ST. ISAAC JOGUES

OUR PATRON

JESUIT

NORTH AMERICAN MARTYR

St. Isaac Jogues was born at Orleans, France on January 10, 1607  and was ordained to the priesthood, July 2, 1636, as a member of the Society of Jesus.

In 1636 he was sent to Quebec, Canada, as a missionary to the Huron Indians. He was tortured and imprisoned by the Iroquois in 1642. The Dutch at Fort Orange (Albany, New York) rescued him, and he returned to France in 1643. The following Spring  Isaac Jogues was entrusted with a peace mission to his torturers, and so he left France for Quebec. On  September 24, 1646, en route to Ossernenon (Auriesville, New York) Isaac was captured by a Mohawk war party. On October 18, 1646 his captors tomahawked him.

On June 29, 1930, St. Isaac Jogues and his companion martyrs were enrolled among the saints by Pope Pius XI. St. Isaac and his companions, "The North American Martyrs," are honored on October 19th,   their feast.

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ST. ISAAC JOGUES  NORTH  AMERICAN  MARTYRS  by Sister Pat Davis, OP

JOGUES, ISAAC (1607-1646)

ST. ISAAC JOGUES   AND THE NORTH AMERICAN  MARTYRS   By Kate Dooley, O.P.

ISAAC JOGUES, SAINT  The New Catholic Peoples' Encyclopedia


ST. ISAAC JOGUES    

North American Martyrs

by Sister Pat Davis, OP

Over the centuries the native peoples of America had developed societies which were based on delicate balances among the tribes. and with their natural setting. Their pace of life. their boundaries, and their means of livelihood corresponded with nature. Over the ages various tribes along the water routes, now called the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, confederated into "nations": the Algonquin tribes north of the St. Lawrence, the Huron peoples north of the lake bearing their name, and the Iroquois confederation south of the Great Lakes. They lived in longhouses (long wooden dwellings used as communal homes or council balls bv some tribes) in the cold winters and traveled to fishing and hunting grounds in birchbark canoes during the summer. Their life was demanding, but prudent with the wisdom of long experience.

When explorers came from Europe many disdained the native people of America. They brought with them a culture that disturbed the natural balance. They brought diseases for which the Native Americans had developed no resistance and weapons which enabled one group of people to make another captive. They also brought the foreign concept that the land demanded ownership and that the natural gifts of the earth belonged to a specific individual.

 The French explorers came to Canada with a little less greed and with a more respectful attitude than did some other conquerors. Perhaps it was because there was no gold for the greedy or perhaps because the long winters of New France required companionship. Or they may have realized that the Hurons and Algonquins were, like themselves, created by God. Some Frenchmen came to search the waterways for a route to the Pacific Ocean and the Far East. Some came to trade for the sleek pelts of the beaver, popular in the manufacture of European top hats. But also daring the two month Atlantic journey came the Jesuit priests, dressed in their black robes, who were trading their French education and homeland for a chance to share with the native Americans what was most dear to them - their faith, their belief in God's love. They came with full knowledge that they would likely suffer and die for the truths they held most dear .... And they were not wrong.

These men became the group we now venerate as our North American martyrs. Their martyrdoms were most severe. Their lives contain the "stuff " of legends, and due to the Jesuit insistence on record keeping, we can read in their own words what they hoped and endured as they landed in a world absolutely alien to that of their homeland. Traditionally, one of these saints, St. Isaac Jogues, has been claimed by the Catholic church of the United States because he was martyred in what was later to become the state of New York.

In 1636 Pere Isaac Jogues, newly ordained and 29 years old, joined the small band of Jesuits at Three Rivers (Irois Rivieres), a tiny French trading post on the St. Lawrence River. He arrived with the small Mass kit that his mother had given him. He also arrived with the hope that the Hurons, who were completing their summer's trading, would allow him to travel hundreds of miles inland with them when they returned home.

