Today is the feast day of St. Isaac Jogues and his companions. Fr Jim Martin, SJ has a great post on these brave Jesuits who lived among the Huron Native Americans near Quebec in what was then known as New France.
St. Isaac Jogues’ story is told more or less accurately in the movie Black Robe which is what the Hurons named him. Here’s a great clip:
In Fr. Martin’s piece today he reminds us that these men including St. Jean de Brébeuf were tortured in a most gruesome way:
On March 16, the Iroquois attacked the village and took the Hurons, who were mainly Christians, along with Jean and another Jesuit, Gabriel Lalement, prisoner. He knew that the possibility of martyrdom was imminent.
Jean de Brébeuf’s torture was among the cruelest any Jesuit has had to endure. (You might want to avoid this next paragraph if you’re squeamish.)
The Iroquois heated hatchets until they were glowing red and, tying them together, strung them across his shoulders, searing his flesh. They wrapped his torso with bark and set it afire. They cut off his nose, lips and forced a hot iron down his throat, and poured boiling water over his head in a gruesome imitation of baptism. They scalped him, and cut off his flesh while he was alive. Finally someone buried a hatchet in his jaw.
After 14 years as a missionary, Jean de Brébeuf died on March 16, 1639. He was 56. At his death his heart was eaten as a way for the Iroquois, who were stunned by his courage, to share in his bravery. Eight other Jesuits were martyred around this same time, and are now referred to as the North American Martyrs.
Today let us pray for all those who have lost their life for the faith they believe in (still today we have martyrs). May God give them rest and redeem their suffering and may their inspiration continue to bring us all closer to God.