Not one sparrow is forgotten in God’s sight
The people had gathered in their thousands so that they were treading on one another. And Jesus began to speak, first of all to his disciples. ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – that is, their hypocrisy. Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed on the housetops.
‘To you my friends I say: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. I will tell you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has the power to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Can you not buy five sparrows for two pennies? And yet not one is forgotten in God’s sight. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. There is no need to be afraid: you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.’
You have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit
It is in Christ that we were claimed as God’s own,
chosen from the beginning,
under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things
as he decides by his own will;
chosen to be,
for his greater glory,
the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.
Now you too, in him,
have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation,
and have believed it;
and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise,
the pledge of our inheritance
which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own, to make his glory praised.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Visible World
337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine “work”, concluded by the “rest” of the seventh day. On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation, permitting us to “recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God.”
338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.
339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the “six days” it is said: “And God saw that it was good.” “By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws.” Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.
341 The beauty of the universe: The order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man’s intellect and will.
342 The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the “six days”, from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his creatures and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said: “You are of more value than many sparrows”, or again: “Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!”
343 Man is the summit of the Creator’s work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.
344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory: May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendor, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste. ..
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.
345 The sabbath – the end of the work of the six days. The sacred text says that “on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done”, that the “heavens and the earth were finished”, and that God “rested” on this day and sanctified and blessed it. These inspired words are rich in profitable instruction:
346 In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain firm, on which the believer can rely with confidence, for they are the sign and pledge of the unshakeable faithfulness of God’s covenant. For his part man must remain faithful to this foundation, and respect the laws which the Creator has written into it.
347 Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of creation.215 As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take precedence over “the work of God”, that is, solemn worship. This indicates the right order of human concerns.
348 The sabbath is at the heart of Israel’s law. To keep the commandments is to correspond to the wisdom and the will of God as expressed in his work of creation.
349 The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ’s Resurrection. The seventh day completes the first creation. The eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.
Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just;
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.
Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp,
with a ten-stringed lute sing him songs.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.
For the word of the Lord is faithful
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right
and fills the earth with his love.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.
They are happy, whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth,
he sees all the children of men.
Happy the people the Lord has chosen as his own.
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Saint Jean de Brébeuf (25 March 1593 – 16 March 1649) was a French Jesuit missionary who travelled to New France (Canada) in 1625. There he worked primarily with the Huron for the rest of his life, except for a few years in France from 1629 to 1633. He learned their language and culture, writing extensively about each to aid other missionaries.
In 1649, Brébeuf and another missionary were captured when an Iroquois raid took over a Huron village (referred to in French as St. Louis). Together with Huron captives, the missionaries were ritually tortured and killed on 16 March 1649. Brébeuf was beatified in 1925 and among eight Jesuit missionaries canonized as saints in the Roman Catholic Church in 1930.
Brébeuf was born 25 March 1593 in Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France. (He was the uncle of poet Georges de Brébeuf). He joined the Society of Jesus in 1617 at the age of 24, spending the next two years under the direction of Lancelot Marin. Between 1619 and 1621, he was a teacher at the college of Rouen. Brébeuf was nearly expelled from the Society when he contracted tuberculosis in 1620—a severe and usually fatal illness that prevented his studying and teaching for the traditional periods.
His record as a student was not particularly distinguished, but Brébeuf was already beginning to show an aptitude for languages. Later in New France, he would teach Native American languages to missionaries and French traders. Brébeuf was ordained as a priest at Pontoise in February 1622.
North American Martyrs
After three years as Steward at the College of Rouen, Brébeuf was chosen by the Provincial of France, Father Pierre Coton, to embark on the missions to New France.
