Catholic World – Memoir of Father John de Brébeuf, S.J.

Saint John de BrébeufAmong the foremost and most distinguished of the Catholic missionaries of America stands the name of Father John de Brébeuf, the founder of the Huron Mission. Normandy has the honor of giving him birth, and Canada was the field of his splendid and heroic labors; yet the mission of which he was the great promoter was the prelude to, and was intimately connected with, subsequent missions in our own country; and at the time of his glorious death, his heaven-directed gaze was eagerly and zealously turned towards the country of our own fierce Iroquois, the inhabitants of Northern New York, amongst whom he ardently longed to plant the cross of the Christian missions. His labors and those of his companions opened the northwestern portions of our country, and the great Valley of the Mississippi, to Christianity and civilization, and the discoveries and explorations which followed were partly the fruits of his and their exalted ministry and enlightened enterprise; for, as Bancroft says, “the history of their labors is connected with the origin of every celebrated town in the annals of French America; not a cape was turned, not a river entered, but a Jesuit led the way.” His fame and achievements belong to all America, indeed, more truly, to all Christendom. Saint, hero, and martyr as he was, his merits are a part of the heritage of the universal church; and while his relics are venerated on earth, and even the enemies of our religion accord to him the most exalted praise, Catholics may, with the eye of faith, behold him in that glorious and noble band of martyrs in heaven, decked in resplendent garments of red, dyed in their own blood, passing and repassing eternally, in adoration and thanksgiving, before the throne of him who was the Prince of Martyrs.

“It hath not perished from the earth, that spirit brave and high,
That nerved the martyr saints of old with dauntless love to die.
In the far West, where, in his pride, the stoic Indian dies;
Where Afric’s dark-skinned children dwell, ‘neath burning tropic skies;
‘Mid Northern snows, and wheresoe’er yet Christian feet have trod,
Brave men have suffered unto death, as witnesses for God.”

While historians outside of the Catholic Church have marvelled at such extraordinary virtues and unparalleled achievements as have been displayed, not alone by a Xavier, but by the missionaries of our own land, and have extolled them as an honor to human nature, Catholics may be excused for regarding them as miracles of the faith, triumphs of the church, and martyrs of religion. It seems strange that the general historians of the church have bestowed so little notice upon the planting and propagation of the faith in America. The history of these events presents to our admiration characters the most noble, deeds the most heroic, virtues the most saintly, lives the most admirable, and deaths the most glorious. While the church of America, in our day, counts her children by millions, what more inspiring lesson could she place before their eyes than the history of her early days, when her priests and missionaries were confessors and martyrs? Of these was the subject of the present memoir.

John de Brébeuf was born in the diocese of Bayeux, in Normandy, March 25, 1593, of a noble family, said to be the same that gave origin to the illustrious and truly Catholic house of the English Arundels. He resolved to dedicate himself to the service of God in the holy ministry, and, with this view, entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus, at Rouen, October 5, 1617. Having completed his noviceship, he entered upon his theological studies. He received subdeacon’s orders at Lisseux, and those of deacon at Bayeux, in September, 1621; was ordained a priest during the Lent of 1622, and offered up the holy sacrifice of the Mass for the first time on Lady-day of the same year. He was, though of the youngest, one of the most zealous and devoted priests of his order, and, from the time that he consecrated himself to religion, was given to daily austerities and rigorous self-mortifications.

Catching the spirit of his divine Master, Father Brébeuf conceived an ardent thirst for the salvation of souls, and the foreign missions became the object of his most fervent desire. This chosen field was soon opened to his intrepid and heroic labors. When Father Le Caron, the Recollect missionary in Canada, asked for the assistance of the Jesuits in his arduous undertaking of conquering to Christ the savage tribes of North America, Fathers John de Brébeuf, Charles Lallemant, and Evremond Massé, themselves all eager for the task, were selected by their superiors for the mission. These apostolic men sailed from Dieppe, April 26, 1625, and reached Quebec after a prosperous voyage. The reception they at first met was enough to have appalled any hearts less resolute and inspired from above than were the hearts of Father Brébeuf and his companions. The Recollects, a branch of the Franciscan Order, who, through Father Le Caron, had invited them over, had received at their convent on the river Saint Charles no tidings of their arrival; Champlain, ever friendly to the missionaries of the faith, was absent; Caen, the Calvinist, then at the head of the fur-trading monopoly of New France, refused them shelter in the fort; and the private traders at Quebec closed their doors against them. To perish in the wilderness, or to return to France from the inhospitable shores of the New World, was the only alternative before them. At this juncture the good Recollects, hearing of their arrival and destitution, hastened from their convent in their boat, and received the outcast sons of Loyola with every demonstration of joy and hospitality, and carried them to the convent. It is unaccountable how Parkman, in his Pioneers of France in the New World, in the face of these facts, related by himself in common with historians generally, should charge against the Recollects that they “entertained a lurking jealousy of these formidable fellow-laborers,” as he calls the Jesuits; who, on the contrary, were the chosen companions of the Recollects, were invited to share their labors, and with whom they prosecuted with “one heart and one mind” the glorious work of the missions. The sons of Saint Francis and Saint Ignatius united at once in administering to the spiritual necessities of the French at Quebec, and the latter, by their heroic labors and sacrifices, soon overcame the prejudice of their enemies.

From his transient home at Quebec, Father Brébeuf watched for an opportunity of advancing to the field of his mission among the Indians. The first opportunity that presented itself was the proposed descent of Father Viel to Three Rivers, in order to make a retreat, and attend to some necessary business of the mission. Father Brébeuf, accompanied by the Recollect Joseph de la Roche Dallion, lost no time in repairing to the trading post to meet the father, return with him and the expected annual flotilla of trading canoes from the Huron country, and commence his coveted work among the Wyandots. But he arrived only to hear that Father Viel had gained the crown of martyrdom, together with a little Christian boy, whom their Indian conductor, as his canoe shot across the last dangerous rapids in the river Des Prairies, behind Montreal, seized and threw into the foaming torrent together, by which they were swept immediately into the seething gulf below, never to rise again. Neither the death of Father Viel, nor his own ignorance of the Huron language, appalled the brave heart of Father Brébeuf, who, when the flotilla came down, begged to be taken back as a passenger to the Huron country; but the refusal of the Indians to receive him compelled him to return to Quebec. On the twentieth of July, 1625, he went among the Montagnais, with whom he wintered, and, for five months, suffered all the rigors of the climate, in a mere bark-cabin, in which he had to endure both smoke and filth, the inevitable penalties of accepting savage hospitality. Besides this, his encampment was shifted with the ever-varying chase, and it was only his zeal that enabled him, amid incessant changes and distractions, to learn much of the Indian language, for the acquisition of the various dialects of which, as well as for his aptitude in accommodating himself to Indian life and manners, he was singularly gifted. On the twenty-seventh of March following, he returned to Quebec, and resumed, in union with the Recollects, the care of the French settlers. The Jesuits and Recollects, moving together in perfect unison, went alternately from Quebec to the Recollect convent and Jesuit residence, on a small river called Saint Charles, not far from the city.

The colony of the Jesuit fathers was soon increased by the arrival of Fathers Noirot and De la Nouë, with twenty laborers, and they were thus enabled to build a residence for themselves—the mother house and headquarters of these valiant soldiers of the cross in their long and eventful struggle with paganism and superstition among the Indians. Father Brébeuf and his companions now devoted their labors to the French at Quebec, then numbering only forty-three, hearing confessions, preaching, and studying the Indian languages. They also bestowed considerable attention on the cultivation of the soil. But these labors were but preparatory for others more arduous, but more attractive to them.

In 1626, the Huron mission was again attempted by Father Brébeuf. He, together with Father Joseph de la Roche Dallion and the Jesuit Anne de Nouë, was sent to Three Rivers, to attempt a passage to the Huron country. When the Indian flotilla arrived at Three Rivers, the Hurons were ready to receive Father de la Roche on board, but being unaccustomed to the Jesuit habit, and objecting, or pretending to object, to the portly frame of Father Brébeuf, they refused a passage to him and his companion, Father Nouë. At last, some presents secured a place in the flotilla for the two Jesuits. The missionaries, after a painful voyage, arrived at Saint Gabriel, or La Rochelle, in the Huron country, and took up the mission which the Recollects Le Caron and Viel had so nobly pioneered.

