On June 29, 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized a number of Jesuit missionaries who had been massacred in Canada. Among them were Fathers Jean de Bréboeuf and Gabriel Lalemant who were brutally murdered at the mission of St. Louis on March 16, 1649.
Father Bréboeuf, who joined the Jesuits at age 24, served most of the next three decades as a missionary in Huronia, between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. Passionately devout, he evangelized the Huron. They, in turn, because of his size, called him “Echon” (Bearer of Loads). He wrote the Huron Carol Jesous Ahatonhia (beautifully rendered in different languages on YouTube) and a Huron dictionary and grammar; also his “Rélations” and letters are vital documents, even today.
Father Gabriel Lalemant joined the Jesuits in 1630, and joined Father Bréboeuf in February 1649.
The Iroquois had resolved to wipe out the Hurons. They left northern New York during the winter of a hunting expedition. Gradually they worked their way into Huronia, destroyed the village of St. Ignace and rushed to the mission at St. Louis. They stripped the priests and made them march between a double row of warriors who clubbed their naked bodies. Then, a leisurely torture began.
At this point I was to write about the witnesses’ accounts of the massacre. But I can’t; it’s just too brutal. So instead, I’ll give you links to read more about it, should you want to learn the whole story.
At the end, the Hurons were finished. After attempting to develop a new settlement on St. Joseph’s Island, many of them were encouraged to go to Quebec for safety. Others went west and formed a new tribe, the Wyandots, who played a part in the conspiracy of Pontiac.
There are links to the full account. One is an article by Thomas Campbell, “Gabriel Lalemant.” The Catholic Encyclopedia; then there’s a well written paper at Boulanger Bassin B&B (Montreal); to learn more about the Wyandots, Wikipedia has a good page, and the Wyandot website has written a nice page about Jean de Bréboeuf; and finally, there is a great page at Athabasca University.
- Viewpoint: What It Means to Have A Jesuit Pope (themindofmax.wordpress.com)
- What It Means that the New Pope Is a Jesuit (dailyqueernews.wordpress.com)
- Jesuits And The Papacy (gelvalle.wordpress.com)