Historical Hero for whom the Memorial with a Cross Stands

Biography by

Nicole Wagner

Editor’s Note: On these pages we previously covered the attack on a memorial with a cross. We also provided the legal analysis explaining why this attack lacks merit. This piece  remembers the historical hero for whom the memorial stands.

Pere Marquette Township Michigan holds its name in honor of Father Marquette, a French Adventurer and Missionary who lived his life to the fullest from 1637-1675.

Exploration Driven by Desire to Share His Faith

Driven by the desire to share his faith, he set sail from his homeland in 1668. He studied Native American languages and pastored at Trois Rivières, Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie and La Pointe. Then, when war broke out in the area between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, he evacuated with Ottawa and Huron tribes as they escaped Sioux attacks. This flight brought them to Point St. Ignace where he founded a new mission.

He continued to travel and share his faith throughout his life as he explored captivating, unmapped landscapes. Marquette famously led an expedition together with his friend Louis Jolietan to find the mouth of the Mississippi River. They set out across the Straits of Michillimakinac. Then, after traveling west to Green Bay Wisconsin, they paddled down the Fox River and entered the Mississippi near the Prairie du Chien. From there, they followed the river all the way to the mouth of the Arkansas River.

Along the way they enjoyed a warm reception and a peace pipe from the Illini tribe, and joyfully, they shared their faith. They preached and fellowshipped until it was time to return north. Then they left, promising to return.

Last Days

After Marquette reached Michigan, he published an account of his travels. Later, in keeping with his promise, he returned to found a mission in Illinois. Amid this successful ministry, he contracted dysentery. That was the beginning of the end.

He jumped in his canoe and headed home towards his mission in Saint Ignace, preparing to enter into eternity. On the way, he died in the wilderness in the Ludington Michigan Area. Now a memorial– a cross in the wilderness– honors and remembers him at the spot he took his last breath.

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant…

Today, the cross is under fire. Removing the cross however, cannot remove a historical life, or a faith that lives on through generations. Whether or not the cross remains in the woods, it will always be lifted high in the people’s hearts as they remember Father Marquette.


Canadian Museum of History. (n.d.)  Jacques Marquette 1673. Retrieved from http://www.historymuseum.ca/virtual-museum-of-new-france/the-explorers/jacques-marquette-1673-1694/

A&E Television Networks.(2016).Jacques Marquette. Retrieved from  https://www.biography.com/people/jacques-marquette-20984755

Greatriverroad.com (2001). Jacques Marquette. Retrieved from http://greatriverroad.com/Pere/marquetteBio.htm


About the Author

Nicole Wagner

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