Posted in IGNATIAN/JESUIT SJ- Reflections, Jesuit Saints and more, MARTYRS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 17 March – St Gabriel Lalemant SJ (1610-1649) Priest Martyr

Saint of the Day – 17 March – St Gabriel Lalemant SJ (1610-1649) Martyr, French Priest of the Society of Jesus, Missionary, Professor. Born on 3 October 1610 at Paris, France and died by being tortured to death over the course of three hours on 17 March 1649 at the Saint Ignatius mission in the Huron country, Canada. Additional Memorial – 26 September (Canada) and 19 October as one of the Martyrs of North America.

Gabriel was born in Paris, on 3 October 1610, the son of a French lawyer and his wife. He was the third of six children, five of whom entered religious life. Two of Gabriel’s uncles served the Jesuits in New France – Father Charles Lalemant as the first Superior of the Jesuit missions in Canada, and Jérôme Lalemant as the Vicar-General of Quebec.

In 1630 Gabriel joined the Jesuits and in 1632 he took the vow to devote himself to foreign missions. He taught at the Collège in Moulins from 1632 to 1635. He was at Bourges from 1635 to 1639 studying theology and was Ordained there in 1638. He taught at three different schools, being Professor of Philosophy at Moulins. His repeated requests to go to New France were declined by his Superiors, partly because of his poor health. Eventually, his Uncle Jérôme, head of the Canadian mission, intervened on his behalf.

In September 1646 Gabriel arrived in Quebec, where he spent the first few months studying the Huron language and customs. Father François-Joseph Bressani, a fellow missionary in New France, referred to him as a man of extremely frail constitution. For the first two years Gabriel worked in and around Quebec and the trading centre of Trois Rivières (Three Rivers). In September 1648 he was sent to Wendake, the land of the Wyandot (Huron), as an assistant to St Jean de Brébeuf and posted to the mission at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. In February 1649 he replaced Noël Chabanel at the mission of Saint Louis.

Only six months after he came to Sainte-Marie, he set out with St Jean de Brébeuf for the village of Saint-Louis. During the night the Iroquois attacked another village not far away and the two Jesuits knew that Saint-Louis would probably be next. On the morning of 16 March, the Iroquois attacked the Huron village and easily overcame the defences. The two Jesuits were taken prisoner because they had refused to flee into the forest before the attack. Attackers pulled out the finger nails of the two Priests and chewed their fingers before forcing them to run naked through the snow to a another village, where other Iroquois warriors waited. The captives had to run the gauntlet and then the two Jesuits were led to two posts where they were to be killed. Apparently Gabriel had to watch the torments that Brébeuf suffered, before the time came for his own torture at six in the evening. His tormentors set a fire around his feet, then burned him with heated metal hatchets and poured scalding water over his head. After they cut off his hands and gouged out his eyes, they placed hot coals in the sockets. Then they stopped for the night so that their victim could endure another day of torture. The next day they shoved burning wood into his mouth and sliced off his tongue but Father Gabriel proved as courageous as his Jesuit companion, St Jean and refused to scry out for mercy. Finally, they tore his heart out and ate it to gain his courage. The young Jesuit, only 36 years-old, died after 15 hours of unbelievable torment

After the withdrawal of the Iroquois war party from the area on 19 March, seven Frenchmen went to St Ignace to retrieve the bodies of the Jesuits and Huron. They returned them to Sainte-Marie where they were buried. Their relics are now housed at the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario.

Gabriel was Canonised by Pope Pius XI on 29 June 1930

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being a Catholic is a way of life - a love affair "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site, which is now using the Traditional Calendar, will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. "For the saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings.

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