Isaac Jogues

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Saint Isaac Jogues, S.J.
St Isaac Jogues Martyrs Shrine.jpg
Statue of St. Isaac Jogues, shown teaching two Mohawk Indian children
Religious, priest, missionary and martyr
Born (1607-01-10)January 10, 1607
Orléans, Orléanais, Kingdom of France)
Died October 18, 1646(1646-10-18) (aged 39)
Ossernenon, Canada,
New France
Honored in Catholic Church
(Canada and the United States)
Beatified June 21, 1925, Rome, Italy, by Pope Pius XI
Canonized June 29, 1930, Vatican City by Pope Pius XI
Major shrine National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, New York, United States
Feast September 26 (Canada), October 19 (United States)
Society of Jesus

History of the Jesuits
Regimini militantis

Jesuit Hierarchy
Superior General
Adolfo Nicolás

Ignatian Spirituality
Spiritual Exercises
Ad majorem Dei gloriam

Notable Jesuits
St. Ignatius of Loyola
St. Francis Xavier
St. Peter Faber
St. Aloysius Gonzaga
St. Robert Bellarmine
St. Peter Canisius
St. Edmund Campion
Pope Francis

St. Isaac Jogues, S.J. (January 10, 1607 – October 18, 1646) was a Jesuit priest, missionary and martyr who traveled and worked among the native populations in North America. He gave the original European name to Lake George, calling it Lac du Saint Sacrement, Lake of the Blessed Sacrament. In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawks near present day Auriesville, New York.

Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries, all Jesuit priests or laymen associated with them, were canonized in 1930, and are known as "The North American Martyrs". Their feast day is celebrated on October 19 in the United States and on 26 September Canada.


Early in the 17th century the Jesuits began to arrive in Quebec both to serve the colonists of New France and to evangelize the native peoples. Among the more notable of these men were Jean de Brébeuf, Antoine Daniel, Énemond Massé, Gabriel Lalemant, Noël Chabanel, Christophe Ragueneau, Charles Garnier, Jogues and Le Jeune.

It was Le Jeune, a Huguenot in early life, who conceived the plan for keeping his Superiors in the Society of Jesus, as well as the European laity, informed of the great undertaking, by the careful compilation of missionaries' letters, which described in detail their experiences and impressions. Every summer, for a period of 40 years, these reports were dispatched back to Paris, where they were published serially under the title of the Jesuit Relations. They form an historical chronicle of the highest value, and it is to them that we are mainly indebted for our knowledge of Father Jogues.[1]


Called the "Apostle of the Mohawks," and known to the Mohawks themselves as Ondessonk, "the indomitable one", Jogues was born on January 10, 1607, at Orleans, into a good bourgeois family, who had him educated at home. In 1624, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Rouen, where his Master of novices was Louis Lallemant, S.J., who had two brothers and a nephew serving as missionaries in the colony of Canada.[1] Jogues professed simple vows in 1626, and was sent to study philosophy at the royal college in La Flèche, where the Jesuit community which then ran it had a strong missionary spirit, due to the presence of one of the missionary pioneers, Énemond Massé, and later Jean de Brébreuf, while the colony was in British hands. Upon completing these studies, he was sent to the Collège de Clermont in Paris to pursue his study of theology.[2]

Being allowed to cut his studies short, Jogues was ordained a priest in January 1636, and was accepted for service in the missions and sent to New France.[3] as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquian allies of the French. He sailed from France on the following 8 April, arriving in the village of Quebec in late May, celebrating his first Mass in the New World on 31 May. He then proceeded to the settlement of Trois-Rivieres, where he stayed several weeks until he was instructed to join the Superior of the Jesuit Mission, Jean de Brébeuf, at their settlement on Lake Huron. Arriving there on 11 September, he immediately fell ill, as did later the other Jesuits and then the people of the village. Due to recurring epidemics, the people of the village soon threatened to kill the missionaries, but the epidemics ended before the threat could be carried out.[2]

In 1639, the new superior of the Jesuit Mission, Father Jérôme Lalemant, entrusted the building of Fort Sainte-Marie to Jogues. Subsequently the latter was sent with Garnier to the Tobacco Nation. In September 1641, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut went into the territory of the Sauteurs (Chippewas). They pushed on a considerable distance to the west and came to the Sainte-Marie Falls (Sault Ste. Marie). They were warmly welcomed, the meeting was a productive one, and the priests had to promise to come back to teach the people of the Christian faith.[2]

On 3 August 1642, while on his way by canoe to the country of the Hurons, Jogues, in the company of Guillaume Cousture, René Goupil, and several Huron Christians, was captured by a war party of Mohawk Iroquois. They were taken back to the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, now Auriesville, on the Mohawk River, about forty miles above the present city of Albany, New York, where they were tortured.[3] It was during this torture that several of Jogues' fingers were chewed off by his captors.

Jogues survived this torment and went on to live as a slave among the Mohawks for some time, even attempting to teach his captors the rudiments of Christianity. He was finally able to escape thanks to the pity of some Dutch merchants who smuggled him to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (now New York City. Jogues was the first Catholic priest to visit Manhattan Island.[3] From there, he managed to sail back to France, where he was greeted with surprise and joy. As a "living martyr", Jogues was given a dispensation by Pope Urban VIII to say Mass with his mutilated hands, as under Church law of the time the Blessed Sacrament could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger.

Yet his ill-treatment by the Mohawk Iroquois did not dim the missionary zeal of Jogues. Within a few months, he was on his way back to Canada to continue his work. In 1645, a tentative peace was forged between the Iroquois and the Hurons, Algonquins, and French. In the spring of 1646, Jogues was sent back to the Mohawk country along with Jean de Lalande to act as ambassador among them.

However, some among the Mohawks regarded Jogues as a practitioner of magic, and when the double-calamity of sickness and crop failure hit the Mohawks, Jogues was the easiest thing to blame their now prevalent problems on. On October 18, 1646, he and LaLande were tomahawked in the neck (beheaded-not clubbed as some tell the story). After his death his body was thrown into the Mohawk River.

Mosaic of St. Isaac Jogues in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
North American Martyrs


Today, the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, maintained by the Jesuits, stands on or near the site (ten years after Jogues' death, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in approximately the same place). It also honors Jean de Brébeuf and five of his companions who were killed in Canada in 1648 and 1649. The Mohawk Indians stripped him naked and beat him to death.

Jogues was canonized on June 29, 1930 by Pope Pius XI along with seven other Canadian Martyrs. His feast day is celebrated on September 26 in Canada and on October 19 in the United States. A statue of Jogues stands in the village of Lake George, in a park by the lake.

At Fordham University's Rose Hill Campus in the Bronx, New York, a freshman dormitory—Martyrs' Court—has three sections, which are named for the three U.S. martyr-saints: Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, and John de LaLande.[4] Dormitories at LeMoyne College in Syracuse and at Fairfield University in Connecticut are also named for Jogues.

The novitiate of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus just outside Wernersville, Pennsylvania was named for Jogues. It is now called the Jesuit Center at Wernersville. [1]

Camp Ondessonk, a Roman Catholic youth camp located in Ozark, Illinois, is named under Jogues' Mohawk name. Most of the camp's living quarters for the campers are each named for one of the Jesuit martyrs as well as one for St. Kateri Tekakwitha:

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