In June 1625, Brébeuf arrived in Quebec with Fathers Charles Lalemant and Énemond Massé, together with the lay brothers Francois Charton and Gilbert Burel. For about five months Brébeuf lived with a tribe of Montagnais, who spoke an Algonquian language. He was later assigned in 1626 to the Huron with Father Anne Nouée. From then on Brébeuf worked mostly as a missionary to the Huron, who spoke an Iroquoian language. Brébeuf briefly took up residence with the Bear Tribe at Toanché, but met with no success in trying to convert them to Catholicism. He was summoned to Quebec because of the danger to which the entire colony was then exposed by the English. He reached Quebec on 17 July 1628 after an absence of two years. On 19 July 1629, Champlain surrendered, and the missionaries returned to France.
In Rouen, Brébeuf served as a preacher and confessor, taking his final Jesuit vows in 1630. Between 1631 and 1633, Brébeuf worked at the College of Eu in northern France as a steward, minister and confessor. He returned to New France in 1633, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.
Along with Antoine Daniel and Ambroise Davost, Brébeuf chose Ihonatiria (Saint-Joseph I) as the centre for missionary activity with the Huron. At the time, the Huron suffered epidemics of new Eurasian diseases contracted from the Europeans. Their death rates were high, as they had no immunity to the diseases long endemic in Europe. They blamed the Europeans for the deaths, with none of the parties understanding the causes.
Called ‘Echon’ by the Hurons, Brébeuf was personally involved with teaching. His lengthy conversations with Huron friends left him with a good knowledge of their culture and spirituality.He learned their language and taught it to other missionaries and colonists. Fellow Jesuits such as Ragueneau describe his ease and adaptability to the Huron way of life.
His efforts to develop a complete ethnographic record of the Huron has been described as ‘the longest and most ambitious piece of ethnographic description in all the Jesuit Relations. Brébeuf tried to find parallels between the Huron religion and Christianity, so as to facilitate conversion of the Huron to the European religion. Brébeuf was known by the Huron for his apparent shamanistic skills, especially in rainmaking. Despite his efforts to learn their ways, he considered Huron spiritual beliefs to be undeveloped and “foolish delusions”; he was determined to convert them to Christianity. Brébeuf did not enjoy universal popularity with the Huron, as many believed he was a sorcerer. By 1640, nearly half the Huron had died of smallpox and the losses disrupted their society. Many children and elders died. With their loved ones dying before their eyes, many Huron began to listen to the words of Jesuit missionaries who, unaffected by the disease, appeared to be men of great power.
Brébeuf’s progress as a missionary in achieving conversions was slow. Not until 1635 did some Huron agree to be baptized as Christians. He claimed to have made 14 converts as of 1635 and, by the next year, he claimed 86. He wrote a detailed account in 1636 of The Huron Feast of the Dead, a mass reburial of remains of loved ones after a community moved the location of its village. It was accompanied by elaborate ritual and gift-giving. In the 1940s, an archeological excavation was made at the site Brébeuf had described, confirming many of his observations.
In 1638, Brébeuf turned over direction of the mission at Saint-Joseph I to Jérôme Lalemant; he was called to become Superior at his newly founded Saint-Joseph II. In 1640, after an unsuccessful mission into Neutral Nation territory, Brébeuf broke his collarbone. He was sent to Quebec to recover, and worked there as a mission procurator. He taught the Huron, acting as confessor and advisor to the Ursulines and religious Hospitallers. On Sundays and feast days, he preached to French colonists.
The educational rigor of the Jesuit seminaries prepared missionaries to acquire native languages. But, as they had learned the classical and romance languages, they likely had difficulty with the very different conventions of the New World indigenous languages. Brébeuf’s study of the languages was also shaped by his religious training. Current Catholic theology tried to reconcile knowledge of world languages with accounts in the Bible of the tower of Babel, as this was the basis of European history. This influence can be seen in his discussion of language in his accounts collected in the Jesuit Relations.
Jean de Brébeuf’s remarkable facility with language was one of the reasons he was chosen for the Huron mission in 1626. He is distinguished for his commitment to learning the Huron language. People with a strong positive attitude towards the language often learn the language much more easily. Brébeuf was widely acknowledged to have best mastered the Native oratory style, which used metaphor, circumlocution and repetition. Learning the language was still onerous, and he wrote to warn other missionaries of the difficulties.
