Audiobook: De Smet's Letters and Sketches, 1841-1842

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In 1841 and 1842, Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet traversed the wide and wild American West to bring the gospel to the Flatheads, who had sent multiple delegations from Montana to St. Louis, repeatedly requesting a Blackgown priest to instruct them in Christianity. Fr. DeSmet’s letters to his Jesuit Superiors show his heroic religious dedication and selflessness, as he recounts fatigues, hunger, thirst, and dangers that rival those of the apostle St. Paul. He also makes intelligent observations of geography, geology, weather (including an enthusiastic description of a tornado), and the interesting customs of the different tribes he meets. His generous love and respect for the Indians was rewarded by their receptivity to his gospel message, with thousands receiving baptism. In years subsequent to the writing of these letters, Fr. DeSmet continued his missionary activities in the West, and traveled an estimated 180,000 miles in his unstinting efforts on behalf of the Indians and the Catholic faith. - Summary by Carol Pelster

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