Dear friends in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of the North American Martyrs. These are a group of eight Jesuit missionaries in upstate New York and Canada who were martyred by the Huron and Iroquois Indians in the mid-1600s. Here they are, pictured in glory:
There are two shrines in North America that are dedicated to the eight Jesuit martyrs, these great saints who gave their lives witnessing to Christ. One is in Auriesville, NY; it is about 45 minutes from where my wife grew up, and we had the chance to go up there over the summer. Several of the saints were martyred here, including St. Rene Goupil, a Jesuit brother, St. Isaac Jogues, a Jesuit priest, and St. John Lalonde, a lay missionary. Auriesville is also the birthplace of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, often called the Lily of the Mohawks. I believe that Blessed Kateri is the first beatified American Indian.
These martyrs, who were priests, brothers, and lay missionaries, all teach us an important lesson: "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends." These saints laid down their life for the love of the Indians. Reading this article, I learned that they didn't have to return to the mission; they could have escaped with their lives. But it is their choice to return to the work to which they were called.
Let us pray to these saints, that through their prayers and examples, we may come to be more Christ like, and overcome all hatred and attacks against the Faith. May we always strive to proclaim the truth of Christ and His Church.
May you remain close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God bless.