Thought for the Day – 16 March – The Memorial of St Jean de Brébeuf (1593-1649) Martyr
St Jean de Brébeuf is a giant of Canadian history. His writings in the Jesuit Relations, for example, offer an invaluable window into life in 17th-century Canada, while his gift for languages, which prompted him to create the first Huron dictionary, earn him the label of Canada’s first ethnographer. Brébeuf’s impact on the Canadian experience looms large; he is credited with everything from coining the term lacrosse to penning the lyrics of The Huron Carol, a Canadian Christmas classic.
One of the most telling details of his life, however, is found in the name the Huron people gave him — Echon. One translation means “healing tree,” a reference to Brébeuf’s height and gentle nature. The alternative translation, however, “one who carries a heavy burden,” speaks to the spiritual life of the most famous of the men known collectively as the Canadian Martyrs.
When the Iroquois tribe infiltrated them, he was captured with many others. A missionary to his death, he addressed the Huron who were captured with him, telling them, ”God is the witness of our sufferings and will soon be our exceeding great reward. Let us die in this faith…Sustain with courage the few remaining torments. They will end our lives. The glory which follows them will never have an end.” It is said he never cried out once but suffered in silence. His heroic virtue of suffering is laid out as an example for us all, to continue to fight the fight and win the race.
St Jean de Brébeuf, pray for us!