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St. Isaac Jogues

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St. Isaac Jogues

Isaac Jogues was born in Orleans, France on January 10, 1607. His father died soon after his birth, leaving him to care for his mother alone. Under her guidance, Isaac grew up a devout, and proper child. He accomplished every religious goal that he was obliged to do, but wanted to give more to God. Jogues was a Jesuit novice who was fascinated with their many missionaries. At the age of seventeen he entered the Jesuit novitiate school at Rouen. Later he studied at the royal college of La Fleche. His modesty led him to request that he have his studies in theology discontinued and be sent to America as a lay-brother. In 1636, after being ordained and after giving his mother his first priestly blessing and Holy Communion, his wish was granted; he was assigned as a missionary to the Indians in New France, which is now Canada.

Soon after his arrival in what is now upper state New York, he became ill and was blamed for starting an epidemic. In time, relations between the Frenchman and Indians improved, and for several years he successfully ministered to the Native Americans. In 1642 while traveling to Quebec, he was captured by Mohawk Indians, enslaved at their village, tortured, and mutilated. During his captivity he was allowed to mingle with the villagers. It is claimed that he baptized a number of dying children, constituting the first baptisms in the state of New York. Dutch settlers helped him escape and return to France. In 1646, he returned to New York as an ambassador to the Mohawks. Soon after concluding a treaty, he was captured by a band of hostile Mohawks because of their superstitions attributing the illness in the village to the evil they thought he left with them. He was given his freedom, only to be murdered (near the site of the present town of Auriesville, New York) by a small group of Mohawks. He was canonized in 1930. The Feast of St. Isaac Jogues is celebrated October 19. (http://www.sij.org/patron_saints.shtml)

St. Isaac Jogues was canonized because of the persistence he held in converting the Native Americans to Christianity. Even after being tortured and mutilated by the Mohawks, he returned to New France to spread the faith yet again. But he was tomahawked by the Mohawk Indians, thus becoming a martyr.

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