Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19: Saint Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs

North American Martyrs Holy Card, circa 1930
Published in the U.S. between 1923-1963

Copyright not renewed.


In the 1600s, Saints Isaac Jorgues, Jean de Brébeuf, Anthony Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant and  Noel Chabanel were Jesuit priests who went to the Huron region of Canada to teach Native Americans about Jesus. Saints Jean de Lalande and René Goupil were their helpers. But the Native Americans were having hard times. The Huron (Wyandot) tribe was dying from sickness and starvation, and the Iroquois were constantly attacking them. The medicine men of both tribes and of the Mohawks thought these Christian men were the cause of all their troubles. Father Jorgues was captured, tortured and released. He went back to Europe briefly, where he was blessed by the pope, but his love for the Native people led him back to America, no matter what he might suffer. One by one, each of the saints were killed by the Native Americans, the first Christian martyrs on the continent.


Father Jorgues and all of the other North American Martyrs loved the Native Americans and immersed themselves in Native culture. One of the Huron Native Americans made the wampum belt pictured below to commemorate the 1683 agreement between the Hurons and Jesuit missionaries for the construction of the first wooden church on Huron Lands. Wampum are purple and white beads made out of shells, and the belts that the Huron people made would tell important stories of their family histories. Today, get some purple and white plastic beads from your local craft store, some embroidery floss, a plastic needle and a piece of cardboard and make your own wampum belts following these instructions. Or, use long strips of paper and draw your stories with crayons. 
North American Martyrs, pray for us!

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