The Hurons, whose proper name was Wendat, or Wyandot, were a powerful tribe, numbering at least thirty thousand souls, living in eighteen villages scattered over a small strip of land on a peninsula in the southern extremity of the Georgian Bay. Other tribes, kindred to them, stretched through New York and into the continent as far south as the Carolinas. Their towns were well built and strongly defended, and they were good tillers of the soil, active traders, and brave warriors. They were, however, behind their neighbors in their domestic life and in their styles of dress, which for both sexes were exceedingly immodest. Their objects of worship were one supreme deity, called the Master of Life, to whom they offered human sacrifices, and an infinite number of inferior deities, or rather fiends, inhabiting rivers, cataracts, or other natural objects, riding on the storms, or living in some animal or plant, and whom they propitiated with tobacco. Father Brébeuf had acquired sufficient knowledge of their language to make himself understood by the natives, and he was greatly assisted by the instructions and manuscripts of Fathers Le Caron and Viel. Father Nouë, being unable to acquire the language, by reason of his great age and defective memory, returned to Quebec in 1627, and was followed the next year by Father de la Roche, who had made a brave but unsuccessful effort to plant the cross among the Attiarandaronk, or Neutrals. The undaunted Brébeuf was thus in 1629 left alone among the Hurons. He soon won their confidence and respect, and was adopted into the tribe by the name of Echon. Though few conversions rewarded his labors among them during his three years’ residence, still he was amply compensated by his success in gaining their hearts, acquiring their language, and thoroughly understanding their character and manners. So completely had he gained the good-will of the Hurons, that, when he was about to return in 1629 to Quebec, whither his superior had recalled him, in consequence of the distress prevailing in the colony, the Indians crowded around him to prevent him from entering the canoes, and addressed him in this touching language; “What! Echon, dost thou leave us? Thou hast been here now three years, to learn our language, to teach us to know thy God, to adore and serve him, having come but for that end, as thou hast shown; and now, when thou knowest our language more perfectly than any other Frenchman, thou leavest us. If we do not know the God thou adorest, we shall call him to witness that it is not our fault, but thine, to leave us so.” Deeply as he felt this appeal, the Jesuit could know no other voice when his superior spoke; and having given every encouragement to those who were well disposed toward the faith, and explained why he should go when his superior required it, he embarked on the flotilla of twelve canoes, and reached Quebec on the seventeenth of July, 1629. Three days after his arrival at Quebec, that port was captured by the English under the traitor Kirk, who bore the deepest hatred toward the Jesuits, whose residence he would have fired upon could he have brought his vessel near enough for his cannon to bear upon it. He pillaged it, however, compelling the fathers to abandon it and fly for safety to Tadoussac. But Father Brébeuf and his companions were, together with Champlain, detained as prisoners. Amongst the followers of Kirk was one Michel, a bitter and relentless Huguenot, who was by his temperament and infirmities prone to violence, and who vented his rage especially against the Jesuits. He and the no less bigoted Kirk found in Father Brébeuf an intrepid defender of his order and of his companions against their foul calumnies, while at the same time his noble character showed how well it was trained to the practice of Christian humility and charity.

On the occasion here particularly alluded to, Kirk was conversing with the fathers, who were then his prisoners, and, with a malignant expression, said:

“Gentlemen, your business in Canada was to enjoy what belonged to M. de Caen, whom you dispossessed.”

“Pardon me, sir,” answered Father Brébeuf, “we came purely for the glory of God, and exposed ourselves to every kind of danger to convert the Indians.”

Here Michel broke in: “Ay, ay, convert the Indians! You mean, convert the beaver!”

Father Brébeuf, conscious of his own and his companion’s innocence, and deeming the occasion one which required at his hands a full and unqualified denial, solemnly and deliberately answered:

“That is false!”

The infuriated Michel, raising his fist at his prisoner in a threatening manner, exclaimed:

“But for the respect I owe the general, I would strike you for giving me the lie.”

Father Brébeuf, who possessed a powerful frame and commanding figure, stood unmoved and unruffled. But he did not rely upon these qualities of the man, though he knew no fear, but illustrated by his example on this as on every other occasion the virtues of a Christian and a minister of peace. With a humility and charity that showed how well the strong and naturally impulsive man had subdued his passions, he endeavored to appease the anger of his assailant by an apology, which, while it was justly calculated to remove all cause of offence, was accompanied with a solemn vindication of himself and companions from the unjust imputation just cast upon them. He said:

“You must excuse me. I did not mean to give you the lie. I should be very sorry to do so. The words I used are those we use in the schools when a doubtful question is advanced, and they mean no offence. Therefore, I ask you to pardon me.”

“Bon Dieu,” said Champlain, “you swear well for a reformer!”

“I knew it,” replied Michel; “I should be content if I had struck that Jesuit who gave me the lie before my general.”

The unfortunate Michel continued in this way unceasingly to rave over the pretended insult, which no apologies could obliterate. He died shortly afterward in one of his paroxysms of fury, and was interred under the rocks of Tadoussac. It was not permitted to him to execute his threatened vengeance on the Jesuit, whom he was the first to insult, and whom he never forgave, though himself forgiven.

Father Brébeuf, together with the truly great and Catholic Champlain, the governor of Quebec, and with the other missionaries, were carried prisoners to England, whence they all made their way to France.

Sad at this interruption of their work of love among the benighted sons of the Western wilds, the missionaries did not despair, but only awaited the restoration of Canada to France in order to resume their labors. In the volume of his travels published by Champlain in 1632, is embraced the treatise on the Huron language which Father Brébeuf had prepared during his three years’ residence with that tribe, and which, in our own times, has been republished in the Transactions of the American Antiquarian Society, as a most precious contribution to learning.

The English government disavowed the conduct of Kirk, and Canada was restored to France during the year 1632. As the conversion of the native tribes was ever one of the leading features in the policy of Catholic statesmen in the colonization of this continent, it was determined to renew the missions which we have seen interrupted. In selecting missionaries for this task, the choice fell not upon the Jesuits, nor the Recollects, as might have been expected, but upon the Capuchins; and it was only when these good fathers represented to Cardinal Richelieu that the Jesuits had already been laboring with fidelity and success in that vineyard, and requested that the missions might be again confided to them, that Fathers Paul Lejeune and Anne de Nouë, with a lay brother, were sent out in 1632. They arrived at Tadoussac on the twelfth of July. It soon became Father Brébeuf’s great privilege and happiness to follow them. On the twenty-second of May, 1633, to the great joy of Quebec, Champlain returned to resume his sway in Canada, and Father Brébeuf accompanied him together with Fathers Massé, Daniel, and Devost. Though Father Brébeuf was not inactive about Quebec, still his heart longed for the Huron homes and council-fires, and still more for Huron souls. Shortly afterward, he had the consolation of beholding the faithful Louis Amantacha, a Christian Huron, arriving at Quebec, followed by the usual Indian flotilla of canoes. A council was held, sixty chiefs sat in a circle round the council-fire, and the noble Champlain, the intrepid Brébeuf, and the zealous Lallemant, stood in their midst. A treaty of friendship was concluded between the French and the Hurons, and, in confiding the missionaries to his new allies, Champlain thus addressed the latter: “These we consider as fathers, these are dearer to us than life. Think not that they have left France under pressure of want; no, they were there in high esteem: they come not to gather up your furs, but to open to you the doors of eternal life. If you love the French, as you say you love them, then love and honor these our fathers.” This address was responded to by two of the chiefs, who were followed by Father Brébeuf in his broken Huron, “the assembly jerking in unison, from the bottom of their throats, repeated ejaculations of applause.” The members of the council then crowded round him, each claiming the privilege of carrying him in his canoe. And the Indians from the different towns began now to contend among themselves for the honor of possessing Father Brébeuf for their respective settlements. The contest was soon decided in favor of Rochelle, the most populous of the Huron villages. On the eighth of August, the effects of Father Brébeuf and of his companions, Fathers Daniel and Devost, were already on board the canoes, when another more serious difficulty arose: an Indian murderer had been arrested by order of Champlain, in consequence of which an enraged Algonquin chief declared that no Frenchman should enter the flotilla. The Hurons were ready and anxious to convey the fathers, but they feared the consequences of a rupture with the Algonquins. The fathers were thus constrained, to the common sorrow of themselves and their Hurons, to behold the flotilla depart without them. But the last scene in this separation was yet more touching. The faithful and pious Louis Amantacha, overwhelmed with sorrow at the loss of the fathers, lingered in their company to the last moment, humbly made his confession, and, for the last time for him, this Christian warrior received the holy communion from the hands of Father Brébeuf. Then, having rejoined his companions, the flotilla quickly glided from the view of those who would have laid down their lives to save the souls of those benighted and thoughtless voyagers.

Father Brébeuf and his companions returned to labor for a time longer among the French and Indians in and about Quebec, where their labors were full of zeal and not without success. It was here that Father Brébeuf baptized Sasousmat, the first adult upon whom he conferred that sacrament. While in health, Sasousmat had requested that he might be sent to France for instruction in the faith, but he was now overtaken by a dreadful illness, which deprived him of reason. Father Brébeuf visited him while in this state, and, returning from his couch to the altar, he offered up for his benefit the holy sacrifice of the Mass in honor of Saint Joseph, the glorious patron of the country; his prayer of sacrifice was heard in heaven, and Sasousmat was restored to his mind. Father Brébeuf then instructed him, and the joyful neophyte ardently and touchingly entreated the father to baptize him. But the cautious and conscientious priest deferred the sacrament, to the astonishment of the Indians, whose habit was to refuse nothing to the sick. One of Sasousmat’s Indian friends said to the father, with great impatience: “Thou hast no sense; pour a little water on him, and it is done.” “No,” replied the priest of God, “I would involve myself in ruin were I to baptize, without necessity, an infidel and unbeliever not fully instructed.” The patient was afterwards removed to the residence of Notre Dame des Anges, where he continued to receive the instructions of the father, and where he grew desperately ill, and was finally in an hour of danger baptized. At the moment of his decease, a resplendent meteoric light illumined the death-room, and shone far around about the country. There was afterwards another adult, named Nassé, a steadfast friend of the missionaries, who fell dangerously ill, and was nursed by Father Brébeuf. He too made earnest entreaties to be baptized, but the father subjected the convert to long delays and probations, and finally only bestowed the sacrament when death was imminent. Instances are related in which baptism was refused to adults, even in extremis, where the requisite dispositions were wanting. Such examples, of which there are not a few recorded in the Jesuit Relations, besides exhibiting the zeal and self-sacrificing labors of the Catholic missionaries for the salvation of souls, furnish us with a complete refutation of the wanton calumny that those early missionary priests were in the habit of bestowing the sacrament upon entire multitudes of savages without previous instruction or probation—a calumny now fully refuted by the Relations and letters of the fathers themselves, who, while they penned the humble story of their labors, to be transmitted to their superiors in Europe, knew not that the same would serve as evidence for their own vindication.

