Tuesday, October 19, 2010

St. Isaac Jogues, St. John Brebeuf and Companions - The North American Martyrs

North American Martyrs

"Theirs is a story of educated and cultured men who willingly entered the Indian wilderness to live under the most primitive and dangerous conditions, ever ready to sacrifice their lives for the advancement of Christianity.  It is a story of heroism and love that demonstrates the best in the missionary tradition of the Church."  - Father Albert J. Nevins, M.M.
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North American Martyrs

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The following Jesuits were canonized and it is their feast day we celebrate today:

1. St. Isaac Jogues
2. St. Jean de Brébeuf
3. St. Antoine Daniel
4. St. Charles Garnier
5. St. René Goupil
6. St. Noël Chabanel
7. St. Jean de Lalande
8. St. Gabriel Lallemant

St. Isaac Jogues
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Father Isaac Jogues was captured along with Father Rene Goupil, when he returned to the site of the Indian attack, because some of his converted Indian guides had been taken captive.

"There Jogues and Goupil were savagely tested.  Father Jogues was beaten with sticks; his hair and nails were torn out; his fingers were chewed by Indian women, and his left thumb cut off.  Both men survived the terrible ordeal and were forced to serve as slaves.  Goupil died a few weeks later; he was murdered for making the Sign of the Cross over a child.

For the next ten months, Father Jogues occupied the lowest position in the Indian village...yet he dared to tend the Huron captives and secretly baptized seventy Indians."
Father Jogues eventually escaped with the help of the Protestant Dutch aboard their boat. 

"A Protestant minister, seeing how horribly Father Jogues' hands had been mutilated, fell on his knees and asked the priest's blessing.  Later that same man introduced the priest to the pupils of his school ,declaring: "Today you have the privilege of beholding a saint."

Upon his return to France, the Holy Father conferred on him the rare privilege of offering Mass although the "canonical fingers" were largely useless. "It would be unjust, if a martyr of Christ were not to drink the blood of Christ." - Pope Urban VII

Amazingly, Father Jogues begged to be sent back to the Indians and was finally given consent by his superior.  He knew he would not return.

Upon entering the Indian village where he had been held captive, he was tomahawed from behind and died a martyrs' death.

"The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians...It was on such sacrifices that the Church and the United States have been built." - Father Albert Nevins, M.M.

St. Jean de  Brébeuf

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"...The Indians stripped their prisoners naked and tied them to posts. They tore the nails from their fingers, and beat them with clubs all over their bodies. Boiling water was poured upon Father de Brébeuf in imitation of baptism; then a string of red-hot hatchets were hung about his neck. Then the Indians put a belt of pitch on him and lighted it, roasting his body. Next they cut out his tongue and began to peel the flesh from his bones."

"Those butchers seeing that the good Father began to grow weak, made him sit down on the ground; and one of them, taking a knife, cut off the skin covering his skull. Another one, seeing that the good Father would soon die, made an opening in the upper part of his chest, and tore out his heart, which he roasted and ate. Others came to drink his blood still warm, which they drank with both hands." - Father Christopher Regnaut's account of the martyrdom of Saint John de Brébeuf
"...until Father de Brébeuf tongue was cut out, he did not cease continually to speak of God, and to encourage all the new Christians who were captives like himself to suffer well, that they might die well, in order to go in a company with him to Paradise."
North American Martyrs

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St. René Goupil

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St. John de la Lande
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St. Noël Chabanel
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St. Antoine Daniel
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St. Charles Garnier
St. Gabriel Lalemant

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Text Source:  Our American Catholic Heritage by Albert J. Nevins, M.M.

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