Over an eight-year period (1642-1649), eight Jesuits were martyred for their faith while spreading the Gospel to the North American Indians.
Knowing the dangers and adversity they would face, these eight men willingly went into the severe environment of New France where they were met with disease, extreme weather, lack of food, unsanitary living conditions, solitude, and a hostile population. Despite knowing the bleak circumstances they would face, they volunteered for the mission because of their deep desire to minister to the population of Native Americans who had never heard the Gospel, spoke a different language, and were often violent.
One of these Jesuits was Fr. Charles Garnier. While serving in Canada for 13 years, Fr. Garnier performed his sacred ministry despite near-constant hunger, insults, and the ever-present threat of death. Even during the intense Canadian winters, Fr. Garnier would walk 30 miles daily to spread the Gospel. His living space was hardly more than a filthy tent that did little to keep out the cold. But Fr. Garnier never counted the cost and continued to minister to the locals with love and compassion while holding firm to his faith. On Dec. 7th, 1649, he suffered martyrdom when he was struck by a tomahawk during an Iroquois attack.
Alongside the other seven Jesuit missionaries, Fr. Garnier was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1930. As a group, these holy men are recognized as the North American Martyrs. We celebrate their feast day today, October 19th.
Fr. Garnier and the other North American Martyrs suffered immensely, both physically and spiritually, yet they remained steadfast in their faith. Like these holy men, we too are called to embrace suffering and fight the spiritual battle for our souls, but you’ll need a guide! The Manual for Spiritual Warfare is the essential Catholic guidebook to help you recognize, resist, and overcome the devil’s attacks, and eventually, join the saints in heaven! Available today at The Catholic Company!