With the return of spring, the time again drew near for the appearance of the usual flotilla of Indian canoes at the trading post of Three Rivers. On the 1st of July, Fathers Brébeuf and Daniel repaired to Three Rivers, to procure a passage in the flotilla for the Huron country, and Father Devost joined them in a few days. But the canoes were slow in coming in; the Hurons had sustained a terrific defeat, losing two hundred braves, and the gallant Christian warrior Louis Amantacha was among the slain. No sooner, however, had a few canoes arrived, than Father Brébeuf pressed forward to secure a passage; but the hostile Algonquin and the cautious Huron discovered innumerable obstacles in the way of his going with them, and it seemed that he was again to be disappointed in his hopes of reaching his beloved mission. At length, by the influence of the French commanders, which was supported as usual by presents, it was arranged that a passage should be given to one missionary and two men, and even then Father Brébeuf was left out. He thus describes his difficulties: “Never did I see voyage so hampered and traversed by the common enemy of man. It was by a stroke of heaven that we advanced, and an effect of the power of the glorious Saint Joseph, in whose honor God inspired me to promise twenty masses, in the despair of all things.” At the moment that this vow was made, a Huron, who had agreed to carry one of the Frenchmen in his canoe, was suddenly inspired to take Father Brébeuf in his stead. Thus a passage was secured. But such were the hurry, confusion, and want of accommodation, that the missionaries were compelled to leave behind them all their effects, except such as were necessary for saying Mass. Too glad to be admitted into this vineyard which they had so long sought, they cheerfully made every sacrifice. With light and joyous hearts and ready hands, they plied the oar from morning till night; they recited the sacred office by the evening fire; they nursed all who fell sick on the voyage with so much charity and tenderness as to melt the hearts of those savage sons of the wilderness; at fifty different points, where the passage was dangerous or obstructed, they volunteered to carry the packages, and even the canoes, on their shoulders around the portages; and at one place Father Brébeuf barely escaped a watery grave at a rapid where his canoe was hurried over the impetuous current. At length, after much suffering, they reached the shores of the Huron country on the 5th of August, 1634.

The following description of this remarkable journey of the fathers is from the eloquent and graphic, but not always impartial, pages of Parkman’s Jesuits in North America:

“They reckoned the distance at nine hundred miles; but distance was the least repellant feature of this most arduous journey. Barefoot, lest their shoes should injure the frail vessel, each crouched in his canoe, toiling with unpractised hands to propel it. Before him, week after week, he saw the same lank, unkempt hair, the same tawny shoulders and long, naked arms, ceaselessly plying the paddle. The canoes were soon separated, and for more than a month the Frenchmen rarely or never met. Brébeuf spoke a little Huron, and could converse with his escort; but Daniel and Devost were doomed to a silence unbroken save by the unintelligible complaints and menaces of the Indians, of whom many were sick with the epidemic, and all were terrified, desponding, and sullen. Their only food was a pittance of Indian corn, crushed between two stones and mixed with water. The toil was extreme. Brébeuf counted thirty-five portages, where the canoes were lifted from the water and carried on the shoulders of the voyagers around rapids and cataracts. More than fifty times, besides, they were forced to wade in the raging current, pushing up their empty barks, or dragging them with ropes. Brébeuf tried to do his part, but the boulders and sharp rocks wounded his naked feet, and compelled him to desist. He and his companions bore their share of the baggage across the portages, sometimes a distance of several miles. Four trips, at the least, were required to convey the whole. The way was through the dense forest, encumbered with rocks and logs, tangled with roots and underbrush, damp with perpetual shade, and redolent of decayed leaves and mouldering wood. The Indians themselves were often spent with fatigue. Brébeuf, a man of iron frame and a nature unconquerably resolute, doubted if his strength would sustain him to the journey’s end. He complains that he had no moment to read his breviary, except by the moonlight or the fire when stretched out to sleep on a bare rock by some savage cataract of the Ottawa, or in a damp nook of the adjacent forest.

“Descending French River and following the lonely shores of the great Georgian Bay, the canoe which carried Brébeuf at length neared its destination, thirty days after leaving Three Rivers. Before him, stretched in savage slumber, lay the forest shore of the Hurons. Did his spirit sink as he approached his dreary home, oppressed with a dark foreboding of what the future should bring forth? There is some reason to think so. Yet it was but the shadow of a moment; for his masculine heart had lost the sense of fear, and his intrepid nature was fired with a zeal before which doubts and uncertainties fled like the mists of the morning. Not the grim enthusiasm of negation, tearing up the weeds of rooted falsehood, or with bold hand felling to the earth the baneful growth of overshadowing abuses; his was the ancient faith uncurtailed, redeemed from the decay of centuries, kindled with a new life, and stimulated to a preternatural growth and fruitfulness.”

But Father Brébeuf’s trials did not end here, for the ungrateful Indians, who lived twenty miles below Father Brébeuf’s destination, forgetting all his kindness and sacrifices and despising his entreaties, abandoned him on this desolate shore. In this distress, he fell upon his knees and thanked God for all his favors, and especially for bringing him again into the country of the Hurons. Beseeching Providence to guide his steps, and saluting the guardian angel of the land with a dedication of himself to the conversion of those tribes, he took only such articles as he could in no event dispense with, and, concealing the rest, started forth in that vast wilderness, not knowing whither his steps might carry him. Providence guided those steps: he discovered the site of the former village, Toanché, in which he had resided three years, and even the blackened ruins of his cabin, in which, for the same time, he had offered up the Holy Sacrifice; but the village was destroyed and the encampment shifted to another place. Striking upon a trail, he advanced full of hope, and soon he suddenly stood in the midst of his Huron friends, in their new village of Ihonatiria. A shout of welcome from a hundred voices—”Echon! Echon!”—greeted the joyous messenger of salvation. He immediately threw himself upon the hospitality of the generous chief, Awandoay, from whom he obtained men to go for his packages; he retraced his weary steps with them, and it was one o’clock in the morning before all was safely lodged in the village of Ihonatiria. The other fathers, after suffering similar ill-treatment from the Indians of the flotilla in whose canoes they came, finally found their way also, one by one, to Ihonatiria, in great distress.

For some time they partook of the liberal hospitality of Awandoay; but, Father Brébeuf having decided to make Ihonatiria the mission headquarters, they now constructed a residence for themselves, thirty-six by twenty-one feet, in which the centre was their hall, parlor, and business-room, leading, on the one side, to the chapel, and, on the other, to what was at the same time kitchen, refectory, and dormitory. This rude hut—indeed, everything about the missionaries—awakened the amazement of these simple sons of the forest. They came in crowds from all parts of the Huron country to see the wonderful things possessed by the fathers, the fame of which had spread through the land. There was the mill for grinding corn, which they viewed with admiration, and which they delighted to turn without ceasing. There were a prism and magnet, whose qualities struck them with surprise and pleasure. There was a magnifying-glass which, to their amazement, made a flea as large as a monster; and a multiplying lens which possessed the mysterious power of creating instantly eleven beads out of one. But the clock, which hung on the wall of the missionary cabin, was to these untutored savages the greatest miracle of all. The assembled warriors, with their wives and children, would sit in silence on the ground, waiting an entire hour for the clock to strike the time of the day. They listened to it ticking every second and marking every minute of the twenty-four hours; they thought it was a thing of life; inquired when, how, and upon what it fed. They called it sometimes the “Day Chief” and sometimes the “Captain,” and expressed their awe of so mysterious and supernatural a being by the constant cry of “Ondaki! Ondaki!!” “What does the Captain say now?” was the repeated question. The fathers were obliged to establish certain regulations for visitors, whose presence would have left them no time for rest or devotion during the twenty-four hours, while, at the same time, they availed themselves of these curiosities for attracting the Indians to the mission cross before their door and to the first simple lessons in religion. They thus interpreted the strokes of the clock: “When he strikes twelve times, he says, ‘Hang on the kettle,’ and when he strikes four times, he says, ‘Get up and go home.'” The Indians rigidly obeyed these commands of the little “Day Chief.” The crowd was densest at the stroke of twelve, when the kettle was hung and the fathers’ sagamite passed around; and at the stroke of four, all arose at once and departed, leaving their good entertainers to say their office and rosary, study and make notes on the Huron language, write letters to their superiors, and consult over the plans for conducting the mission. The fathers also gave some lessons to their Huron friends on the subject of self-defence and military engineering. The Hurons, living in constant dread of the Iroquois, were glad to learn a more perfect way of constructing their palisade forts, which they had been accustomed to make round, but which the Frenchmen now taught them to make rectangular, with small flanking towers at the corners for the arquebusmen. And, in case of actual attack, the aid of the four Frenchmen, armed with arquebuses, who had come with the missionaries from Three Rivers, was promised, to enable them to defend their wives, children, and homes from the unsparing attacks of their relentless enemies.

The Indian children were the especial objects of the solicitude of these untiring missionaries. They assembled these frequently at their house, on which occasions Father Brébeuf, the more effectually to inspire respect, appeared in surplice and baretta. The Pater Noster was chanted in Huron rhyme, into which it had been translated by Father Daniel; and the Ave and Credo and Ten Commandments were recited. The children were examined in their past lessons, and instructed in new ones, and then dismissed joyously with presents of beads and dried fruits. Soon the village resounded with the rhymes of the Pater Noster, and the little catechumens vied with each other at home in making the sign of the cross and reciting the commandments.

