Jun 25, 2014
Some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States is found throughout Upstate New York and northward to the St. Lawrence Seaway into Canada. Two pilgrimage shrines are located in this region.
The bucolic hamlets of Auriesville, New York and Midland, Ontario celebrate the lives of the North American Martyrs, six French Jesuit priests and two assistants or donnés. There they ministered to the Iroquois confederacy of five nation-tribes. With the growing number of Indian converts, came a wave of persecution in the 1840s against the missionaries. At various times, from 1642-1649, they were brutally tortured, having been accused of being witch doctors. Most of them fell under the tomahawk. Pilgrims to Auriesville and Midland walk on sacred ground.
Who Were These French Jesuit Missionaries?
The first group of missionaries included Father Isaac Jogues, and two donnés, René Goupil and John Lalande. Due to deafness, Goupil could not be ordained a Jesuit but was trained as a doctor and surgeon. After years of ministering to the Indians along the St. Lawrence River, Jogues and Goupil were captured. Goupil was the first of the eight to be martyred—tomahawked. For thirteen months, Jogues was brutally tortured and enslaved—his fingers, mangled. His escape to France brought on a desire to return to his mission. John de Lalande, the nineteen-year old donné, accompanied Jogues back to the Mohawk Mission in New York. With papal approval, Jogues celebrated Mass even with stubs as fingers. When he was again tortured, this time he succumbed. The date was Oct. 18, 1646. Lalande himself was killed the next day. Pilgrims to Auriesville walk on sacred ground.