Canadian Martyrs

The Canadian Martyrs, also known as the North American Martyrs (French: Saints martyrs canadiens, Holy Canadiens Martyrs), were eight Jesuit missionaries from Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. They were ritually tortured and killed on various dates in the mid-17th century in Canada, in what is now southern Ontario, and in upstate New York, during the warfare between the Iroquois (particularly the Mohawk people) and the Huron. They have subsequently been canonized and venerated as martyrs by the Catholic Church.

The martyrs are St. René Goupil (1642),[1] St. Isaac Jogues (1646),[2] St. Jean de Lalande (1646),[3] St. Antoine Daniel (1648),[4] St. Jean de Brébeuf (1649),[5] St. Noël Chabanel (1649),[6] St. Charles Garnier (1649),[6] and St. Gabriel Lalemant (1649).[5]

Jesuit map NF
Jesuit map
Canadian Martyrs
North American Martyrs
Died17th century, Canada and Upstate New York
Martyred byIroquois
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
Anglican Church
BeatifiedJune 21, 1925, Rome, by Pope Pius XI
CanonizedJune 29, 1930, Rome, by Pope Pius XI
Major shrineMartyrs' Shrine, Midland, Ontario, Canada
National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, Auriesville, New York
FeastSeptember 26 (in Canada and among Traditional Roman Catholics)
October 19 (General Calendar); Anglican Church of Canada


Jesuit missionaries worked among the Huron (Wendat), an Iroquoian-speaking people who occupied territory in the Georgian Bay area of Central Ontario. (They were not part of the Iroquois Confederacy, initially made up of five tribes south and east of the Great Lakes.) The area of their traditional territory is called Huronia. The Huron in this area were farmers, fishermen and traders who lived in villages surrounded by defensive wooden palisades for protection.[7] Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people.[8]

By the late 1640s the Jesuits believed they were making progress in their mission to the Huron, and claimed to have made many converts. But, the priests were not universally trusted. Many Huron considered them to be malevolent shamans who brought death and disease wherever they travelled; after European contact, the Huron had suffered high fatalities in epidemics after 1634 of smallpox and other Eurasian infectious diseases, to which aboriginal peoples had no immunity. (Epidemiological studies have shown the diseases were likely carried by the increased number of children immigrating after 1634 with families from cities in nations where smallpox was endemic, such as France, England and the Netherlands).

The nations of the Iroquois Confederacy considered the Jesuits legitimate targets of their raids and warfare, as the missionaries were nominally allies of the Huron and French fur traders. Retaliating for French colonial attacks against the Iroquois was also a reason for their raids against the Huron and Jesuits.

In 1642, the Mohawk captured René Goupil,[1] and Father Isaac Jogues,[2] bringing them back to their village of Ossernenon south of the Mohawk River. They ritually tortured both men and killed Goupil. After several months of captivity, Jogues was ransomed by Dutch traders and the minister Johannes Megapolensis from New Netherland (later Albany). He returned for a time to France, but then sailed back to Quebec. In 1646 he and Jean de Lalande were killed during a visit to Ossernenon intended to achieve peace between the French and the Mohawk.[3]

Other Jesuit missionaries were killed by the Mohawk and martyred in the following years: Antoine Daniel (1648),[9] Jean de Brébeuf (1649),[5] Noël Chabanel (1649),[6] Charles Garnier (1649),[6] and Gabriel Lalemant (1649).[5] All were canonized in 1930 as the Canadian Martyrs, also known as the North American Martyrs.

Legacy and honours

Matyr's Shrine
Martyr's Shrine, Midland, Ontario

The martyrs were canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930.[10] They are collectively the secondary patron saints of Canada. St. René Goupil, St. Isaac Jogues, and St. Jean de Lalande are the first three U.S. saints, martyred at Ossernenon, 9 miles west of the confluence of the Schoharie and Mohawk rivers. Their feast day is celebrated in the General Roman Calendar and in the United States on October 19 under the title of "John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs," and in Canada on September 26.

The Martyrs' Shrine in Midland, Ontario,[11] the site of the Jesuits' missionary work among the Huron, is the National Shrine to the Canadian Martyrs.