To the adults the fathers earnestly announced Christ crucified, and endeavored to turn their admiration from the clock and other curiosities of the mission house, which, as they said, were but creatures, to the Creator, to heaven, and to the faith. The first-fruits of the mission were soon gathered; several infants, in danger of death, were baptized, and several adults were also admitted into the Christian church through the same regenerating waters.

But the enemies of religion and of truth were jealously watching these successes, and soon the fathers encountered the same opposition that always besets the introduction of Christianity into heathen nations; that is, the jealousy and hatred of the native priests, or officials entrusted with the matters of religion or the superstitious rites of the country. These, among our American tribes, were the medicine men. These wicked sorcerers accused Father Brébeuf and his companions of causing the drought, of blighting the crops, of introducing the plague, in fine, of every evil that afflicted the country or any of the people. The missionaries began to be insulted, the cross before their residence was turned into a target, and curses and imprecations greeted them on every side. But the prayers of the fathers, and especially a novena of masses in honor of Saint Joseph, were soon followed by copious rains, and the medicine-men were confounded, while the fathers were received with honor and esteem. The old and young were instructed in the faith, catechetical classes were opened, and all ages and conditions took pleasure in contending for the pictures, medals, and other little rewards which were bestowed upon the studious. On Sundays, the Indians were assembled at Mass; but, in imitation of the custom which prevailed in the early church, Father Brébeuf dismissed them at the offertory, after reciting for them the prayers they had learned. In the afternoon, catechetical instructions were given, and all were examined on what they had learned during the week. In August, 1635, Fathers Pijart and Mercier, then recently arrived from France, came into the Huron country to join the little missionary band, who were, even after this increase of their force, kept constantly laboring.

In April, 1636, the missionaries attended the “feast of the dead,” a great solemnity of the Indians, when the bones of their dead are taken down from their aerial tombs, and, being wrapped in the richest furs, and surrounded with various implements, are deposited in the common mound, amid the songs, games, and dancing of the living. Father Brébeuf, the courageous champion of the faith, seized upon this occasion to announce the saving word of truth in the very midst of the ancient and most cherished rites of a heathen superstition. He declared that such ceremonies were utterly vain and fruitless for souls which, like the souls of all in that mound, were lost for ever; that souls on death went either to a realm of bliss or a world of woe; that the living alone could choose, and, if they preferred the former, he and the other fathers were there to show the way. This speech was accompanied with a present to the assembled chiefs, a means most effectual in gaining the good-will of the Indians. The latter offered no opposition to the baptism of their infants, and expressed themselves as if well disposed towards the faith preached by the fathers. In December, the mission among the Hurons was formally consecrated to the Immaculate Conception. Baptism was administered to nearly thirty of the tribe, amongst whom was one, a little girl, of singular interest, named Mary Conception. This little child was remarkable for her love of prayer and her fondness for the missionaries and whatever pertained to religion; she ran as gaily to catechism as the other children to their play, and took a singular pleasure in walking beside the missionary as he was reciting his office, making the sign of the cross and praying louder whenever he turned in his walk. In 1635, fourteen baptisms were reported by the fathers, and in July, 1636, eighty-six, amongst whom was the chief, who was sincerely converted to the faith. Father Brébeuf made many excursions to distant villages and families. In October, he visited the family of Louis de Sainte Foi, who, having been taken to France by the fathers, was baptized at Rouen, but was now grown cold in his religion. This visit, in which Father Brébeuf was accompanied by Father Pijart, rekindled the ardor of the chief, and was the occasion of announcing the commandments of God to all his family. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, appealing as it does to the best natural feelings of the human heart, as well as to the highest and purest motives of religion, was easily received, especially among the Indian mothers, to whom she was proposed for imitation by Father Brébeuf. He composed for them, and in their own language, beautiful prayers of invocation to the Mother of God. So great was his proficiency in the Huron language, that he was able to attach to his relation of this year a treatise on the language and another on the customs of the Hurons, the former of which has been published in English.

It was about this time that a delegation of Algonquin braves came to solicit the alliance of the Hurons against the Iroquois. Failing to secure their point with the Hurons, the Algonquins next turned to the missionaries and endeavored to detach them from the Hurons, and offered, as an inducement to Father Brébeuf, to make him one of their great chiefs. Father Brébeuf, with a smile, replied, that he had left home and fortune to gain souls, not to become rich or to gain honors in war, and dismissed the negotiators as usual with a present.

The removal of the headquarters of the mission from Ihonatiria to Ossossané had been several times mooted; one day, as Father Brébeuf was travelling to visit a sick Christian, he was met by the chief of Ossossané, who so forcibly urged the change that Father Brébeuf was induced to promise them a compliance with what had been in fact his previous design. A promise was readily made on the other side that the villagers of Ossossané would the following year erect the necessary accommodations for the fathers. When the people of Ihonatiria heard this, their chief, at daybreak, from the top of his cabin summoned all his people out to rebuild the cabin of the black gown. Old and young now went forth to obey the summons, and soon the work was completed. When the next season for the feast of the dead came round, a great change was observable in its celebration, a proof of the influence of Christian sentiments with the people. The accustomed magnificence was dispensed with, and those who died Christians were not reburied, even in a separate portion of the common tomb. The ceremony consisted in nothing more than a touching manifestation of the affection of the living for their deceased friends, and the missionaries were too prudent to interfere. In order to show how earnest our missionaries were for the conversion of these tribes, it is worth recording that they established a Huron seminary at Quebec, and during this year Fathers Daniel and Devost departed from Huronia for Quebec, with several young Hurons destined for students in this institution. It was also during this year that Fathers Garnier, Chastelain, and Jogues arrived from France, and entered this promising vineyard.

Shortly after these arrivals, a contagious fever broke out in the Huron country, and several of the missionaries were seized with the malady. It would be impossible, within the space allotted to this memoir, to detail all their sufferings and privations. The hardy Brébeuf and the others that were not taken down, became the faithful and constant nurses of their sick companions, and, when these were restored, the entire missionary band dedicated themselves to the nursing and spiritual succor of the afflicted people. Here, again, the fathers met with the usual obstacles and annoyances from the native sorcerers. The medicine-men, in whom the Indians had implicit confidence, especially in sickness, resorted to their usual tricks, and the villages resounded with horrid superstitious orgies. Many refused to let the fathers baptize their dying infants. Others, however, having seen the utter failure of their sorcerers to effect a single cure, and having observed how the Christian baptism was frequently followed by a restoration of the body also to health, had recourse to the missionaries. But in such cases their visits of mercy were obstructed by the insults, the threats, and ill-usage of the excited rabble. But, as Bancroft remarks, “the Jesuit never receded a foot.” He pressed forward with love and courage, frequently forcing his way to the couch of the dying, and encountering threatened death to save a single soul. In order to propitiate the mercy of Heaven for this afflicted people, Father Brébeuf assembled a council of the chiefs of several villages, and succeeded so far as to induce them, in behalf of themselves and their people, to promise solemnly, in the presence of God, that they would renounce their superstitions, embrace the faith of Jesus Christ, conform their marriages to the Christian standard, and build chapels for the service of the one true God. With the solemnity of this scene, however, passed away also their good resolutions. The Indian, ever inconsistent, except in his attachment to his idols and his hunting-grounds, was soon again seen raving at the frenzied words and incantations of the sorcerer Tonnerananont, who professed himself to be a devil incarnate. The plague continued to rage; not even the frosts of winter arrested its destructive powers. Night and day Father Brébeuf and his companions were travelling and laboring for those miserable and inconstant savages. They went about over the country administering remedies for the maladies of the body as well as those of the soul. Besides relieving many by bleeding and other simple remedies, their heroic labors were rewarded with other fruits far sweeter to them, the baptism of two hundred and fifty expiring infants and adults. The bold and fearless advances and the devoted services of the Jesuit fathers during this season of disease and death may well have called forth from Sparks the remark that “humanity can claim no higher honor than that such examples have existed.” In the spring the pestilence abated, and the usual and regular duties and labors of the mission were resumed. His superior knowledge of the language devolved upon Father Brébeuf the greater burthen of instructing and catechising the natives. In May, he called a council of the chiefs of Ossossané, and reminded them of their promise to build a cabin for the fathers. The appeal was responded to, and, on the fifth of June, Father Pijart offered up the Mass of the Holy Trinity at Ossossané, in “our own House of the Immaculate Conception.” On Trinity Sunday, another happiness was enjoyed by Father Brébeuf, in the baptism of the first adult at Ihonatiria. This was Tsiwendaentaha, a chief who had manifested great perseverance in his wish to become a Christian; he had repeatedly requested and entreated to be baptized, and had renounced all connection with the medicine-men for three years, and, what was remarkable among the natives, had only once during that time manifested any disposition towards a relapse. After prolonged probation and careful instruction, Father Brébeuf baptized him on Trinity Sunday, conferring upon him the Christian name of Peter. The ceremony was surrounded with as much magnificence as the infant church in that wilderness could bring, and in the presence of immense crowds of Hurons. The corner-stone of the new church was laid on the same occasion.

