Welcome to the Saint Francis Xavier Mission, a historic mission first established in 1667 when the Kanienkeha’ka (Mohawk) community located to the northern part of the Territory at Kentake, now known as Laprairie, Quebec. The community moved four more times due to economic, agricultural as well as political changes, and settled at its present site in 1716 at Kahnawake, meaning “On the rapids” and it was here that a more permanent church was built in 1720.
By the 1820’s the church was too small and badly in need of repairs. Designed by the mission pastor, Fr. Joseph Marcoux and Fr. Félix Martin, S.J. the renovations included a new sacristy, a new tower and steeple in 1831, a newer and larger church in 1845 and a preparation room for the choir and altar boys in 1914. The original rectory of 1720 once housed a parlor, offices and the priest’s chambers and is now the Mission museum. The new rectory, previously the Officer’s mess, now houses the church offices. Fort St. Louis erected in 1725, still partially surrounds the Mission and looks out onto the St. Lawrence River. See SFXM Map
The Mission exhibits many gifts from France and historic treasures of Native, Canadian & European artifacts dating from the 17th to 20th centuries.
St. Kateri’s Tomb is located in the church on the right side near to the altar. Her tomb, made of Carrara marble, was solemnly blessed by Bishop G.M. Coderre on December 17, 1972. The statue of Kateri behind the tomb was carved in 1981 by Quebec sculptor Leo Arbour. Her beaded crown was donated by a community member in thanksgiving for her intercession.
Other items of interest in the church include a replica of the United States World Trade Center fashioned by our Mohawk ironworkers, and the legendary Deerfield Bell.
The museum contains ivory crucifixes, religious artefacts, statues, paintings, manuscripts, carvings, old vestments, arrowheads, flints, tomahawks, corn mashers and traditional beadwork. Among its valued treasures are the many depictions of St.Kateri Tekakwitha, including the earliest known oil painting (1690) by Father Claude Chauchetiere S.J., her spiritual director.
We invite you to visit the Mission and walk outside to view the old Mission bell on the front lawn, the old Fort St. Louis (1725) and the beautiful view of Montreal, as well as a view of the Mission complex.