To explain the low number of converts, Brébeuf noted that missionaries first had to master the Huron language. His commitment to this work demonstrates he understood that mutual intelligibility was vital for communicating complex and abstract religious ideas. He believed learning native languages was imperative for the Jesuit missions, but noted that it was so difficult a task that it consumed most of the priest’s time. Brébeuf felt his primary goal in his early years in New France was to learn the language.
With increasing proficiency in Wyandot, Brébeuf became optimistic about advancing his missionary goals. By understanding Huron religious beliefs and communicating Christian fundamentals, he could secure converts to Christianity. He realized the people would not give up all their traditional beliefs.
Brébeuf worked tirelessly to record his findings for the benefit of other missionaries. He built on the work of Recollects priests but significantly advanced the study, particularly in his representations of sounds. He discovered and reported the feature of compound words in Huron, which may have been his major linguistic contribution. This breakthrough had enormous consequences for further study, becoming the foundation for all subsequent Jesuit linguistic work.
He translated Ledesma’s catechism from French into Huron, and arranged to have it printed. It was the first printed text in that language (with French orthography). He also compiled a dictionary of Huron words, emphasizing translation of religious phrases such as from prayers and the Bible.
Brébeuf is credited with composing the “Huron Carol”, Canada’s oldest Christmas song, written around 1642. He wrote the lyrics in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people. The song’s melody is based on a traditional French folk song, “Une Jeune Pucelle” (A Young Maid).
Brébeuf was killed at St. Ignace in Huronia on 16 March 1649. He had been taken captive with Gabriel Lalemant when the Iroquois destroyed the Huron mission village at Saint-Louis. The Iroquois took the priests to the occupied village of Taenhatenteron (also known as St. Ignace), where they subjected the missionaries and native converts to ritual torture before killing them.
Three priests had been killed in Mohawk country at Ossernenon in 1642 and 1646. Antoine Daniel had been killed in a similar Iroquois raid in 1648. Charles Garnier was killed by Iroquois in December 1649 in a Petun (Tobacco People) village, and Noel Chabanel was also martyred that year in the conflict between the Mohawk and other tribes. The Jesuits considered the priests’ martyrdom as proof that the mission to the Native Americans was blessed by God and would be successful.
Throughout the torture, Brébeuf was reported to have been more concerned for the fate of the other Jesuits and of the captive Native converts than for himself. As part of the ritual, the Iroquois drank his blood, as they wanted to absorb Brébeuf’s courage in enduring the pain. The Iroquois mocked baptism by pouring boiling water over his head.
The Jesuits Christophe Regnault and Paul Ragueneau provided the two accounts of the deaths of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement. According to Regnault, they learned of the tortures and deaths from Huron refugee witnesses who had escaped from Saint-Ignace. Regnault went to see the bodies to verify the accounts, and his superior Rageuneau’s account was based on his report.The main accounts of Brébeuf’s death come from the Jesuit Relations. Jesuit accounts of his torture emphasize his stoic nature and acceptance, claiming that he suffered silently without complaining.
Potential martyrdom was a central component of the Jesuit missionary identity. Missionaries going to Canada knew they were at risk from harsh conditions, as well as from confronting alien cultures. They expected to die in the name of God; they believed the missionary life and its risks were a chance to save converts and be saved.
Relics, beatification and canonization
Fathers Brébeuf and Lalement were recovered and buried together in a Sainte Marie cemetery.However, Brébeuf’s relics became important objects within Catholic New France. Historian Allan Greer notes that “his death seemed to fit the profile of a perfect martyr’s end” and was preceded by what were considered religious signs pointing to correspondences with the Passion of Christ, which added to the significance of Brébeuf. On 21 March 1649, Jesuit inspectors found the bodies of Brébeuf and Lalement. In the late spring of 1649, Christophe Regnault prepared the skeletal remains of Brébeuf and Lalemant for transportation to Québec for safekeeping. Regnault boiled away the remaining flesh and reburied it in the mission church, scraped the bones and dried them in an oven, wrapped each relic in separate silk, deposited them in two small chests, and sent them to Québec.