A National Shrine of the North American Martyrs has been constructed and dedicated in Auriesville, New York.[12] It is located south of the Mohawk River, near a Jesuit cemetery containing remains of missionaries who died in the area from 1669 to 1684, when the Jesuits had a local mission to the Mohawk.

Churches dedicated to the North American Martyrs

Churches dedicated to the martyrs include the following:

Canadian Martyrs' Church in Hamilton, Ontario St-Charles Garnier Church in Hamilton Ontario

Schools dedicated to the North American Martyrs

Many schools also honor the martyrs, including the following:

The torture of the martyrs by the Iroquois is the subject depicted in the twelve-light World War I memorial window (1933) by Charles William Kelsey at the Loyola College (Montreal) chapel, at the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes on the campus of Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Maryland, and a side shine at Madonna Della Strada Chapel on the campus of Loyola University Chicago. Fordham University additionally has named the Martyrs' Court residential complex in their collective honor, as well as individual halls in the complex being named for Jogues, Goupil and Lalande.

The martyrs are also honored at Camp Ondessonk, a Catholic summer camp in Ozark, Illinois, where each unit of cabins is named after one of the martyrs.

See also


  1. ^ a b Jesuit Relations: 28, "Account of René Goupil (donné)," by Father Isaac Jogues
  2. ^ a b Jesuit Relations: 31, VIII
  3. ^ a b Jesuit Relations vol 34, LXIV
  4. ^ Jesuit Relations vol 33, LXVII
  5. ^ a b c d Jesuit Relations vol 35, IV
  6. ^ a b c d Jesuit Relations vol 40, LXXXIII
  7. ^ "Canadian Martyrs and Huronia", Athabasca University
  8. ^ Sainte Marie among the Hurons
  9. ^ Jesuit Relations, vol 33, LXVII
  10. ^ "Celebrating the 350th Anniversary of the Canadian Martyrs" (PDF). Conca can Inc. Retrieved 2013-04-26.
  11. ^ Martyrs Shrine, Midand Ontario
  12. ^ Martyrs' Shrine, Auriesville Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

  • Fisher, Lillian M. (2001). The North American Martyrs: Jesuits in the New World. Boston: Pauline Books & Media. ISBN 0-8198-5132-9.
  • Trigger, Bruce (1990). The Hurons: Farmers of the North. University of Michigan: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0030316898.
1930 in Canada

Events from the year 1930 in Canada.

Antoine Daniel

Saint Antoine Daniel (May 27, 1601 – July 4, 1648) was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and one of the eight Canadian Martyrs.

Athleta Christi

"Athleta Christi" (Latin: "Champion of Christ") was a class of Early Christian soldier martyrs, of whom the most familiar example is one such "military saint," Saint Sebastian.

Charles Garnier (missionary)

Saint Charles Garnier, S.J., (baptised at Paris, May 25, 1606 – December 7, 1649) was a Jesuit missionary working in New France. He was killed by Iroquois in a Petun (Tobacco Nation) village on December 7, 1649.

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB, known as English-language Separate District School Board No. 43 prior to 1999) is the separate school board that oversees 148 Catholic school facilities (122 elementary schools, 26 secondary or high schools and 2 continuing education schools or adult learning centers) throughout Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon) and Dufferin County (including Orangeville). It employs roughly 5,000 teachers; about 3,000 at the elementary level, and the remaining 2,000 at the secondary school and continuing education level, for 90,000 students.

Its headquarters is on Matheson Boulevard West in Mississauga. The board was previously known as the Dufferin-Peel Separate School Board (DPSSB) before 1998.

Gabriel Lalemant

Saint Gabriel Lalemant (October 3, 1610, Paris, France – March 17, 1649, Saint Ignace, Ontario) was a Jesuit missionary in New France beginning in 1646. Caught up in warfare between the Huron and nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, he was killed in St. Ignace by Mohawk warriors and is one of the eight Canadian Martyrs.

Halton Catholic District School Board

The Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) serves over 33,000 students at its 46 elementary schools, 9 secondary schools and 3 continuing education facilities. The HCDSB serves the communities of Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville, with the main Board office (Catholic Education Centre) located in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

The Halton Catholic District School Board is the Catholic school board for the Halton region.

