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North American Martyrs

The Roots To Our Brebeuf House System

Amongst the eight French missionaries who died as martyrs in Canada and US in the 17th century, six were Jesuit priests; one was a novice and the other a lay person. These men, who came from France with the desire to make known the Good News of the Gospel to the First Nations in Canada, knew they were putting their lives at risk. Because they wanted to preach the Gospel to the native people in a way that would be respectful of their culture, they had chosen to live with the Huron people, so as to learn about their lifestyle, their habits and language. They were aware of the risks, in particular that of being attacked by their enemies, the Iroquois. Several amongst them had considered and accepted the possibility of suffering martyrdom.

 

North American Martyrs

The Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, Ontario, the site of the Jesuits' missionary work among the Wendat, is the National Shrine to the Canadian Martyrs.
A National Shrine of the North American Martyrs has been constructed and dedicated in Auriesville, New York. It is located south of the Mohawk River, near a Jesuit cemetery containing remains of missionaries who died in the area from 1669 to 1684, when the Jesuits had a local mission to the Mohawk.

 
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St. Jean de Brébeuf (Our Patron Saint)

Jean de Brebeuf, was a french-born Jesuit missionary and martyr of New France who arrived in America in 1625 to evangelize Native Americans.  He lived among the Huron for over 15 years under difficult and challenging circumstances. In 1648 the Iroquois launched a war of extermination against the Huron, their traditional enemies. Refusing to flee when their Huron village was attacked, Brebeuf and his assistant, Gabriel   Lalemant, were captured the following year and tortured to death by the Iroquois. Brebeuf was canonized in 1930 with seven other missionaries who are collectively called the North American martyrs. He is the patron saint of  Canada. His feast day is October 19th.

St. René Goupil (On the left)

René Goupil was a physician and surgeon. A native of Angers, France, Goupil continued to want to serve God even after he could not pursue a vocation as a Jesuit, so he studied surgery and found his way to Canada, where he served as a layman to the Jesuit missionaries. He attached himself to the Jesuit mission in Quebec, and then in July 1642, he received permission to accompany Isaac Jogues back to the mission at Huronia, which is today upper New York. The canoe party was ambushed and captured by the Iroquois. During his captivity Goupil was tortured and beaten; his end came when an elder objected to his making the sign of the cross over a child. A tomahawk blow ended his short life. The first of the eight North American Martyrs to be killed, he was 35 years old when he died. He is now considered the patron saint of physician anesthetists.

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St. Isaac Jogues

Isaac Jogues was born in Orléans, France in 1607. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1624 and was ordained as a priest in 1636. He was immediately assigned to Canada to instruct and aid Native Americans. He began his missionary work in 1641 but was captured, beated, and tortured by warring Iroquois in that same year. Escaped back to France, he was eager to go back to continue his missionary work. While establishing peace upon returning back by the French Government, he was murdered by the Mohawk Indians in 1646. Jogues was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930

St. Jean de Lalande (On the right)

Jean de Lalande was born in Dieppe, France in 1625. He was a French Jesuit Priest at a settlement in the Land of the Wendat which is now referred to as the province of Ontario. Lalande was martyred when he tried to retrieve the body of Father Jogues who had also been tortured and martyred. In 1646, Jean de Lalande accompanied Father Isaac Jogues on his mission to Mohawk, where later he martyred with him. Jean de Lalande was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930.

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St. Antoine Daniel

Antoine Daniel was born in Dieppe, France on May 27, 1601, became a Jesuit and was ordained a priest in 1631 at age 29. Even before he was a priest, Antoine met a Huron youth, sent to France to study. The idea of being a part of the conversion of the Hurons to Christianity inspired Antoine. Daniel worked in Huronia for 12 years. During this time, Fr. Daniel mastered the language and dreamed of developing future catechists from among the Hurons with whom he worked. Unfortunately, he found himself in a village on the warpath of the Mohawk. Daniel set himself outside the building with a cross as a diversion, demanding the Mohawk to leave the village. The warriors ignored Fr. Daniel’s resistance and burned the building. Fr. Daniel was killed by the bullets and arrows of the Mohawk on July 4, 1648.

St. Noël Chabanel

Noël Chabanel was born on February 2, 1613 in the south of France to an affluent family. He became a Jesuit at the age of 17, and a priest at 28. He was a successful professor in France. With a strong desire to experience the missionary way of life, Fr. His enthusiasm quickly faded when he was not able to master the language and didn’t care for the surroundings and customs of the Indians with whom he lived and worked. He made reference to his time in Huronia as "bloodless martyrdom". He was slain by a Huron on December 8, 1649, near the village of Ste. Marie. He was 36 years old. He was the only martyr killed by one of the Hurons who had worked with the Jesuits in Canada.

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St. Charles Garnier

Charles Garnier was born on May 26, 1606 in Paris to a wealthy family with a place in Henry III’s household. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1624 at 18 years of age and was ordained in 1635. He was attracted to the hard life of a missionary in Canada. He was a person of innocence and purity, with a strong devotion to Our Lady, whom he acknowledged looked after him as a youth. During the 13 years in Canada, Fr. Garnier went from working with the Hurons to working with the neighbouring Petuns, a slightly more hostile group. His quiet way was well-suited for this more reserved group of native peoples. He was captured in a Mohawk massacre of the Petun villages. Hit by a Mohawk bullet, he fell but awoke to absolve a young Petun brave who lay near him. Seeing Fr. Garnier move, a Mohawk warrior used a tomahawk to kill the priest on December 7, 1649.

St. Gabriel Lalemant

Gabriel Lalemant was born in Paris, France on October 10, 1610. He became a Jesuit at age 19 and was a scholar of philosophy and dean of studies in French colleges. Though of delicate health, it was his ambition to work in foreign missions and he requested repeatedly to be sent to the Canadian missions as his uncles had before him. At long last, Fr. Just one month later, the Mohawk attacked the town were Fr. Lalemant and Fr. de Brébeuf were working. The two Jesuits had just enough time to slip away and travel to a nearby settlement to warn the next group of Hurons that the Mohawk were on the warpath. They helped send the women and children into the woods, prepare the men for battle and the Jesuits baptized, confessed and absolved the Christians in the settlement. Lalemant, though more delicate than Fr. Brébeuf, was required to witness the martyrdom of his fellow Jesuit. Throughout his ordeal, Fr. Lalemant’s prayer was simple: "Jesus, have mercy on us!" After just six months in Huronia, Fr. Lalemant died on March 17, 1649.

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