These consolations of the mission were soon succeeded by direful calamities. Sickness still lingered in the country. Having failed by their superstitious rites to ameliorate the condition of the people, the medicine-men now accused the fathers of being the cause of the pestilence, and even of having a design of destroying the country. A general outburst of indignation now assailed the holy men. Everything connected with them or their religion now became objects of suspicion—the pictures in the chapel, their mission flag flying from the top of a tree, the Mass in the morning, the evening litany, the walk of the missionaries by day, and especially the clock, were successively condemned as demons, and signals of pestilence and death. It was even rumored that the fathers concealed in their cabin a dead body, which they brought from France, and which was now supposed to be the origin of the infection. Goaded by their fears, and incited by their sorcerers, the Indians rushed into the missionary residence to seize the mysterious corpse. As superior, the principal weight of these persecutions fell upon Father Brébeuf, who endeavored in vain to dispel such vain fears. The fathers were insulted and threatened with death in their own house. A general council of chiefs and warriors was held, in which they were universally accused of causing all the evils of the country. The courageous Brébeuf stood in their midst to refute their calumnies and expose their follies. Nothing could appease them. They offered to spare Father Brébeuf’s life if he would deliver up the fatal cloth in which he had wrapt the pestilence. He indignantly refused to countenance their superstitions by compliance, but told them to search his cabin and burn every cloth if they thought proper. He told them, however, that since they had pressed him so far, he would give them his opinion as to the origin of their misfortunes, which he then went on to trace to natural causes and their own foolish method of treating the sick, and spoke to them of the power of God and his justice in rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. Father Brébeuf concluded his remarks amidst shouts and insults, but without losing his characteristic courage and calmness. Despite his unanswerable appeal, the assembly thirsted for the blood of at least one of the missionaries as an experiment, and at any moment one of those devoted men might have fallen dead under the hatchet of some enraged savage. Repeated councils were held, and the death of the strangers was resolved upon. The residence was burned, the stake prepared, and Father Brébeuf led forth. Having prepared himself for death, he now, in imitation of the Huron custom, gave the usual feast, in order to show that he did not shrink from giving his life in testimony of the faith he had preached to them. Just before the moment of his execution arrived, Father Brébeuf was summoned to a council, where, amid insult and interruption, he delivered another speech in advocacy of the faith, instead of explaining the plague, and, by one of those sudden changes of temper not unusual in Indian assemblies, he was acquitted and set free. As he passed from the wigwam of the council, he saw one of his greatest persecutors fall dead at his feet, under a stroke from the murderous tomahawk: supposing that, in the dim light of a far-spent day, the murderer had mistaken his victim, the future martyr asked: “Was not that blow meant for me?” “No,” replied the warrior; “pass on: he was a sorcerer, thou art not.” His companions were anxiously awaiting the result; and when he walked into their midst, they received him as the dead restored to life. They all united in returning thanks to God for the safety of the superior of the mission, and especially for the announcement which that apostolic man made to them, that they might yet hope to remain in that country, and labor for the salvation of their persecutors.

The firm and uncompromising character of Father Brébeuf is strikingly illustrated in contrast with the fickleness of the Indians, the difference between faith and superstition, by another circumstance which occurred during the prevalence of the pestilence. The Hurons, after repeated recourse to their medicine-men, whose vile practices they now saw to be barren of results, resolved to have recourse to the fathers, whom they invited to attend a council. “What must we do that your God may take pity on us?” they asked of the Christian priests. Father Brébeuf immediately answered: “Believe in him; keep his commandments; abjure your faith in dreams; take but one wife, and be true to her; give up your superstitious feasts; renounce your assemblies of debauchery; eat no human flesh; never give feasts to demons; and make a vow that, if God will deliver you from this pest, you will build a chapel to offer him thanksgiving and praise.”

In the midst of their sufferings and the persecutions they sustained, these heroic missionaries ceased not a single moment their labors of mercy and salvation. Themselves outcast and friendless, they visited and nursed the sick; repulsed, they pressed forward to the bedside of the dying; reviled for their religion, they still announced its saving truths; threatened with death, they bestowed the bread of life eternal upon others, even while the deadly tomahawk glistened over their heads. Such was the life the early Catholic missionaries led upon our borders; such, too, were the labors and sacrifices which preluded others, equally sublime and heroic, within the territory of our own republic.

Among the converts of Father Brébeuf at Ossossané was Joseph Chiwattenwha, a nephew on the maternal side to the head chief of the Hurons. From the time that he listened to Father Brébeuf’s sermon at the “feast of the dead,” he had been an earnest and regular catechumen. He rejected the prevailing superstitions of his race, and was remarkable for the purity of his morals, his freedom from the common Indian vice of gambling, and for his rare conjugal fidelity. Notwithstanding his virtues, and his repeated requests to be baptized, Father Brébeuf delayed the sacrament, to make sure of his thorough conversion, and, finally, only conferred it upon him in a moment of danger. The chief recovered from his illness, and, calling all his friends together at a grand banquet, he addressed them zealously in favor of the faith he had embraced. His faith and zeal were rewarded by the manifest protection of Heaven over himself and his family during the prevalence of the fever.

Well acquainted as was Father Brébeuf, from long study and intelligent observation, with the character and customs of the Hurons, he knew thoroughly how to propitiate their favor and regain their respect. His manly and courageous bearing during the prevalence of the fever, and his undaunted coolness and fearlessness of death in the midst of the late persecution, had won for him the admiration of all the nobler spirits in the tribe. In December, 1637, he gave a grand banquet, to which were invited the chiefs and warriors of the country. He there addressed his assembled guests on the necessity of embracing the true faith. In January of the next year, the head chief of the Hurons, or Aondecho, as he was called, returned the compliment by giving a similar banquet, to which Father Brébeuf was invited; when he came to the banquet, the chief presented him to the assembly, not as a guest, but as the host of the occasion, addressing them thus:

“Not I, but Echon, assembled you; the object of the deliberation I know not; but be it what it may, it must, I am convinced, be of great moment Let all then hearken attentively.” The ever-ready and zealous missionary then addressed the assembly on the same subject—the true faith. He followed this up with another banquet in February, where his address was followed by the evident but silent conviction of his hearers. At its close, the Aondecho arose, and exhorted his warriors and subjects to yield themselves to the counsels of the fathers. The deep guttural expression of approval, ho! ho! ho! resounded on all sides, and the grateful missionaries made their joyful thanksgiving by chanting the hymn of the Holy Ghost. Then, with one acclaim, the chiefs and warriors adopted Father Brébeuf into their tribe, and created him one of the chiefs of the land—a dignity which invested him with the power of summoning assemblies of the people in his own cabin.

In the spring of 1638, the fever began to disappear from the country. Now, too, the first Christian marriage was solemnized. The wife of Joseph Chiwattenwha had been baptized in March, and the two were united together in holy matrimony by Father Brébeuf on Saint Joseph’s Day. Peter Tsiwendaentaha united with them in approaching the holy communion.

The public duties of the mission occupied the entire time of Father Brébeuf. The abandonment of Ihonitiria, in consequence of the recent scourge, caused Fathers le Mercier, Ragueneau, Garnier, Jogues, Pijart, and Chatelain to remove that mission to Teananstayaé, the residence of Louis de Sainte Foi. But they felt great fears about that place, since its chief had shortly before instigated the warriors to canvass the murder of the missionaries at Ossossané. But Father Brébeuf, with characteristic courage and zeal, went to the village, and as a chief of the nation summoned a council of the chiefs and warriors. The mission was formally announced on the spot, and we shall soon see the fathers offering up the Holy Mass at Teananstayaé. The year before, an Iroquois prisoner had received baptism there from the hands of Father Brébeuf; and now nearly a hundred prisoners, condemned to death, were instructed and baptized by the missionaries on the eve of their execution. About this time an entire tribe, the Wenrohronons, abandoned by their allies, the Neutrals, came and threw themselves upon the hospitality of the Hurons. They were wasting away from the effects of the recent plague, and the fathers at Ossossané rushed to their relief. They nursed their sick, instructed and baptized their dying, many of whom expired with the waters of baptism fresh upon their brows. The Hurons themselves were moved in favor of a religion capable of producing such heroic examples; and on the 11th of November, Saint Martin’s Day, one entire family, and the heads of two others, were baptized in health. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, others were converted and baptized, numbering in all thirty; so that at Christmas there was assembled, around that rude but holy altar in the wilderness, a sincere and fervent little congregation of Christians, adoring and offering their gifts to the infant Saviour.

The missionaries were now distributed in sets of four, consisting of three of the earlier and one of the recently arrived fathers, at the various points through the country where missions were located. Many new missions were opened, and the flying visits to villages whose missions had been broken up by the persecution were renewed. Among the new missions now opened was the one already alluded to at Teananstayaé, or Saint Joseph’s, whose commencement on New Year’s Day was cheered with fifty baptisms. The indefatigable Brébeuf was its founder, and with him were associated Father Jogues, whose Indian name was Ondesson, and Father Ragueneau. The most perfect system, both as regards the internal regulation of the affairs of the mission-house and its inmates, and the external labors of the fathers, was introduced by Father Brébeuf, which enabled them to perform an almost incredible amount of missionary labor. Among the natives, an aged chief named Ondehorrea, who was now a Christian, was of great assistance to them in their labors. He had once repulsed the fathers from his bed of illness, and, having called in the sorcerers, he then rejected them, and recalled the fathers, who were at once at his side. He was soon sufficiently instructed to be baptized, and at the moment that the saving waters touched his forehead, he arose suddenly in perfect health, to the amazement of all. He ever afterwards showed his sincerity as a Christian, and his gratitude to the fathers, by remaining their constant friend and faithful assistant.

