Little has been said about Christian martyrs killed by indigenous people in Canada during the pope’s trip

EDITOR CENTRAL, 28 jul. 22 / 12:00 pm (ACI).- Pope Francis has been visiting Canada since July 24 and has apologized to indigenous people on several occasions for what happened in Canadian government residential schools that separated indigenous children from their families to facilitate their assimilation into Canadian society. Some of these schools were run by Catholic institutions. There was no mention, however, of Jesuit martyrs killed by indigenous peoples in North America.

In September 1984, Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated a liturgy of the word with the indigenous peoples of Canada at the Shrine of the Martyrs, an event attended by around 75,000 people.

On the occasion, Saint John Paul II remembered the French Jesuit priests Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, Gabriel Lalemant, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier and Noël Chabanel, murdered between 1642 and 1649.

“Ignited with love for Christ and inspired by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Francis Xavier and other great saints of the Society of Jesus, these priests came to the New World to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the native peoples of this country,” the pope said. Polish in his homily.

“Two lay brothers were part of this group of missionaries: René Goupil and Jean de la Lande. With equal courage and fervor, they helped the priests in their work, gave evidence of great dedication and service to the indigenous people, and with the sacrifice of their lives they obtained the crown of martyrdom”, said Saint John Paul II.

These missionaries arrived in Canada in the 17th century to evangelize indigenous peoples such as the Huron and Iroquois.

Five of them suffered martyrdom in the territory of present-day Canada: Jean de Brèbeuf (16 March 1649), Antoine Daniel (4 July 1648), Gabriel Lallemant (17 March 1649), Carlos Garnier (7 December 1649) ) and Noël Chabanel (8 December 1649).

The other three were martyred in what is now the United States: Father Isaac Yogues (October 18, 1646), and lay people René Goupil (September 29, 1642) and Jean de La Lande. (October 19, 1646).

A life at the service of the indigenous people

Saint Jéan de Brébeuf dedicated himself to teaching and catechizing the Huronians who called him Echon in their language. The saint’s ease with languages ​​allowed him to learn more about indigenous culture and spirituality.

Conversions were taking place slowly. In 1635 he managed to baptize some Huronians. The number rose to 86 in 1636.

In 1640, after an unsuccessful mission, Father Brébeuf broke his collarbone and was sent to Quebec to recover. He taught the language of the Hurons and was a religious confessor, he also preached for the French colonists.

Around 1642, he composed a Huronian Christmas carol, the oldest Christmas carol in Canada. By 1647, Huron conversions to the Catholic faith numbered in the thousands.

The martyrdom of the Jesuits at the hands of the indigenous

Father Brébeuf was captured along with Father Gabriel Laleman when the Iroquois destroyed the Saint-Louis Mission. These indigenous people tortured missionaries and native converts before killing them.

When they killed Saint Jéan de Brébeuf, among other torments, they poured boiling water on his head as a mockery of baptism and took his blood, thinking that in this way they could obtain the courage that the priest showed in the face of torture.

The Mohawk Indians killed Fathers Antoine Daniel, Carlos Garnier and Noël Chabanel in the town of Ossernenon between 1642 and 1646.

In September 1984, Pope Saint John Paul II said that “while offering their lives, these missionaries looked to the future, to the day when the natives would reach full maturity and assume a leadership role in their Church”.

“St Jéan de Brébeuf dreamed of a fully Catholic and fully Huronian church,” he said.

Pope Pius XI canonized these martyrs in 1930. His feast is celebrated on October 19.

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