Brébeuf’s family later donated his skull in a silver reliquary to the Catholic church orders in Quebec. It was held by the women of the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec and the Ursuline convent from 1650 until 1925, when the relics were moved to the Québec Seminary for a ceremony to celebrate Brébeuf’s beatification. According to Catholic belief, these relics provide physical access to the influence of the saint of whom they are a part.
In 1652 Paul Raguenau went through the Relations and pulled out material relating to the martyrs of New France. He formalized this material in a document, to be used as the foundation of canonization proceedings, entitled Memoires touchant la mort et les vertus (des Pères Jesuits), or the Manuscript of 1652. The religious communities in New France considered the Jesuit martyrs as imitators of previous saints in the Catholic Church. In this sense, Brébeuf in particular, and others like him, reinforced the notion that “…Canada was a land of saints”.
Jean de Brébeuf was canonized by Pope Pius XI on 29 June 1930, and proclaimed one of the patron saints of Canada by Pope Pius XII on 16 October 1940. A contemporary newspaper account of the canonization declares: “Brébeuf, the ‘Ajax of the mission’, stands out among them [others made saints with him] because of his giant frame, a man of noble birth, of vigorous passions tamed by religion,” describing both the man and his defining drive according to formal terms of hagiography.
It is said that the modern name of the Native North American sport of lacrosse was first coined by Brébeuf who thought that the sticks used in the game reminded him of a bishop’s crosier (crosse in French, and with the feminine definite article, la crosse).
He is buried in the Church of St. Joseph at the reconstructed Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons across Highway 12 from the Martyrs’ Shrine Catholic Church near Midland, Ontario. A plaque near the grave of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant was unearthed during excavations at Ste Marie in 1954. The letters read “P. Jean de Brébeuf /brusle par les Iroquois /le 17 de mars l’an/1649” (Father Jean de Brébeuf, burned by the Iroquois, 17 March 1652).
In September 1984, Pope John Paul II prayed over Brébeuf’s skull before saying an outdoor Mass on the grounds of the Martyrs’ Shrine. Thousands of people came to hear him speak from a platform built especially for the day.
Many Jesuit schools are named after him, such as Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, Brébeuf College School in Toronto and Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada and St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada are also named in his honour.
There is a high school St-Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. There is also Eglise St-Jean de Brebeuf in Sudbury, Ontario. There is also an elementary school in Brampton, Ontario, Canada named after him; called St. Jean Brebeuf Roman Catholic Elementary School as well as one in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada called St. John Brebeuf Catholic School which is part of the St. John Brebeuf Catholic Parish. Also one French elementary school in Gatineau, Quebec, called École Jean-de-Brébeuf. Also included is St. Jean Brebeuf Junior High School, located in Calgary, Alberta. The school closest to his burial site in Midland is St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Elementary School in Bradford, Ontario. St. John Brebeuf Catholic School in Erin, ON, is part of St. John Brebeuf Catholic Parish, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Hamilton, ON.
There is also a unit at Camp Ondessonk in the Shawnee National Forest named after Jean de Brébeuf. The Catholic camp is named for all of the North American Martyrs and those who helped them.
The parish municipality of Brébeuf, Quebec, is named after him, as is rue de Brébeuf on the Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal.
The character of Christophe in The Orenda, a 2013 novel by Joseph Boyden, is saidto be based on Jean de Brebeuf. The novel won the 2014 Canada Reads competition, a reality show with elimination-style voting on CBC Radio.
Jean de Brébeuf is the subject of Brébeuf and his Brethren, a blank-verse epic by the Canadian poet E. J. Pratt, FRSC, for which Pratt was awarded one of his three Governor General’s Awards for Poetry in 1940.
