Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Saint Isaac Jogues, Saint John De Brebeuf and Companions


More than three hundred years ago, six Jesuit priests and two holy laymen, all from France, died as martyrs in North America. These eight men were some of the bravest and most daring missionaries in the New World.

They put their own lives in danger to bring Jesus to the Indian people. They worked very hard and were able to convert many of the Huron tribe. But the Iroquois, bitter enemies of the Hurons, put them all to death.

Isaac Jogues was a Jesuit priest who was sent as a missionary to New France in Canada. This was a very difficult job. Not only were the living conditions hard, but the locals blamed the "Blackrobes", the priests, for any disease, bad-luck or other problems they had. The Mohawks captured and made him suffer for thirteen months. During that time, he tried to teach the Faith to anyone who would listen. When he was set free by the Dutch, he went back to France to get better, but as soon as he could, he returned to North America to continue his work.

Father Jogues had his head chopped off with a tomahawk (large axe) by the Bear Clan of the Mohawks.

When St. John de Brebeuf was in France, he had tuberculosis and was so sick that he could not teach much. But then he too was sent as a missionary to New France. There the harsh and hearty climate agreed with him so well that the Native Indians called him Echon or load-bearer. He was so huge that they were afraid to share a canoe with him as they feared it might sink.

Although he was a famous professor of Theology in France, it took him a long time to learn the Huron language. Finally he was able to write a catechism in Huron for the native people. He also wrote a French-Huron dictionary and a list of Instructions for other Jesuit Missionaries on how to work well with the Indians. He was a wonderful and brave apostle of Jesus and his courage amazed the fierce Iroquois as they tortured him to death.

St. Gabriel Lallemont was also tortured to death with St. John de Brebeuf.

St. Anthony Daniel had just finished celebrating Mass for his Huron converts, those who had become Christians, when the Iroquois attacked the village. The Christian Indians begged him to try and escape. But Father Daniel stayed. He wanted to help all those who were crying to him for Baptism before they would be killed. The Iroquois burned him to death in his little chapel.

St. Charles Garnier was shot by an Iroquois musket during a surprise attack, but he still tried to crawl to help a dying man. When the Iroquois saw this they angrily killed him with a hatchet blow.

Father Noel Chabenel found the life of a missionary very hard, but had made a promise to stay in North America. He was killed by a Huron traitor using a tomahawk.

The two lay helpers, Rene Goupil and John Lalande, were also both killed with tomahawks.

These brave martyrs were heroes of Christ and gave their lives for the native people of North America so that they too could know the love and friendship of Jesus. After their death, new missionaries were able to convert almost every tribe that the martyrs had known.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Feast of the Holy Innocents


December 28

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Wise Men, or Magi came from the east to worship him. They went to Herod, the king, looking for the newborn king of the Jews, the Savior.

Herod was a very bad man. When he heard that these Wise Men were looking for a newborn king, he began to worry about losing his throne.


But he did not let the Wise Men know what he was thinking. He called in his chief priests and asked them where the Bible says the Messiah was to be born. They answered: Bethlehem.

"Go and find out about this child," the wicked king said to the Wise Men. "When you have found out where he is, come and tell me. Then I, too, will go and worship him."


The Wise Men agreed and continued on their way, following the star. They found Jesus the Messiah, with Mary and Joseph. They adored him and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

But in their sleep an angel warned them not to go back to Herod. Then an angel asked Saint Joseph to take Mary and Baby Jesus into Egypt. In this way, God spoiled Herod's plans to harm little Baby Jesus.

When Herod realized that the Wise Men had not come back to him, he became very angry. He was an evil, horrible man, and now the fear of losing his throne made him worse.

He sent his soldiers to kill all the little baby boys of Bethlehem in the hope of killing Jesus too. The soldiers had to obey his order. There was great sorrow in the little town of Bethlehem, as mothers wept when their beloved babies were killed.

These little children are honored today by the Church as martyrs. They are called the Holy Innocents.