Saint-Vallier, Jean-Baptiste de La Croix de Chevrières de

Jean-Baptiste de La Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier, second bishop of Québec, founder of the Hôpital Général at Québec (b at Grenoble, France 14 Nov 1653; d at Québec City 26 Dec 1727). Saint-Vallier was bishop of Québec 1688-1727.

Saint-Vallier impressed the clergy with his zeal and endless activity, but his arrival 31 July 1688 was followed by 16 years of crisis as the autocratic bishop sought to combat drunkenness, immodest dress, blasphemy, dancing, immorality and profiteering, while encouraging family devotions, church attendance and payment of tithes. He promoted missions in Acadia, Louisiana and Illinois.

In a short time, however, Saint-Vallier fell out with Governor FRONTENAC (over the performance of Tartuffe), with the military, cathedral chapter, Récollets, Jesuits and almost the entire diocese. In return, his adversaries denounced his writings, Catechism (1702) and Ritual (1703), as heretical, and little effort was made to gain his release when he was captured and imprisoned in England. The harsh internment for 5 years, from July 1704 to 1709, illness and his ascetic behaviour destroyed his health.

Saint-Vallier returned to Québec in August 1713, gave up his palace to live in the Hôpital Général and donated his fortune to the poor, selling even his shoes and bed. Despite his faults, Saint-Vallier was a pious man and he undoubtedly contributed to the consolidation of the early Catholic church in America.