Novena to the Jesuit Martyrs
by E. J. Devine, S.J.

First Day:
(Dedicated to Blessed John de Brebeuf, S.J.
Marytred Mar. 16, 1649)

Blessed John de Brebeuf, known as the Apostle of the Hurons, spent thirteen years laboring among those pagan Indians. His apostolic career, rendered still more thrilling by the sufferings he had to undergo, has made his name venerable in our annals. Even before he quitted his native Normandy he had begun to reveal the sentiments which were uppermost in his soul. "I felt a strong desire to suffer something for Jesus Christ," he wrote, "and I said, 'Lord, make me a man according to Thine own Heart! Make Thy holy will known to me! Let nothing separate me from Thy love, neither nakedness, nor the sword, nor death itself!'"

God listened to these holy desires and gave His heroic servant ample opportunities to suffer during the thirteen years he spent among the Hurons. In the beginning of his ministry he was looked upon as a dangerous sorcerer and was held responsible for all the misfortunes which were visiting the tribe. The plagues which destroyed the Huron villages in 1637 were attributed to his evil influence, and more than once he was threatened with death; but he assured the Indians that death had no terrors for him, seeing that it would bring him eternal life. The confidence of the Blessed Martyr in God's goodness was boundless. His devotion to the Holy Eucharist, to Our Lady and St. Joseph, also sustained him during the long years he spent in the Canadian wilderness.

The heroism of this great servant of God displayed itself in all its grandeur when he fell into the hands of the Iroquois on the morning of March 16, 1649. Those monsters of cruelty tore off his scalp, poured boiling water over his head in derision of holy baptism, applied flaming torches to his naked flesh, encircled his shoulders with red-hot hatchets, and plucked out his eyes. When these tortures did not prevent him from praying to God and sounding His praises, they drove a burning torch down his throat. They completed their cruel work by cleaving open his breast, tearing out his heart and devouring it, hoping thereby to share in their victim's bravery. Blessed John de Brebeuf expired at Fort St. Ignace, near Waubaushene, Ont., on March 16, 1649.--pages 3 - 4.

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