One day, while at his devotions, he heard an inward voice commanding him to become to establish, on the island called Montreal, in Canada, a hospital.
Previously in The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century.
Our special project presenting the definitive account of France in Canada by Francis Parkman, one of America’s greatest historians.
We come now to an enterprise as singular in its character as it proved important in its results.
At La Fleche, in Anjou, dwelt one Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversičre, receiver of taxes. His portrait shows us a round, bourgeois face, somewhat heavy perhaps, decorated with a slight moustache, and redeemed by bright and earnest eyes. On his head he wears a black skull-cap; and over his ample shoulders spreads a stiff white collar, of wide expanse and studious plainness. Though he belonged to the noblesse, his look is that of a grave burgher, of good renown and sage deportment. Dauversičre was, however, an enthusiastic devotee, of mystical tendencies, who whipped himself with a scourge of small chains till his shoulders were one wound, wore a belt with more than twelve hundred sharp points, and invented for himself other torments, which filled his confessor with admiration.  One day, while at his devotions, he heard an inward voice commanding him to become the founder of a new Order of hospital nuns; and he was further ordered to establish, on the island called Montreal, in Canada, a hospital, or Hôtel-Dieu, to be conducted by these nuns. But Montreal was a wilderness, and the hospital would have no patients. Therefore, in order to supply them, the island must first be colonized. Dauversičre was greatly perplexed. On the one hand, the voice of Heaven must be obeyed; on the other, he had a wife, six children, and a very moderate fortune. 
[1 Fancamp in Faillon, Vie de Mlle Mance, Introduction.]
[2 Faillon, Vie de Mlle Mance, Introduction; Dollier de Casson, Hist. de Montreal, MS.; Les Véritables Motifs des Messieurs et Dames de Montreal, 25; Juchereau, 33.]
Again: there was at Paris a young priest, about twenty-eight years of age, — Jean Jacques Olier, afterwards widely known as founder of the Seminary of St. Sulpice. Judged by his engraved portrait, his countenance, though marked both with energy and intellect, was anything but prepossessing. Every lineament proclaims the priest. Yet the Abbé Olier has high titles to esteem. He signalized his piety, it is true, by the most disgusting exploits of self-mortification; but, at the same time, he was strenuous in his efforts to reform the people and the clergy. So zealous was he for good morals, that he drew upon himself the imputation of a leaning to the heresy of the Jansenists, — a suspicion strengthened by his opposition to certain priests, who, to secure the faithful in their allegiance, justified them in lives of licentiousness.  Yet Olier’s catholicity was past attaintment, and in his horror of Jansenists he yielded to the Jesuits alone.
[3 Faillon, Vie de M. Olier, II. 188.]
He was praying in the ancient church of St. Germain des Prés, when, like Dauversičre, he thought he heard a voice from Heaven, saying that he was destined to be a light to the Gentiles. It is recorded as a mystic coincidence attending this miracle, that the choir was at that very time chanting the words, Lumen ad revelationem Gentium;  and it seems to have occurred neither to Olier nor to his biographer, that, falling on the ear of the rapt worshipper, they might have unconsciously suggested the supposed revelation. But there was a further miracle. An inward voice told Olier that he was to form a society of priests, and establish them on the island called Montreal, in Canada, for the propagation of the True Faith; and writers old and recent assert, that, while both he and Dauversičre were totally ignorant of Canadian geography, they suddenly found themselves in possession, they knew not how, of the most exact details concerning Montreal, its size, shape, situation, soil, climate, and productions.
[4 Mémoires Autographes de M. Olier, cited by Faillon, in Histoire de la Colonie Française, I. 384.]
The annual volumes of the Jesuit Relations, issuing from the renowned press of Cramoisy, were at this time spread broadcast throughout France; and, in the circles of haute devotion, Canada and its missions were everywhere the themes of enthusiastic discussion; while Champlain, in his published works, had long before pointed out Montreal as the proper site for a settlement. But we are entering a region of miracle, and it is superfluous to look far for explanations. The illusion, in these cases, is a part of the history.
Dauversičre pondered the revelation he had received; and the more he pondered, the more was he convinced that it came from God. He therefore set out for Paris, to find some means of accomplishing the task assigned him. Here, as he prayed before an image of the Virgin in the church of Notre-Dame, he fell into an ecstasy, and beheld a vision. “I should he false to the integrity of history,” writes his biographer, “if I did not relate it here.” And he adds, that the reality of this celestial favor is past doubting, inasmuch as Dauversičre himself told it to his daughters. Christ, the Virgin, and St. Joseph appeared before him. He saw them distinctly. Then he heard Christ ask three times of his Virgin Mother, Where can I find a faithful servant? On which, the Virgin, taking him (Dauversičre) by the hand, replied, See, Lord, here is that faithful servant! — and Christ, with a benignant smile, received him into his service, promising to bestow on him wisdom and strength to do his work.  From Paris he went to the neighboring chateau of Meudon, which overlooks the valley of the Seine, not far from St. Cloud. Entering the gallery of the old castle, he saw a priest approaching him. It was Olier. Now we are told that neither of these men had ever seen or heard of the other; and yet, says the pious historian, “impelled by a kind of inspiration, they knew each other at once, even to the depths of their hearts; saluted each other by name, as we read of St. Paul, the Hermit, and St. Anthony, and of St. Dominic and St. Francis; and ran to embrace each other, like two friends who had met after a long separation.” 
[5 Faillon, Vie de Mlle Mance, Introduction, xxviii. The Abbé Ferland, in his Histoire du Canada, passes over the miracles in silence.]
