Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Feast of Sts. Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf and Companions

This is one of my favorite feast days in recent years. Two years ago while visiting family in Massachusetts, my oldest son Nicholas (9 at the time) asked if we could visit the martyrs shrine in Auriesville, NY on the way back home in South Carolina - as he was reading "The North American Martyrs" by Lillian Fisher (Pauline Books and Media). The shrine is on the site (the Iroquois village) where Isaac Jogues was martyred (as was Rene Goupil). (It is also the birthplace of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.) While I had certainly heard of St. Isaac Jogues, I was unaware of the shrine. On the way back home we took a detour and spent the night in Auriesville, NY (about 30 minutes west of Albany as I recall).

The shrine is a simple affair and some areas could use renovation. I think in recent years they haven't had the pilgrims they've had in years past - thus a shortage of cash. The shrine is run by the Jesuits, 2-3 in residence. The Colisium is the first "in the round" Church built in the USA. It was built in 1930 and holds 6000 worshipers. (The Church is round, but there are four altars "back-to-back" in the center of the circle.) The buildings and snackbar are only open May to October - but the grounds are always open. (More info, see www.martyrshrine.org)

And it is the grounds which are where you want to be. You want to walk down into the ravine where Rene Goupil was martyred and where Isaac Jogues secretly buried his remains. This ravine is where Isaac Jogues spent much of his captivity praying. He considered this holy ground because it contained the remains of a martyr. You want to pray on these grounds where martyrs prayed and are buried.

You want to climb the hill (which overlooks the NY State Thruway) where Isaac Jogues had to run the gauntlet. You want to pray as you walk through the village where Isaac Jogues fingers were mutilated and where he was martyred for love of God and for the conversion of these Iroquois.

This is not Europe where centuries of saints have trod. There are not many places in North American where you can walk where martyrs blood was spilt. (Pray that through their intercession, your zeal for souls may be rekindled.)

If you have the chance, go visit - and go pray.

Thank you my son Nicholas, for your prodding.

"O God, Who didst inflame the hearts of Thy sainted martyrs, Isaac and John and their companions, with an admirable zeal for the salvation of souls, grant us, we beseech Thee, what we now implore, (here make your petitions) so that the favors obtained through their intercession may make manifest before men the power and glory of Thy name. Amen."

Saint Isaac Jogues - ora pro nobis!

Saint John de Brebeuf - ora pro nobis!

Oremus pro invicem! - Let us pray for each other!

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