René Goupil

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This article is about 17th century Jesuit missionary. For the original 5th-century Saint-René, see Saint Renatus.
Saint René Goupil, S.J.
North American Martyrs.jpg
Religious and martyr
Born May 15, 1608
Saint-Martin-du-Bois, Anjou, Kingdom of France
Died September 29, 1642(1642-09-29) (aged 34)
Ossernenon, New France
Venerated in Roman 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 26 September (Canada), 19 October (United States)
Patronage anesthetists, anesthesiologists

René Goupil, S.J. (15 May 1608 – 29 September 1642), was a French Jesuit lay missionary, who became a lay brother of the Society of Jesus shortly before his death. He was the first of the three North American Martyrs of the Roman Catholic Church to receive the crown of martyrdom and the first canonized Catholic martyr in North America.


Goupil was baptized in St-Martin-du-Bois, near Angers, in the ancient Province of Anjou, on 15 May 1608, the son of Hipolite and Luce Provost Goupil.[1] He was working as a surgeon in Orléans before entering the novitiate of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Paris on 16 March 1639. He had to leave the novitiate due to deafness.[2]

Goupil volunteered to serve as a lay missionary working to assist the Jesuit Fathers. In 1640 he arrived in New France.[2] From 1640 to 1642 he served at the Saint-Joseph de Sillery Mission, near Quebec, where he was charged with caring for the sick and wounded at the hospital.[2] His work primarily involved wound dressings and bloodlettings.[1]

In 1642 Goupil travelled to the Huron missions with about forty other persons, including several Huron chiefs and Jesuit Father Isaac Jogues.[2] They were captured by the Mohawk, taken to their easternmost village of Ossernenon (about 9 miles west of present-day Auriesville, New York),[3][4] and tortured. After teaching the native children the sign of the cross, Goupil was killed 29 September 1642 by several blows to the head with a tomahawk. Before being martyred, he had professed religious vows as a Jesuit lay brother before Fr. Jogues.[2] Many of the 24 Huron accompanying Goupil were baptized Catholic converts. Traditional enemies of the Mohawk, they were slowly tortured in accordance with Iroquois ritual before being killed.[5]


Goupil is venerated as the first Jesuit martyr of Canada and one of three martyrs of the territory of the present United States. He was canonized on 29 June 1930 by Pope Pius XI along with the seven other Canadian Martyrs or "North American Martyrs". He is the patron saint of anesthetists.[1]

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 US martyr-saints: René Goupil, Isaac Jogues, and Jean Lalande.[6] Goupil is also honored at the Catholic youth camp Camp Ondessonk, where a unit is named after him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Quintal, Jean. "René Goupil: Patron Saint of Anesthetists", AANA Journal, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, June 1995/ Vol. 63/No. 3
  2. ^ a b c d e René Goupil. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  3. ^ Donald A. RUMRILL, “An Interpretation and Analysis of the Seventeenth Century Mohawk Nation: Its Chronology and Movements,” The Bulletin and Journal of Archaelogy for New York State, 1985, vol. 90, pp. 1-39
  4. ^ Dean R. SNOW, (1995) Mohawk Valley Archaeology: The Sites, University at Albany Institute for Archaeological Studies (First Edition); Occasional Papers Number 23, Matson Museum of Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University (Second Edition).
  5. ^ Allan Greer, "Colonial Saints: Gender, Race and Hagiography in New France", in The William and Mary Quarterly Third Series, vol. 57, no. 2 (2000): pp. 323–348. p. 333, in JSTOR, accessed 2 March 2015
  6. ^ "Martyrs' Court". Fordham University. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 

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