St. Isaac Jogues, S.J. (10 January 1607 – 18 October 1646) was a missionary and martyr who traveled and worked among the Iroquois, Huron, and other Native populations in North America. He was the first European to name Lake George, calling it Lac du Saint Sacrement (Lake of the Blessed Sacrament). In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawk at their village of Ossernenon, south of the Mohawk River.
Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries, all Jesuit priests or laymen associated with them, were canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1930; they are known as “The North American Martyrs.” A shrine was built in their honor at Auriesville, New York, at a site formerly believed to be that of the Mohawk village. Their feast day is celebrated on 26 September in Canada, and on 19 October in the United States of America.
Early life and education
Isaac Jogues was born to Laurent Jogues and Françoise de Sainte-Mesmin on 10 January 1607. He was born in Orléans, France, into a bourgeois family, where he was the fifth of nine children. He was educated at home until the age of ten, at which point he began attending Jesuit schools. In 1624, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen in Northern France. Here, his Master of Novices was Louis Lallemant. The Jesuit community had a strong missionary spirit, beginning in 1625 with their first mission to New France, including missionary pioneers, Énemond Massé, and later, Jean de Brébeuf. Lallement had two brothers and a nephew serving as missionaries in the colony of New France. These Jesuit missionaries inspired Jogues, and he aspired to follow in their footsteps.
Jogues professed simple vows in 1626, and went to study philosophy at the royal college of La Flèche. In 1629, taught humanities to boys in Rouen. In 1633, Jogues was sent to the Collège de Clermont in Paris to pursue his studies in Theology. In 1636, he was ordained a priest at Clermont.
In 1636 missionary fathers Brebeuf, Charles Lallemant and Massé returned from New France. They told Jogues of the hardships, treacheries and tortures which ordinarily awaited missionaries in New France. Their accounts however, increased Jogues’ desire to “devote himself to labor there for the conversion and welfare of the natives”. Soon after Jogues was ordained, he accepted service in the missions and embarked to New France with several other missionaries, among them Charles Garnier. Jogues was assigned as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquian peoples; both were allies of the French in Quebec.
Jogues sailed from France on 8 April 1636, and eight weeks later his ship dropped anchor in the Baie des Chaleurs. Jogues arrived in Quebec only several weeks later on 2 July. On arrival, Jogues wrote to his mother: “I do not know it is to enter Heaven, but this I know– that it would be difficult to experience in this world a joy more excessive and more overflowing than I felt in setting foot in the New World, and celebrating my first Mass on the day of Visitation”.
Jogues joined Jean de Brébeuf, the Superior of the Jesuit Mission, at their settlement on Lake Huron, the village of St. Joseph (Ihonatiria), on 11 September. Upon his arrival, Jogues was stricken by fever. Soon thereafter, a similar epidemic broke out among other Jesuits and the native people of the village. Due to recurring epidemics, the Huron blamed the Black Coats, as they called the Jesuits, threatening to kill them all. Father Brebeuf conciliated them and by the following year relations had improved as evidenced by one of his reports: “We are gladly heard, and there is scarcely a village that has not invited us to go to it… And at last it is understood from our whole conduct that we have not come to buy skins or to carry on any traffic, but solely to teach them, and to procure them their souls’ health.”
For six years Jogues lived in the village of St. Joseph and learned the ways and language of the Hurons. The missionaries “accommodated themselves to the customs and food of the savages” as much as possible to show the Indians that they intended to share their life. Gradually, the native people began to accept Jogues. This did not last long however, as there were some Indians who had been “among the English and Dutch settlers to the south” who spread reports that the missionaries brought “calamity wherever they went and that they had in consequence been driven out of Europe”.
Jogues traveled with Garnier to the Petun, a first nations band located in modern-day southern Ontario, who were also known as the Tobacco Nation for their chief commodity crop. The natives of the village were so uninviting to the missionaries that the Fathers thought it would be impossible to do any missionary work among them. The rumours that had encircled them spread to the village and quickly discovered that their cause was just as hopeless as in the former place. They travelled from village to village, until after a couple of months they decided that they could not continue to do their missionary work. Their luck changed however, when in 1639, the new superior of the Jesuit Mission, Father Jérôme Lalemant, entrusted the building of Fort Sainte-Marie to Jogues.
