A Martyr Because of the Sign of the Cross.

St. Rene' Goupil, North American Martyr


When these poor captives [i.e. the French missionaries] had recovered a little of their strength, the principal men of the country talked of conducting them back to Three Rivers, in order to restore them to the French. But, as their captors could not agree, the Father and his companions endured, more than ever, the pangs of death. These Barbarians [i.e. the Iroquois native Americans] are accustomed to give prisoners, whom they do not choose to put to death, to the families who have lost some of their relatives in war. These prisoners take the place of the deceased, and are incorporated into that family, which alone has the right to kill them or let them live. But when they retain some public prisoner, like the Father, without giving him to any individual, this poor man is every day within two finger-lengths of death.

The young Frenchman who was the Father's [i.e. St. Isaac Joques, S.J.] companion was accustomed to caress the little children, and to teach them to make the sign of the Cross. An old man, having seen him make this sacred sign on the forehead of his grandson, said to a nephew of his: "Go and kill that dog; that act: will cause some harm to my grandson." Father Jogues leads him to a grove near the village, and explains to him the dangers in which they stood. While they were returning, the nephew of that old man, and another Savage, armed with hatchets and watching for an opportunity, go to meet them. One of the men says to the Father, "March forward," and at the same time he breaks the head of poor Rene' Goupil, who, on falling and expiring, pronounced the Holy name of Jesus. "Give me a moment's time," the Father said to them, supposing that they would accord him the same favor as to his companion. "Get up," they reply; "thou wilt not die this time."

A surgeon, Rene is listed as patron of Anesthetists.

Father Jerome Lalemant, quoted in The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in North America (1610-1791) Albert and Charles Boni, New York (1925) p. 195. This text is quoted for religious and educational reasons. No other use is intended or permitted.

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See also Canadian Martyrs, and the Catholic Online Saints material.

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