Burial of De Soto
First we would like to announce the winner of the STarting with Sunday Catholic Day Planner Giveaway
! Congrats to ….. Claudia Salcido! Thank you to everyone who entered!
In another week our country recognizes "a civil holiday observed annually in the United States of America on the last Thursday in November", which we know as Thanksgiving. "The custom originated in 1621, when Governor Bradford of the Plymouth colony appointed a day for public praise and prayer after the first harvest, and the practice spread throughout the other New England colonies." (Catholic Encyclopedia 1912)
You might be asking what this has to do with the Catholic Pioneers of Florida? The Plymouth colony and the New England colonies were all Protestant (with the exception of a few Catholics in Maryland). Thus this civil holiday is Protestant in its history. This weeks Keeping It Catholic Monday
, we wanted to share about the Catholic Pioneers of Florida, which is the first location of a Catholic Thanksgiving (a.k.a. the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass). Though some of the history is little known, our country started out as a Catholic country with its Catholic Pioneers. CATHOLIC PIONEERS OF AMERICA
By: John O'Kane Murray, M.A., M.D.
HERNANDO DE SOTO - The Conqueror of Florida, and Discoverer of the Lower Mississippi - Died A.D. 1542
About twenty-seven years after the veteran Ponce de Leon had visited Florida, in search of the fabled fountain of youth, a more renowned pioneer stepped on its lonely shores, and struck boldly into the wilderness of north America. It was Hernando de Soto. He was born in Spain about 1501. Though of a noble family, the young cavalier began life with no fortune but his sword and buckler., His checkered career opens in the New World, where, as the companion of Pizarro and commander of a corps of cavalry, he rose to distinction, and had no small share in the conquest of Peru and the spoils that fell to the victors.
It will be remembered to the honor of De Soto that he gained the confidence and affection of the unhappy Inca Atahualpa; and, on finding, that during his absence from the camp, the monarch was put to death, he did not conceal his just indignation. "You have acted rashly," he said to Pizarro. "The Inca has been basely slandered. He should have been taken to Spain, and judged by the Emperor.
De Soto returned to his native land with wealth and reputation. Success of al kinds awaited him at home. He appeared at the Court of Charles V. with a magnificent retinue; and his commanding figure and attractive manners made him the "observed of all observers." He gained the favor of the Emperor. He married the daughter of a
distinguished nobleman, and might now have settled down to a life of ease and honor. But De Soto's imagination took fire whenever he thought of the New world, overhung as it was with countless wonders, and promises of wealth, adventure, and the spread of the Catholic Religion. He cast his eyes towards Florida. The various expeditions to that famous but unexplored land had hitherto failed, and he asked and obtained permission of Charles V. to undertake his conquest at his own risk and expense. He was appointed Governor of both Cuba and Florida.A well-equipped armament stood across the Atlantic, touched at Cuba, and on the 25th of May, 1539, De Soto landed at Tampa Bay, Florida, "with
six hundred and twenty chosen men, a band as gallant and well-appointed, as eager in pursuit and audacious in hope, as ever tod the shores of the New World. The clangor of trumpets, the neighing of horses, the fluttering of pennons, the glittering of helmet and lance, startled the ancient forest with unwonted greeting. "Amid this pom of chivalry, religion was not forgotten. The sacred vessels and vestments, with bread and wine for the Eucharist, were carefully provided; and De Soto himself declared that the enterprise was undertaken for God alone,
and seemed to be the object of his especial care." )Parkman) The conversion of the savages was considered a matter of first importance, and twelve priests accompanied the expedition.
The Governor took possession of the
country in the name of the Emperor Charles V. It is said he dreamed of nothing but success, and moved by the example of Cortes, sent most of his ships back to Havana. The savages did not like the new-comers and gave vent to their wrath in hideous yells and showers of arrows. But a well-directed charge of the cavalry gave fleetness to the heels of the greasy, loud-mouth warriors. The loss of a fine charger, however, warned the Spaniards that the Indian arrow was no mean weapon. The fatal shat had flown with such force as to pass through the saddle and bury itself between the ribs of the horse.
