St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana was a bustling place in the early 1890s. Each year well over three hundred Native American students attended the schools and over a thousand tribal members and Indian visitors camped at the mission for the Christmas, Easter, and St. Ignatius Day celebrations. The mission was also a training center for aspiring Jesuit priests. Here Indian students and parishioners learned useful skills and received spiritual consolation, even as the missionaries worked to undermine valuable aspects of Salish and Kootenai culture.
Documents in Zealous in All Virtues describe the schools and the student exhibitions of drama, song, oratory, and music. Although direct Indian reminiscences from the period have not survived, Zealous in All Virtues assembles government reports, newspaper accounts, St. Ignatius church records, letters from missionaries, and other sources to offer general readers and historians an intriguing glimpse into life at a nineteenth-century mission.