He was a member of the Franciscan province of St. Antony. He arrived in Canada in 1675, and in 1679 he accompanied Robert de La Salle to the country of the Illinois, of which he wrote a description. His missionary work there had little success.
In 1681 he descended the Mississippi River with La Salle to the Gulf of Mexico, returned with the leader of the expedition to Europe by way of Canada. He became superior of the Franciscan monastery in his native city.
In 1684 Membre, with two Franciscans and three Sulpicians, sailed with La Salle intending to found a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but inaccurate maps and navigational errors caused them to instead anchor 400 miles (644 km) west, off the coast of Texas near Matagorda Bay. La Salle erected Fort St. Louis, a 50-mile (80 km) overland trek from Matagorda Bay in 1685. Membre endeavoured to establish a mission among the Cenis nation (Hasinai). In this he failed. After about two years he was killed, along with Fr. Maximus Le Cerq, Rev. Chefdeville, and the small garrison which La Salle had left at the settlement.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed (1913). "Zenobius Membre". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. The entry cites:
- BARCIA, Ensayo Cronológico (Madrid, 1723);
- Louis Hennepin, Description de la Louisiane (Paris, 1683);
- THWAITES, A New Discovery of a Vast Country (Chicago, 1903);
- SHEA, Cath. Church in Colonial Days (New York, 1886); Cath. Missions (New York, 1854);
- WALLACE, Illinois and Louisiana (Cincinnati, 1893).
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