The work of exploration began, but from the outsider it was toilsome and perilous enterprise. The little army pushed patiently along towards the north. The line of march lay through a trackless wilderness covered by dense forests, and intersected by muddy rivers and vast swamps. On every side the savages proved hostile. The Spaniards were obliged to fight and push on while burdened down with a large stock of provisions and ammunition. A cannon was hauled through treacherous bogs (In some of the morasses they had traversed, the surface would appear like firm land, yet, on stepping upon it, would tremble for twenty or thirty paces around, and on being trodden by horses would give way, and plunge steed and rider into a suffocating quagmire, -Irving.) and tangled underood, with immense labor, and the care of scores of headstrong pigs must have added enormously to the difficulties of the dangerous journey.
When Sunday or some festival came, a halt was ordered. A temporary altar was erected, perhaps beneath some lordly tree which towered to the skies, like the steeple of the Gothic cathedral. Mass was celebrated, and the gallant De Soto and his cavaliers devoutly knelt on the grass around. Every religious practice was observed, and as the little army cut its way through the wilderness of Florida, the beautiful ceremonies of the Church were duly performed. The Governor used every effort to gain the friendship of the Indians. HE assured them that his mission was peaceful, and that all he desired was a passage through their territories. But in vain were his assurances. Full of hatred and suspicion, the dusky warriors would i.e. in ambush, discharge a volley of arrows, and then fly to the thicket of the woods. Thus the army was ever exposed to the attacks of lurking savages, and unceasing vigilance was necessary. The moment a Spaniard strayed fro mthe camp, he was likely to be shot down, and instantly scalped.
On one occasion De Soto's favorite dog- a splendid hound - made himself famous. Several Spanish soldiers and a band of Indians were talking in a friendly way on the banks of a river. But in an unguarded moment one of the treacherous savages truck a Spaniard with his bow, and plunged into the water. All his companions followed. The dog seemed to understand the whole affair, and in an instant rushed after the savages. He swam past the hinder most Indians until at length he came "to the one who had committed the assault, when, laying hold of him, he tore him to pieces."Ever skirmishing, and always on the march, De Soto held on his course towards the north of Florida. At one point an immense morass stopped his progress. It was surrounded by a thick forest of lofty trees and tangled underwood, and all points were guarded by hostile Indians. Bridges of trees, made with great labor, enabled the way-worn Spaniards to cross such portions as came above their middle. But every inch of this muddy route had to be won at the point of the sword; and it was only after a dreadful conflict of four days, in which all fought and many fell, that the troops found themselves safely across the great swamp.
After months of such toilsome marching, the cold weather came on. A halt was ordered at an Indian village called Apalachee, which stood on the site of Tallahassee, the present capital of Florida. And there, "in the midst of the wilderness, this band of adventurous Spaniards passed the winter together." The natives of this region proved to be large, fierce warriors; and in spite of the strict discipline of the camp, many a careless cavalier lost his life and scalp at the hands of prowling war-parties. De Soto left his winter quarters in March, 1540, and proceeded towards the north, earnestly bent on finding a rich region - some imaginary Peru or Mexico. "For month after onto, the year after year," writes Parkman, "the procession of priests and cavaliers, cross-bowmen, arquebusiers and Indian captives laden with the baggage, still wandered on through wild and boundless wastes, lured hither and thither by the ignis-fatuus of their hopes.
"They traversed great portions of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, everywhere inflicting and enduring misery, but never approaching their phantom El Dorado. At length, in the third year of their journeying, they reached the banks of the Mississippi, a hundred and thirty-two years before its second discovery by Marquette. One of their number describes the great river as almost half a league wide, deep, rapid, and constantly rolling down trees and driftwood on its turbid current. "The spaniards crossed over at a point above the mouth of the Arkansas. They advanced westward, but found no treasures - nothing, indeed, but hardships and an Indian enemy, furious, writes one of their officers, 'as mad dogs.' They heard of a country towards the north were maize could not be cultivated because the vast herds of wild cattle devoured it.
"They penetrated so far that they entered the range of the roving prairie-tribes; for, one day, as they pushed their way with difficulty across great plains covered with tall, rank grass, they met a band of savages who dwelt in lodges of skin sewed together subsisting on game alone, and wandering perpetually from place to place. Finding neither gold nor the South Sea, for both of which they had hoped, they returned to the banks of the Mississippi."