THE HURON VILLAGE

To strengthen French-Huron relationship, the French authorities convinced the Hurons to exchange children for the year. So it was that 10-year-old French orphan boy Jean Amyot and Fr. Jogues traded places in the birchbark canoes with three Huron youths for the return trip to the Huron villages. For weeks the two newcomers squatted shoeless and motionless in the fragile canoes as they followed the St. Lawrence and Ottawa Rivers westward. The Jesuits at Three Rivers had told Fr. Jogues to be of as much use as possible, so he helped gather wood for their evening meal and helped portage the canoes and supplies when they came to dangerous rapids or to the land they must cross between waterways. Jean and Isaac began to grow accustomed to the Hurons' habits and to the sound of their language, and learned of necessity to eat the native food.

Pere Jean de Brebeuf, who had been the first "Blackrobe" to reach the Hurons a few years before and who would later be martyred and canonized, greeted Isaac when he reached the Huron village near the present location of Midland, Ontario. Fr. Jogues' arrival brought the Blackrobes' total to five, three recently arrived. Fr. Brebeuf began sharing his several years of experience with the newer missionaries. "We can only progress slowly and count on God's ways," he cautioned the newcomers. He had baptized few Hurons in the years he had been there, most .s they lay dying. He recognized that even the little trust he bad painstakingly cultivated was due to the Hurons' distress in times of famine and illness. But he felt the priests must continue to be constantly attentive to the ways and needs of the Hurons. Only God would know, if they made progress.

The Hurons were traditionally friendly to all strangers. The Blackrobes felt free to move in and out of the longhouses of the villages and knew the Indians would share what they had with them. The Hurons felt equally free to sit near the fire in the Blackrobes' lodge, to partake of their meals, and to talk to them of their belief-. Sometimes they would wait for hours to hear the clock chime over and over, mystified, and convinced that a spirit within it was speaking to the priests.

Some Hurons guessed, and rightly so, that the arrival of the Blackrobes was a mixed blessing. It seemed that illness and death, thought by the Hurons to be caused by angry spirits, came with the Frenchmen. Fr. Jogues was sick with influenza his first winter with the Hurons and it spread to several other Frenchmen. They recuperated slowly, only to hell) the Huron,-, who had no resistance to this white man's disease and who often died. The epidemic spread from village to village. Fr. Jogues was blamed and some Hurons wanted him to leave. Only by sincere service could the missionaries counteract these judgments. As summer arrived, the epidemic lessened, and fishing, hunting, and the annual trading trip were more in mind. As Fr. Jogues learned the ways and language of the Hurons he became more acceptable.

THE IROQUOIS CONFEDERATION

The Iroquois confederation of tribes south of the Great Lakes was the traditional enemy of the Huron people. Dutch traders had provided these Indians with muskets, while at that time the French did not provide Algonquins or Hurons with guns. With weapons the Iroquois became invincible and daring, finally able to destroy their long-time enemies north of the lakes. As a result the Hurons were vengeful toward any Iroquois whom luck delivered to them. They killed their prisoners painfully, as they knew the Iroquois did Huron captives. It was soon after his arrival that Isaac witnessed these gruesome proceedings in which the Indians did not distinguish between killing an enemy in defense and taking vengeance after the battle. Centuries of tribal customs dictated against Christian insights and the time of true Christian conversion seemed far distant to the missionaries. When the yearly reports thit traveled east by canoe and ship reached France, the missionaries admitted to no conversions among the Hurons - until a surprising thing happened.

At a council fire, Isiouendaentaha, a respected older brave, spoke up and related the concern ind wisdom he had seen the Blackrobes freely share. He asked Brebeuf to baptize him. Later Fr. Brebeuf questioned the Huron closely to make sure he realized the radical difference baptism should make in his way of life. The brave was committed to that change and so was baptized, aptly given Peter as his patron and Christian name. This man of stature gave credence to the Blackrobes' views so that other families joined "Peter" and the new Christian way of life. They lived together in villages for mutual support. They prayed in the way of the Blackrobes. Their way of life made a marked, contrast to that of their tribesmen. Becoming a Christian was a radical decision but, once they took the step, they were as unflinching in their faith as their Huron training had required in every other aspect of their lives. Eventually many Hurons would be Christian martyrs.

