Monday, September 26, 2022

Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs – Feast Day – October 19

St Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and their companions are the North American Martyrs (Canadian Martyrs) who were French missionaries martyred by the Mohawk warriors near the Mohawk River in North America.

Isaac Jogues was born on January 10 1607 in Orléans, France and died as a martyr on October 18 1646 in Ossernenon, near present-day Auriesville, Canada.

In Canada, their feast day is celebrated the September 26 and in the General Roman Calendar, it is on October 19 every year in the Catholic Church.

Saints Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs Biography
Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs - Feast Day - October 19
Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs – Feast Day – October 19
Place of Birth France
Profession Jesuit Missionary Priests
Place of Work North America
Date of Death Late 17th Century
Place of Death North America
Feast Day October 19
Beatification By Pope Pius XI on June 21 1925 in Rome, Italy
Canonization By Pope Pius XI on June 29 1930 in Vatican City
Patron Saint of Canada and North America

St Isaac Jogues Life History

St Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit missionary in (New France) Canada, born on January 10 1607 in Orléans, France. He worked among the Huron and Iroquois people in North America. 

He died as a martyr on October 18 1646 at the age of 39 in Ossernenon, Canada. He is one of the Canadian Martyrs, or the North American Martyrs.

We celebrate his feast day together with St Jean de Brebeuf and companions on October 19 every year in the Catholic Church.

Isaac Jogues parents were Laurent Jogues and Françoise de Sainte-Mesmin. They were a well-to-do family with nine children and Isaac Jogues was the fifth born.

He was home-schooled until he was 10 years of age and thereafter, he enrolled at the Jesuit schools. 

At the age of 17, in 1624, he joined the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen. After Jean de Brébeuf and Énemond Massé went for missions in New France (Canada) in 1625, Isaac Jogues felt very inspired and wished to follow that example.

In 1626, he professed the vows and proceeded to the royal college of La Flèche to study philosophy. In 1633, he went to study Theology at the Collège de Clermont in Paris. Finally, in 1636, he was ordained as a priest.

When Fr. Brébeuf, Fr. Charles Lallemant and Fr. Massé returned to France briefly, they narrated to Isaac Jogues of the tortures, hardships and pains that missionaries in New France go through. However, instead of getting discouraged, Jogues’ desire to evangelize in New France increased.

After his ordination, Isaac Jogues accepted to serve in the New France missions together with other missionaries, including Charles Garnier.

On April 8 1636, Isaac Jogues left France for Canada and three months later he arrived in Quebec. He joined Fr. Jean de Brébeuf at the Village of St-Joseph (Ihonatiria) along Lake Huron.

Soon after Jogues was struck by a fever and a smallpox epidemic erupted. Many natives died and the whole blame was placed on the missionaries.

For six years, Isaac Jogues lived with the Hurons and learned their, language, culture and spirituality. 

The natives began to accept the Jesuits but this friendship did not last for long because some natives from further south came around and spread rumours that the missionaries were cursed and full of bad luck and that is why they had been chased away from Europe.

Their missionary work was so hard that when Jogues and Charles Garnier went to Petun (Southern Ontario), the Tobacco Nation, they were received with hostility and after months of evangelization, they failed to achieve much.

In 1639, their new superior Father Jérôme Lalemant chose Isaac Jogues to spearhead the building of Fort Sainte-Marie. After completion in September 1641, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut went there briefly to stay there.

Isaac Jogues together with other missionaries and converts were intercepted by Mohawk warriors on their way from Quebec City. Initially, Jogues hid in the bush but he remembered that his fellow Christian captives needed his comfort, prayer, and leadership in order to remain strong, he surrendered. 

He underwent very painful torture where he was beaten with sticks and the tips of his fingers including his thumb were plucked out.

Together with his fellow missionaries and converts, they were flog-matched across various villages while being beaten. They were tied together and children would throw burning coal and them and still mock them. 

Isaac Jogues was held in captivity for almost one year where he became very malnourished and ill-dressed. He prayed very much and also had visions.

Jogues was helped by Van Curler to escape. Mohawk traders were persuaded to bring Jogues with them to Beverwyck (modern-day Albany, New York), and in the process, Van Curler hid him and assisted him to go to Manhattan Island and finally to France.

While in France he was considered as a “living martyr” by Pope Urban VIII. Isaac Jogues yearned so much to return to New France and regretted some experiences he had while in captivity.

Pope Urban VIII gave him permission to offer Mass with his mutilated hands: “It would be shameful that a martyr of Christ not be allowed to drink the Blood of Christ.”

He longed to return to his missions and die as a martyr and therefore, in 1644, he returned to Quebec.

Isaac Jogues Death

After recurrent epidemics of diseases and famine, the Mohawks concluded that the Catholic paraphernalia was responsible for their misfortunes.

