Isaac Jogues

Isaac Jogues

(1607-1646)

Isaac Jogues was born in the city of Orleans, France in 1607. His father died when Isaac was an infant and he was raised by his mother, who was renowned for her piety. In 1624, Jogues joined the Jesuit order, and was ordained as a priest in 1 636. In that same year, he left home for French Canada.

When Jogues arrived at Quebec, he found a tiny colony that was just beginning to take root in the Canadian soil. Jogues was sent by his order to Huronia, the country of the Huron Indians on the western side of Georgian Bay. During the long canoe trip there, Jogues learned the Huron language. After arriving in Huronia, he started building a new Jesuit mission, called Ste. Marie.

In 1641, Jogues went north with his fellow Jesuit Raymbault and a group of Huron. During their journey, they saw a strait they named Sault de Ste. Marie. Unknowingly, Jogues was helping to blaze the trail for what would become one of the principal trade routes of the French fur traders.

In 1642, Jogues and two fellow Jesuits were captured by Iroquois Indians while they were on their way from Huronia to Quebec. The Jesuits were taken to the central part of modern-day New York State. His two companions were killed, and Jogues was tortured and then held as a slave for a year.

Throughout this period of captivity, he tried to convert his Iroquois captors, who were amazed by his persistence. Jogues was finally rescued by Dutch traders from Albany, and taken to New Amsterdam (modernday New York City). He took a ship from there and reached the coast of France on Christmas Day 1643.

Jogues became an immediate hero in France. His fellow Jesuits acclaimed him as one of their greatest missionaries. The Queen received him, and the Pope made a special dispensation that allowed Jogues to serve Catholic mass.Jogues returned to Quebec in 1644. He led an embassy to the Iroquois in 1646.

After returning safely from this hazardous endeavor, Jogues asked for and received permission to form a permanent Catholic mission in the country of the Mohawk Indians. He went to the Mohawk lands, where he was killed by a blow from a tomahawk. Jogues was made a saint in 1930 and is included in the list of “Canadian Martyrs.”