In September 1641, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut went into the territory of the Sauteurs (Oijbwe). They were welcomed by some two thousand Indians upon their arrival. Jogues settled down to the duties of a resident missioner at St. Mary’s for some time.
Capture by the Iroquois
On 3 August 1642, Jogues, Guillaume Couture, René Goupil, and a group of Christian Hurons were heading back from Quebec City when they were waylaid by a war party of the Mohawk Nation, part of the Iroquois Confederacy. Jogues allegedly hid in reeds and bushes, but decided to leave his hiding place to join the prisoners so that he could comfort them and ensure that their faith in Christianity remained strong. Shortly thereafter, and in retaliation for comforting a tortured Frenchman, the Mohawk beat Jogues with sticks, tore out his fingernails, then gnawed the ends of his fingers until finger bones were visible. The war party then took their captives on a journey to a Mohawk village. There, the villagers marched them through a gauntlet, which consisted of rows of Iroquois armed with rods and sticks beating the prisoners walking in single-file. Afterwards, the Iroquois forced Jogues and the prisoners onto an elevated platform where they were mocked. A captive Algonquin woman then cut off Jogues’ thumb. At night, the prisoners were tied spread-eagled in a cabin. Children threw burning coals onto their bodies. Three days later, Jogues and the prisoners were marched from one village to another, where the Iroquois flogged them in gauntlets, and jabbed sticks into their wounds and sores. At the third village, Jogues was hung from a wooden plank and nearly lost consciousness, until an Iroquois had pity on him and cut him free. Throughout his captivity, Jogues comforted, baptized, heard confession from, and absolved the other prisoners.
Hearing of their capture, Arent van Curler, commis of Rensselaerswyck, visited the “first castle” and attempted to ransom them, but without success as the Mohawk were not inclined to release them at that time. Van Curler was able to elicit a promise not to kill the captives. Instead of being put to death or integrated into a Mohawk family, Jogues remained a captive at large. Perpetually malnourished and inadequately dressed for the harsh winters, he spent his days gathering wood, praying, and proselytizing his captors. Seeking solace in his faith, Jogues prayed so intensely that he had visions: in one, he suddenly appeared in a bookstore covered in crosses, and bought a book that reminded him that, to enter into Heaven, it was necessary to experience many tribulations. His captivity dragged on, lasting about a year, during which he experienced severe malnourishment and exposure to the cold. Some noteworthy incidents that occurred during this period were when he saved the life of a pregnant woman that had fallen into a deep, fast-flowing creek during the winter, and when he baptized the Iroquois man who had freed him from the wooden torture device.
In the autumn of 1643, the Mohawk were persuaded to bring the priest with them when they came to Beverwijck to trade. Once there, Van Curler helped Jogues to escape, hiding him his barn until a deal could be reached and the Frenchman put on a ship to take him downriver. Reformed minister Johannes Megapolensis accompanied him to New Amsterdam, where Jogues stayed with the minister while waiting for a ship to take him France. Jogues was the first Catholic priest to visit Manhattan Island. From there, he sailed back to France.
Return to France
Pope Urban VIII considered Jogues a “living martyr,” and gave him dispensation to say Mass with his mutilated hand. Under Church law of the time, the Blessed Sacrament could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger. Jogues was unable to follow this law after the loss of two fingers while in Iroquois captivity, resulting in the requirement for dispensation by the Pope. Jogues visited his mother in Orléans, but was eager to return to the missions. Jogues experienced regret over his time in captivity, and a longing for martyrdom that motivated his return to New France in 1644 after only a year and a half in France, first to Quebec, followed by a trip to Wendake.
Return to New France and Death
In the spring of 1646, Jogues returned to Iroquois territory, along with Jean de Lalande, to act as the French ambassador to the Mohawk. His ambassadorship was intended to maintain the tentative peace reached in 1645 between the Iroquois, and the French, the Huron and the Algonquin. This was done to ensure a safe passage for trade and travel.
