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The adventures of Saint Isaac Jogues [and his companions] ^ | September 19, 2007 | Brother Andre Marie

Posted on 10/19/2007 8:15:37 AM PDT by Salvation

The adventures of Saint Isaac Jogues

The Feast of the North American Martyrs is September 26. This column has already made mention of the upcoming pilgrimage in honor of these saints, but what of their lives?

The Feast of the North American Martyrs is September 26. This column has already made mention of the upcoming pilgrimage in honor of these saints, but what of their lives? The following is a brief tribute to two of the martyrs, written in gratitude to the heroic men who offered the Most Holy Trinity “the first fruits of the Faith in the vast regions of North America” (Oration from the Roman Missal).

The North American Martyrs are collectively referred to as “Saint Isaac Jogues and Companions.” Of the eight, Saints Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, and John de LaLande were martyred on what is now the U.S. side of the Canadian border. Their bloody witness was given in New York, at a place called Auriesville, but known then as the village of Ossernenon. The rest of the martyrs suffered north of the border in Canada, where they are all collectively known — even those who died in New York — as the “Canadian Martyrs.” (The Canadians honor their patrons at “the Martyrs Shrine” in Midland, Ontario.)

For their efforts to convert America, the members of this martyr-band perfectly embody the virtue of zeal, “charity in action,” as that virtue is often called. All those currently interested in the conversion of America, who wish the Redemption of Christ’s Blood efficaciously applied to their fellow Americans, can take them as a model. The conviction that the Redemption won by Christ must be accepted in Faith is what brought Saint Isaac and his companions from Old France to the harshness of New France to evangelize the savages. (Sorry, that un-PC word is what the Jesuits used!)

Saint René Goupil

A companion of the intrepid Father Jogues, René Goupil, was the first of the eight to be martyred — and that, for tracing the Sign of the Cross on an Iroquois child’s forehead. A tomahawk to his head, the missionary went to Our Lord on the Feast of Saint Michael, September 29, 1642.

Though not a religious, René Goupil had the privilege of being a donné, a lay helper who worked in the Jesuits missions. Earlier in his life, he tried to be a Jesuit religious, but had to leave the novitiate for health reasons. And now, as a donné, the call of a religious vocation was rekindled in him; he wanted to be a professed Jesuit Brother. As a Superior in the missions, Saint Isaac Jogues had the faculty to receive the vows of someone entering the Jesuit Order. So, while the two were in a canoe, captives of the Iroquois and bound for what they believed to be certain death, Saint Isaac Jogues heard the vows of René Goupil. The latter had the Jesuit formula for profession of vows completely memorized, so no book was necessary.

Having professed his vows, Saint René was no longer a donné when he was martyred, but a Religious Brother of the Society of Jesus.

Hiding Among the Dutch

Following the martyrdom of Goupil, Saint Isaac Jogues was a marked man. He made his escape from the Iroquois and found safety among the Dutch Protestants, a harsh exile to be sure, though some of the Dutchmen were kind to him. They hid the priest in the attic of an old, bigoted Dutch tradesman who was not exactly the epitome of hospitality for his “papist black-robe” guest. Isaac Jogues was stuck in the sweltering, hot attic of the Dutchman’s house, oftentimes not being fed, and forced to drink foetid water from an old cistern.

He was losing weight and becoming ill. Besides this, he did not have the use of very many of his fingers, thanks to the Iroquois’ nasty habit of chewing digits off their enemies’ hands. In fact, since Saint Isaac had lost his thumbs and forefingers, he could no longer offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. (Later generations of seminarians would call those fingers one’s “canonicals,” from the fact that Canon Law required their integrity in order to say Mass.) While hiding out in this awful attic, he had as his sole possession a paraphrase commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, a book which he read and meditated upon many times.

During his hiding, he was able to maintain an odd friendship with a man named Dominie Megalolensis, a Catholic who had defected to become a Dutch Calvinist minister in New Amsterdam. Saint Isaac worked on his conversion, which, as far as we know, was never effected.

