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Feast of the Martyrs of North America, 1642-1649 (October 19)   Leave a comment

Above:  National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, New York

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT RENÉ GOUPIL (MAY 16, 1608-SEPTEMBER 29, 1642)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1642

First Roman Catholic Martyr in North America

Solo feast day = September 29

lay assistant to

SAINT ISAAC JOGUES (JANUARY 10, 1607-OCTOBER 18, 1646)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1646

Solo feast day = October 18

colleague of

SAINT JEAN DE LA LA LANDE (DIED OCTOBER 19, 1646)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1646

Also known as Saint Jean Lalande

Solo feast day = October 19

colleague of

SAINT ANTOINE DANIEL (MAY 27, 1601-JULY 4, 1648)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1648

Solo feast day = July 4

colleague of

SAINT JEAN DE BRÉBEUF (MARCH 25, 1593-MARCH 16, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = March 16

colleague of

SAINT GABRIEL LALEMANT (OCTOBER 10, 1610-MARCH 17, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = March 17

colleague of

SAINT CHARLES GARNIER (BAPTIZED MAY 25, 1606-DIED DECEMBER 7, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Priest, Missionary, and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = December 7

lay colleague of

SAINT NOËL CHABANEL (FEBRUARY 2, 1613-DECEMBER 8, 1649)

French Roman Catholic Missionary and Martyr in New France, 1649

Solo feast day = December 8

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Missionaries and Martyrs in New France, 1642-1649

Also known as the Canadian Martyrs

Alternative feast days = March 16 and September 26

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I.  INTRODUCTION

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The Martyrs of North America, 1642-1649, come to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Roman Catholic Church and The Anglican Church of Canada.  St. Isaac Jogues (1607-1646), by himself, is a profiled saint in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).

The label “Canadian Martyrs,” accurate in 1642-1649, is a contemporary misnomer, for not all eight martyrs died in what we now call Canada.  Some died in what is now upstate New York.

With eight saints, we–you, O reader, and I, have some proverbial bouncing balls to follow.  Telling their stories together is logical, however.

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II.  ENTER THE “BLACK ROBES”

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GOUPIL

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St. René Goupil offered himself to the service of God.  Goupil, born in Saint-Martin-du-Bois, Anjou, France, was a son of Hippliite Goupil and Luce (Provost) Goupil.  Our saint, a surgeon, became a Jesuit novice in Paris on March 16, 1639.  However, deafness forced him to leave the Society of Jesus.  Nevertheless, Goupil volunteered as a lay missionary.  He, having arrived in New France in 1640, served at the Saint-Joseph de Sillery Mission, Québec.  There he worked in the hospital though 1642.

Goupil and about 40 other people visited Huron missions in 1642.  One of the other missionaries was St. Isaac Jogues.

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JOGUES (I)

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St. Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit priest.  He, born in Orléans, France, on January 10, 1607, was the fifth of nine children of Laurent Jogues and Françoise de Sainte-Mesmin.  Jogues, educated first at his bourgeois home then at Jesuit schools, became Jesuit novice at Rouen in 1624.  He was seventeen years old at the time.  The Jesuit missions to New France started in 1625.  Those early missionaries inspired Jogues, who decided to become a missionary to New France, too.  Our saint professed his vows in 1626, studied philosophy at La Flèche for a few years, taught humanities at a boys’s school in Rouen (1629-1633), studied theology at Paris (1633-1636), and joined the ranks of priests (1636).

In 1636, Jogues, not yet a priest, met three of his heroes.  They were St. Jean de Brébeuf, Charles Lalemant, and Ènemond Massé, missionaries who had recently returned from New France.

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BRÉBEUF

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St. Jean de Brébeuf was another Jesuit missionary priest.  He, born in Condé-sur-Vire, France, on March 25, 1593, joined he Society of Jesus in 1617, at the age of twenty-four years.  Brébeuf, a teacher at Rouen (1619-1621), joined the ranks of priests in February 1622.  Then he served three years as the Steward of the College of Rouen.  In 1625, our saint became a missionary to New France.  The group of five missionaries arrived in Québec in June 1625.

Brébeuf, who had a talent for learning languages, ministered mostly among Hurons.  Due to international politics (Anglo-French) tensions, the missionaries returned to France in 1629.  They returned in 1633.  Missionary work was challenging and not always successful.  The deaths of many indigenous people from European diseases complicated the matter.  But the missionaries were faithful.

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DANIEL (I)

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St. Antoine Daniel was one of the other Jesuit missionaries with Brébeuf in New France.  Daniel, born in Dieppe, Normandy, France, on May 27, 1601, studied philosophy for two years and law for for one year before joining the Society of Jesus at Rouen on October 1, 1621,  Our saint taught at Rouen (1623-1627), studied theology at Paris (1627-1630), joined the ranks of priests (1630) and taught at the College of Eu (1630-1632).

