Saints of the Day – 26 September – St Isaac Jogues SJ (1607-1646) Priests, Martyrs, Missionary and Companions – known as The North American or the Canadian Martyrs. Born on 10 January 1607 o, Orléans, Orléanais, France. In 1646, Jogues was Martyred by the Mohawk at their village of Ossernenon, near the Mohawk River. They were Beatified on 21 June 1925, by Pope Pius XI and Canonised on 29 June 1930, by Pope Pius XI. They are collectively the secondary Patron Saints of Canada.
The Martyrs and the year of each Martyrdom, are :
St René Goupil (1642) Lay Brother
St Isaac Jogues (1607-1646 aged 39) Priest
St Jean de Lalande (1646) Lay Brother
St Antoine Daniel (1601-1648 aged 47) Priest
St Jean de Brébeuf (1607-1646 aged 39) Priest
St Noël Chabanel (1613-1649 aged 36) Priest
St Charles Garnier (1606-1649 aged 33) Priest
St Gabriel Lalemant (1610-1649 aged 38) Priest
St Isaac Jogues and Companions
from the Roman Breviary
Among the members of the Society of Jesus who brought most renown to the infant Church in North America, in the middle of the seventeenth Century, God chose as victims eight men of outstanding integrity, that from the seeds of faith watered with their blood, there might spring up a more abundant harvest.
All these Martyrs–six Priests and two Laymen–natives of France, were sent by their Superiors to the Missions in Canada, at that time known as New France. With Quebec as a centre, they made numberless missionary journeys to the various sectors of this vast territory, labouring amidst the greatest hardships. In the end, all were most cruelly put to death and for the same reaso – their faith, although not at the same time and place.
Jean de Brebeuf, born at Conde-sur-Vire, in the Diocese of Bajon (now Constance), of an illustrious family and Isaac Jogues, born in Orleans, are regarded as their leaders and masters and rightly so. For they were valiant men, fired with apostolic zeal, living most mortified lives, in intimate prayerful union with God and, at times, were honoured with heavenly visions.
Not unlike them, were their four companion Priests: Antoine Daniel, born at Dieppe, Gabriel Lalemant and Charles Gamier, both Parisian born and Noel Chabanel, a native of Mende – all of these faithfully fulfilled their Priestly functions, labouring principally in various villages of the Huron country.
Frequent raids by the Iroquois, a hostile neighbouring tribe, often wrought havoc in the Huron missions and seriously endangered the lives of the Fathers in charge of them. In 1642, on a journey from Quebec to the Huron country, Isaac Jogues, together with Rene Goupil, a lay co-adjutor of the Society of Jesus, fell in with the Iroquois, who held him and his companion as slaves and subjected them to most horrible torments. In the same year on the 29th of September, Rene was killed by order of an old savage, out of hatred for the Cross of salvation. It was near Auriesville, in the present State of New York, where this most sincere man breathed forth his soul to God.
In the following year Isaac managed to escape and made his way back to France. He returned to America after another year and along with John Lalande, who was also a co-adjutor of the Society of Jesus, made a second and third journey to the savages, his erstwhile tormentors.
On 18 October 1646, in the present diocese of Albany, Isaac was struck with a tomahawk and thus obtained the Palm of Martyrdom. The following day his companion, John, meeting with a like fate, took his flight to Heaven, to be rewarded with the same Crown of Martyrdom.
On 4 July 1648, in an attack upon the village of St Joseph by the Iroquois, Antoine Daniel, in charge of the Huron mission there, was slain while fearlessly defending his flock. Overwhelmed by a shower of arrows and bullets at the entrance of the Church, like a good shepherd he laid down his life for his sheep. Within a year, on 16 March 1649, at St Ignace, a village situated in what is now the Province of Ontario, Canada, John de Brebeuf and Gabriel Lalemant were captured by the Iroquois. That same day, Brebeuf, rightly called the Apostle of the Hurons, died a glorious death, after undergoing long drawn-out tortures of the most atrocious description, during which, this gallant soldier of Christ manifested such fortitude, as to excite even the admiration of the savages themselves. On the following day Gabriel Lalemant suffered the same cruel Martyrdom, during which, he showed the same heroic virtue.
In December of the same year, 1649, on the eve of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Charles Garnier, after several bullet Wounds was killed by a blow from a hatchet, thereby adding a glorious Crown to a life of exceptional innocence. On the following day Noel Chabanel became the victim of the treachery of a Huron apostate, who killed him and threw his body into a river. His longing for the Palm of Martyrdom was thus realised in his own beloved mission. Although he felt a natural repugnance for this work among the savages, hero that he was, he bound himself by a vow to remain in this mission until death.
These eight Martyrs, the first in North America, were Beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and were Canonised by the same Pontiff five years later.