A short time before this an interesting religious ceremony occurred. The army halted at an Indian village, and the chief with a band of picked warriors came forth. "Seno" said he to De Soto "as you are superior to us in prowess and surpass us in arms, we likewise believe that your God is better than our god. These you behold before you are the chief warriors of my dominions. We implore you to pray to your God to send us rain, for our fields are parched for want of water!" De Soto replied that he and all his followers were sinners, but they would supplicate the God of mercy. A large pine cross was made, and raised on a high hill. The whole army formed in line, and marched in solemn processor towards the sacred emblem of man's salvation. The priests walked before, chanting the Litany of the Saints, while the soldiers responded. The chief took his place beside the Governor, and thousands of Indians crowded around. Prayers were offered up at the cross, and the imposing ceremony closed with the lofty strains of the Te Deum. Rain fell the next night, to the great joy of the Indians.
It is a pleasure to think that, over three centuries ago, the cross, the sign of our holy and beautiful religion, was planted by a famous Catholic pioneer on the banks of the Mississippi, and that its silent forests were awakened by the solemn hymn of praise and gratitude. The effect was vivid, but transitory. The "voice cried in the wilderness," and reached and was answered by every heart; but it died away and was forgotten, and was not heard again in that savage region for many generations. (Irving). Three years of unceasing toil, hardship, and disappointment now began to tell on the rugged farm of lofty spirit of De Soto. Assailed by fresh disasters, he was touched to the heart at the suffering of his diminished but faithful followers. A raging fever seized him, and his days drew rapidly to a close. But he met death like a fearless Catholic soldier. He made his will, bade an affectionate adieu to his officers and men, and having made a last humble confession, his soul calmly passed away, amid the tears of the whole army, on the 21st of May, 1542.
"And thus died Hernando de Soto," writes the historian of early Florida - "one of the boldest and bravest of the many brave leaders who figured in the first discoveries, and distinguished themselves in the wild warfare of the Western World. How proud and promising had been the commencement of his career - how humble and helpless its close! Cut off in the vigor and manhood of his days, he was but forty-two years old when he expired." He was a true knight, "without fear and without reproach."
As the hostile savage might dishonor the body of the Governor, if buried on land, his officers formed a new design. An immense oak was cut down. A space large enough for the body was scooped out of the trunk, and planks nailed over the opening. This was De Soto's coffin. At the dead of night, in the mist of silence, a few boats were rowed to the centre of the river, and slowly and sadly the rude coffin was lowered to its strange resting-place. As it sank, the sorrowing stream took the precious remains in pity to its breast. The discoverer of the great river slept beneath its waters. "His soldiers," writes Bancroft, "pronounced his eulogy; and the priests chanted over his body the first requiem that was ever heard on the waters of the Mississippi." (After more hapless wandering and disaster, the followers of De Soto built a few rude vessels and found their way to Mexico.)
PETER MENENDEZ- Founder of St. Augustine, The oldest city in the USA
Died A.D. 1574
Peter Menendez (Sometimes written Melendez), one of the greatest of Spanish naval commanders, was born in 1519, of an ancient family. His daring nature and fondness for the sea were traits of character that showed themselves at an early age. He was but a mere boy when he ran away from home, boarded a man-of-war, and soon had his first flows with the corsairs of Barbary.
He rose rapidly from one grade to another, until as Admiral Menendez, his achievements on the Mediterranean ands the Atlantic made his name famous. But while a career of flory seemed to open before him, the clouds of misfortune suddenly gathered overhead. His son sailed from Mexico in a vessel that perished on the coast of Florida. Shortly after, Menendez was cast into prison on some frivolous charge; and it was nearly two years before he found himself a free man again.
He at once sought the presence of Philip II. He had a petition to make,. He longed to seek for his lost son, who might still be alive. He desired to conquer, settle, and convert that wild Florida which had defied Ponce de Leon and Hernando de Soto. "The blindness of so many thousands of idolaters," he said to the King, "has touched me so sensibly, that of all employment with which your Majesty could hone me, there is not one to which I would not prefer that of conquering Florida, and peopling it with true Christians."