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB, known as English-language Separate District School Board No. 47 prior to 1999) is the Catholic school board for the city of Hamilton, Ontario which includes the former Wentworth County. It operates 55 schools: 48 elementary, and 7 secondary schools.

Jean-Claude Turcotte

Jean-Claude Turcotte (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑ̃ klod tyʁkɔt]); 26 June 1936 – 8 April 2015) was a Canadian Roman Catholic cardinal. Upon his elevation into the cardinalate he was made the Cardinal-Priest of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Canadian Martyrs. He was the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal from 1990 to 2012, and was succeeded as Archbishop by Christian Lépine.

Jesuit Chapel (Quebec City)

The Jesuit Chapel of Quebec City is a chapel of the Society of Jesus located in Old Quebec. It was designed by François Baillairgé and built in from 1818 to 1820. It is situated on Rue Dauphine in Old Quebec close to the ramparts of Quebec City.

Judas Barsabbas

Judas Barsabbas was a New Testament prophet and one of the 'leading men' in the early Christian community in Jerusalem at the time of the Council of Jerusalem in around 50 A.D.

List of Canadian Catholic saints

The history of the Catholic Church in Canada extends back to the arrival of the earliest European explorers. A French priest accompanied the great explorer Jacques Cartier, performing the first ever recorded Holy Mass on Canadian soil on July 7, 1534, on the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula. It was followed by deliberate conversion of the First Nations into the fold of Catholicism. Soon after, more and more religious congregations set foot in Canada especially among French-speaking present-day Quebec.

In this long history of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, a number of deceased persons of the Church have had their life and work declared worthy of achieving one of the four stages of canonization in the Catholic Church: Servants of God; Venerable; Beatification (Blessed); and, for some, full recognition as a Saint.

List of saints of the Society of Jesus

The list of saints of the Society of Jesus here is alphabetical. It includes Jesuit saints from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Since the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius of Loyola, was canonised in 1622, there have been 52 other Jesuits canonised.

Martyrs' Shrine

The Martyrs’ Shrine is a Roman Catholic church in Midland, Ontario, Canada, which is consecrated to the memory of the Canadian Martyrs, six Jesuit Martyrs and two lay persons from the mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. It is one of nine National Shrines in Canada, including, among others, St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

Mission of Fear

Mission of Fear (French: Astataïon, ou Le Festin des morts) is a Canadian drama film, directed by Fernand Dansereau and released in 1965.Based on The Jesuit Relations, the film dramatizes the story of the Canadian Martyrs at the Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons through the reflections of Jean de Brébeuf (Alain Cuny) as he awaits his death. The cast also includes Jacques Godin, François Guillier, Jacques Kasma, Ginette Letondal, Hubert Loiselle, Yves Létourneau, Monique Mercure, Albert Millaire, Jean-Louis Millette, Jean Perraud, Jean-Guy Sabourin, Marcel Sabourin, Janine Sutto and Maurice Tremblay.

The film won the award for Best Feature Film at the Canadian Film Awards in 1966.

Nostra Signora del Santissimo Sacramento e Santi Martiri Canadesi

Nostra Signora del Santissimo Sacramento e dei Santi Martiri Canadesi (Latin: Dominae Nostrae a Sanctissimo Sacramento et Sanctorum Martyrum Canadensium, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Canadian Martyrs) is the Roman Catholic national church of Canada, located at 46, Via Giovanni Battista de Rossi, Rome.

Noël Chabanel

Noël Chabanel (February 2, 1613 – December 8, 1649) was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and one of the Canadian Martyrs.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Churchill–Hudson Bay (French Diocèse de Churchill–Baie d’Hudson, Latin: Dioecesis Churchillpolitana–Sinus de Hudson) is a Latin Catholic suffragan diocese in the ecclesiastical province of the Metropolitan Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Keewatin–Le Pas.

Its cathedral episcopal see is the Cathédrale Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens-et-Reine-des-Martyrs, dedicated to the Canadian Martyrs and the Queen of Martyrs, in Churchill, Manitoba.

Saint-Gabriel-Lalemant, Quebec

Saint-Gabriel-Lalemant is a municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec, located in the Kamouraska Regional County Municipality. The municipality is named for St. Gabriel Lalemant, one of the Canadian Martyrs.

Virgin Mary
See also

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