North American Martyrs

SAINT ISAAC JOGUES        

Called the "Apostle of the Mohawks," and known to the Mohawks themselves as Ondessonk, "the indomitable one," Isaac Jogues was born on January 10, 1607, at Orleans, France, into a good bourgeois family; in 1624, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Jesuit novitiate school at Rouen. After having been professor of literature at Rouen, he was sent, in 1636, to New France as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquian allies of the French. On 3 August, 1642, while on his way by canoe to the country of the Hurons, Jogues, in the company of Guillaume Cousture, Rene Goupil , and several Huron Christians, was captured by a war party of Mohawk Iroquois. They were taken back to the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk River, about forty miles above the present city of Albany, where they were tortured. It was during this torture that several of Jogues' fingers were cut off by his captors.

St. Isaac Jogues survived this torment and went on to live as a slave among the Mohawks for some time, even attempting to teach his captors the rudiments of Christianity. He was finally able to escape thanks to the pity of some Dutch merchants who smuggled him back to Manhattan. Jogues was the first Catholic priest who ever came to Manhattan Island (New York). From there, he managed to sail back to France, where he was greeted with surprise and joy. As a "living martyr", Jogues was given a special permission by Pope Urban VII to say Holy Mass with his mutilated hands, as the Eucharist could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger.

Yet his ill-treatment by the Mohawk Iroquois did not dim the missionary zeal of Jogues. Within a few months, he was on his way back to Canada to continue his work. In 1645, a tentative peace was forged between the Iroquois and the Hurons, Algonquins, and French. In the spring of 1646, Jogues was sent back to the Mohawk country along with Jean de Lalande to act as ambassador among them.

However, some among the Mohawks regarded Jogues as a practitioner of magic, and when the double-calamity of sickness and crop failure hit the Mohawks, Jogues was the easiest thing to blame their now prevalent problems on. On October 18, 1646, Jogues and LaLande were tomahawked in the neck (beheaded-not clubbed as some tell the story).

Today, the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, maintained by the Jesuits, stands on or near the site (ten years after Jogues' death, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was born in approximately the same place).

St. Issac Jogues was canonized on June 29, 1930 by Pope Pius XI along with seven other Canadian Martyrs. His Day of Remembrance is October 19. A statue of Father Jogues stands in the village of Lake George, in the park by the lake..

At Blessed Sacrament, we have a statue of St. Isaac in the alcove of the church, and also in our meditation garden across from the church. The four Saints are depicted on the glass doors of the entrance of the church as well.

SAINT JEAN DE LELANDE Martyred October 18, 1646

St. John LaLande was a french teenager working as a donne, lay missionary, at the Jesuit missions in Sainte-Marie Canada among the Hurons. Lalande was a member of a party led by Jesuit Fr. Isaac Jogues as an envoy to the Mohawk lands to protect the precarious peace of the time. Fr. Jogues’ asked for someone who was “virtuous, docile to direction, courageous, and one who would be willing to suffer anything for God. However, Mohawk attitudes towards this peace had soured during the men's journey and they were attacked by a Mohawk party en route. They were taken to the village of Ossernenon (Auriesville, N.Y.), where they were decreed to be set free by the moderate Turtle and Wolf clans. Angered by this, the more hawkish Bear clan killed Fr. Jogues and then St. John LaLande after he attempted to recover the slain body of Fr. Jogues on October 18, 1646, becoming one of 8 North American Martyrs

SAINT KATERI TEKAKWITHA

Kateri Tekakwitha was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943, Beatified in 1980, and was Canonized On Oct. 21, 2012. Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavier, Caughnawaha, and at her birth place at Auriesville, where pilgrimages to these sites continue today

Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her Mother, Father and brother all died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face, she was then adopted by her two aunts and an uncle.

Kateri became converted as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in her belief. Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged. Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified.

She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four, and was known as the "Lily of the Mohawks".

Devotion to St. Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint.

Her feast day is July 14, and she is known as the patroness of the Environment and Ecology, as is St. Francis of Assisi. 

St. Rene Goupil

St. Rene Goupil was born at St. Martin Du Bois, France in 1608. He was the second to five children born to Luce Provost and Hypolite Goupil. Rene came from a locally significant family who provided for his education which was quite a rarity in the 17th Century. The Goupil family knew how to read and write and had developed professional skills. Rene’s father was a surgeon who taught him some skills before he died when Rene was only twelve.

Rene entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Paris in 1639 at the age of 31 and was dismissed three months later, presumably because of a hearing defect. Quite possibly Rene’s desire to become a surgeon and a religious brother both stem from the same source: a desire to love and serve God in his impoverished neighbors which is the essence of Christianity. In 1640 he sailed from France to come to the New World where he landed at Sillery, Canada (four miles west of Quebec) because he wanted to work among the American Indians.

Rene worked as a handyman for the missionaries and as a surgeon for the Indians. Rene was a type of surgeon who knew the properties of certain medicines, how to promote healing in wounds, and the art of bleeding and dressings. Even more important, he was seen as a companion to the poor. Both the Indians and the French were welcomed at the hospital. Rene was given the care of dressing the sick and wounded, which he did with great skill, seeing our Lord in his patients with great affection and love.

All during July 1640, Rene worked as a “jack of all trades.” In fact his work was described as the lowest, most vile jobs around the Jesuit house. He did menial tasks, while at the same time, helping in the hospital. Rene did not “hire” on as a domestic for the Jesuits but offered himself to work for them, gratuitously. Then in August 1642, he volunteered to be chief surgeon for the most dangerous Jesuit mission nearly 900 miles from Quebec.

On the trip west, he was soon captured, taken prisoner by the Iroquois, mangled and tortured repeatedly. From there he was carried to Lake Champlain, Lake George and finally to the main Iroquois village near Albany, New York, on the banks of the Mohawk River. There he was exhibited as a trophy of war.

Just before his death on September 29, 1642, he took vows to become a Jesuit Brother and act as a missionary. One day Rene began to trace the sign of the cross on an Iroquois child’s forehead and to teach the child to make the sign of the cross. This was witnessed by Isaac Jogues and took place near present day Auriesville, near Albany, New York.

Recalling the sad incident a year later, Isaac Jogues wrote about Rene that “he was not more than thirty-four years of age but was a man of unusual simplicity and innocence of life, of invincible patience, and very conformable to the divine will”.

St. Rene was canonized along with his companions, Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and five others by Pope Pius XI in 1930. The shrine of these first North American Martyrs is in Auriesville, New York. St.Rene is the Patron Saint of Anesthesiologists.