Jogues and Lalande were met with hesitation upon their arrival, as some Mohawk regarded missionaries as evil practitioners of foreign magic. The Europeans transmitted European diseases, such as smallpox and measles, that spread among Native Americans. These diseases resulted in high fatality rates among the Mohawk, who lacked immunity to the new diseases. When the Mohawk suffered yet another outbreak of infectious disease, and crop failure at Ossernenon, they blamed these unfortunate events on Catholic paraphernalia left behind by the Jesuits, which the Mohawks perceived as magically harmful. Additionally, as a result of his previous experience on the territory, Jogues demonstrated an uncanny knowledge of the territory, which the Mohawks perceived as threatening.
On 18 October 1646, the Mohawks killed Jogues with a tomahawk; they killed LaLande the next day. They threw the missionaries’ bodies into the Mohawk River. The killing seems to have been the work of an anti-French faction within the Mohawk community.
The story holds a curious double martyrdom of Jogues. Aboriginal allies of the French captured Jogues’ killer in 1647 and condemned him to death. While awaiting his execution, this man was baptized and renamed with the Christian name of Father Isaac Jogues. His death represented a secondary martyring of Isaac Jogues.
Attitudes Towards Martyrdom
Jogues’ refusal to escape, and the way that he embraced torture, demonstrates a selflessness that, like many other Jesuits in New France, he believed that being martyred would mean partaking in the torment that Jesus had endured on the cross. This would indicate his acceptance “into the pantheon of heroes whose physical and spiritual strength had been equal to the cruel persecutions inflicted on the primitive church.” Jogues is quoted as saying: “He [Jesus] was making us share his sufferings, and admitting us to participation in his crosses.”
At another point, Jogues speaks of, “The procession [of torture victims] beginning to enter this narrow way of Paradise . . . it was indeed then that I could say with my Lord and master, Supra dorsum meum fabricaverunt peccatores,—’Sinners have built and left monuments and marks of their rage upon my back.'” Jogues regarded his torture, and the death he thought would follow, as allowing him to imitate, and thus participate in, the passion of Jesus.
Veneration and Legacy
Jogues was canonized on 29 June 1930 by Pope Pius XI along with seven other Canadian Martyrs. His feast day is celebrated on 26 September in Canada, and on 19 October in the United States. Jogues and companions are patron saints of North America.
Interior of North American Martrys Shrine
There are a number of buildings and monuments dedicated to Jogues. The largest of these monuments is the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, built in Auriesville, New York in 1930. It honors Jogues, René Goupil, Louis Lalande, and Kateri Tekakwitha. It was completed in 1930. The shrine also honors Jean de Brébeuf and five of his companions, who were killed in Canada in 1648 and 1649.
There is also the Martryr’s Shrine located in Midland, Ontario, Canada, which honors the Canadian Martyrs (another term for North American Martyrs).
A seasonal chapel on the east shore of Saratoga Lake, New York is named after Jogues. A statue of Jogues stands in front of the main entrance to the chapel that faces the lake. While he was being taken into captivity, Jogues is said to have been the first European to see this lake.
Fordham University, a Jesuit University in New York, has a dormitory building at its Rose Hill Campus names Martyrs’ Court. The three wings of the building are named after Jogues, René Goupil, S.J., and Jean de Lalande, S.J.
Another statue of Jogues was erected in 1939, in the village of Lake George, in the Battlefield Park by the lake.
Camp Ondessonk, a Roman Catholic youth camp located in Ozark, Illinois, is named after Jogues’ Mohawk name. The living quarters for campers are each named for one of the North American Martyrs, including Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: Jean de Brébeuf, S.J.; Noël Chabanel, S.J.; Antoine Daniel, S.J.; Charles Garnier, S.J.; René Goupil, S.J.; Jean de Lalande, S.J., and Gabriel Lalemant, S.J.