St John (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.
He is one of the Canadian Martyrs, or the North American Martyrs.
|St John de Brebeuf, Priest Biography
|Date of Birth
|March 25 1593
|Place of Birth
|Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France
|Saints who were Priests
|Jesuit Missionary Priest
|Place of Work
|Date of Death
|March 16 1649
|Place of Death
|Huron village of St. Ignace, near Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, Ontario, Canada
|Beatified by Pope Pius XI on June 21 1925 in Rome, Italy
|Canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29 1930 in Vatican City
|Patron Saint of
St John de Brebeuf Life History
St John de Brebeuf 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 John de Brebeuf 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 would go on missions to Canada (New France).
John de Brebeuf 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 about their spirituality, he considered it inferior 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 John de Brebeuf Death
St John de Brebeuf 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 John de Brebeuf
- 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
Saints Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf and companions were beatified by Pope Pius XI on June 21 1925 in Rome, Italy
Saints Isaac Jogues and Jean de Brébeuf and their companions were canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29 1930 in Vatican City
Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and Companions are the Patron Saints of
Pope Pius XII declared Saints Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and companions as the patron saints of Canada and North America
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