Daniel began to minister in New France in 1632.  At first, he tended to a flock of colonists at St. Anne’s Bay, Cape Breton (-1633).  Then he joined Brébeuf’s mission.  In 1634, Brébeuf and Daniel were two of the tree missionaries who traveled to Wendake.  Daniel learned the language of the Hurons.  He translated the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed, and set them to music.  For two yeas, Daniel also ran a school for indigenous boys.  In 1638, when Brébeuf moved onto a different assignment, and Daniel relieved him.

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JOGUES (II)

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In 1636, Brébeuf and company, back in France, told the other Jesuits of the great dangers of the mission in New France.  Jogues, not discouraged, became more determined to serve as a missionary in New France.  Shortly after ordination to the priesthood (1636), he and St. Charles Garnier sailed for New France.

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GARNIER

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St. Charles Garnier was a priest.  He, baptized in Paris, France, as an infant on May 25, 1606, was a son of of a secretary to King Henry III.  Garnier became a Jesuit novice in September 1624.  In time, our saint served as the Prefect of the College of Clermont, completed his studies in philosophy and rhetoric, and taught at the College of Eu for two years.  Next, Garnier finished his studies in theology, culture, and language.  Then, in 1635, he joined the ranks of priests.

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BRÉBEUF, GARNIER, AND JOGUES

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Garnier, Jogues, and company arrived in New France in June 1636.  Immediately, he traveled to the Huron mission.  Brébeuf was a strong influence on our saint.

Jogues arrived at his assigned mission station in Québec in September 1636.  He joined Brébeuf, the Superior of that Jesuit mission, at Saint-Joseph, on Lake Huron.  Immediately, an epidemic struck the Jesuits and the Hurons.  (This happened repeatedly.)  Fearful natives accused the “Black Robes” of trying to kill them.  Jogues caught a fever, but recovered.  He ministered to the Hurons at Saint-Joseph for six years.

In the winter of 1639-1640, Jogues and Garnier visited the Petun, a tribe in what is now southern Ontario.  That mission proved fruitless.  For two months, the Jesuit missionaries traveled from village to village, to a chilly reception.

In September 1641, however, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut found a receptive population of Ojibwe.  Jogues ministered at the new Saint-Marie Mission for a while.

Garnier worked at the Saint-Joseph Mission from 1641 to 1646.

Brébeuf also wrote hymns.  Perhaps the most popular one was the Huron Carol, which Jesse Edgar Middleton (1872-1960) translated into English as “Twas the Moon of Winter Time.”

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III.  GOUPIL AND JOGUES, 1642

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Goupil and about 40 other people visited Huron missions in 1642,  Jogues was part of this team, which included Christian Hurons.  On August 3, some Mohawk warriors attacked these Christians near present-day Auriesville, New York.  The Mohawk warriors tortured their victims.  Goupil, by this time a Jesuit lay brother, taught a Mohawk boy the sign of the cross.  For this, Goupil died via tomahawk to the head.  Jogues gave him last rites on September 29, 1642.

The Mohawk warriors also slowly tortured then killed the Huron converts.  (Hurons and Mohawks were traditional enemies.)

The Anglican Church of Canada, in its brief summary of this feast, states that Brébeuf, in 1649, suffered

atrocities which defy description.

Applying this statement to Jogues (in 1642) and Brebeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant (in 1649), that statement is objectively inaccurate.  Finding descriptions is as easy as using Google.  I choose do describe the sufferings of these saints in general terms only.

Jogues emerged his captivity a mutilated man.  He returned to France for medical treatment.  Pope Urban VIII called Jogues a “living martyr.”  That “living martyr” returned to New France voluntarily in 1644.

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IV.  TO 1646

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CHABANEL AND GARNIER (I)

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St. Noël Chabanel was a Jesuit missionary.  He, born in Saughes, France, on February 2, 1613, became a Jesuit novice when he was 17 years old.  Chabanel taught at Jesuit colleges and earned a sterling reputation.  Our saint arrived in New France in 1643.  What he lacked in Algonquin linguistic acumen for a while he made up for with piety.  Chabanel, assigned to Sainte-Marie Mission, worked with Garnier.

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LALEMANT

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St. Gabriel Lalemant was a priest.  He came from an extended family (including Charles Lalemant) deeply involved in the Society of Jesus and the mission to New France.  Our saint, born in Paris, France, on October 31, 1610, was the third of six children of an attorney.  Lalemant joined the Society of Jesus in 1630.  He tried to get sent to New France years before he succeeded; ill health stood in the way for years.  Finally, in 1646, uncle Jerome Lalemant, the Vicar-General of Québec, interceded.  In the meantime, our saint had taught at the college in Moulins (1632-1635), studied theology at Bourges (1635-1639), became a priest (1638), and taught at various schools (1639-1646).

