staff knew of no settlement or parish named St-Louis de Lauzon.
A mill town
It seems that Pintendre is a very old name for the settlement on the Riviere-a-la-Scie, south of Levis. References to the place as a possible site for a flour mill are found in documents from as early as 1706. Later on, as settlers were attracted to the area by its rich agricultural land, as many as seven mills were operating on the river.
The parish of St-Louis de Pintendre was not erected until 1899 when the church was built and dedicated to St-Louis-de-Gonzague. For some time, the village bore the unwieldy title of St-Louis-de-Gonzague de Pintendre, fortunately later shortened to just Pintendre.
Absorbing all this, the visitors gladly accepted an enthusiastic proposal to visit the adjacent parish church with its holy Italian patron, blessing all who entered from a niche high on the white facade.
The saint, baptized Luigi Gonzaga in 1568 in Italy, as more popularly known by the English (Aloysius) or French (Louis) versions of his name. At a very early age, he developed a spirituality that caused him to rebel against the life at court in which he was raised.
Louis developed a strict personal regimen of prayer, fasting and penances in imitation of the routines of early religious orders and despite vigorous opposition from his father and relatives, entered the Jesuits at 18.
A successful student, he experienced revelations and recovered from the plague while working in the orders' hospital during an epidemic. Resultant poor health however, resulted in his early death at 23.
Patron of Christian youth
He is a patron of Christian youth and protector of young students.
Today, white siding conceals the original grey stone of the bright, substantial turn-of-the-century regional church that bears the saint's name in Pintendre.
Visitors enter the main doors beneath the inscription St. Louis AD 1899 on the single tower that dominates the facade. High overhead, on a level with twin decorative silver spires that flank the clocher, the patron occupies his niche below the church bells and a slim silver spire.
Inside, the nave, painted off-white with gold trim, is tall and made more impressive by richly decorated galleries on each side. They almost overwhelm the sanctuary with its modest reredos beneath a simple vaulted half-dome.
Part of the Quebec Archdiocese, the active church community of St-Louis de Pintendre includes this church and those of nearby Christ-Roi and St-David. Nine weekend Masses are shared by the three district churches and there are daily Eucharistic celebrations at each.
The 7,000 parishioners of St-Louis enjoy a full-slate of auxiliary services and church-related organizations, particularly those related to agriculture.
To the visitors, Blanchette's origins remained obscure, although as recently as 1814, records list a birth at St-Louis de Lauzon, in Levis County. But, unlike many area towns that have Lauzon appended to their names, St-Louis seems to have disappeared into the mists of time.
So, from Pintendre the search must continue for the elusive home of city-founder Louis Blanchette-St-Louis de Lauzon.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.