A curious affair now arose, which will convey to us some idea of the trials with which those devoted missionaries had to contend. A woman living in a little village near Ossossané, as she was passing along one night, saw the moon fall upon her head, and immediately change into a beautiful female, holding a child in her arms. The apparition declared herself to be the sovereign of that country and all the nations dwelling therein, and required that her sovereign power should be acknowledged by each nation’s making a present or offering. The apparition designated the offering which each nation should bring, not omitting the French, who were required to present blue blankets. The woman was taken ill, and demanded that the order of the divinity should be complied with for her recovery. A council was accordingly held at Ossossané, to which the missionaries were invited. They attended, and were bold enough to oppose so wicked a homage to a false deity. But all was in vain, for the whole country was in a ferment of excitement. The most abominable orgies known to savage life were celebrated in honor of this new goddess, and men were hurrying in all directions to procure the required presents. Soon all the offerings were collected together, except the blue blankets of the French, and the missionaries were called upon to do homage in the manner required of them. They resolutely refused compliance with such a requisition, and, as may be well imagined, they immediately became the objects of general indignation. Amid threats and imprecations, and the glare of the uplifted tomahawk, those courageous priests refused to let a blanket go from their cabin, except upon condition of the immediate cessation of all that was going on, and the dismissal of the woman. These terms were rejected, the orgies were continued, and peril surrounded the fathers at every step; still they could not be induced to yield the points. Fortunately for the missionaries, however, the apparition paid the woman another visit, and released the French from the unholy tribute.

In September, 1639, new missionaries arrived. Unfortunately, an Indian in one of the canoes of their flotilla was infected with the small-pox, and that disease was thus introduced into the country. The malady began to spread with fearful rapidity, and, as usual, the origin of this evil, as of all others, was attributed to the missionaries. Persecution was at once renewed, the cross was violently dragged down from their houses, their cabins were invaded, their crucifixes torn from their persons, one of them was cruelly beaten, and all were threatened with death. So great was their peril at one time that they calmly prepared themselves for martyrdom. They were finally ordered peremptorily from the town. In the midst of these persecutions, the heart of Father Brébeuf was consoled with a vision: the Blessed Virgin, as the Mother of Sorrows, came to console her son and to confirm his courage; she appeared to him with her heart transfixed with swords. At once his resolution was taken; he remained at his post of danger and of care, and continued his missionary labors.

In consequence of these repeated persecutions, and the constant exposure of the fathers to the renewal of them by the malice of the medicine-men, it was determined to erect a missionary residence apart from the villages and their vicious population, which might prove a safe retreat for the fathers in time of trouble, and a convenient place for instructing the catechumens and others well disposed to receive the faith. During the years that Father Brébeuf was at Ossossané, displaying the most heroic zeal and disinterested charity, he had met with the blackest ingratitude from the persons whom he had fed by depriving himself of nourishment, and on one occasion he was ignominiously beaten in public. The other fathers had suffered similar indignities and maltreatment. While glorying, like the saints, in these sufferings for the sake of God and his church, he yet saw the necessity, for the sake of the mission, of a separate residence. It was this necessity that originated Saint Mary’s on the river Wye.

In the various missions whose establishments we have mentioned, there had been baptized up to the summer of 1640 about one thousand persons: of these two hundred and sixty were infants, and though some of them were restored to health, by means apparently miraculous, most of them went in baptismal purity to swell the ranks of the church triumphant in heaven. It was about this time that Father Brébeuf ceased to be superior of the mission, and was succeeded by Father Jerome Lalemant. The Jesuit, ever true to his institute, passed from command to obedience with the gladness and alacrity known only to the humble soldiers of the cross. His career as superior, arduous and glorious, was also abundant in fruit to the church. He was indeed the father of the Huron mission. Our eloquent Bancroft, in speaking of his and his companions’ labors to introduce Christianity among the aborigines of our continent, says that Saint Joseph’s chapel, wherein, “in the gaze of thronging crowds, vespers and matins began to be chanted, and the sacred bread was consecrated by solemn Mass, amazed the hereditary guardians of the council-fires of the Huron tribes. Beautiful testimony of the equality of the human race! the sacred wafer, emblem of the divinity in man, all that the church offered to the princes and nobles of the European world, was shared with the humblest of the savage neophytes. The hunter, as he returned from his wild roamings, was taught to hope for eternal rest; the braves, as they came from war, were warned of the wrath that kindles against sinners a never-dying fire, fiercer far than the fires of the Mohawks; and the idlers of the Indian villages were told the exciting tale of the Saviour’s death for their redemption.”

Father Brébeuf, already the founder of so many missions, now starts out with unabated ardor to open others. Accompanied by Father Chaumonot, he advanced into the country of the Neutrals, naming the first town he entered “All Saints.” He pushed onward to the Niagara, to the residence of Tsoharissen, the chief whom all the Neuter towns obeyed. Hither the calumnies of some hostile Hurons had preceded him, and represented Echon as the most terrible of sorcerers. The two missionaries were repulsed on all sides, and in their retreat from place to place were pursued by the arrows of their enemies. Still they persevered, and they succeeded in visiting eighteen towns, preached the Gospel in ten of them, and announced for the first time the words of truth to at least three thousand souls. During these labors, the keen eye of Brébeuf saw the importance to New France of an occupation of the Niagara by missions and trading posts; the travels of the missionaries would be greatly shortened, the warlike Iroquois restrained, the Hurons saved from a war of extermination, and the whole interior continent opened to European civilization and the faith of Christ. The plan of Father Brébeuf received little attention at court: a neglect which decided the fate of empires. We cannot determine precisely how far Father Brébeuf advanced into the country; only one town received the missionaries, which they called Saint Michael’s. They, however, approached as far into the Iroquois country as was possible; still Bancroft says it is uncertain that he ever stood upon the territory of our republic.

But the hostile Hurons, not contented with the furious persecution they had raised against the fathers in their own country, pursued them into their new mission. Two Huron deputies soon arrived, and proclaimed a tempting reward for such as would deliver the country from those devoted men. While the council was engaged in debating the question of his expulsion or death, Father Brébeuf was making his examen of conscience in the cabin where he lodged, and suddenly he beheld a fearful spectre: the figure held three darts, which were successively hurled against him and his companion, but were averted by an unseen hand. Presaging evil from the vision, the two fathers made their confessions to each other, and, thus prepared to die, they went to rest. They afterward learned from their post, who returned to the cabin late at night, that the session of the council was long and stormy; three times the young braves had insisted on butchering them on the spot, but were restrained by the sachems. But now, such was the state of the feeling aroused against them, that they could not advance a step in safety. Turned from every shelter, and encountering death at every step, they wandered as outcasts over the country. Believing that their longer continuance was only calculated to increase the savage hatred of the people against them, and retard the introduction of the faith, the fathers retreated to the Neuter town which they had named All Saints. Here they wintered and spent the time in instructing the people. In the spring, they advanced as far as Teotongniatou, or Saint Williams, where a charitable woman gave them a shelter. While thus lingering, Father Brébeuf arranged his Huron dictionary to the Neuter dialect, in which he had made considerable progress in four months. No sooner had the ameliorating influences of spring rendered travelling just possible, even to such travellers as those who had been accustomed for years to brave every hardship, than Father Brébeuf and his companions started on one of the most extraordinary journeys on record. Already spent with fatigues and privations, and pursued by danger, Father Brébeuf had to remain six days in the woods, sleeping on the snow, and without a covering or shed over his head. The cold was so intense that the trees themselves did split with a noise like the crack of a rifle. A special Providence protected him, for he exhibited no evidence that he had been cold or exposed. Loaded with the provisions which he was compelled to carry, as there were no relays on the way, he travelled two days across a lake of ice; and while thus struggling onward, his heart and eyes lifted up to heaven, he fell upon the ice. His portly frame gave such violence to his fall that he was unable to rise from the ice. After a long time he was lifted up by one of his companions, and then found that his extremities were palsied, and he could not lift his feet from the ground. Besides, his collar-bone was broken. He bore the last in silence, as it was not apparent. This fact was only discovered two years later by the surgeon who attended him at Quebec. In vain his companions begged the privilege of drawing him the remaining thirty-six miles of the journey in a sled, and at other times to assist him on the way; he declined all their generous offers, and labored onward, scarcely able to drag one foot after the other. It was thus he crossed the level country, and when he came to the mountains, he crept up on his hands and feet, and allowed himself to slide down on the opposite side, retarding his too rapid descent with his bruised and aching hands. Thus he completed his journey, which for love of suffering, patience, and humility compares with some of the most heroic achievements recorded of the saints. His companions went forward on other labors, but Father Brébeuf, while waiting for the next flotilla bound for Quebec, determined to take what he styled his “repose”—a repose busily spent in making important arrangements for the missions, which his superior knowledge of everything relating to them enabled him alone to effect.

On the passage to Three Rivers, Father Brébeuf was accompanied by Sondatsaa, an exemplary catechumen, and a party chiefly Christians or catechumens. They arrived at Three Rivers after a narrow escape from the murderous blades of the Mohawks, who were lying in wait for them. Finding it impossible for Fathers Ragueneau and Menard to reach their missions in Huronia without a strong guard, Father Brébeuf proceeded with Father Ragueneau and Sondatsaa to Sillery, in order to obtain succor for them. Here, moved by the entreaties of all, and especially of Sondatsaa himself, and having completed his instruction, Father Brébeuf consented to baptize that zealous convert. The ceremony was performed at Sillery, on the 27th of June, with great pomp, and in the presence of a concourse of Indians. The Chevalier de Montmagny was godfather to the convert, who received the Christian name of Charles. He now returned, a Christian, to his own country, bearing in his little flotilla the two fathers destined for the Huron mission. While Father Brébeuf was dwelling at Sillery, the next flotilla of Hurons that came bore its usual freight of calumnies against Echon. They now accused him of being colleagued with the Iroquois for the destruction of the Hurons. This renewal of calumny checked, for a time, his success; but he continued his preparations and arrangements for the Neuter mission and his endeavors to convert his persecutors to the faith. He endeavored to persuade some of these Hurons to remain and winter with him, in order to receive instructions. Two of them, who were left behind in the chase, were induced to remain, and Father Brébeuf, after the usual instruction and probation, had the consolation of receiving these into the one fold of the One Shepherd. He also succeeded in gaining a number of other Huron converts. Father Nimont, struck with the happy results of his labors, resolved to detain him another winter at Sillery. It was during this summer that Father Jogues came to Sillery for supplies. Here these future martyrs met in the prosecution of their noble labors; but soon the unconquerable Brébeuf saw his saintly companion set forth on his perilous mission over the country infested by the Iroquois, to carry relief to the Huron missionaries. Himself was soon to follow.