Back to Europe

Resentful of losing their prisoner, the Iroquois were making inquiries of Saint Isaac’s whereabouts. His existence among the Dutch was tenuous at best. After careful negotiations, the Dutch allowed him to board a trading vessel destined for Europe. The ship docked for a short time in England, but Father Jogues dared not disembark. This was a time when it was not very safe to be a Catholic in “Mary’s Dowry,” especially a Jesuit! The English Commonwealth was producing its own martyrs in those days, some of whose names also ended in S.J.

When the boat finally crossed the English Channel, Saint Isaac made his way to a Catholic Church in Brittany. There, dressed in borrowed Dutch clothing, he looked to be an odd-ball foreigner who was obviously much the worse for his travels. His French was very rusty since all he had been speaking on a daily basis for years was Iroquois, and all his letters home were written in Latin. He asked to be taken to the nearest Jesuit house to speak with the Superior.

Little did he know at the time that the saintly adventures of Father Jogues and Companions were well known by those around him.

This is because accounts of the Jesuit missions were well detailed in the The Jesuit Relations, the records of missionary activities sent as official communiques from the missionaries to their Jesuit superiors in Europe. One of Saint John de Brebeuf’s tasks as a superior in the missions was to submit some of these Relations. When historians write about the North American Martyrs, they have a great deal of primary-source material from which to draw. (They are available online.)

News of the apostolate was circulated among the Jesuit houses in Europe as the Relations were being received. The information was then broadcast to the faithful. The effect was that of a serialized drama of the missions in the frozen wilds of la Nouvelle-France. Young people were growing up hearing of the saintly adventures of the French Jesuits abroad. With Isaac Jogues becoming something of a household name in France, the humble cleric was about to meet up with his own reputation back home.

When Jogues arrived at the Jesuit house, attired as a Dutch settler from the New World, he informed the porter that he had come from the missions in the New World and asked if he might see the Superior. With these words, the unlikely visitor received the rapt attention of the assembled brethren. The Superior inquired of Father Jogues. They had heard that he was captured by the savages but thought to be still alive. Could their visitor tell them anything of their brother Jesuit?

In reply, Saint Isaac humbly said: “I am Father Jogues.”

With great emotion, the Jesuits kissed the mangled hands of their heroic brother, much as, over 1200 years earlier, the Fathers of Nicea kissed the scars of those of their number who suffered as confessors before the edict of Milan. All this attention disturbed the good Father.

After his health was restored, his confrères besought Pope Urban VIII to grant this confessor of the Faith permission to offer Holy Mass again, even though some of his canonicals had been chewed off. The Pope’s response was poetic: “It is unbefitting that a martyr of Christ should not drink the blood of Christ.” Dispensation was granted to offer the Holy Sacrifice again.

From Auriesville to Heaven

The call of the wild would not allow the missionary to stay in France. Father Jogues asked for and received permission to go back to the New World to be among his beloved Iroquois.

His martyrdom shortly thereafter was a quick one (a hatchet blow to the head), though he had done a lot of long-term suffering well in advance of receiving the crown. Saint John de Brebeuf’s martyrdom, by contrast, was quite protracted and horrific.

Whenever we are tempted to lose heart as we behold an unconverted America sinking into moral oblivion, we can consider these saints and what they went through to bring the Faith here in the first place. In gratitude, we should, in some small way at least, strive to imitate their zeal by working for the conversion of our fellow man. We know that the North American Martyrs have a vested interest in us and in our country; from heaven, they will help us in our work to convert America.

Let us pray. O God, Who by the preaching and blood of Thy holy Martyrs, Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and their companions, didst consecrate the first fruits of the Faith in the vast regions of North America, graciously grant that, by their intercession, the flourishing harvest of Christians may everywhere and always be increased. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, God, for ever and ever.

The Eight North American Martyrs and their birth dates into eternity:

Saint René Goupil — September 29, 1642

Saint Isaac Jogues — October 18, 1646

Saint John de Lalande — October 19, 1646

Saint Anthony Daniel — July 4, 1648

Saint John de Brebeuf — March 16, 1649

Saint Gabriel Lalemant — March 17, 1649

Saint Charles Garnier — December 7, 1649

Saint Noel Chabanel — December 8, 1649

Pray for us, all ye holy North American Martyrs, that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ!