Menendez received his commission as Governor of Florida, and was getting an expedition ins readiness, when he learned that a party of French Huguenots, under Laudonniere and Reibault had already seized a foothold in his territory. He increased his forces, and sailed from Cadiz, in June, 1565. After a stormy passage that scattered his fleet, he touched the mouth of the St. John's River, in Florida. Near by lay Fort Caroline and the little French settlement.
The spanish Admiral gave unsuccessful chase to a number of French ships in the vicinity, and then sailed towards the south along the coast. He entered a small inlet, and threw up a rude fort. It was the foundation of St. Augustine - to-day the oldest town in this Republic. Then follows the woeful tale of blood and butchery. Menendez "marched against Fort Caroline, took it by surprised, and put the garrison to the sword, only Laudonniere and a few of his followers escaping. ribald and most of his men afterwards surrendered, and were massacred in cold blood; a remnant of the Frenchmen were capture and sent to the galleys." (Hassard.) "It was he," says Parkman, "who crushed French Protestantism in America."
For years St. Augustine remained the only European settlement within the present limits of the United States. It was the headquarters of missionary effort. The Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits toiled like apostles among the wild, dusky children of the everglades. Many watered the soil of Florida with their blood. Not a few were scalped, and eaten by the savages. Pope St. Pius V. took such interest in these early missions that he addressed a brief to Governor Menendez. "In the conversion of these Indians and idolaters," wrote the great Pontiff, "nothing is more important then to endeavor by every means to prevent the giving of scandal, through the vices and immoralities of such as go to those western parts. It is the key of this holy work, in which is included the whole essence of your charge."
The genius of Menendez was so highly appreciated at home, that when Spain meditated the invasion of England, he was summoned from the wilds of America to command the Invincible Armada. Amid the din of preparations, however, the founder of St. Augustine closed his eyes on this world, "at Corunna, still vigorous and unbroken by age, in the height of his glory, a brave, loyal, and disinterested naval commander, but hose fame is blemished by one act of blood. His death was a fatal blow to the Spanish colonization of Florida."
Fr. Andrew White Baptizing Indians
The Catholic Pioneers of America
By: John O'Kane Murray, M.A., M.D.
ANDREW WHITE, S. J. -APOSTLE OF MARYLAND- DIED A.D. 1657
One of the immortal pioneers of the Catholic Religion in America was the brave and good Father Andrew White. He was born at Londan in 1579. The gifted youth was forced to seek the fount of knowledge in a foreign land. It was a shameful period. Catholic schools were closed in Great Britain and Ireland, and all Catholics were forbidden to teach. A reward of city dollars was offered for the discovery of each Catholic school-master.
But by the zeal of the learned Catholic professors who had been banished from Oxford - and especially of the famous Cardinal Allen - an English college was established in 1568, at Douay, in France. For nearly two centuries and a half the Catholic students of the British Isles directed their steps to this renowned institution. There the flame of faith was nourished and the light of knowledge kept burring when all was bigotry and religious darkness in the once Catholic land of England - the home of the holy Bede, the great Alfred, and the dauntless Coeur de Lion. There were trained those bands of devoted priest who laid down their lives in laboring to restore the true faith among their unhappy countrymen. there our Catholic Bible was translated into English. There the pious and learned Alban Butler, author of the Lives of the Saints, received his education. And there likes the future Apostle of Maryland earnestly labored and studied to prepare himself for his high and holy calling.
Father White was elevated to the sacred dignity of the priesthood about the year 1605, and was at once sent to labor on the London mission. But as the penal laws were rigidly enforced, he had to temper his zeal with the greatest prudence. Nor did this suffice. In spike of all precautions he was discovered. Rewards, varying according to the rank of the victim, were offered for the discovery of Catholic ecclesiastics. At one period, the same price as offered for the head of a priest, and that of a wolf. Even Jews came from Portugal to hunt down Catholic priest in the British Isles, and found it a profitable business. Bribes were offered to all who would betray Catholics.
"They bribed the flock, they bribed the son,
To sell the priest and rob the sire;
Their dogs were taught alike to run
Upon the sent of wolf and friar."