Isaac Jogues was killed and died as a martyr on October 18 1646 with a tomahawk by the anti-French Mohawks and thrown into the Mohawk River.

Saint John de Brebeuf Life History

St Jean de Brebeuf was a Jesuit missionary in Canada, born on March 25 1593 in Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France. He worked with the Huron (Wyandot) people of North America until he was martyred on March 16 1649 in Huron village of St. Ignace, near Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, near Midland, Ontario, Canada.

We celebrate his feast day together with St Isaac Jogues and companions on October 19 every year in the Catholic Church.

St Jean de Brébeuf joined the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) at the age of 24 years in 1617. Thereafter, he became a teacher at the college of Rouen.

In 1620, he contracted the then deadly tuberculosis and was nearly expelled from the Society because he could neither study nor teach.

However, he did not succumb to the disease and in February 1622, he was ordained as a priest at Pontoise Cathedral.

After his ordination, St Jean de Brébeuf worked at the College of Rouen as a treasurer for three years. Then, Father Pierre Coton, the Provincial of France, selected him as the one who will go for missions to Canada (New France).

Jean de Brébeuf arrived in Québec, Canada in June 1625 together with Fr. Charles Lalemant, Fr. Énemond Massé, Bro. Francois Charton and Bro. Gilbert Burel. 

They began working at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, which was a French Jesuit settlement near modern Midland, Ontario, Canada.

At first, he worked with the tribe of Montagnais but was assigned to the Iroquoian Huron people together with Father Anne Nouée.

After a conflict between the French and British settlers in Canada in 1629, their French colonial administrator in Québec, Samuel de Champlain surrendered to the British and they all returned to Europe.

In 1633, after a peace treaty between England and France was signed, Jean de Brébeuf returned to the Huron people in Canada. This time there erupted a strange disease that came with the European settlers. The natives there rightfully blamed the Europeans for the many deaths among the natives.

Jean de Brébeuf, easily understood the language, spirituality, and culture of the Huron people and consequently, taught the language to other missionaries and colonial settlers.

He developed a very detailed ethnographic record of the Huron people. Although he learned their spirituality, he considered it inferior as compared to Christianity.

The outbreak of smallpox in Huron caused many deaths among the natives and strange enough the missionaries did not suffer any death from the disease. This made the natives believe that the missionaries were men of great power.

The conversion of the Hurons was somehow slow but in 1635 and 1636, Jean de Brébeuf managed to baptize 100 Huron people and convert them to Christianity.

When the village moved to another location, Jean de Brébeuf assisted in reburying their loved ones in the new location.

In 1640, he broke his collarbone and was sent to recuperate in Quebec where he preached to the French Colonialists and the Huron people.

In 1642, Jean de Brébeuf composed the Huron Carol, a famous Christmas song in Canada that he translated to the native language of the Huron people from the French folk song, “Une Jeune Pucelle” (A Young Maid).

St Jean de Brébeuf Death

St Jean de Brébeuf died as a martyr on March 16 1649 at Huron village of St. Ignace, near Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, near Midland, Ontario, Canada. 

He had been taken captive with Gabriel Lalemant by the Iroquois warriors who had destroyed their Saint-Louis mission village and taken them to St. Ignace.

They tortured him and ritually ate his heart and drank his blood so that they would inherit Brébeuf’s courage and endurance. They also mocked baptism by pouring boiling water over his head. 

There were three priests who had been killed before Brébeuf. They were;

  • Fr. Antoine Daniel, killed in 1648 by the Iroquois warriors
  • Fr. Noel Chabanel, killed in 1649
  • Fr. Charles Garnier, killed in December 1649

The relics of St Jean de Brébeuf are preserved in several places in Quebec.

Institutions named after St Jean de Brébeuf

  • St John Brebeuf Catholic Parish in Niles, Illinois, USA
  • St John Brebeuf School in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • St John Brebeuf Regional Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
  • St John Brebeuf Catholic School in Erin, Ontario, Canada
  • St John Brebeuf Catholic Parish, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • St John Brebeuf Catholic Parish, Erin, Ontario, Canada
  • St Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • St Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
  • St Jean Brebeuf School in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • St Jean Brebeuf Catholic School in Brampton, Ontario, Canada
  • Eglise St-Jean de Brebeuf in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • École Jean-de-Brébeuf in Gatineau, Québec, Canada
  • Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
  • Brebeuf College School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Beatification

Saints Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brébeuf and companions were beatified by Pope Pius XI on June 21 1925 in Rome, Italy

Canonization

Saints Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brébeuf and companions were canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29 1930 in Vatican City

Feast Day

Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and companions feast day is celebrated on 19 October in the General Roman Calendar, and on 26 September in Canada.

Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and companions are the Patron Saints of

Pope Pius XII declared Saints Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and companions as the patron saints of Canada and North America

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