The Canadian Martyrs
- by Father Charles Mersereau
The Jesuit "Canadian Martyrs" include three Priests
1) St. John Brebeuf
2) St. Isaac Jogues
3) St. Gabriel Lalemant
and Five laymen (Religious brothers)
1) St. John de la Lande
2) St. Anthony Daniel
3) St. Charles Garnier
4) St. Noel Chabanel
5) St. Rene Goupil
All were martyred between 1642 & 1649 while laboring among the Iroquois Indians in Quebec. They tried to follow
Christ to spread the Catholic faith
By their blood and their preaching God did consecrate the first fruits of the Faith in the vast regions of North
America. They were hideously tortured & martyred while ministering to the Indian tribes. May the example of
their lives be ever our inspiration to follow Christ.
Forty years before this incident, in 1604, Champlain and De Monts arrived in Nova Scotia at port Royal. They
were the first Christians to establish the Christian faith among the native Indians.
In 1611, the two priests, Fr. Ennemond Masse & Fr. Pierre Biard arrived. They were the first clergy to
learn the Mi'kmaq language. They were financed by a French lady named Madame Guerchevillle.
The first two converts to the Christian faith were the two Indian chiefs, father & son Henry Membertou &
Louis Membertou. Conversions began at the top and flourished soon in New Brunswick and Acadia.
The first missionary activities among the Indians occurred in New Brunswick at Navy Island at the mouth of the
St.John River, where the river flows into the Bay of Fundy and the Reversing Falls.
The two priests accompanied the Indians on their forays up & down the Saint John River as it traverses the
complete length of the Province.
The Mi'kmaq Indians embraced the Catholic religion, following the example of their chiefs. The Priests had a five
years sojourn in Acadia.
In 1615, the New Englanders arrived from Massachusetts & were determined to expel from Acadia the two priests,
who had now gone to Maine within the precincts of the present Acadia National Park. They were expelled from Maine
and they were set adrift at sea, and were rescued.
The two priests eventually reached France, where Fr. Pierre Biard died. Fr. Ennemond Masse returned to Quebec
with the French, where he continued his apostolate of spreading the Christian faith and catechizing the Indians. He
died in Quebec and is buried there.
We must be forever cognizant of the fact that the Catholic religion had its first beginnings in Saint John New
Brunswick, in all of North America. This New Brunswick origin is too often ignored. This was the birth-place of
Christianity, its first location on the continent.