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Charles Garnier (missionary)

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Charles Garnier
North American Martyrs
BornMay 25, 1606
Paris, France
DiedDecember 7, 1649(1649-12-07) (aged 43)
Tobacco Nation country near Collingwood, Ontario, Canada
Venerated inCatholic Church
Canonized1930 by Pope Pius XI
Major shrineShrine of the Canadian Martyrs, Midland, Ontario, Canada
FeastOctober 19

Charles Garnier, SJ (baptised in Paris, May 25, 1606 – martyred December 7, 1649) was a Jesuit missionary working in New France. He was killed by Iroquois in a Petun (Tobacco Nation) village on December 7, 1649.[1][2]


The son of a secretary to King Henri III of France, Garnier was born in Paris in 1606. He attended the Collège de Clermont in Paris and joined the Jesuit seminary in Clermont in September 1624.[3]

After his novitiate, he returned to the College of Clermont as Prefect. After finishing his studies in rhetoric and philosophy, he spent two years teaching at the College of Eu as a teacher. Completing years of studies in language, culture and theology, he was ordained as a priest in 1635. Initially fobidden by his father from travelling to Canada, where he would face almost certain death as a missionary, he was eventually allowed to go.[4] Embarking on March 25, 1636, he described the crossing in a letter to his father,

We gave Viaticum to a sailor who had fallen from the top of the mizzenmast to the deck. He was well-disposed to die. However, as I saw him in great discomfort, unable to sleep, I gave him my cabin and went in with Father Chastelain in his, but the sick man found this cabin too stuffy so the next day I occupied it again but left him my mattress so he could sleep even in the midst of the cannons. Hearing this, the Captain made me take one of his.[5]

He reached the colony of New France in June. He travelled immediately to the Huron mission with a fellow Jesuit, Pierre Chastellain.[6] By early August, he had arrived among the Nipissings.[5]

He served for the rest of his life as a missionary among the Huron,

never returning to France. The Huron nicknamed him Ouracha, or "rain-giver", after his arrival was followed by a drought-ending rainfall. He was greatly influenced by a fellow missionary, Jean de Brébeuf, and was known as the "lamb" to Brebeuf's "lion".[3] In 1639 and 1640, he wintered in the land of the Petun. From 1641 to 1646, Garnier was at the Saint-Joseph mission.[6]

There were raids between Iroquois and Huron forces. When he learned that Brébeuf and Lalemant were killed in March 1649 by Iroquois after a raid on a Huron village, Garnier knew he too might soon die. On December 7, 1649, he was killed by musket fire from the Iroquois during an attack on the Petun village in which he was living.[5]

Garnier was canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI with the seven other Canadian Martyrs (also known as the North American Martyrs),[6] His feast day is October 19.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gray, Charlotte; Angel, Sara (2004). The Museum Called Canada: 25 Rooms of Wonder. Random House Canada. ISBN 978-0-679-31220-8.
  2. ^ Larivière, Florian (1957). La Vie ardente de Saint Charles Garnier. Montreal: Bellarmin.
  3. ^ a b Lindsay, Lionel (1909). "Charles Garnier" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company. p. 388.
  4. ^ Campbell, Thomas Joseph (1910). Pioneer Priests of North America, 1642-1710: Among the Hurons. Vol. II. Fordham University Press. p. 331.
  5. ^ a b c English, Darren. "Garnier". Wyandot.org. Retrieved 2018-08-22.
  6. ^ a b c Larivière, Florian (1979) [1966]. "Garnier, Charles (Ouracha)". In Brown, George Williams (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. I (1000–1700) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Charles Garnier". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


  • Larivière, Florian (1979) [1966]. "Garnier, Charles (Ouracha)". In Brown, George Williams (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Vol. I (1000–1700) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  • "De la prise et désolation de la mission de Saint-Jean, par les Iroquois, et de la mort du P. Charles Garnier, qui y était en mission" and "Abrégé de la vie du Père Charles Garnier," in ACSM, "Mémoires touchant la mort et les vertus des pères Isaac Jogues . . ." (Ragueneau), repr. APQ Rapport, 1924–25, 76–85.
  • APQ Rapport, 1929–30, 1–43, "Lettres de Saint Charles Garnier." JR (Thwaites), XXXV, 118–44; et passim. Positio causae.
  • Florian Larivière, La vie ardente de Saint Charles Garnier (Montréal, 1957).
  • Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle-France au XVIIe siècle, I, 97–100, 409–18.