Brother Andre Marie, M.I.C.M, Saint Benedict Center

TOPICS: Catholic; History; Prayer; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; saints
For your information and discussion.

The Memorial of Sts. John de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, and their companions is celebrated on October 19th in the United States.

1 posted on 10/19/2007 8:15:48 AM PDT by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; sandyeggo; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; ...
Saint of the Day Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Saint of the Day Ping List.

2 posted on 10/19/2007 8:16:45 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
Isaac Jogues, S.J.: North American Martyr [Read only]

Saints Lived Here:The Story Of the Martyr's Shrine[Isaac Jogues,John de Brebeuf & Companions]

Feast of St. Isaac Jogues and Companion Martyrs (Traditional Calendar)September 26th

The adventures of Saint Isaac Jogues [and his companions]

3 posted on 10/19/2007 8:22:28 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Inspiring and humbling. Thanks for the ping.

4 posted on 10/19/2007 8:37:53 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Duncan Hunter in 2008!)
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To: Salvation

One of the amazing things about the amazing life of St. Isaac is the decision of the superior to send Isaac back to his captors. Whether he merely quiesced to Isaac’s request, matters not. Surely the Jesuits of that time didn’t choose their assignments, it was an order.

It takes Christ-like superiors (”I send you like lambs in the midst of wolves.”) to help certain people fulfill their destiny as martyrs for the Faith.

5 posted on 10/19/2007 10:11:29 AM PDT by sandhills
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To: Salvation
Thanks so much for this Salvation.We had a priest friend who used to love to tell this story.He lived about 3 hours from the shrine I think.As a young boy he felt a strong urge to become a priest.Not sure if he had a vocation he got on his bike.He told his mother and father that he was going on an overnight trip with school.He rode his bike all the way to the shrine and knelt in front of the statue of St Joseph and prayed.He fell asleep and the priests found him there and brought him in.They were amazed that he rode his bike that far.I think he was 16 years old then.He decided to become a priest and forged his mother’s signature because she was against it.He wanted to join the Jesuits but they said no because their seminary was too full.He was loved by all and died in the year 2000.His name is Father Joe.
6 posted on 10/19/2007 11:17:21 AM PDT by fatima
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To: Salvation
These men were truly amazing and their heroism in the face of unspeakable cruelty torment is practically without peer.

Here's a series of books that were produced from the primary sources about the Jesuit missions in New France:

Or if that heavy reading is too much, here are some devotional booklets taken from sources contemporary to the saints in question:

Their stories really do deserve to be better known. Would that our modern day Jesuits had even 1/20 of their courage, tenacity, and zeal for the True Faith.
7 posted on 10/19/2007 11:31:03 AM PDT by Antoninus (Republicans who support Rudy owe Bill Clinton an apology.)
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To: sandhills
One of the amazing things about the amazing life of St. Isaac is the decision of the superior to send Isaac back to his captors. Whether he merely quiesced to Isaac’s request, matters not. Surely the Jesuits of that time didn’t choose their assignments, it was an order.

From everything I've read, Jogues wanted to go back--even begged to go back. His superiors were content to let him stay in France.

One thing that comes through time and again is how many of them prayed to be worthy of martyrdom. One of the things that made the biggest impression on the Indians was how willingly these men came among them to share their travails, especially after the Indians saw how comparatively comfortably the other French colonists lived.
8 posted on 10/19/2007 11:34:54 AM PDT by Antoninus (Republicans who support Rudy owe Bill Clinton an apology.)
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To: sandhills

Our priest this morning said that St. Isaac Jogues wanted to be both a martyr and a missionary.

He was blessed in both, wasn’t he.

Do you think that would explain why he got sent back?

9 posted on 10/19/2007 9:27:15 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Antoninus

I understand what you’re saying. The desire of St. Isaac to return is huge, and religious no doubt can make requests, but he wasn’t going to go anywhere unless he was sent. That sending is special too.

Today, I believe there are missionaries like St. Isaac who want to go to peoples who are resistant to the Faith and who would most likely kill the messenger. Today, a missionary might make his request to go to Iraq, or Libya, or Sumatra, or Jolo, but would most likely receive the response from his superior that any Joe Sixpack would make, i.e. “Are you crazy? Too much unrest. What value would you be if you’re dead?”

