MADISON — A pilgrimage along the Kennebec River is to allow participants to walk in the footsteps of Father Sebastian Râle, a Jesuit martyr who ministered to the Abenaki people 300 years ago, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.

The pilgrimage is set for 3:30 a.m. Saturday, July 24, and is to start at St. Sebastian Church, at 161 Main St. in Madison, where prayers and reflections will be shared, and lead participants to the place where it is believed Râle is buried. The pilgrimage includes a short drive to the site of his mission on Old Point, after which pilgrims will process along the Kennebec River to the Râle monument.

Along the way, there will be stops to read and reflect on Râle’s letters, which tell of his missionary work. The pilgrimage will conclude by 1 p.m.

Originally from Pontarlier, France, Râle (also spelled Râsle) joined the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1674. Fifteen years later, he traveled to the Americas, where he first served in Illinois and Canada before settling along the Kennebec.

While living among the Abenaki, Râle composed a catechism and dictionary in their language, and he is credited with establishing the first school in what is now Maine. But it was a time of conflict, with France and England struggling for control of the Americas, and Râle was killed by the British in 1724 while defending the Abenaki people.

Participants are asked to bring rosary beads, bug spray, water, and a lawn chair.

For more information, email [email protected].

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