In the spring of 1643, Father Brébeuf proceeded to Three Rivers, where he was cheered by tidings of Father Jogues. That holy missionary, in returning from Sillery to bring succor to his companions in Huronia, had fallen a captive into the hands of the fierce Iroquois, and his fate was the object of intense anxiety. Father Brébeuf now learned that he was still living. The bold and generous Brébeuf arranged with a Huron, who was going out, to wait for letters to Father Jogues at Fort Richelieu; the father, bearing the letters, penetrated as far as the fort, but the courage of the Huron messenger failed; he had passed and was afraid to return, and the Jesuit was compelled to retrace his steps without succeeding in conveying a word of comfort and encouragement to his captive brother. In the spring of 1644, Father Bressani also, in endeavoring to reach Huronia, fell into the hands of the Iroquois. But the Huron missionaries must be succored at every hazard, and Father Brébeuf was now chosen for this perilous enterprise. Setting out in the summer, with an escort of twenty soldiers given to him by the governor, he reached the Huron missions in safety on the 7th of September. The Huron mission had ever been the dearest object of Father Brébeuf’s heart. Restored now to his chosen vineyard, he devoted himself to the task of converting those tribes with a zeal and an energy worthy of his former glorious career. Year after year he continued his heroic labors; and, though our pen cannot follow him, step by step, through the trials, sacrifices, and exertions which his seraphic love inspired him to encounter, they were recorded in minutest detail by angelic pens in heaven. Success crowned the efforts of Father Brébeuf and his companions. Persecution ceased, and the whole country was becoming conquered to the faith. In August, 1646, Father Gabriel Lalemant, full of zeal and courage, was joined with Father Brébeuf in the mission of Saint Ignatius, which embraced the town of Saint Louis and some smaller villages. By this time, the horrid superstitions of the country had given way to the pure and holy rites of Catholic worship, and the cross, so lately despised, feared, and hated, had now become the object of love and veneration. Father Bressani writes: “The faith had now made the conquest of the entire country.” “We might say they were now ripe for heaven; that naught was needed but the reaping-hook of death to lay the harvest up in the safe garner-house of paradise.” “Religion seemed at last the peaceful mistress of the land.”

Allusion has several times been made to the visions from on high which were mercifully sent to warn Father Brébeuf of danger impending, or to sustain him under the extraordinary afflictions, persecutions, and sufferings which at times seemed to exceed even his remarkable powers of endurance. Some of these have already been described. To the Protestant and non-Catholic mind, these miraculous communications to the saints are but the imaginings of morbid and diseased intellects. Parkman, in his Jesuits in North America, relates the following visions of Father Brébeuf only to classify them as psychological phenomena: “It is,” he says, “scarcely necessary to add that signs and voices from another world, visitations from hell and visions from heaven, were incidents of no rare occurrence in the lives of these ardent apostles. To Brébeuf, whose deep nature, like a furnace white-hot, glowed with the still intensity of his enthusiasm, they were especially frequent. Demons, in troops, appeared before him, sometimes in the guise of men, sometimes as bears, wolves, or wild-cats. He called on God, and the apparitions vanished. Death, like a skeleton, sometimes menaced him; and once, as he faced it with an unquailing eye, it fell powerless at his feet. A demon, in the form of a woman, assailed him with the temptation which beset Saint Benedict among the rocks of Subiaco; but Brébeuf signed the cross, and the infernal siren melted into air. He saw the vision of a vast and gorgeous palace, and a miraculous voice assured him that such was to be the reward of those who dwelt in savage hovels for the cause of God. Angels appeared to him, and more than once Saint Joseph and the Virgin were visibly present before his sight. Once, when he was among the Neutral nation, in the winter of 1640, he beheld the ominous apparition of a great cross slowly approaching from the quarter where lay the country of the Iroquois. He told the vision to his companions.

“‘What was it like? how large was it?’ they eagerly demanded.

“‘Large enough,’ replied the priest, ‘to crucify us all.’

“To explain such phenomena is the province of psychology and not of history. Their occurrence is no matter of surprise, and it would be superfluous to doubt that they were recounted in good faith and with a full belief in their reality. In these enthusiasts we find striking examples of one of the morbid forces of human nature; yet, in candor, let us do honor to what was genuine in them—that principle of self-abnegation which is the life of true religion, and which is vital no less to the highest forms of heroism.”

Bancroft, alluding to the same subject, and to the life, austerities, and self-sacrifice of Father Brébeuf, says: “The missionaries themselves possessed the weaknesses and the virtues of their order. For fifteen years enduring the infinite labors and perils of the Huron mission, and exhibiting, as it was said, ‘an absolute pattern of every religious virtue,’ Jean de Brébeuf, respecting even the nod of his distant superiors, bowed his mind and his judgment to obedience. Besides the assiduous fatigues of his office, each day, and sometimes twice in the day, he applied to himself the lash; beneath a bristling hair-shirt he wore an iron girdle, armed on all sides with projecting points; his fasts were frequent; almost always his pious vigils continued deep into the night. In vain did Asmodeus assume for him the forms of earthly beauty; his eye rested benignantly on visions of divine things. Once, imparadised in a trance, he beheld the Mother of him whose cross he bore, surrounded by a crowd of virgins, in the beatitudes of heaven. Once, as he himself has recorded, while engaged in penance, he saw Christ unfold his arms to embrace him with the utmost love, promising oblivion of his sins. Once, late at night, while praying in the silence, he had a vision of an infinite number of crosses, and, with mighty heart, he strove, again and again, to grasp them all. Often he saw the shapes of foul fiends, now appearing as madmen, now as raging beasts; and often he beheld the image of death, a bloodless form, by the side of the stake, struggling with bonds, and at last falling, as a harmless spectre, at his feet. Having vowed to seek out suffering for the greater glory of God, he renewed that vow every day, at the moment of tasting the sacred wafer; and as his cupidity for martyrdom grew into a passion, he exclaimed, ‘What shall I render to thee, Jesus my Lord, for all thy benefits? I will accept thy cup, and invoke thy name: and in sight of the Eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, of the most holy Mother of Christ and Saint Joseph, before angels, apostles, and martyrs, before Saint Ignatius and Francis Xavier, he made a vow never to decline an opportunity of martyrdom, and never to receive the death-blow but with joy.”

In the eye of Catholic faith, these visions and special revelations are but the fruits and blessings of a revealed and supernatural religion. While they do not fall to the lot of us ordinary Christians, nor are they necessary helps in the little we accomplish for God and his church, it is difficult to conceive how the saints and martyrs could have performed their sublime actions, or met their cruel and unjust deaths for God’s sake with a smile—sacrifices so far above and even repugnant to our nature—without the aid of these supernatural supports. The dedication of himself to martyrdom, and the heroic courage and joy with which he met his appalling fate, could only be achieved in the bosom of a church believing in miracles, and presenting to her children the crown of martyrdom as the highest reward attainable by man. The visions of Father Brébeuf, like other miracles, depend wholly upon the evidence and circumstances by which they are supported to entitle them to belief. It was not his habit to disclose them; it was only when commanded by his superiors that he committed them to writing. They thus rest upon his solemn written words, and upon their perfect agreement in many instances with contemporaneous facts transpiring beyond his sight and knowledge. To suppose him to have been deluded would be to contradict every quality of mind and character so universally attributed to him by all Protestant historians.

Father Brébeuf’s aspirations for the crown of martyrdom were prophetic of his appointed and glorious end. But to him all historians have attributed the most practical views in relation to the Indian missions, and the coolest and wisest manner of dealing with them. There was no mere sentimentality in his nature. He addressed his powerful energies and resources to the actual conversion of the Indians to Christianity, and we have seen how great were the results he achieved. But now, alas! a dark cloud was seen gathering over the happy Christian republic of the Hurons. Already, during the winter of 1649, the fierce Iroquois hordes, numbering upwards of one thousand, had secretly passed over a space of six hundred miles of Huron forests, and on the sixteenth of March they appeared suddenly before the town of Saint Ignatius, while the chiefs and warriors were absent on the chase, and the old men, women, and children were buried in sleep. Strongly as the place was fortified, this overwhelming force carried it by storm, and murdered its unsuspecting inhabitants. Three only escaped, half-naked, from the slaughter, and gave the alarm to the village of Saint Louis, where the fathers were then laboring. Here preparations were at once made to offer a gallant but unequal resistance. The women and children were sent over forty miles of ice and snow to seek a shelter in the cabins of the Petuns. The chiefs exhorted the fathers also to fly, since they could not go to the war. But Father Brébeuf, with all the heroism of his great soul, answered that there was something more necessary than fire and steel in such a crisis; it was to have recourse to God and the sacraments, which none could administer but they—that he and his companion, the gentle Lalemant, would abandon them only in death. The two fathers, says Father Bressani, “now hurried from place to place, exhorting all to prayer, administering the sacraments of penance and baptism to the sick and the catechumens, in a word, confirming all in our holy faith. The enemy in fact remained at the first fork only long enough to provide for the safe keeping of the prisoners and the safety of those left as a garrison to guard them. After this they marched, or rather rushed, directly upon Saint Louis. Here none were now left but the old and sick, the missionaries, and about a hundred braves to defend the place. They held out for some time, and even repulsed the enemy at the first assault, with the loss of about thirty killed, but the number of the assailants being incomparably greater, they overcame all resistance, and, cutting down with their axes the palisades which defended the besieged, were soon in possession of the town. Then putting all to fire and steel, they consumed in their very town, in their very cabins, all the old, sick, and infirm who had been unable to save themselves by flight.”