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the Archbishop of Baghdad (Babylonia) when he says, “Where are the priests? Why does no one come?”

It is not for lack of desire, but permission to go.

10 posted on 10/19/2007 9:28:15 PM PDT by sandhills
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To: fatima

What a neat story about Father Joe.

I talked to a young man at Daily Mass today and asked him if he was studying for the seminary.

Turns out he is a student at the local community college taking courses and practicum in their fire-fighter program.

I just complimented him on being at Daily Mass!

11 posted on 10/19/2007 9:30:41 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Antoninus

I liked that second link. Thanks.

12 posted on 10/19/2007 9:32:19 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day

October 19, 2007
St. Isaac Jogues, John de Brébeuf and Companions

Isaac Jogues (1607-1646): Isaac Jogues and his companions were the first martyrs of the North American continent officially recognized by the Church. As a young Jesuit, Isaac Jogues, a man of learning and culture, taught literature in France. He gave up that career to work among the Huron Indians in the New World, and in 1636 he and his companions, under the leadership of John de Brébeuf, arrived in Quebec. The Hurons were constantly warred upon by the Iroquois, and in a few years Father Jogues was captured by the Iroquois and imprisoned for 13 months. His letters and journals tell how he and his companions were led from village to village, how they were beaten, tortured and forced to watch as their Huron converts were mangled and killed.

An unexpected chance for escape came to Isaac Jogues through the Dutch, and he returned to France, bearing the marks of his sufferings. Several fingers had been cut, chewed or burnt off. Pope Urban VIII gave him permission to offer Mass with his mutilated hands: "It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ be not allowed to drink the Blood of Christ." Welcomed home as a hero, Father Jogues might have sat back, thanked God for his safe return and died peacefully in his homeland. But his zeal led him back once more to the fulfillment of his dreams. In a few months he sailed for his missions among the Hurons.

In 1646 he and Jean de Lalande, who had offered his services to the missioners, set out for Iroquois country in the belief that a recently signed peace treaty would be observed. They were captured by a Mohawk war party, and on October 18 Father Jogues was tomahawked and beheaded. Jean de Lalande was killed the next day at Ossernenon, a village near Albany, New York.

The first of the Jesuit missionaries to be martyred was René Goupil who, with Lalande, had offered his services as an oblate. He was tortured along with Isaac Jogues in 1642, and was tomahawked for having made the Sign of the Cross on the brow of some children.

Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649): Jean de Brébeuf was a French Jesuit who came to Canada at the age of 32 and labored there for 24 years. He went back to France when the English captured Quebec (1629) and expelled the Jesuits, but returned to his missions four years later. Although medicine men blamed the Jesuits for a smallpox epidemic among the Hurons, Jean remained with them.

He composed catechisms and a dictionary in Huron, and saw 7,000 converted before his death. He was captured by the Iroquois and died after four hours of extreme torture at Sainte Marie, near Georgian Bay, Canada.

Father Anthony Daniel, working among Hurons who were gradually becoming Christian, was killed by Iroquois on July 4, 1648. His body was thrown into his chapel, which was set on fire.

Gabriel Lalemant had taken a fourth vow—to sacrifice his life to the Indians. He was horribly tortured to death along with Father Brébeuf.

Father Charles Garnier was shot to death as he baptized children and catechumens during an Iroquois attack.

Father Noel Chabanel was killed before he could answer his recall to France. He had found it exceedingly hard to adapt to mission life. He could not learn the language, the food and life of the Indians revolted him, plus he suffered spiritual dryness during his whole stay in Canada. Yet he made a vow to remain until death in his mission.

These eight Jesuit martyrs of North America were canonized in 1930.


Faith and heroism planted belief in Christ's cross deep in our land. The Church in North America sprang from the blood of martyrs. Are we as eager to keep that cross standing in our midst? Do we bear witness to deep-seated faith in us, the Good News of the cross (redemption) into our home, our work, our social world?


"My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings" (from a letter of Isaac Jogues to a Jesuit friend in France, September 12, 1646, a month before he died).

13 posted on 10/19/2007 10:27:22 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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