From ANGUS MACDOUGALL:
Strangely enough, his brethren in Canada learned of his escape from the Iroquois only when he re-appeared on the St. Lawrence that June of 1644! In those days communications left something to be desired.
Mere Marie de l’Incarnation, “mother of the Canadian Church” and good friend of Jogues, wrote to her son Claude in France to say that “God has restored to us a true living martyr.” She also mentioned that she had questioned Jogues about his experiences and was struck by his “wondrous simplicity, which shows his great saintliness.”
Although he was back in Canada, Jogues would never see the land of Huronia again. His superiors assigned him to ministry at the young colony of Montreal and employed him in various dealings with the Iroquois, at that time a bit more tractable. The French were then more hopeful of arranging some kind of lasting peace with their bitter foe and needed the services of a man like Jogues so well versed in the language and ways of these Iroquois.
In May 1646, Jogues went as an ambassador of peace to the Mohawks, his erstwhile captors. It was not a long affair and he re-turned to Quebec by early July.
All that summer an uneasy truce continued, but in September the French believed it necessary to make further overtures for peace, and so once again they proposed sending Jogues among the Iroquois. He, for his part, was most willing to go, even though he felt a premonition of impending death. While awaiting confirmation of his appointment he penned a few lines to a fellow Jesuit and ended with: “My heart tells me that, if I am the one to be sent on this mission, I shall go but I shall not return. But I would be happy if our Lord wished to complete the sacrifice where he began it. Farewell, dear Father. Pray that God unite me to himself inseparably.”
Jogues, accompanied by a young donne’ Jean de la Lande and a few Hurons, left Three Rivers on this embassy September 27th or 28th. At first all went smoothly. But some Iroquois they met on the way advised them that all was not well. Certain malcontents were all for breaking the truce and attacking the French. At this news all Jogues’ Huron companions but one left him. Jogues, however, felt he must push on, and de Ia Lande stayed with him.
Whether they sensed it or not – and possibly they did – they were heading for death, but the death of martyrs.
NEWS OF JOGUES’ DEATH
No news of their fate reached Quebec until June 1647. Letters from the Dutch governor Kieft and Jan Labatie, an interpreter at Fort Orange (Albany), announced the deaths of Jogues and de la Lande. Both had been beaten and tomahawked to death by certain Mohawks angry with the French and full of hate for Jogues whom they blamed for so many recent misfortunes. It was a sad but not unexpected message.
Jerome Lalemant, in the Relation for 1647, refers to Jogues as a true martyr. He then paid a warm tribute to his fellow missionary. One can detect in Lalemant’s words his deep appreciation and love of this heroic brother. He praises his rare humility, his strict poverty, his great purity of heart, and his love of the Cross.
Never, says Lalemant, did Jogues condone in himself the slightest aversion towards his persecutors, and, even though by nature endowed with a hasty temper, he controlled it admirably. True, he spoke out boldly when any of the Iroquois mocked the faith, but that was only because God meant everything to him and he could not brook any seeming slight to the divine majesty.
Jogues’ obedience, extraordinary prayerfulness and deep attachment to the Blessed Sacrament were bywords with his fellow Jesuits. Father Buteux described him as a soul glued to the Blessed Sacrament.
Nor must we forget his remarkable sensitivity, his deep concern for others, his tormentors included, and his love so full of tenderness. All this he manifested so strikingly in his dealings with Goupil, the Hurons and the Iroquois themselves. Parkman, that begrudging admirer of the early blackrobes, was profoundly impressed by the life of Jogues. In him he saw “one of the purest examples of Roman Catholic virtue.”
It is rare for any man to suffer two martyrdoms in a single lifetime. This was Jogues’ holy fate. “Our Lord prolonged his life,” wrote Lale-mant, “that he might come and present it to him another time, as a burnt offering, at the place where he had already begun his sacrifice.” Jogues’ accomplishment, then, is, in a dramatic and unforgettable manner, that of any man or woman who unswervingly loves God with the whole heart and the whole mind and the whole strength, and the neighbor as oneself, even if this must lead to unspeakable suffering and death.