In I the summer of 1642, the Hurons decided to forego their annual trading trip to Three Rivers since Iroquois war parties were infiltrating the area. The missionaries, knowing that a lack of medicine and supplies would cause much suffering, decided to make the trip alone. Fr. Jogues offered to go and some Christian Hurons and French laymen offered to accompany him. The four canoes made it safely to Three Rivers where a young French doctor joined them for the return trip with the year's supplies. On their return, the group was attacked and captured by Mohawks, members of the Iroquois nation. They were paraded through many villages and constantly tortured as their captors traveled south to Osserienon, their village in upstate New York near present day Auriesville. not far from Albany. They finally arrived at Ossernenon with open wounds and broken bones.

Fr. Jogues encouraged the captives to forgive their captors and offer their sufferings to God on their behalf. An Algonquin captive was forced to cut off Fr. Jogues' thumb to assure the Mohawks that the missionary would never use weapons against them. Several of the captives were killed. The young French doctor asked Fr. Jogues if he might vow his life to God as a Jesuit since only his health had deterred him from joining the Society earlier. He did so and was soon killed, thus becoming the first North American Jesuit martyr.

For some reason the Mohawks were saving Fr. Jogues, perhaps as protection against reprisal from the French. He ended up in the service of a respected old Mohawk woman who preserved his life more than once and even called him "nephew." Once, while he acted as his "aunt's" porter to a Dutch town, the men of the town offered to help Fr. Jogues escape. At first he refused since he was learning the ways and languages of the Mohawk people and felt he might even be able to share his beliefs with them. But eventually, when he had managed to send a warning note to Quebec about a Mohawk attack, be knew be must escape the wrath of his captors. His first escape attempt was thwarted by some barking dogs but he managed to get free with a daring second attempt.

A kindly Dutch ship's captain returned Fr. Jogues to France on Christmas Day, 1643, and he was able that day to receive communion for the first time in seventeen months. When Fr. Jogues reached the Jesuits, his appearance was so changed that at first he wasn't recognized; but he soon found that all of France bad been following his ordeal through reports sent back by way of French and Dutch ships. Even the queen requested his presence. During this age of specific liturgical requirements, the Pope gave Fr. Jogues permission to use his remaining fingers to hold the consecrated host at Mass. Fr. Jogues spoke with love of his former persecutors, telling how his Mohawk aunt had protected him. Since he now knew their language and customs, he felt God had suited him well to,return to the native Americans. In time, Fr. Jogues' superiors agreed.

The Jesuits of Three Rivers were astonished to see Isaac Jogues reappear on a ship from Europe! Fr. Jogues was equally surprised to hear that the Hurons and Iroquois had cautiously begun to trade prisoners rather than kill them. Fr. Jogues went back to Ossernenon, the place of his captivity, as an envoy of the French to help with this peace effort. Then he decided to return there a second time, not as a diplomat but as a priest. Before leaving he wrote these words to a fellow priest:

My heart tells me that if I am the one to be sent on this mission I shall go but I shall not return' But I would be glad if our Lord wished to complete the sacrifice where He began it. Farewell, dear Father. Pray that God unite me to Himself inseparably.

Fr. Jogues returned to his aunt's longhouse but could tell she was concerned for him once again. A long summer's drought was believed to have been caused by evil spirits in his Mass kit. Also, the younger braves were irritated by their elders' moves towards peace and knew that Fr. Jogues bad encouraged the exchange of prisoners. While the elders were in council, a young Mohawk asked Fr. Jogues and a Jesuit volunteer who had come with him to come speak to the young braves in his lodge. Both "Auntie" and Fr. Jogues knew that he would have no security outside her longhouse, yet, to refuse the invitation would be unthinkable. Fr. Jogues went, and, as he entered the lodge of the young man, he was killed. He died in October of 1646, ten years after first arriving in the New World. The Jesuit lay helper was killed as well.

