Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
St. John de Brebeuf
Feast day: October 19
Saint John was born in 1593 at Normandy, France. He was a French Jesuit.
He wanted to enter the priesthood from an early age, but his health was
so bad there were doubts he could make it.
His posting as a missionary to frontier Canada at age 32, however, was a
literal god-send. He spent the rest of his life there, and the harsh and
hearty climate so agreed with him that the Natives, surprised at his
endurance, called him Echon, which meant load bearer, and his
massive size made them think twice about sharing a canoe with him for
fear it would sink.
Brebeuf had great difficulty learning the Huron language. However, he
eventually wrote a catechism in Huron, and a French-Huron dictionary for
use by other missionaries.
By 1650 the Huron nation was exterminated, and the laboriously built
mission was abandoned. But it proved to be "one of the triumphant
failures that are commonplace in the Church's history." These martyrdoms
created a wave of vocations and missionary fervor in France, and it gave
new heart to the missionaries in New France.
Saint John was martyred in 1649. He was tortured to death by the
Iroquois. He was Canonization on 29 June 1930 by Pope Pius XI together
with St. Gabriel Lalemant, St. Anthony Daniel, St. Charles Garnier and
St. Noel Chabanel. The five Jesuits named above were martyred in Canada
and are commemorated at the Martyrs Shrine in Midland, Ontario.
All eight of the North American Martyrs ( with St. Issac Jogues, St. John
de la Lande and St. Rene Goupil, martyred in today's USA ) were canonized
by Pius XI on June 29, 1930.