In short, the fierce Mohawk, ranging the ancient forests of New York, was not more eager and skillful on the trail of an enemy, than was the fanatical and barbarous Government of England in its search after Catholic priest. And the humanity of the American Indian compares quite favorably with that of the Protestant Briton. The very year that Father White returned to England, the saintly poet and Jesuit, Southwell, was brutally trotted on the rack, ten different times, and finally executed with the most revolting cruelties. And all because - he was a Catholic priest!
We find the name of Father White in a list of frothy-seven priest, who, from different prisons, in f1606, were sentenced to perpetual banishment. He reached the Continent. He had hitherto been a secular priest, but now sought admission into the Society of Jesus; and after passing his novitiate of two years at Louvain, he obtained permission to return to his native land - although he was well aware that for the banished Catholic priest who returned to England the penalty was death.
It was a perilous mission, and the brave JEsuit was soon recalled, and appointed professor in a college of the Society at Seville. Father White was a ripe and finished scholar, and at various periods filled the chairs of Holy Scripture, Hebrew, and Theology in Span and Belgium. But he was now to pass from the halls of science to the wild woods of the New World.
During a visit to England, Father White had made the acquaintance of Lord Baltimore, who was then maturing his design of founding a Catholic colony in Maryland. The nobleman wished to place it under his spiritual care, and the Society of Jesus seconded his desires. Father White was appointed Superior, and with him were associated Father John Altham and two lay Brothers. The missionaries sailed in the expedition commanded by Governor Leonard Calvert, and reached the shores of Maryland in the spring of 1634. Governor Leonard Calvert
On the 25th of March, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Virgin, Father White celebrated, on St. Clement's Island, the first Mass ever offered up in that region, and at the conclusion of the sacrifice a large cross was erected. It was a real "cross in the wilderness." The Catholic Religion had come to stay in Maryland.
The savages gathered around. "It is pleasant," writes Father White, "to hear these natives admiring everything especially wondering where in the world a tree had grown large enough to be carved into a ship of such huge size; for they supposed it had been cut from a single trunk of a tree, like an Indian canoe. Our cannot filled them with astonishment."
For ten years this devoted priest labored with the zeal of an apostle, divine his time between the colonists and the Indians, and truly making himself all to all that he might gain all to Jesus Christ. The missionaries were invited to sit in the first Colonial Assembly, but earnestly desiring to be excused from taking part in secular concerns their request was granted.
Though nearly sixty years of age, Father White cheerfully began the tedious and difficult task of mastering the Indian languages; and then devoted himself to labor for the conversion of the Patuxents and Pascatoways. (The venerable Jesuit - thorough, hard-working student that he was- composed a catechism, grammar, and the dictionary in the language of the Maryland Indians.) The rivers often served as highways for the minister of God on his errand of peace and mercy. When this was the case, the daily life of joyful toil is this recounted by the Apostle of Maryland himself:
"We sail in an open boat - the Father, an interpreter, and a servant. In a calm, or with a head wind, two row, and a third steers the boat. We carry a basket of bread, cheese, butter, dried roasted ears of corn, beans, and some meal, and a chest containing the sacerdotal vestments, the slab or altar for Mass, the wine used in the holy sacrifice, and blessed baptismal water. In another chest we carry knives, combs, little bells, fishing-hooks, needles, thread, and other trifles, for presents to the Indians. We take two mats, a small one to shelter us from the sun, and a larger one to protect us from the rain/
"The servant carries implements for hunting and cooking utensils. We endeavor to reach some Indian village or English plantation by nightfall. If we do not succeed, then the Father secures the boat to the bank, collects wood, and makes a fire, while the other two go out to hunt; and after cooking our game, we take some refreshment, and then lie down to sleep around the fire. When threatened with rain, we erect a tend, covering it with our large mat. Thanks be to God, we enjoy our scanty fare and hard beds as much as if we were accommodated with the luxuries of Europe."
fOne of the most remarkable of Father White's dusky converts was Chilomacon, chief of the Pascatoways. This lord of the forest lived at Kittamaquindi, the principal village of the tribe. It was situated near the site of Washington. Chilomacon received the venerable JEsuit with extreme kindness, and made him reside in his own rude residence.
