A Newfoundland Saint in Placentia?


February 21, 1699

Didace Pelletier of Placentia.

Didace Pelletier of Placentia.

The road to being canonized  in the Roman Catholic Church can be  a very slow process as can be attested by those who  have been working  to have Didace Pelletier canonized a saint. Brother Didace has Newfoundland connections.  He worked in Placentia, Newfoundland at what was then called Our Lady of the Angels Parish from 1689-1692.

Claude Pelletier was born on June 28, 1657; his parents were Georges Pelletier and Catherine Vanier, from Dieppe, France.

As a little boy, he was sent to the apprentices’ school not far from Sainte Anne de Beaupré, Quebec where  he learned the carpenter’s trade, in which he excelled.

After learning his trade, he entered the Recollets ( a religious order of French Franciscans) at Quebec City in the autumn of 1678, at the age of twenty-one. He was clothed with the Franciscan habit in 1679, and received the name Didace in honor of a Spanish Saint, the patron of  Brothers; he made his religious vows one year later, in 1680.

Brother Didace lived at Our Lady of the Angels mission in Quebec City for another three or four year. Because of his talent as a carpenter, he played a large part in the construction work which the Recollets of that time were undertaking. He was sent to Bonaventure Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence  located 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) off the southern coast of Quebec’s  Gaspe’ Peninsula.  (1683-1689).

In 1869 he was sent to Plaisance (now Placentia), where he worked for three years on the construction of the first church in that town.

Following Placentia he was transferred to Montreal (1692-1696), and finally to Trois-Rivières, Quebec (1696-1699). It was Trois-Rivières, while doing carpentry work at the Recollets’ church, that he contracted a fatal case of pleurisy.

Brother Didace was rushed to hospital; there he requested the last Sacraments, despite the opinion of a doctor who declared him in no immediate danger.

After participating in the prayers for the dying, he  died on the evening of February 21, 1699.

Between 1700 and 1717 the bishops of Quebec set up nine hearings relating to at least 17 miracles attributed to Brother Didace.

Suggested Reading:   Cowans, Alan. “Pdletier, Didace.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol.1, ed. David M. Mayne, 336. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969.

Recommended on Line Reading: Victoria Taylor – Hood: A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, Department of Religious Studies Memorial University of Newfoundland August, 1999. Newfoundland. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape10/PQDD_0035/MQ62435.pdf