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|Saint Antoine Daniel|
North American Martyrs holy card, c. 1930
|Jesuit, Missionary, Martyr|
May 27, 1601|
Dieppe, Normandy, France
|Died||July 4, 1648
Hillsdale, Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada
|Canonized||June 29, 1930 by Pope Pius XI|
|Feast||October 19, September 26|
Daniel was born at Dieppe, in Normandy. After two years' study of philosophy and one year of law, Daniel entered the Society of Jesus in Rouen on October 1, 1621. He was sent as a missionary to Canada. He was slain by the Iroquois at Teanaostaye, near what is now Hillsdale, Simcoe County, Ontario.
Daniel travelled to New France in 1633 and studied the Wendat (Huron) language. He was first stationed at Cape Breton (in what is now Nova Scotia), where his brother Captain Daniel had established a French fort in 1629. In 1634 he travelled to Wendake with Frs. Brébeuf and Daoust. For two years, in what is now Quebec, he had charge of a school for Indian boys, but with the exception of this period, he was connected with the mission at Ihonatiria, in Huron country, from July 1634, until his death fourteen years later.
He returned to Teanaostaye in July 1648. Shortly thereafter, the Iroquois made a sudden attack on the mission while most of the Huron men were away. Father Daniel did all in his power to aid his people. Before the palisades had been scaled, he hurried to the chapel where the women, children, and old men were gathered. He gave them general absolution and baptized the catechumens. Daniel made no attempt to escape, but is reported to have calmly advanced to meet the enemy.
In an effort to cause a diversion, Fr. Daniel took up a cross and walked towards the advancing Iroquois. Seized with amazement the Iroquois halted for a moment, then fired on him. They flung Daniel's lifeless body into the chapel, which they had set on fire. Many of the Huron did escape during this incident.
Three missionaries were martyred in present-day New York: one in 1642 and two in 1646. Daniel was the first martyr of the missionaries to the Hurons. Father Ragueneau, his superior, speaks of him in a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits as "a truly remarkable man, humble, obedient, united with God, of never failing patience and indomitable courage in adversity" (Thwaites, tr. Relations, XXXIII, 253–269).
- Charlotte Gray 'The Museum Called Canada: 25 Rooms of Wonder' Random House, 2004
- Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.