Isaac Jogues

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Saint Isaac Jogues
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
Venerated 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 was the first European to name Lake George, calling it Lac du Saint Sacrement (Lake of the Blessed Sacrament). In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawk at their village of Ossernenon south of the Mohawk River.

Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries, all Jesuit priests or laymen associated with them, were canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1930; they are known as "The North American Martyrs". A shrine was built in their honor at Auriesville, New York, about 9 miles east, at a site formerly believed to be that of the Mohawk village. Another national shrine is in Canada. Their feast day is celebrated on 26 September in Canada and on 19 October in the United States of America.

Early life[edit]

Jogues was born on January 10, 1607, at Orléans, France, into a bourgeois (middle-class) 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. The master already had two brothers and a nephew serving as missionaries in the colony of New France in North America.[1] Jogues professed simple vows in 1626, and was sent to study philosophy at the royal college in La Flèche. The Jesuit community running it had a strong missionary spirit; its teachers included missionary pioneers, Énemond Massé, and later Jean de Brébeuf. The latter served after the colony had been taken over by the British following the Seven Years' War. Upon completing these studies, Jogues was sent to the Collège de Clermont in Paris to pursue his study of theology.[2]

Paul Le Jeune, superior of the Jesuit mission in New France, had conceived a plan to keep the church and laity informed of the mission's undertaking, by the careful compilation of missionaries' letters. These described in detail their experiences and impressions. Every summer, for a period of 40 years, the Jesuit missionaries sent these reports back to Paris, where they were published serially under the title of the Jesuit Relations. They helped build support and gain financial contributions to support the mission in the New World. These accounts inspired Jogues and others to become missionaries.[3]

Allowed to cut his studies short, Jogues was ordained a priest in January 1636. Accepted for service in the missions, he was sent to New France.[4] He was assigned as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquian peoples; both were allies of the French in Quebec.

He sailed from France on the following 8 April, arriving in the village of Quebec on the St. Lawrence River in late May. He celebrated his first Mass in the New World on 31 May. He proceeded to the settlement of Trois-Rivières, 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 native people of the village. Due to recurring epidemics, the people of the village soon threatened to kill the missionaries, but the epidemics ended before any attacks took place.[2]

In 1639, the new superior of the Jesuit Mission, Father Jérôme Lalemant, entrusted the building of Fort Sainte-Marie to Jogues. The younger man traveled with Garnier to the Petun, also known as the Tobacco Nation for their chief commodity crop. In September 1641, Jogues and Charles Raymbaut went into the territory of the Sauteurs (Ojibwe). They pushed on a considerable distance to the west and came to the Sainte-Marie Falls (Sault Ste. Marie). They were warmly welcomed and the meeting was productive. The priests promised to return to teach the people of the Christian faith.[2]

Mosaic of St. Isaac Jogues in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

On 3 August 1642, while on his way by canoe to the country of the Huron, Jogues, in the company of Guillaume Couture, René Goupil, and several Huron Christians, was captured by a war party of Mohawk nation|Mohawk of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Mohawk took their captives to their village of Ossernenon on the Mohawk River, about 50 miles west of the present city of Albany, New York. They were ritually tortured [4] and Jogues lost two fingers on his right hand.[3]

Jogues survived this event. He lived as a slave among the Mohawk for some time; he tried to teach his captors about Christianity. A party of Dutch traders from Fort Orange (now Albany, New York), including the Reformed minister Johannes Megapolensis, ransomed him and gave him money for passage down the Hudson River to New Amsterdam (New York) and a return to France.[3] Jogues was the first Catholic priest to visit Manhattan Island.[4] From there, he sailed 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 hand. Under Church law of the time, the Blessed Sacrament could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger. Jogues visited his mother in Orléans but was eager to return to the missions. Within a few months, he returned to New France to continue his work.

In 1645, a tentative peace was forged between the Iroquois and the Huron, Algonquin, 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. Some among the Mohawk regarded Jogues and other missionaries as evil practitioners of magic. The Europeans carried endemic Eurasian diseases, such as smallpox and measles, that spread among Native Americans, causing high fatalities because they lacked any immunity to these new diseases. When the Mohawk suffered another crisis of infectious disease and crop failure at Ossernenon, they blamed it on the chest of vestments and books that the Jesuits had left behind.[5] On October 18, 1646, they attacked and killed Jogues with a tomahawk; LaLande was killed the next day.[5] The Mohawk threw the missionaries' bodies into the Mohawk River.


North American Martyrs

Jogues was canonized on June 29, 1930 by Pope Pius XI along with seven other Canadian Martyrs.[5] His feast day is celebrated on September 26 in Canada and on October 19 in the United States.

The Shrine of the North American Martyrs was built in the 20th century to honor these men; it is maintained by the Jesuits. It is located 9 miles east of the site of Ossernenon, at what at the time was believed to be the former site of the village, which developed as Auriesville, New York. The shrine also honors Jean de Brébeuf and five of his companions, who were killed in Canada in 1648 and 1649. The Mohawk stripped them and beat them to death in the gauntlet. (Ten years after Jogues' death, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in Ossernenon; this Mohawk woman was canonized in 2014 as the first Native American saint.)

A seasonal chapel on the east shore of Saratoga Lake, New York is named after Jogues. It is maintained by the All Saints on the Hudson Catholic Church in Stillwater, New York. A statue of Jogues stands in front of the main entrance to the chapel that faces the lake.[6] While he was being taken into captivity, Jogues is said to have been the first European to see the lake.

A statue of Jogues stands in the village of Lake George (village), in the Battlefield Park by the lake.[7] The monument was dedicated in 1939.[8]

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 Jean de LaLande.[9] Dormitories at Le Moyne 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.

Camp Ondessonk, a Roman Catholic youth camp located in Ozark, Illinois, is named after Jogues' Mohawk name. The camp's living quarters for campers are each named for one of the Jesuit martyrs, plus St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Jean de Brébeuf, S.J.; Noël Chabanel, S.J.; Antoine Daniel, S.J.; Charles Garnier, S.J.; René Goupil, S.J.; Jean de Lalande, S.J., and Gabriel Lalemant, S.J.

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