Indians Murder Jesuit Priests

16 Mar
Pope Pius XI, who described Dominic Savio as &...

Pope Pius XI, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


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8 responses to “Indians Murder Jesuit Priests

  1. duartmaclean

    February 23, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    The Jesuits got what they deserved. They should have left the aboriginal peoples alone. The history of the Jusuits, starting with Ignatious is a horrendous tale of murder, abuse and secrecy.

  2. seeker

    March 23, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Such a high price to pay for being a Servant of the Lord. This reminds me of the movie the “Mission”. Great history, TK.

    • tkmorin

      March 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      It’s pretty bad, isn’t it?

  3. alesiablogs

    March 19, 2013 at 1:14 am

    This is incredibly sad. The loss of the lives of our fellow Christians from the past are so overlooked. Thank you for sharing.

    • tkmorin

      March 19, 2013 at 9:17 am

      Sad indeed. And the way they died … I could not write it, it was so gruesome. Makes me admire their courage even more!

  4. elmediat

    March 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    It is fascinating how the French & the British governments & business interests pushed the tribal animosities. There is an interesting case for comparing the situation to what arose between the Americans & Soviets as they fought wars by proxy while acquiring raw resources for their own economies.
    The First Nations, and the sincere missionaries who tried to help them, became pawns in an early form of global warfare.
    Great post. Lots of valuable links. 🙂

    • tkmorin

      March 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm

      Thank you, elmediat! 🙂


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