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DeSmet is named in honor of Father Pierre Jean DeSmet, a Belgian Jesuit missionary who arrived in Idaho in 1842. The Catholic missionary’s third site of his historic Sacred Heart Mission was established here upon his arrival, and the missionaries worked closely with the three bands of Coeur d’Alene Indians living near the mission on the St. Joe River. In 1881, construction began on the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The large, elaborate building served as a house of worship until it tragically burned down in 1939. Today, the Coeur d’Alene tribal grammar school is still located in the small community.

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