Main Altar – Isaac Jogues

Isaac Jogues (January 10, 1607 – October 18, 1646) was a Jesuit priest, missionary, and martyr who traveled and worked among the native populations in North America. In 1646, Jogues was martyred by the Mohawks near the present-day Auriesville, New York. Jogues, St. Jean de Brébeuf and six other martyred missionaries–all Jesuits or laymen associated with them–were canonized in 1930 as “The North American Martyrs” or “St. Isaac Jogues and Companions.” Their feast day is October 19. Born in Orléans, France, Jogues entered the Society of Jesus in 1624. In 1636, he was sent to New France as a missionary to the Huron and Algonquin allies of the French. In 1642, while on his way by canoe to the country of the Hurons, Jogues was captured by a war party of Mohawk Iroquois, in the company of Guillaume Couture, René Goupil and several Huron Christians. They were taken back to the Mohawk village where they were gruesomely tortured. It was during this torture that several of Jogues’ fingers were cut off by this captors. Jogues survived this torment and went on to live as a slave among the Mohawks for some time, even attempting to teach his captors the rudiments of Christianity. He was finally able to escape and went back to Manhattan. From there, he managed to sail back to France, where he was greeted with surprise and joy. As a “living martyr,” Jogues was given a special permission by Pope Urban VIII to say Holy Mass with his mutilated hands, as the Eucharist could not be touched with any fingers but the thumb and forefinger. His ill-treatment by the Mohawks did not dim the missionary zeal of Jogues. Within a few months, he was on his way back to Canada to continue his work. In the spring of 1646, Jogues was sent back to the Mohawk country to act as ambassador among them. However, some among the Mohawks regarded Jogues as a sorcerer, and when the double-calamity of sickness and crop failure hit the Mohawks, Jogues was a convenient scapegoat. On October 18, 1646, Jogues was clubbed to death and beheaded by their Mohawk hosts near Auriesville. Ten years after Jogues’ death, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born in approximately the same place.

< Back to History of the Reredos            Next St. Kateri Tekakwitha>