 

PRAYER IN HONOR OF

ST. ISAAC JOGUES

Jesus, our Brother, you won the heart of St. Isaac Jogues and helped him grow as a caring, courageous person. He dedicated his life to sharing his love for you by carrying the Good News about your love for all people to others.

Remembering the spirit of St. Isaac Jogues, may we all grow in caring and courage. Help each of us, Jesus, to be strong and gentle messengers of your love. Amen.

We celebrate the feast of SS. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and companions on October 19th.

As remarkable as Fr. Jogues' story is, there is another that follows it. During the autumn of the year following Fr. Jogues' death, the orphan boy who had accompanied him eleven years previously was with some Frenchmen who were attacked by a dozen Mohawks. The French killed eleven attackers and captured one who was then taken to Three Rivers. Eventually, the captive Mohawk bragged that he had been the one to kill Fr. Jogues. The Algonquins and Hurons were furious and planned revenge on the man, but the Jesuits protected Fr. Jogues' murderer.

After some weeks in their care, the Mohawk asked the Jesuits for baptism, relating the knowledge he had gained from Fr. Jogues at Auntie's fireside in Ossernenon. He asked to take Isaac Jogues' name and so was baptized. A week later, Algonguins dragged the Mohawk from the Blackrobe's care and killed him. One of the priests later reported, "God willing, there are now two Isaac Jogueses in heaven."

This article is excerpted from an unpublished manuscript entitled "Our Saints, Our Story," @ Sister Pat Davis, O.P., and is printed with permission.

Sister Pat Davis, 0. P., a Sinsinawa Dominican, got hooked on saints in third grade from the stories in her readers. Her curiosity about these Christian heroes eventually developed into a master's project on the American saints. She currently works as a Director of Religious Education in Peoria, Illinois.

 


JOGUES. ISAAC (1606 -1646)

Born at Orleans, France, of well-to-do parents, he studied at the Jesuit school there and joined the Jesuits in 1624. After his ordination in 1636, he requested and was sent to Quebec. He worked with great success among the Hurons until 1642, when a war party of Iroquois'. the traditional enemies of the Hurons, captured a group of Jesuits, among them Isaac and Rene Goupil, who was murdered. After a year of terrible torture and mutilation, Isaac escaped with the aid of the Dutch at Albany to New York and returned to France. At his request, he was sent back to Quebec in 1644. Two years later, he and Jean de Lalande set out for Iroquois country after a peace treaty with the Iroquois had been signed. They were captured by a Mohawk war party and he was tomahawked and beheaded at Ossernenon, near Albany, New York, on October 18; Jean de Lalande suffered martyrdom the next day. They were canonized with a group of other Jesuits in 1930 by Pope Pius XI as the Martyrs of North America. October 19.

 


ST. ISAAC JOGUES AND THE NORTH AMERICAN MARTYRS

THE SAINTS BOOK By Kate Dooley, O.P.

St. Isaac Jogues and his seven companions were the first martyrs of the North American continent.

Isaac was born in Orleans, France. He entered the Society of Jesus, and after his ordination he was sent as a missionary to Canada, assigned to work among the Huron Indians. The Huron tribe was frequently attacked by the Iroquois. During one of these attacks, Isaac and many of the Hurons were captured.

The Iroquois were a savage tribe and they treated their captives in a most cruel way. Isaac and his companions were dragged from village to village. They were beaten and tortured and made to watch their Huron converts being put to death. Isaac finally was ransomed and was able to escape to New York and then to return to his home in France. The Iroquois had cut, chewed or burned off several of his fingers, so he was no longer able to say Mass, but Pope Urban VIII gave him special permission to offer Mass, and that gave him great joy.

After a few months, Isaac and a companion, Jean de Lalande, sailed for the mission among the Hurons and resumed their work. Then he was asked to try to make peace with the Iroquois. He started on this peace mission but he was captured by a Mohawk war party, tomahawked and beheaded. His companion, Jean Lalande, was beheaded the next day.