It seems that a remarkable dream, which he had some time previously, was the cause of the chief's kindness. He related, that in his sleep, he seems to see Father White and his fell missionary, while a voice whispered in his ear: "These are the men who from their souls love you and all your tribe. With them they bring those blessings by which, if you desire, you can be happy!" When he beheld the Jesuits he recognized them in a moment as the strange men who bore the rear blessing referred to in his dream.
On recovering from a severe illness, Chilomacon asked to be baptized. But the missionary told him that it was first necessary to be well instructed in the doctrines of the Catholic Religion. Never was there a more willing pupil. Father White daily instructed the chief and his wife and family - all attentive listeners.
Chilomacon was equally anxious for the conversion of his whole tribe. Convineced himself, he wished to make the truth known to others. He assembled his warriors, and in an eloquent appeal told them "that childish superstition had reigned too long in the wigwams of the Pascatoways. There was but one God who was worthy of the homage of brave men. He was the Creator of all things. He was the Great Spirit worshipped by the black-gowns. The herbs and the stones adored by the Indians were abut the humble work os His hands." To show contempt for their former idols, he took one and tossed it with his foot. The warriors applauded the language and bold action of their chief, and henceforth Christianity made rapid conquest of this tribe.
Chilomacon accepted Father White's invitation to visit the town of St. Mary's, and was delighted with the peace, happiness, and prosperity which he there beheld. He now eagerly begged to be baptized, and at length the day was fixed. The ceremony took place on the 5th of July, 1640, at his rude capital, in a chapel built of bark for the occasion. Governor Leonard Calbert, his secretary, and many of the principal inhabitants of the colony were present. Father White officiated. Chilomacon, his wife., their little son, and many of the chief men of his council were solemnly admitted into the Catholic Church by the regenerating waters of baptism. The chief assumed the name of Charles in horn of the English sovereign and his wife that of Mary. The other converts also received Christian names. In the afternoon Charles and Mary were married according to the rites of the Church. A cross of great size was then borne in procession by the chief, Governor Calvert, the secretary, and others, while two priests preceded them, chanting the Litany of the Most Blessed Virgin. Having reached a place prepared for its reception, the sacred emblem was erected with imposing ceremonies in commemoration of the important events which had just taken place.
Under the guidance of the Jesuit Fathers, the spiritual condition of the colony was admirable. A church was erected in the town of St. Mary's; and peace, happiness, and religion smiled on the quiet shores of the Chesapeake. "The religious exercises," says one of the Fathers, writing to Rome, "are followed with exactness, and the Sacraments are well frequented. By spiritual exercises we have formed the principal inhabitants to the practice of piety, and they have derived signal benefits from them. The sick and dying, whose number has been considerable this year, have all been attended, in spite of the great distance of their dwellings, so that not a Catholic died without having revived the benefits of the Sacraments." Such was the edifying piety and fervor of these good Catholic settlers, that many of the PRotestants, touched by their bright example, gladly embraced the faith of their forefathers.
But a cloud had arisen, and was hanging over the peaceful and prosperous colony. In 1644, the insurrection of Clayborne and his fanatical adherents passed over the fair Maryland like a devastating hurricane. Religion and its altars were ruthlessly overthrown, the Catholic inhabitants plundered, and their rights trampled upon. Even the verbal FAther White and his unoffendeing companions were seized, put in irons, and sent to England, where they had to undergo a long and painful imprisonment.
"Thristing for the salvation of his dear Mary-landers," writes Oliver, "he sought every opportunity of returning secretly to that mission; but every attempt proving ineffectual, he was content to devote his remaining energies to the advantage of his native country. In his old age, even to the end, he continued his custom of fasting on bread and water twice a week. Whilst a prisoner he was reminded by his keeper to moderate his austerities, and to reserve his strength for his appearance at Tyburn. 'You must know, replied Father white, 'that my fasting gives me strength to bear any kind of suffering for the love of Jesus Christ!' This truly great and good man died peaceably in London, on the 6th of January, 1657. From the comparison of various documents, I believe he was in his event-eighth year at the time of his death."
St. Issac Jogues
The Jesuit Martyrs of North AmericaThe Vine and the Branches
Imprimatur 1934(There are some used copies of this lovely book for under $10 including shipping, one you be sure to treasure! Click the link above to view the prices/locations)
Christmas Day on the coast of France. A tired traveler kneels in adoration in a little village
church and pours out his thanks to the newborn King. He has had a long and weary journey across the sea, and now he is once more in his native land. Six years ago he had left home and country to
work among the Indians of North America, expecting to lay down his life there. And here he was, back in France! No wonder his heart was glad.
A journey of five days brought him to the house of the Jesuits at Rennes. He knocked at the door and asked for the Superior.
“Father Superior cannot see you now,” answered the porter; “he is getting ready to say Mass.”
“Tell him,” answered the traveler, “that a poor man from Canada would like to see him.”
The superior came at once.
“Do you know Father Jogues?”
“He was captured by the Iroquois Indians. Is he alive?”
“He is alive, Father. I am he.”
We can imagine with what joy the people of France welcomed the holy Jesuit. Everybody wanted to see and hear him. Even the Queen of France asked him to come to the Court that she might speak to him.
After a short time with the Jesuit Fathers in France, Father Jogues went to Rome. It was only natural that he should long to kneel at the feet of the Holy Father, for was not the pope the head of that glorious Church for the spread of which Father Jogues was ready to lay down his life? And in Rome a happy surprise awaited him. During his stay with the Indians, he had been shamefully treated. Whenever anything had gone wrong, the “Blackrobes,” as the missionaries were called, were blamed. At one time, when he was taken captive and cruelly tortured, the Indians chewed off and later burned off some of his fingers. Therefore, it was not possible for him to say Holy Mass, the greatest happiness a priest has on earth. But when the Holy Father saw his crippled hands, he said: “It is not fitting that Christ’s martyr should not drink Christ’s blood,” and gave him permission to say Mass, in spite of the missing fingers.
Father Jogues had the heart of an apostle. He longed to go back to his dear Indians in the hope of gaining more souls for Christ. And so, after a few short months at home, we see him once more on his way to America.
The first Jesuit missionaries who were later honored by the Church as martyrs, came to Canada in 1625. They were Father John be Brèbeuf and Gabriel Lalemant. They worked principally among the Hurons, a tribe that lived in that part of Canada just east of Lake Huron. It took years of hardship and sacrifices to reach the hearts of these ignorant and superstitious men. In 1636 Father Isaac Jogues came from France to join Father Brèbeuf and the other Jesuits in their work of saving souls. For six years he labored among the savages in the country around the Great Lakes. He was the first Catholic priest to travel down into the United States as far as Manhattan Island.
In the year 1646 Father Jogues visited a village where Auriesville, New York, now stands. He wished to meet the Iroquois Indians, the greatest enemies of the Hurons, in order to make terms of peace with them. He was captured at Lake George, tortured, and finally put to death. With him were Renè Goupil, a lay brother, and John Lalande, a layman, who were both martyred about the same time with Father Jogues.
Two years after the death of Father Jogues, Fathers Brèbeuf and Lalemant also became victims of the fierce Iroquois. To this list of glorious martyrs are added the names of three other Jesuits. They are Fathers Charles Garnier, Noel Chabanel, and Anthony Daniel, who gave up their lives as the others had done, so that the poor Indians, too, might become children of the Church and branches of the true Vine. They were all canonized on June 29, 1930. The feast of the Jesuit Martyrs of North America is celebrated on September 29.
We know from the early history of the Church that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christianity. Shortly after the death of Father Jogues 3,000 Hurons were converted. The very ground which received the blood of the martyrs was the birthplace of the holy Indian girl, Catherine Tekawitha, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, whom the Church will some day perhaps honor as the first saint born in our own United States.
I'm a bit slow in taking and sharing a picture from our Feast of St. Linus celebration
. In all honesty the only reason I took a picture was because I was chaging our domestic altar for the Feast of the Holy Rosary
. We used a red cloth to signify St. Linus' martrydom along with the red glitter and paper behind his holy card. The lilies are purity along with the white color. We glued a print out of St. Linus to a round wooden medalion that has a hole drilled through the top and I'll string these so we can put them on our Christmas tree this year. Also pictured is the Cross of St. Brendan that we made (cardboard and glitter) for our history studies. We were reading about the Voyage of St. Brendan for our American History
. They also have string attached so we may add them to our Christmas tree. It was a fun little celebration!