[6 Ibid., La Colonie Française, I. 390.]
“Monsieur,” exclaimed Olier, “I know your design, and I go to commend it to God at the holy altar.”
And he went at once to say mass in the chapel. Dauversičre received the communion at his hands; and then they walked for three hours in the park, discussing their plans. They were of one mind, in respect both to objects and means; and when they parted, Olier gave Dauversičre a hundred louis, saying, “This is to begin the work of God.”
They proposed to found at Montreal three religious communities, — three being the mystic number, — one of secular priests to direct the colonists and convert the Indians, one of nuns to nurse the sick, and one of nuns to teach the Faith to the children, white and red. To borrow their own phrases, they would plant the banner of Christ in an abode of desolation and a haunt of demons; and to this end a band of priests and women were to invade the wilderness, and take post between the fangs of the Iroquois. But first they must make a colony, and to do so must raise money. Olier had pious and wealthy penitents; Dauversičre had a friend, the Baron de Fancamp, devout as himself and far richer. Anxious for his soul, and satisfied that the enterprise was an inspiration of God, he was eager to bear part in it. Olier soon found three others; and the six together formed the germ of the Society of Notre-Dame de Montreal. Among them they raised the sum of seventy-five thousand livres, equivalent to about as many dollars at the present day.
[Dollier de Casson, Histoire de Montreal, MS.; also Belmont, Histoire du Canada, 2. Juchereau doubles the sum. Faillon agrees with Dollier.
On all that relates to the early annals of Montreal a flood of new light has been thrown by the Abbé Faillon. As a priest of St. Sulpice, he had ready access to the archives of the Seminaries of Montreal and Paris, and to numerous other ecclesiastical depositories, which would have been closed hopelessly against a layman and a heretic. It is impossible to commend too highly the zeal, diligence, exactness, and extent of his conscientious researches. His credulity is enormous, and he is completely in sympathy with the supernaturalists of whom he writes: in other words, he identifies himself with his theme, and is indeed a fragment of the seventeenth century, still extant in the nineteenth. He is minute to prolixity, and abounds in extracts and citations from the ancient manuscripts which his labors have unearthed. In short, the Abbé is a prodigy of patience and industry; and if he taxes the patience of his readers, he also rewards it abundantly. Such of his original authorities as have proved accessible are before me, including a considerable number of manuscripts. Among these, that of Dollier de Casson, Histoire de Montreal, as cited above, is the most important. The copy in my possession was made from the original in the Mazarin Library.]
Now to look for a moment at their plan. Their eulogists say, and with perfect truth, that, from a worldly point of view, it was mere folly. The partners mutually bound themselves to seek no return for the money expended. Their profit was to be reaped in the skies: and, indeed, there was none to be reaped on earth. The feeble settlement at Quebec was at this time in danger of utter ruin; for the Iroquois, enraged at the attacks made on them by Champlain, had begun a fearful course of retaliation, and the very existence of the colony trembled in the balance. But if Quebec was exposed to their ferocious inroads, Montreal was incomparably more so. A settlement here would be a perilous outpost, — a hand thrust into the jaws of the tiger. It would provoke attack, and lie almost in the path of the war-parties. The associates could gain nothing by the fur-trade; for they would not be allowed to share in it. On the other hand, danger apart, the place was an excellent one for a mission; for here met two great rivers: the St. Lawrence, with its countless tributaries, flowed in from the west, while the Ottawa descended from the north; and Montreal, embraced by their uniting waters, was the key to a vast inland navigation. Thither the Indians would naturally resort; and thence the missionaries could make their way into the heart of a boundless heathendom. None of the ordinary motives of colonization had part in this design. It owed its conception and its birth to religious zeal alone.
The island of Montreal belonged to Lauson, former president of the great company of the Hundred Associates; and, as we have seen, his son had a monopoly of fishing in the St. Lawrence. Dauversičre and Fancamp, after much diplomacy, succeeded in persuading the elder Lauson to transfer his title to them; and, as there was a defect in it, they also obtained a grant of the island from the Hundred Associates, its original owners, who, however, reserved to themselves its western extremity as a site for a fort and storehouses.  At the same time, the younger Lauson granted them a right of fishery within two leagues of the shores of the island, for which they were to make a yearly acknowledgment of ten pounds of fish. A confirmation of these grants was obtained from the King. Dauversičre and his companions were now seigneurs of Montreal. They were empowered to appoint a governor, and to establish courts, from which there was to be an appeal to the Supreme Court of Quebec, supposing such to exist. They were excluded from the fur-trade, and forbidden to build castles or forts other than such as were necessary for defense against the Indians.
[7 Donation et Transport de la Concession de l’Isle de Montreal par M. Jean de Lauzon aux Sieurs Chevrier de Fouancant (Fancamp) et le Royer de la Doversičre, MS.
Concession d’une Partie de l’Isle de Montreal accordée par la Compagnie de la Nouvelle France aux Sieurs Chevrier et le Royer, MS.
Lettres de Ratification, MS.
Acte qui prouve que les Sieurs Chevrier de Fancamps et Royer de la Dauversičre n’ont stipulé qu’au nom de la Compagnie de Montreal, MS.
From copies of other documents before me, it appears that in 1659 the reserved portion of the island was also ceded to the Company of Montreal.
See also Edits, Ordonnances Royaux, etc., I. 20-26 (Quebec, 1854).]
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 15 by Francis Parkman
The below is from Francis Parkman’s Introduction.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.