René Goupil

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Saint René Goupil, S.J.
North American Martyrs.jpg
Religious and martyr
Born15 May 1608
Saint-Martin-du-Bois, Anjou, Kingdom of France
Died29 September 1642(1642-09-29) (aged 34)
Ossernenon, New France
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
(Canada and the United States)
Beatified21 June 1925[citation needed], Rome, Italy, by Pope Pius XI
Canonized29 June 1930, Vatican City by Pope Pius XI
Major shrineNational Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, New York, United States[citation needed]
Feast26 September (Canada), 19 October (United States)[citation needed]
Patronageanesthetists, anesthesiologists

René Goupil, S.J. (15 May 1608 – 29 September 1642), was a French Jesuit lay missionary (in French "donné", "given" or "one who offers himself") who became a lay brother of the Society of Jesus shortly before his death. He was the first of the eight 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 Hippolite Goupil and Luce Provost.[1][2] 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.[3]

Goupil volunteered to serve as a lay missionary working to assist the Jesuit Fathers. In 1640 he arrived in New France.[3] 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.[3] His work primarily involved wound dressings and bloodlettings.[2]

In 1642 Goupil travelled to the Huron missions with about forty other persons, including several Huron chiefs and Jesuit Father Isaac Jogues.[3] They were captured by the Mohawk, taken to their easternmost village of Ossernenon (about 9 miles west of present-day Auriesville, New York),[4][5] and tortured. After teaching a Mohawk boy the sign of the cross, Goupil was killed on the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, 29 September 1642, by a blow to the head with a tomahawk. He died uttering the Holy Name of Jesus, as he had practiced in case of martyrdom. Fr. Jogues was present and gave Goupil absolution before expiring. Before being martyred, Goupil had professed religious vows as a Jesuit lay brother before Fr. Jogues.[3] 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.[6]


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.[2]

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.[7] Goupil is also honored at the Catholic youth camp Camp Ondessonk, where a unit is named after him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Calverley, Rod K. (1 January 1980). "St. René: the patron saint of anaesthetists and a patron saint of canada". Canadian Anaesthetists' Society Journal. 27 (1): 74–77. doi:10.1007/BF03006854. ISSN 1496-8975. PMID 6986191.
  2. ^ a b c Quintal, Jean. "René Goupil: Patron Saint of Anesthetists", AANA Journal, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, June 1995/ Vol. 63/No. 3 Archived 14 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d e René Goupil. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  4. ^ Donald A. RUMRILL, "An Interpretation and Analysis of the Seventeenth Century Mohawk Nation: Its Chronology and Movements," The Bulletin and Journal of Archaeology for New York State, 1985, vol. 90, pp. 1–39
  5. ^ 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).
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ "Martyrs' Court". Fordham University. Retrieved 27 October 2011.

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