Lalemant arrived in Québec in September 1646.  He spent months studying the languages and customs of the Hurons.

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LA LANDE

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St. Jean de la Lande (a.k.a. St. Jean Lalande) was a Jesuit lay brother.  He, a native of Dieppe, Normandy, France, was just 19 years old when he arrived in New France.

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V.  1646:  JOGUES AND LA LANDE

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St. Isaac Jogues became the French envoy to the Mohawk Nation in the Spring of 1646.  (The Huron and Mohawk Nations had forged a fragile peace the previous year.)  Jogues arrived with de la Lande and other members of the diplomatic party in September 1646.  Mohawk warriors captured the Jesuits and took them to the village of Ossermenon (the site of Auriesville, New York, today).  Jogues died of a tomahawk to the head on October 18, 1646.  The following day, la Lande attempted to recover the corpse.  He also died of a tomahawk to the head.

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VI.  TO 1649

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DANIEL (II)

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St. Antonie Daniel returned to the main Huron town, Teanaostaye, on July 4, 1648.  While the majority of Huron men were away, trading in Quêbec, Iroquois warriors attacked the town.  Daniel tended to his flock in the chapel as best he could.  Then he absolved them of their sins, baptized catechumens, and confronted the attackers.  The priest, vested, carried a cross toward the Iroquois warriors.  They killed him, placed his body in the chapel, and burned the chapel.  By then, many of the Hurons who had been in the chapel had escaped.

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BRÉBEUF, LALEMANT, AND CHABANEL

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St. Jean de Brébeuf, master of languages, had done much to help the Jesuit mission in New France.  His translated works included a catechism and a collection of Biblical prayers, proved invaluable for a long time.  Yet he met a gory end, too.

St. Gabriel Lalemant ministered in the area of the Three Rivers trading center through September 1648.  He, having been Brébeuf’s assistant at Wendake (September 1648-Feburary 1649), had gone to Saint-Louis Mission.  Lalemant replaced Chabanel.  Meanwhile, Brébeuf had transferred to Saint-Ignace Mission, near Saint-Louis Mission.

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VII. 1649

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BRÉBEUF AND LALEMANT

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In March 1649, when most of the Huron warriors were away, Iroquois warriors attacked Saint-Ignace.  Huron warriors from Saint-Louis delayed the attackers, thereby allowing women, children, and elderly people to escape Saint-Ignace.  Iroquois warriors captured Brébeuf and Lalemant.  Both saints suffered terrible tortures.  They received the crown of martyrdom–Brébeuf on March 16 and Lalemant on the following day.

The Society of Jesus closed and burned Sainte-Marie Mission, rather than permit the Iroquois to desecrate the site.

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CHABANEL AND GARNIER (II)

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St. Noël Chabanel, transferred from Saint-Louis Mission, went to Saint-Joseph Mission.

St. Charles Garnier, living in a Petun village, died during an Iroquois raid on December 7, 1649.

The following day, a “renegade Huron” killed Chabanel, apparently for being French.  According to “alternative facts”–lies–the French had betrayed the Hurons and entered into an alliance with the Iroquois.

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VIII. CONCLUSION

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Pope Pius XI declared these martyrs Beati in 1925 then full saints five years later.

Writing hagiographies can lead to a sense of spiritual inadequacy.  One may think of oneself as a good person.  Perhaps one is a good person.  But is one as good as, for example, these eight martyrs?  I am not.

Consider St. Isaac Jogues, for example, O reader.  Imagine yourself in his position.  Knowing the risks, would you have done what he did?  And having suffered as he did, would you have remained so dedicated?

The North American Martyrs acted out of the love of Christ.  Each one took up his cross and followed Jesus to his individual Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 21, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ADAME ROSALES, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF SAINT CONRAD OF PARZHAM, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF GEORGE B. CAIRD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST THEN UNITED REFORMED MINISTER, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF GEORGIA HARKNESS, U.S. METHODIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, ETHICIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIMEON BARSABAE, BISHOP; AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS, 341

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Eternal God, you consecrated the first-fruits of faith

in the forests of North America by preaching and blood

of Jean de Brébeuf and his holy companions.

In your mercy send forth many to labour in every corner of this nation,

that your gospel may yield in our day a rich and bountiful harvest

by the increase of a true Christian people;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Romans 8:28-39

Psalm 116:10-16

Luke 12:8-12

–The Anglican Church of Canada

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