What contrasts the events of history present! While this relentless slaughter was at its height, and the worst passions of the fiercest of heathens were let loose, the scene of blood, fire, and death was relieved by the presence of Christian heroes the most gentle, merciful, and self-sacrificing. They stood in the breach to the last stroke of the enemy, encouraging the dying Christians to fortitude and hope, the wounded to patience, and the prisoners to courage and perseverance in the faith. The palisades of Saint Louis finally were cut away. The infuriate Iroquois swept in, and the whole surviving garrison, warriors and priests, were all made prisoners together. The savages rejoiced especially at the capture of such a prisoner as Father Brébeuf, whom they immediately showed signs of torturing, when a generous Oneida chief, more magnanimous than the rest, purchased him from his captors for a large price in wampum. It seemed as though he was about to be deprived of his coveted crown; but no! the victors retracted their bargain, and Father Brébeuf was again seized by his enemies. He and Father Lalemant were stripped, bound fast, and cruelly beaten, and their nails were torn out. But lest some change in the tide of war should deprive them of their prisoners, the latter were all sent, closely bound and tightly secured, to Saint Ignatius. Here, as they entered the town, they were beaten and bruised by the rabble with sticks and clubs. The large and conspicuous frame of Father Brébeuf attracted a double share of blows on his already bruised and lacerated head and body. In the midst of these cruelties, he was forgetful of himself, and anxious only that his Christian Hurons, who were now his fellow-prisoners, should be encouraged and consoled in their extreme danger. From the stake to which he had been tied, beholding them assembled for the torture, he lost sight completely of his own greater calamities and sufferings, and thus he addressed them: “My children, let us lift up our eyes to heaven in the worst of our torments; let us remember that God beholdeth all we suffer, and will soon be our reward exceeding great. Let us die in this faith, and hope from his goodness the accomplishment of his promises. I pity you more than myself, but support manfully the little torment that yet remains. It will end with our lives; the glory which follows will have no end.” How great must have been his consolation when he heard their heroic answer, a convincing proof that Indians may be truly converted to Christianity, and possess the constancy to die in the faith. “‘Tis well, Echon,” they cried, “our souls will be in heaven, while our bodies suffer on earth; entreat God to show us mercy; we shall invoke him to our latest breath.” Enraged at his exhortations and unflinching zeal, even in death, some Hurons adopted by the Iroquois rushed upon him and burned his flesh with a fire which they kindled near him, they cut off his hands, and while Father Lalemant’s flesh was cut and punctured with awls and other sharp instruments, and hot irons placed under his armpits, they led him forth to torture and death before the eyes of Father Brébeuf, in order to add to the agonies of the latter. As Father Brébeuf continued to speak and to exhort his Christians, and to threaten the vengeance of heaven upon their persecutors, they cut off his lower lip and nose, and thrust a red-hot iron down his throat. Even after this, when he saw his superior, the gentle Lalemant, led out to death, he called out to him with a broken voice in the words of Saint Paul, “We are made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” Throwing himself at Father Brébeuf’s feet, Father Lalemant was ruthlessly torn away, and in a few moments he was enveloped in flames at the stake, and his gentle soul preceded that of the intrepid Brébeuf to heaven. Turning next upon Father Brébeuf, they threw a collar of red-hot axes around his neck, which seethed and burned their way into his flesh; he stood, in the midst of such agonies, erect and motionless, apparently insensible to pain, intent only on vindicating the faith he had so long and faithfully announced. His tormentors were awed by his constancy, which seemed to them a proof that he was more than man. But they again taxed their ingenuity for new tortures. An apostate Huron, who had been a convert of Father Brébeuf in the Huron mission, and had since been adopted by the Iroquois, was the first to signalize the zeal of the renegade. He proposed to pour hot water on the head of Father Brébeuf, in return for the quantities of cold water he had poured on the heads of others in baptism. The suggestion was received with fiendish joy, and soon the kettle was swung. While the water was boiling, they added fresh cruelties to their victim’s sufferings. They crushed his mouth and jaw with huge stones, thrust heated iron and stones into his wounds, and with his own eyes he beheld them devour the slices of flesh which they cut from his legs and arms. Let us not cut short the appalling story; for surely, what a martyr bore a Christian may have courage to Three.’and bringing the scalding water from the caldron, they poured it over his bruised head and lacerated body amidst shouts and imprecations, and, as they did so, the high-priests of the occasion mockingly said to him: “We baptize you that you may be happy in heaven; for nobody can be saved without a good baptism.” By this time Father Brébeuf’s mouth and tongue could no longer articulate, but even yet by his erect posture, the struggling and brave expression of his almost expiring eye, and even by his half-formed words, he encouraged the Christian captives to perseverance, and endeavored to deter the savages from torturing them by threats of heaven’s vengeance. Again cutting slices from his body and devouring them before his eyes, they told him that his flesh was good. Some of the renegade Hurons, more fiendish than even the Iroquois, again mocked him by saying: “You told us that the more one suffers on earth, the happier he is in heaven. We wish to make you happy; we torment you, because we love you; and you ought to thank us for it.” They next scalped him, and even after this they poured the boiling water over his head, repeating the torture three times; they cut off his feet, and splitting open his stalworth and generous chest, they crowded around and drank with exultation the warm blood of the expiring hero. His eye, firm and expressive to the last, was now dimmed in death, and at last a chief tore out his noble and brave heart, cut it into a thousand pieces, and distributed it to the savage cannibals that crowded around to receive a share of so exalted and unconquerable a victim. Thus perished of earth, while crowned of heaven, the illustrious Brébeuf, “the founder of the Huron mission—its truest hero, its greatest martyr.”

The Iroquois, now glutted with carnage, and apprehensive of the approach of a superior force, retired to their own country. The fathers from Saint Mary’s came to Saint Ignatius to bestow the last honors upon the earthly remains of their martyred companions. It was with difficulty they discovered their burned and mangled bodies among the mass of slain the victorious Iroquois had left. Their precious remains were solemnly and sorrowfully carried to Saint Mary’s, and affectionately and religiously interred. A portion of Father Brébeuf’s relics were subsequently carried to Quebec. A silver bust, containing the head of the martyr, was presented by his family to the Canadian mission, and is still reverently preserved by the convent of hospital nuns in that city. So great was his reputation for sanctity that it became a familiar and pious practice in Canada to invoke his intercession. There are well-attested cases recorded of the wonderful intervention of heaven in favor of those who invoked his aid as a saint in heaven.

Among the many virtues which adorned the life and character of Father Brébeuf may be particularly mentioned his ardent love of holy poverty and suffering, his purity of soul, his singleness of purpose, his profound obedience and humility, his zeal and courage, his love of prayer and penitential austerities, and his generous longing for the salvation of souls. “The character of Brébeuf,” says Bancroft, “was firm beyond every trial: his virtue had been nursed in the familiar sight of death. Disciplined by twenty years’ service in the wilderness work, he wept bitterly for the sufferings of his converts, but for himself he exulted in the prospect of martyrdom.” “Thus,” writes Mr. J. G. Shea in his History of the Catholic Missions, “about four o’clock in the afternoon, after three hours of frightful torture, expired John de Brébeuf, the real founder of the [Huron] mission, a man such as the Catholic Church alone can produce; as a missionary, unequalled for his zeal, ability, untiring exertion, and steady perseverance; as a servant of God, one whose virtues the Rota would pronounce heroic; patient in toil, hardship, suffering, and privation; a man of prayer, of deep and tender piety, of inflamed love of God, in whom and for whom he did and suffered all; as a martyr, one of the most glorious in our annals for the variety and atrocity of his torments.” “He came of a noble race,” says Parkman, “the same, it is said, from which sprang the English Earls of Arundel; but never had the mailed barons of his line confronted a fate so appalling with so prodigious a constancy. To the last he refused to flinch, and his death was the astonishment of his murderers.”

Praise has become exhausted on such a subject. Would that we might hope for some national good from the sublime lesson he has taught us! The red men are our brothers. The most precious blood of a God-man was poured out for them as for us; and God’s martyrs have joyfully given their noble lives for their salvation. Might not a Christian nation, in its power and goodness, yea, in its justice, save at least the poor remnant of them from further slaughter; and say to the ever-ready and zealous missionaries of the Catholic Church: “Go, christianize and save our brothers; we will not slay them more; there is land enough for us and for them; we confide them to your heroic charity. We will protect you and them in the peace and good-will of the Gospel. Go, save our brothers”?

– text taken from the article “Memoir of Father John de Brébeuf, S.J.”, author not listed, that appeared in the July and August 1871 editions of The Catholic World magazine