Hennepin exaggerates his exploring feats in a book he writes after returning to France. In one colorful chapter he romanticizes St. Anthony Falls, turning it into a dream destination for adventure travelers. Hennepin becomes famous as his book is translated and read throughout Europe.
Hennepin writes that the falling water “of itself is terrible, and has something in it very astonishing.” Printed in multiple languages and editions, the book’s original title translates to Description of Louisiana: newly discovered to the southwest of New France, by order of the King. With a map of the land: the customs and the way of life of the natives. Dedicated to His Majesty by the R.P. Louis Hennepin, Franciscan missionary and apostolic notary.*
Thank you for choosing Father Hennepin to relay this story to France and the Continent! Often, You choose a spokesman who is imperfectly perfect for the job. In this way, we the recipients automatically relate to the humanity of the message.
Where Hennepin may have exaggerated his adventures; will You forgive him? Will You also forgive those of us like him who may embellish the truth because we lack the trust that the straight story is enough? Will You credit him with the fortitude to put pen to paper, and at least attempt to record what he experienced?
Lord, we are trapped at times by the limitations of words, and especially we historians who wrestle with tone and style. If we insert our voice into historical writing, we may be taken as “too passionate”, or “not impartial.” If we attempt to remain a transparent, neutral reporter, our personality still can betray us through our unspoken biases, our framing of events, and even the limitations or vastness of our vocabulary!
Will You bless those, like Hennepin, who may record our history for those a continent away? Will You give humility to reader and writer to appreciate the limitations of one human’s perceptions? Will You give present and future generations of explorers the bravery to simply write: whether ornamented or truncated?
Lord Jesus, thanks for Your book! Thanks for the power of story to connect head and heart! Will You give power to the stories of Minnesota, and help us to know each other better?
*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm . Currently the timeline seems to be unavailable.