The first of the missionaries to be martyred was Ren6 Goupil, a layman like Lalande, who had offered his services to the missionaries. While a captive, he was killed by an Iroquois who saw him trace the sign of the cross on the forehead of some children. John de Br6beuf (1593-1649) was a French Jesuit who had served among the Indians for many years. He taught the Huron language to all the new missionaries, wrote catechisms, and saw seven thousand Hurons profess their belief in Jesus before his death. He was captured by the Iroquois and suffered a most cruel and inhuman death. Father Gabriel Lalemant (1610-1649) had taken a fourth vow-that of devoting his life to the work of a missionary. He had been in the missions less than three years as an assistant to Father Br6beuf before suffering with him the same dreadful death. Father Anthony Daniel (16011648) was also killed by the Iroquois on July 4, 1648. As the Iroquois suddenly attacked the Mission of St. Joseph, Father Anthony baptized as many catechumens as possible. Then he ran to the cabins of the old and sick to baptize them. Going back to the church, he was surrounded by Iroquois, and they shot their arrows into him. Afterward his body was thrown into the chapel which was then set on fire. Father Charles Garnier (16051649) was shot to death during an Iroquois attack on the Petun village of St. John, and Father Noel Chabanel (1613-1649) was killed by a Huron who hated Christians.

These martyrs were men of great faith and heroism. They brought the teachings of the Lord Jesus to the primitive Indians of seventeenth-century America. Their only thought was to teach the Indian people about God's love for them, even though they knew that martyrdom would be their reward.

 

St. Isaac Jogues was bom in 1607 and died in 1646. His feast day is celebrated on October 19.

THE SAINTS BOOK By Kate Dooley, O.P.

 


ISAAC JOGUES, SAINT     The New Catholic Peoples' Encyclopedia

St. Isaac Jogues is one of eight North American martyrs, six of whom were priests of the Society of Jesus, and two of whom were their lay assistants. Born in Orleans, France, on January 10, 1607, Isaac Jogues was ordained a priest on July 2, 1636. His priesthood, however, was destined to be short. Immediately after his ordination, Isaac left as a missionary for Canada, then called New France. Upon reaching Quebec, he began to work among the Huron Indians. His love for the Indians as children of God was not thwarted by their ridicule of his teachings. On the contrary, he was determined to win their friendship as well as their acceptance of the Christian religion.

Isaac Jogues was both a scholar and an athlete. Once he demonstrated his agility as a runner, many Indians became attentive to his teachings. The first six years of his apostolate in the New World resulted in the baptisms of hundreds of Huron Indians. He became the favorite among those Indians eager to learn of the white man's Christian religion. In 1642, on a return journey from Quebec to his mission in the Huron Indian country, Isaac and his companion Rene Goupil were captured by the Iroquois, A tribe allied to the Mohawk Indians. Both missionaries were subjected to torture and mutilation. On September 29, 1642, Rene Goupil was killed by the ax stroke of an Iroquois Indian. Isaac, however, was more fortunate. He was ransomed by the [Dutch in 1643. ]During his captivity he converted sixty Indians.

Although Isaac Jogues had suffered severely at the hands of the Iroquois, he returned to Quebec to continue his apostolate. Despite the mutilation of his right hand, he was granted a dispensation to say Mass by Pope Urban VIII. Urban's judgement that "it would be shameful for a martyr of Christ not to drink the blood of Christ" renewed the zeal of Isaac to work among the Indians. On a peace mission to the Iroquois in 1646, Isaac was again captured by a renegade Mohawk war party, this time with his assistant Jean de la Lande. On October 18, 1646, both missionaries were tomahawked. Their deaths marked the second and third martyrdoms of North American missionaries.

At the suggestion of the hierarchies of Canada and the United States, canonization procedures for Isaac Jogues and his fellow martyrs were begun in 1912. All eight Jesuit missionaries were proclaimed saints in 1930. Together they are called the North American Martyrs. The feast of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions is October 19.

 


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