Today is the Feast Day of St. John de Brébeuf. St. John was born in 1593 in Normandy, France. After graduating from college he joined the Jesuits in hopes of becoming a brother. On February 19, 1622, he was instead ordained a priest. Two years later, St. John and other Jesuits joined the Franciscan Recollects on their mission to evangelize to the American Indians. On June 19, 1625, they arrived in Quebec, Canada, and the tribe St. John and his companions encountered the Hurons. One day, when the Hurons wanted to engage in trade, St. John asked if they could go to their tribe. They arrived in the Toanche of the Huron nation. St. John didn’t have much luck in converting the tribesmen at the beginning. The only ones he managed to convert were the dying. After the Anglo-French War, the Jesuits and Franciscans were expatriated back to France. St. John worked at a college in Rouen until he could return. In 1633, the Jesuits and Franciscan Recollects returned to the Huron nation. For the first two years of their return, they built a cabin for the missionaries to live in and study the Huron culture. Afterward, they managed to convert twelve members of the Huron nation. It would not be long before the Huron nation began to push back. The missionaries contracted smallpox, and it spread to the Hurons. The Hurons believed that the missionaries were using the disease as a way to trick the tribesmen into converting. Even in the face of persecution, St. John was undeterred. He started expanding to other nations in Quebec. In response, the council chiefs decided it was best to execute St. John and the missionaries. In 1649, the Iroquois attacked the Huron nation and the missionaries. The Huron and the missionaries were taken as captives. After multiple forms of torture, St. John de Brebeuf was killed by the Iroquois. St. John was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 30, 1930. He is the patron saint of Canada.
Let us end this post with the prayer of St. John de Brébeuf: Jesus, my Lord, and Savior, what can I give you in return for all the favors you have first conferred on me? I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name. I vow before your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, before your most holy Mother and her most chaste spouse, before the angels, apostles, and martyrs, before my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier–in truth, I vow to you, Jesus my Savior, that as far as I have the strength, I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if someday you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant…My beloved Jesus, here and now I offer my body and blood and life. May I die only for you, if you will grant me this grace since you willingly died for me? Let me so live that you may grant me the gift of such a happy death. In this way, my God and Savior, I will take from your hand the cup of your sufferings and call on your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Amen.
Author: Corey Smith
Image Attribution: Miguel Palafox, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons