Isaac Jogues: Missionary and Martyr - Martin J. Scott


It was the custom with the Mohawks that, if a captive was not killed, he was given as a slave to one of the families who had lost a son on the war-path. The owner had the right of life and death over his slave. Within the village confines no one else had the right to strike or kill him.

After their final torture the French captives were given a period for recuperation. When this was at an end, Couture was strong enough to walk so he was led to the farthest of their villages, but Jogues and Goupil were so injured and weakened that they could not walk. Consequently they were assigned as slaves to families living in the first town. Their condition was most pitiable. There was hardly a sound spot on their entire bodies. Their hands were so mutilated that whatever food they ate had to be fed to them by other hands. Their wounds were open and festering and exposed to the horrible stings of insects and vermin which swarmed everywhere. Their food was corn grits and water. The wonder is that they survived at all. Their appearance was so pitiable that even the Indians began to show them some little kindness, giving them occasionally bits of dried fish or meat.

Meanwhile the Dutch at Albany having heard of the capture of Frenchmen by the Mohawks made special efforts for their release. They sent a delegation to Ossernenon which gave special inducements to the Indians for the liberation of the captives, offering among other things, two hundred dollars, a substantial amount at that time, but to no avail. Not wishing to offend the Dutch by a flat refusal, the Indians told them that they would soon free their prisoners in exchange for some of their warriors held by the French. And this exchange might have been effected had not an event occurred which came near subjecting the captives to new tortures and death.

The war-party of two hundred Mohawks, whom Jogues' band had met on the march to the Mohawk country, had experienced a most humiliating defeat at the hands of the French. They came home breathing vengeance on their enemy. As soon as they learned that the French captives were still alive their rage knew no bounds. Straightway they determined to vent their rage on the prisoners, and proceeded to the place of their detention, but as Providence would have it, both Goupil and Jogues were at that time walking in the fields, discoursing on pious subjects. By the time they returned, the older and wiser heads of the tribe had persuaded the warriors that the captive French were worth more alive than dead, and had succeeded in having their lives spared, at least for the present.

Jogues and Goupil now continued their life of slavery—a most wretched and precarious existence, since they were at the mercy of any savage who might wish to kill them, provided he met them outside the village limits. Indeed it was not long before this fate befell one of them. Rene Goupil in his zeal for souls was accustomed to gather about him little children whom he endeavored to instruct as best he could, and to whom he taught the sign of the cross.

One of the Indians, an old man, saw Goupil showing his grandchild how to make the sign of the cross. Calling to one of the young braves, his nephew, he commanded him to kill the Christian teacher, saying at the same time that the sign would bring evil on the child. The young brave did not need encouragement for the deed. He was already infuriated against the French, because one of his relatives had been slain by them in the recent encounter. Accordingly he waited his opportunity until Goupil should go outside the town limits.

One evening shortly afterwards, Jogues and Goupil were walking in the nearby woods when they perceived that they were being followed by the nephew of the old man and a companion. These came up to them and ordered them home. Jogues and Goupil feared that some new and dreadful ordeal was awaiting them. They mutually comforted and consoled each other, and became resigned to whatever fate was prepared for them. Jogues said afterwards: "I had some presentiment of what was to happen, and told him: 'My dear brother, let us recommend ourselves to Our Lord and to our good Mother the Blessed Virgin: these men have some evil design, I think.' We had a little before offered ourselves to Our Lord with much devotion, beseeching Him to accept our lives and blood for the salvation of these poor tribes."

They took out their beads and began the recitation of the rosary. Scarcely had they reached the fourth decade, when just as they were approaching the village gate, one of the savages suddenly raised a tomahawk and brought it down on the head of Goupil, splitting his skull. The victim fell forward on his face, uttering the name of Jesus. Jogues believing that his time had come also, bared his head, fell on his knees and awaited a like blow. But the expected blow did not fall. Instead he was told to rise and that he had nothing to fear, as he belonged to another family.

Upon receiving this respite Jogues knelt down beside the prostrate form of his companion, imparted the last absolution, reverently kissed the bleeding body, and covered it with his tears. Goupil was to him son, brother and companion, and his sole solace, after God, in his captivity. The savages dragged Jogues from the martyr's body, and for fear they had not finished him, dealt him two more blows with the tomahawk. "It was on the 29th of September, 1642," says Jogues, "that this angel of innocence and martyr of Jesus Christ was immolated, in his thirty-fifth year, for Him who had given His life for his ransom. He had consecrated his soul and his heart to God; his hand, his very life, to the welfare of the poor Indians."

Jogues was ordered back to the family that owned, or adopted him, as this proprietorship was termed. For two days he remained indoors expecting every moment to meet a fate similar to Goupil's, for he had been informed that his adoptive family had also lost a relative in the recent campaign against the French. To his surprise, however, his owner treated him kindly and even warned him against going outside the village, unless in company with one of the family. "Be on your guard," he said, "there are some young men determined to kill you." From other sources also he learned that his life was in imminent danger. Some told him openly that he was going to be slain, and one Indian asked him for his shoes, saying that he would soon have no need of them. The apprehension resulting from all this was worse than actual killing would be. Indeed he was suffering a death agony all day long, and for many days.

Notwithstanding the threats of danger he nevertheless determined to find out what had become of the martyr's body and to give it proper burial. But of this, and other intimate details, let us hear the account taken from an autograph letter of Father Jogues to his Superior.

"Rene Goupil was a native of Angers, who, in the bloom of life, earnestly asked admission into our novitiate at Paris, where he remained some months with great edification. His bodily ailments having deprived him of the happiness of consecrating himself in the holy state of religion as he wished, he crossed over to New France, as soon as he grew better, to serve the Society there, as he had not the happiness of giving himself to it in the Old. And to do nothing of his own will, though perfect master of his actions, he submitted himself entirely to the direction of the Superior of the Mission, who employed him for two whole years in the meanest employments of the house, which he discharged with great humility and charity.

"They also gave him the care of tending the sick and wounded in the hospital, a post he filled with great ability, for he was well skilled in surgery, and with equal love and charity always beholding Our Lord in the person of his patients. So sweet an odor of his goodness and other virtues did he leave in that place, that his memory is still in benediction there. As we descended from the Hurons in July, 1642, we asked the Reverend Father Vimont to let us take him, as the Hurons greatly needed a surgeon, and he consented. It were impossible to express the joy of this good young man when the Superior told him to prepare for the voyage. He knew, withal, the great dangers on the river; he knew how furious the Iroquois were against the French; yet all this could not deter him from embarking for Three Rivers, at the slightest sign of His Will, to Whom he had voluntarily resigned all that concerned him.

"We left there (Three Rivers) on the first day of August, the morrow of the Feast of Our Holy Father. On the second after, we met the enemy, who, divided into two bands, awaited us, with all the advantage which a large number of picked men, fighting on land, can have over a smaller one of all kinds on the water in bark canoes. Almost all the Hurons had fled into the woods, and, having left us, we were taken. Here his virtue was strikingly displayed; for as soon as he was taken, he said, 'Father! blessed be God, He has permitted it; He has wished it; His holy will be done! I love it, I wish it, I cherish it, I embrace it with all my heart.' While the enemy pursued the fugitives, I confessed him and gave him absolution, not knowing what was to befall us after our capture.

"The enemy, having returned from the chase, fell on us with their teeth, like furious dogs, tore out our nails and crunched our fingers, all which he endured with great patience and courage. His presence of mind in so distressing an accident was shown specially in his aiding me, in spite of the pain of his wounds, in instructing, as far as he could, the Huron prisoners who were not yet Christians. As I was instructing them separately, and as they came to me, he reminded me that a poor old man named Ondouterraon might well be one of those to be killed on the spot, it being then the custom always to sacrifice someone to the heat of their rage. I instructed this old man carefully while the enemy was busied with the division of the booty of twelve canoes, a part of which were laden with necessaries for our Huron Fathers. The spoil being divided, they killed the poor old man almost at the very moment when I had given him a new birth. During our march to the enemy's country we had the additional consolation of being together; and here I witnessed many virtues.

"On the way he was always absorbed in God. His words and conversation were all in perfect submissiveness to the orders of Divine Providence and a voluntary acceptance of the death which God sent him. He offered himself to Him as a holocaust, to be reduced to ashes in the fire of the Iroquois, which that good Father should enkindle. In all, and by all, he sought means to please Him. One day—it was soon after our capture—he told me, while still on the way: 'Father, God has always given me a great desire to consecrate myself to His holy service by the vows of religion in His holy Society; till now, my sins have rendered me unworthy of this grace; yet I hope that Our Lord will accept the offering I wish to make Him now, and to take, in the best manner that I can, the vows of the Society, in the presence of my God and before you.' Having permitted him, he pronounced them with great devotion.

"Wounded as he was, he dressed the wounds of others, not only of the prisoners, but even of such of the enemy as had received any wound in the combat. He also bled a sick Iroquois, and did all with as much charity as if he were doing it to his dearest friends. His humility and the obedience he paid to his captors confounded me. The Iroquois, who had us both in their canoe, told me to take a paddle and use it. Proud even in death, I would not. Some time after, they told him to do it, and he immediately began to paddle; but when he perceived that the Indians wished to compel me to do so after his example, he begged my pardon.

"At times on the way, I suggested to him thoughts of flight, as the liberty given us afforded him abundant opportunity. For my own part, I could not forsake a Frenchman and twenty-four or five Huron prisoners. He would never do it, resigning himself entirely to the will of Our Lord, who inspired him with no such thought. On the Lake (Champlain) we met two hundred Iroquois, who came to Richelieu when they began to build the fort; they covered us with stripes, drenched us in blood, and made us experience the rage of men possessed by the devil. All these outrages and cruelties he endured with great patience and charity for those who ill-treated him.

"On entering the first town where we were so cruelly treated, he showed extraordinary patience and mildness. Having fallen under the hail of blows of clubs and iron rods poured on us, and unable to rise, he was carried, as it were, half-dead on the scaffold, where we were already, in the middle of the town, but in so pitiable a state that he would have moved cruelty itself to compassion: he was all livid with bruises, and in his face we could distinguish nothing but the whites of his eyes; yet he was the more beautiful in the eyes of angels as he was more disfigured; and like Him of Whom it is said: 'We have seen Him as a leper . . . There was in Him neither comeliness nor beauty.'

"Scarcely had he, or even we, recovered breath, when they came and gave him three blows on the shoulders with a heavy club, as they had done to us. After cutting off a thumb from me as the most important, they turned to him and cut off his right thumb at the first joint. During this cruel operation he constantly repeated 'Jesus, Mary, Joseph.' During the six days that we were exposed to all those who chose to maltreat us, he displayed extraordinary mildness; his breast was all burned by the live coals and ashes which the boys threw on his body when he was tied down on the ground at night. Nature gave me more dexterity than him in escaping some of these pains. After our life was granted us, just after we had, been warned to prepare to be burned, he fell sick in great want of everything, especially of food, for he was not accustomed to theirs. I could not relieve him, being also sick, and not having one finger sound or whole.

"But I must hasten to his death, which wants nothing to be that of a martyr. After we had been six weeks in the country, as confusion rose in the councils of the Iroquois, some of whom were for sending us back, we lost all hope, which in me had never been sanguine, of seeing Three Rivers that year. We consoled one another then at this disposal of Providence, and prepared for all He should ordain in our regard. He did not see the danger we were in so clearly. I saw it better. This made me often tell him to hold himself in readiness. Accordingly, one day when in our mental pain we had gone out of the town to pray more becomingly and undisturbed by noise, two young men came after us and told us to return home. I had some presentiment of what was to happen, and told him: 'My dear brother, let us recommend ourselves to Our Lord and to our good Mother the Blessed Virgin: these men have some evil design, I think.'

"We had a little before offered ourselves to Our Lord with much devotion, beseeching Him to accept our lives and blood for the salvation of these poor tribes. We were returning then towards the town, reciting our beads, of which we had already said four decades. Having stopped near the gate of the town to see what they would say, one of these two Iroquois drew an axe which he had hidden under his blanket, and dealt Rene a blow on the head as he stood before him; he fell stiff on his face on the ground, uttering the holy name of Jesus, for we had often reminded each other to close our voice and life with that holy name. I turned at the blow, and seeing the reeking hatchet, fell on my knees to receive the blow that was to unite me to my loved companion; but as they delayed I rose, ran to him, as he lay expiring near me. They gave him two more blows on the head and extinguished life, but not before I had given him absolution, which, since our captivity, I had given him regularly after his confession every other day.

"It was the 29th day of September, the Feast of St. Michael, that this angel in innocence and martyr of Christ gave his life for Him who had given him His. They commanded me to return to my cabin, where I awaited, during the rest of the day and the next, the same treatment. It was the belief of all that I would not wait long, as they had begun it; and in fact for several days they came to kill me, but Our Lord prevented it by ways which would take too long to explain. Early the next morning I did not fail to start out to inquire where they had thrown that blessed body, for I wished to inter it, cost what it might. Some Iroquois who had a wish to save me said: 'Thou hast no sense; thou seest that they seek thee everywhere to kill thee, and thou goest out still—thou wilt go to seek a body already half putrefied, which has been dragged far from here. Seest thou not those young men going out who will kill thee when thou art past the palisade?'

"This did not stop me, and Our Lord gave me courage enough to be willing to die in that office of charity. I go, I seek, and by the help of a captured Algonquin I find it. After he had been killed the children had stripped him, and tying a cord around his neck dragged him to a torrent which runs at the foot of the town. The dogs had already gnawed a part of his thighs. At this spectacle I could not withhold my tears. I took the body, and aided by the Algonquin, I sank it in the water and covered it with large stones to hide it, intending to return the next day with a spade, when there was no one near, and dig a grave and inter it. I thought the body well hidden, but perhaps some one saw us, especially of the youth, and took it up.

"The next day, as they sought to kill me, my aunt (so called) sent me to her field to escape, as I think; this compelled me to defer it till the next day. It rained all night, so that the torrent was extremely swelled; I borrowed a hoe in another cabin, the better to conceal my design, but on approaching the place could not find the blessed deposit; I entered the water already quite cold, I go and come, I sound with my feet to see whether the water had not raised and carried off the body, but I saw nothing. How many tears I shed which fell in the torrent, while I sang as I could the psalms which the Church chants for the dead! After all I found nothing, and a woman known to me who passed by, seeing me in trouble, told me, when I asked her whether she did not know what had been done with it, that it had been dragged to the river, which is a quarter of a league from there, and with which I was not acquainted.

"This was false, the young men had taken it up and dragged it into a neighboring wood, where during the fall and winter it was the food of the dog, the crow and the fox. When I was told in the spring that he had been dragged there, I went several times without finding anything; at last the fourth time, I found his head and some half-gnawed bones, which I interred, intending to carry them off, if taken back to Three Rivers, as was then talked of. Repeatedly did I kiss them as the bones of a martyr of Jesus Christ. I give him this title, not only because he was killed by the enemies of God and His Church, in the exercise of an ardent love for his neighbor, putting himself in evident perils for the love of God, but particularly because he was killed for prayer, and expressly for the Holy Cross.

"He was in a cabin where he prayed daily, which scarcely pleased a superstitious old man there. One day seeing a little child, three or four years old, in the cabin, from an excess of devotion and love of the cross, and in a simplicity which we, who are more prudent according to the flesh, would not have had, he took off his cap, and putting it on the child's head made the sign of the cross on his body. The old man seeing it ordered a young man in his cabin, who was starting on a war-party, to kill him; and he obeyed the order, as we have seen.

"The mother of the child herself, in a voyage which I made with her, told me that he had been killed for that sign of the cross; and the old man who had given the order to kill him invited me one day to his cabin to dinner, but when I made the sign of the cross before beginning, he said, 'That is what we hate; that is what we killed thy comrade for, and will kill thee too. Our neighbors, the Europeans, do not make it.' Sometimes, too, as I prayed on my knees in hunting time, they told me that they hated that way of doing, and had killed the other Frenchman for it, and would kill me too when I got back to the village.

"I beg pardon of your Reverence for the precipitation with which I write this, and my want of respect in so doing. Excuse me, if you please; I feared to miss the opportunity of discharging a debt I should long since have discharged."

For two months after the martyrdom of Blessed Rene Goupil, Jogues lived in constant readiness for a similar fate. One evening as he lay in his cabin wrapped in a wretched blanket, which was his robe by day, an Indian wanted to take part of it. Jogues spoke gently to him saying: "I would give it to you willingly, but you know it is not enough to protect me from the cold; besides it is my only covering during the day, without it I should be naked, and as you know it is not our custom to go about that way. However do as you choose." The Indian felt so much resentment at this, that he planned to kill the Father.

Accordingly he arranged with the slayer of Goupil to tomahawk the missioner at the first opportunity. While they were discussing their plan, in the very presence of Jogues, not thinking that he knew enough of the language to understand them he learned the particulars of the plot. "I pretended," he writes, "not to understand they were plotting against me. 'I was as a dumb man that heareth not; and that hath no reproofs in his mouth. For in Thee, O Lord, have I hoped.' I loved to recall to my mind Him 'Who was led as a lamb to the slaughter' and I wished to meet death with a prayer to God that He would not 'turn back the evils upon my enemies, and cut them off in His truth.'"

On the following day two women found a pretext for sending him to the field outside the town. Although he knew what this presaged he nevertheless did as he was directed. As he came to the field he saw the slayer of Goupil, but did not show any hesitancy in going to where the assassin stood. Ready and eager for martyrdom he approached the hatchet-man, who for some reason, instead of striking the fatal blow, turned aside, without saying a word, and left the Father standing in astonishment, as one snatched from the jaws of death. In constant expectancy of a treacherous blow Jogues passed his days performing his duties as a slave, and doing all in his power, at every opportunity, for the poor Huron captives whom torture had not yet put an end to.

In order to fortify his soul for the trials it had to meet daily, he tells us that he had recourse to prayer and pious reading:

"I avoided crowded places, and sought solitude: there I entreated God 'to make His face shine upon His servant' and to 'grant him help from trouble.' 'If I have become unto many as a wonder,' I owe it only to God, who so wonderfully bore me up, and who, by a proof of His infinite goodness, often roused my drooping courage.

"I found a refuge in the Holy Scriptures—my only source 'in the trouble that encompassed me.' I venerated them, and desired to die while using them. Of all the books that we were carrying to the Hurons, I had saved only the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, with the comments of Mgr. Anthony Godeau, Bishop of Grasse. I always carried this book with me, as well as an indulgenced picture of St. Bruno, the illustrious founder of the Carthusians, and a little wooden cross I had myself made the best way I could. I wished that wherever I should meet death, which I never lost sight of, it should find me ready, resting on the Holy Scriptures, which had always been my greatest comfort; strengthened with the graces and indulgences of the Most Holy Church, my mother, whom I have always loved, but now more than ever; and lastly, armed with the cross of my Redeemer."

Some time afterwards he had the good fortune to find the "Following of Christ" and a "Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary," which were probably part of the booty taken by some raiding band of Indians, and discarded by them as of no use. But to the devout priest they were a heavenly treasure.

Jogues now settled down to the routine work of a slave, no further attempts being made on his life. His condition was indescribable. Whatever clothes he had were in rags. His feet were torn and bleeding from his broken shoes. With the approach of winter he suffered frightfully from the cold. Yet in this condition he was obliged to accompany the hardened savages on their annual deer hunt. The march to the hunting grounds, some sixty miles distant, was for him painful in the extreme. Arrived there he was assigned to women's work, being deemed physically unfit for that of a man. Accordingly all the drudgery about the camp fell on him.

For a time game was plenty and the Indians fared abundantly if not sumptuously. The meat diet and the life in the open were beginning to restore Jogues to health and strength. But one day as his duties brought him to where the Indians were dressing the meat, he observed that before doing so they offered a part of each animal as a sacrifice to the demon of the hunt, saying, "Genius Aireskoi, behold we offer thee meat: feast on it, eat it, and show us where the deer roam." After learning that their meat was used in devil-worship Jogues never partook of it again. He flatly told the Indians that he could not eat of what was immolated to the devil.

From this time on his only food was parched corn and sagamity, and very little of that, as the Indians scorned such food when meat was at hand. He thus described the pangs of hunger which his resolution caused him to suffer: "Often did I enter the cabin at night, without having tasted food the whole day, and I would find my Egyptians gluttonly 'seated over the flesh-pots' smoking full; and although I might allege the best reasons for allowing myself to partake of their fare, I did not once, thank God, fail in my resolution. When suffering the pangs of hunger, I would say to God: 'We shall be filled with the good things of Thy house'; 'I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear'; 'Thou shalt fulfill the yearnings of Thy servant in the holy city of Thy celestial Jerusalem.' "

As the success of the hunt began to wane the Indians attributed it to the contempt shown their deity by Jogues. This changed their rather friendly attitude towards him into hatred, and in various ways made life almost intolerable for him.

Another instance will show how much the holy priest had to suffer in consequence of their superstitious practices. One of the Indians had fallen sick, and in a dream had learned what would cure him; namely, certain ceremonies and dances in which Jogues was to participate by being present and holding his book of prayers in his hand, as he was accustomed to do when reading his breviary. The relatives of the sick man came to Jogues to acquaint him with his part in the remedial ceremonies. They never thought for a moment that he would object, because they regarded dream admonition as sacred, and to be carried out at no matter what sacrifice or inconvenience.

We can imagine their consternation therefore when Jogues kindly but firmly refused to take part in their orgies. They would not take a refusal however. Still others came and pleaded with him to restore the invalid to health by fulfilling the dream commands. When they perceived him unyielding they accused him of cruelty for letting a man die when he could be saved so easily. Pleading and abuse not availing they got some young men to drag him to the place. But he, seeing them coming and divining their purpose, took to the woods. They gave chase but were not able to come up with him. Even in his weakened condition, Jogues, it appears, was more than their match for speed. Finally, realizing the impossibility of overcoming his opposition, they let him alone, for the time being, but held it against him for future reckoning.

Thus, alternating between sufferings of body and of mind, Jogues dragged out an existence which was virtually a daily martyrdom. He could not pray in their presence, for they accused him of doing so to invoke evil spirits against them. If he knelt, they misconstrued it into an act of sorcery which was to harm them. Although on the point of starvation he could not touch their idol-offered meat, and little else was to be had. Moreover the severity of a northern winter was adding to his other afflictions. The Indians had an abundance of furs to protect them from the biting cold, but he, although more sensitive to the cold than they, had hardly any protection against it. His body became chapped and raw from the cutting winds of daytime, and the freezing atmosphere of the cabin by night. All around him the savages were warmly covered, while he was kept shivering throughout most of the night.

Anguish of spirit was added to bodily pain as we learn from his own words:

"I thought," he writes, "of my dear companions, whose blood had so lately covered me, and I heard a report that good William had also ended his life in most cruel torments, and that a like end was in store for me on our return to the town. Then the remembrance of my whole life rushed back to me, with all its unfaithfulness to God, and all its faults. I groaned to see myself die 'in the midst of my days,' as if rejected by the Lord, deprived of the sacraments of the Church, and with no good words to propitiate my Judge. Thus tormented with a desire to live and the fear of death, I groaned, and cried to my God: When shall my grief and my anguish come to an end? When wilt Thou 'see my abjection and my labor'; when wilt Thou give me 'calm after the storm'; when shall my 'sorrow be turned into joy?'

"I should have perished unless the Lord 'had shortened the evil days'; but I had recourse to my support and ordinary refuge, the Holy Scriptures, of which I could recall some passages. They taught me to see God in His goodness, and made me alive to the fact that although deprived of all aids of piety, 'the just man liveth by faith.' I pondered on these words: 'I followed the running waters' to endeavor to quench my thirst. On the law of the Lord I meditated day and night, for 'unless Thy law had been my meditation, I had then perished in my abjection' and 'perhaps the water had swallowed us up.'

"But blessed be the Lord, Who 'hath not given as to be a prey to the teeth' of my enemies, 'for now their hour seemed come and the power of darkess.' 'I was pressed out of measure above my strength, so that I was weary even of life.' Meanwhile I repeated with Job, but in another sense, 'Although God should kill me, I will trust in Him."

In order to have some opportunity for his spiritual practices he built a little oratory in the woods not far from his cabin. Here with no protection against the wintry blasts but some fir branches to ward off the icy wind, he spent hours of prayer on his knees in the snow after his work as a slave was finished for the day. Here, before the large cross which he had cut in the bark of a tree, he performed his devotions of prayer, meditation and pious reading, unseen by the eye of man, but an object of admiration to the angels, and the very incarnation of heroic love of God and of fidelity to Him under the most trying circumstances.

As the time approached when it was customary for those of his Order to make the annual retreat, he spent eight consecutive days in making the Spiritual Exercises, as best he could under the conditions. While he was thus engaged in prayer and meditation, his long absence from the cabin was noticed, and some of the Indians spied on him to see what he was doing there so long and all alone. They feared he was engaged in some witchcraft to injure them. When however they found him on his knees, on the hard, cold ground, they knew he was simply praying. As this was distasteful to them they tried in every way to distract him and to frighten him away. At times they would steal up behind him and suddenly break into loud and terrific yells. Again they would rush on him with raised tomahawks as if to strike. But he seemed not to be aware of their deviltries, so completely was he absorbed in his devotions.

"While in the place," says he, "which I had chosen as my retreat, I seemed to be in the company of several of our Fathers whom I had known in life, and whose virtue and merit I esteemed highly. I preserve a distinct recollection only of Father James Bertrix and Father Stephen Binet; and of Father Coton vaguely. I besought them with all the ardor of my soul to commend me to the Cross, that it might receive me as the disciple of Him whom it had borne, and that it would not repulse a 'Citizen of the Cross.' (This idea had never entered my mind even in meditation.) I was indeed born in Orleans, a city the cathedral church of which is dedicated to the Holy Cross. These pious thoughts so expanded my heart, that when the Indians proposed to return to the village, where I expected to meet death, I set out full of joy."

Some of the Indians were making ready to return from the hunting grounds in order to bring home a portion of the dried meat which they had prepared. Jogues desiring to be of service to the Huron captives at the tribal village, asked leave to accompany the band on this expedition home. It was granted, not to gratify his wishes, but to use him as a beast of burden, to carry a huge load of the dried beef. For eight days he marched over the snow-covered trail, and in the intense cold of January, so overburdened that it passes understanding how he ever survived the journey.

One of this party was a woman who besides carrying her young child on her back was also encumbered by a heavy burden. The band came to a rapid and deep stream, too cold to swim across in mid-winter, and too rapid for thick ice to form for crossing on it. The Indians had made a bridge of a sort at the place by felling a tree in such a way that in its fall it spanned the stream. Across this the agile Indians easily made their way. But the woman, burdened as she was, fell midway and dropped into the rapid icy stream. In falling, the strap which held her pack on her back and which passed over her forehead, slipped down to her neck and was fast choking her to death as she struggled in the water. The Indians did not seem to be concerned, but Jogues realizing her danger of drowning or choking, plunged into the freezing waters and brought mother and child to safety. The child was all but drowned, and Jogues baptized it then and there. Two days later it died from the effects of the exposure. Jogues was no weakling. He out-ran the fleetest Indians, and could swim fast and far. Unless he were a powerful and rapid swimmer he had never been able to reach and save this poor woman and her child.

One of the Indians on this march was the old man who had ordered the death of Rene Goupil. He seemed to be very much impressed by Jogues' bravery and virtue. One day he offered to share his meal with the Father, who willingly accepted the offer, and started to bless himself before eating. "Don't do that," said the old man, "that's an evil thing to do; that's why your companion was killed, and you will be killed too, if you make that sign, which we hate." "I am ready to die," replied Jogues, as he proceeded to bless himself. This courage won him the respect of the Indian, who not only did not harm him, but rather, from then on, treated him with unusual kindness. Even a savage recognizes heroic virtue.

On his return from the hunting grounds Jogues' clothing or lack of it was a deep concern to him; not only because of his suffering from the intense mid-winter cold, but also because of his regard for modesty. He was covered by a few rags only. Going from cabin to cabin he begged for something to protect his body and his decency. He received nothing but insults, except from one person who threw him a soiled and worn-out piece of cloth. One of the Dutch settlers, who happened to be in the village, seeing his deplorable condition, took pity on him and provided him with some garments. What added to the anguish of the Father was to see the Indians clothed in the sacred vestments which were part of the booty they had obtained by the capture of the convoy. They turned these things into the most grotesque uses, employing altar veils and mass vestments as clothing, and that in an altogether ridiculous fashion.

Hardly had he time for a breathing spell on his return to the village, when he was ordered to make a return march. Slave, as he was, he must obey even though it seemed impossible for him to accomplish the journey. They loaded him with a heavy pack of corn and started him on his way over the ice-covered trail. But nature was not equal to the ordeal. Repeatedly he slipped and fell, until finally he dropped exhausted, unable to go on. Returning to the village as best he could, he was loaded with insults, and given a duty which was so repulsive that the Indians themselves refused it.

One of the natives was stricken with a disease which made his body one huge ulcer, from which the stench was so offensive that hardly anyone would go near the miserable creature to care for his needs. Jogues was ordered to act as nurse to this man. It happened that the patient was the savage who had torn out the Father's nails, and otherwise treated him cruelly, on his first arrival in the town. Notwithstanding the invalid's loathsome condition and his former cruelty to him, Jogues welcomed this opportunity of practicing Christian charity.

When the Indians returned from the hunt, the family which owned Jogues claimed his services. He rendered such cheerful service, and was so useful, that gradually the family showed a kindlier attitude towards him. In particular the mother of his master treated him with consideration. This woman, whom he called "aunt," greatly admired his virtue, which was of a kind and degree altogether unknown among her people. By degrees the favor shown him by his masters influenced the conduct of others towards him, with the result that they ceased their persecution and even accorded him a measure of respect.

He now determined to do missionary work among his captors. Setting to work earnestly he acquired a sufficient knowledge of their language to converse with them. As the cabin of his master was a meeting place for those who discussed the affairs of the town or tribe, he met here most of the important men of the village. With these he gradually fell to talking about matters which interested them, such as the sun's passage across the sky, the phases of the moon, the boundary of the earth and so on. They were in great admiration of his knowledge, and on a certain occasion, after he had given them the explanation of various things which had been a mystery to them, one of them said: "How we should have regretted it if we had killed him as we have so often intended doing!"

By degrees he was able to pass from material things to those of the spirit. He spoke to them of future life, judgment, heaven, hell and redemption. They were greatly impressed by what he said, and if conversion did not imply a change of life in conformity with belief, it is probable that they would have accepted the Faith. But steeped as they were in carnal vices, and wedded to superstitious practices, they confined their approbation to admiration only. "All that is good for you," they said, "who live beyond the great water, but not for us." His efforts, however, were not lost. Not a few asked for baptism, especially those who were ill, and also captives who were condemned to torture and death. Besides he baptized children and infants who were in danger of death.

Not satisfied with his missionary work in his own village, he availed himself of the generous liberty permitted him by his master, to make expeditions to the other Mohawk towns where the Christian Hurons were held as captives. He encouraged and consoled these faithful souls, who in spite of every difficulty imaginable held firm to their religion, some of them giving examples of heroic virtue.

This missionary work, so agreeable to the Father, was interrupted after two months by the fishing season. In company with two Indians and his "aunt" he set out for a lake four days distant, where they pitched camp and set to work. His duty was much the same as on the hunt. The Indians dried the fish which they caught, to serve as food for the summer. Their only food during the fishing season was hominy seasoned with the entrails of the fish. This loathsome diet was at first repulsive to Jogues but he eventually got used to it; saying: "Custom, hunger and want render tolerable, if not agreeable, what nature often abhors."

He often enjoyed a leisure on these expeditions to which he was a stranger in the village. Listen to him describe the manner of his employing his opportunity: "How often in these journeys," he writes, "and in that quiet wilderness, 'did we sit by the rivers of Babylon, and weep while we remembered thee, Sion' not only lauding that Sion in heaven, but even thee, Jerusalem, praising thy God on earth. 'How often though in a strange land, did we sing the canticle of the Lord,' and mountain and wild-wood resounded with the praises of their Maker, which from their creation they had never heard!

"How often on the stately trees of the forests did I carve the most sacred name of Jesus, that seeing it the demons might fly, who tremble when they hear it! How often, too, did I not strip off the bark to form on them the Most Holy Cross of the Lord, that the foe might fly before it, and that by it Thou, O Lord my King, 'mightest reign in the midst of Thy enemies'—the enemies of Thy cross—the misbelievers and the pagans who dwell in that land, and the demons who rule so powerfully there! I rejoiced, too, that I had been led by the Lord into the wilderness, at the very time when the Church recalls the story of His Passion, so that I might more uninterruptedly remember the course of its bitterness and gall, and my soul pine away at the remembrance."

This period of quiet however was not for long. A messenger arrived from the village stating that the Algonquins were on the war-path and had been seen in the neighborhood of the fishing camp. On hearing this alarming news they hastened to break up the fishing camp and return home. But it was merely a stratagem to expedite the return of the missioner to the village, where preparations had been made for his torture and death.

The cause of this sudden action was the reported capture and torture of a band of Mohawks. One of this band was the son of Jogues' master. Immediately they sacrificed a Huron captive to the shade of this warrior, but his father was not satisfied with the rank of the victim, demanding that Jogues be sacrificed. Accordingly the day was appointed for his death—which happened to be Good Friday—and the missioner was ready and eager for the torture and death prepared for him. But shortly before the time set for his Calvary, a messenger came running into the village announcing that far from having been captured and slain, the Mohawk band was returning victorious, laden with booty and prisoners. The attention of the braves was now turned to the returning band, Jogues being altogether out of their thoughts.

Of the twenty prisoners captured, five were condemned to the most frightful tortures. The women and children were reserved for slavery. By aid of a Huron interpreter the Father was able to communicate with the condemned, who belonged to the Abnaki tribe. He instructed and baptized them before their execution which was deferred for some weeks.

Some time after the butchery of these warriors, Jogues witnessed the horrible death of three women prisoners belonging to a captured band, all the men of which had been killed in the fight. These were young women who instead of being held captives, as was customary, were doomed to torture. They were stripped of their clothing and horribly beaten and mutilated. Contrary to the custom with women captives one of them had burning brands applied to her body and was then thrown upon an immense pyre. Jogues, ever on the alert to confer a spiritual benefit, seeing her in her death agony ran up to her as if to give her a drink of water, and baptized her.

These victims were immolated in reparation to their god and in fulfillment of a vow. They believed that they had incurred the god's anger because they had not eaten human flesh for six months. Some time previously while they were sacrificing two bears to this god, Jogues heard the following dreadful words: "Justly dost thou punish us, O Aireskoi. . . . we have offended thee by not eating the last captives, but if we shall again take any we promise to eat them as we now eat these bears."

These women captives were the wretched victims of this vow. Every time that a blazing brand burned into the prisoner's flesh a sachem cried aloud: "Aireskoi, we offer thee this victim which we burn in thy honor! Sate thyself on her flesh, and make us ever victorious over our enemies." The burned body was cut up into portions, distributed through the villages, and eaten.

Jogues was a frequent spectator of scenes of a similar nature, and they caused him the keenest mental anguish. His helplessness to avert the horrible tortures added to his pain of soul. It also made him employ every artifice of Christian courage to afford comfort and spiritual welfare to the victims.

It is no wonder that at this time he poured out his soul in the following lamentation: 'Woe is me, wherefore was I born to see the ruin of my people?' Verily, in these and like heartrending cares, 'my life is wasted with grief, and my years with sighs'; for the Lord bath corrected me for mine iniquity and hath made my soul waste away as a spider.' 'He hath filled me with bitterness, He bath inebriated me with wormwood'; 'because the comforter, the relief of my soul, is far from me'; 'but in all these things we overcome', and by the favor of God will overcome, 'because of Him that hath loved us,' until 'He come that is to come, and will not delay'; 'until my day like that of a hireling come,' or 'my change be made.' "

Truly was he a martyr long before the martyr's crown was placed on his brow. The wonder grows, as we peruse the details of his captivity, how a human being could pass through his afflictions of body and mind and survive. Certainly God is wonderful in His saints. Christianity has her heroes.