Abjuration is a term used in the Catholic church to mean renunciation of one's previous (non-Catholic, Christian) religion upon conversion to Catholicism. (For details see, the article on Abjuration from the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia.)
The first abjurations in Ste Luce parish did not come until 1858. Prior to that time, Fr. Dionne baptized children of parents who were not married in the Catholic church, one of whom may have been Protestant; he even baptized children of Protestant couples (since there was no established Protestant church in the region).
Apparently this changed by 1858, because we see three abjurations in this year. Below I have reproduced the full texts of the abjurations as well as an English translation. These are of particular interest to me because one of the three, Esther Gardner, was my great-great-great grandmother.
Two of the three abjurations took place in the chapel at the mission-parish of St.François. This is not surprising, given that St.François was the part of Ste Luce parish that had a significant number of non-Catholic population. In all three cases of abjuration, the person who is abjuring is a Protestant who has been (or is about to be) married to a Catholic.
For some reason, these are the only three abjurations in this entire period (1843-1860). If you have any insight into these abjurations, I'd love to hear from you.
The conditional baptism mentioned in two of the acts is a convention of the Roman Catholic church, in the case when the priest is not sure whether the person has been baptized as a Christian. (From Canon Law: Baptism, Chapter III, Can. 869 §1 If there is doubt as to whether a person was baptised or whether a baptism was conferred validly, and after serious enquiry this doubt persists, the person is to be baptised conditionally.)
Elisabeth Diamond, 6 March 1858
Acte d'abjuration d'Elisabeth Marie Diemen, epouse de William Molanse
Le six mars mil huit cent cinquante huit, dans l'eglise de St François Xavier, en présence d'une nombreuse assemblée, réunie pour la prière et instruction du Carême, j'ai reçu l'abjuration, en la profession de foi de Elisabeth Marie Diemen, epouse de William Molanse, cultivateur de la petite Rivière Noire, je l'ai aussi absoute de l'hérésie et lui ai donné l'eau et forme du saint baptême, sous condition -- La dite Marie Elisabeth Diemen est agée de quarante un ans et dix neuf jours -- Présents et témoins Richard Egan et Marie Egan son épouse qui n'ont pu signer avec nous. H. Dionne, ptre.
On March sixth, one thousand eight hundred fifty eight, in the church of St François Xavier, in the presence of a large gathering, united for Lenten prayer and instruction, I received the renunciation and the profession of faith from Elisabeth Marie Diemen, wife of William Molanse, farmer from the Little Black River, I have absolved her of heresy and have conditionally given her the water and form of holy baptism -- Marie Elisabeth Diemen is aged forty-one years and nineteen days -- Present and witnesses were Richard Egan and Marie Egan his wife, who did not know how to sign their names. H. Dionne, priest.
This is Elizabeth Diamond, wife of William Mullins. This couple lived at Rivière Noire; nine of their children were baptized at Ste Luce between August 1845 and February 1857, none of them as newborns. On February 14, 1857, three of their children were baptized. (Link to a list of the baptisms in this family). In several of the records, Elizabeth is described as Protestant; clearly William was Catholic, the couple had not been married by a Catholic priest, and this abjuration represents her conversion to Catholicism. What is not clear is why she did so, and why at this time. (This act is located following burial number 8 -- S8 -- in 1858.)
Esther Gardner, 19 Mar 1858
Act d'abjuration de Marie Esther Garner, épouse d'Amable Ouellet
Le dix-neuf mars mil huit cent cinquante huit, dans
l'Eglise de St. François Xavier, en présence
d'une nombreuse assemblée, réunie pour la
prière et instruction du Carême moi
prêtre soussigné, j'ai reçu la
profession de foi de Marie Esther Garner, agée de quarante
deux ans, épouse d'Amable Ouellet cultivateur de St.
François Xavier, et je l'ai aussi absoute de
l'hérésie. Présents Louis Albert,
Dydime Cyr et plusieurs autres qui n'ont su signer.
On 19 March 1858, in the Church of St. François Xavier,
in the presence of a large gathering, together for the Lenten prayer
and instruction, by myself, the undersigned priest, I have received
the profession of faith of Marie Esther Garner, aged 42 years, wife
of Amable Ouellet, farmer of St. François Xavier, and I also
have absolved her from heresy. Present were Louis Albert, Dydime Cyr,
and many others who did not know how to sign their names.
This is Esther Gardner, my g-g-g grandmother, wife of Amable Ouellet. They too lived up the St John River near the Black River in what was the Castonguay settlement. The couple were not married by a Catholic priest, but rather in the Chalmers Presbyterian Church in Quebec City (on 24 Jun 1835). Nevertheless, between September 1845 and February 1857 four of their children were baptized; the last was on February 14, 1857, the same day that three of the Mullins-Diamond children were baptized. Again, nothing is known about why Esther converted and why she did so at this time. (This act is located following burial number 12 -- S12 -- in 1858.) Interestingly, though her parents were both Protestant, Esther herself had been baptized by the priest at St.George church in Cacouna, Québec, shortly after her birth.
Salomon Wiles, 6 Jun 1858
Acte d'abjuration de Joseph Salomon Wiles
Le six Juin mil huit cent cinquante huit, dans l'Eglise de Ste Luce, en présence d'une nombreuse assemblée, réunie pour la Sainte Messe du Dimanche et la procession du Saint sacrement, moi prêtre curé soussigné, j'ai reçu la profession de foi de Joseph Salomon Wiles, agé de vingt trois ans, fils majeur de Joseph Wiles et de Rebecca Word de St. François. Je l'ai aussi absout de l'hérésie et lui ai donné le baptême sous condition, en présence de Thomas Roy dit Desjardins, de Nathalie Nadeau, et de toute l'assemblée susdite. Henri Dionne, ptre.
Act of abjuration of Joseph Salomon Wiles
The sixth of June one thousand eight hundred and fifty eight, in the church of Ste Luce, in the presence of a large gathering, together to celebrate the Holy Mass and the procession of the Holy Sacrament, I, priest and curé signed below, have received the profession of faith of Joseph Salomon Wiles, aged twenty-three years, adult son of Joseph Wiles and Rebecca Word of St. François. I also absolved him of heresy and gave him conditional baptism, in the presence of Thomas Roy dit Desjardins, of Nathalie Nadeau, and of all the above-mentioned gathering. Henri Dionne, priest
In this case, of Salomon Wiles, son of Joseph and Rebecca Ward, the apparent reason for conversion was his pending marriage to Elisabeth Bouchard. The couple were married eight days after this abjuration, on June 14, 1858. (This act of abjuration is located following baptism number 112 -- B112 -- in 1858.)
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Last revised 11 Jun 2007