Sunday, October 18, 2020

The year was 1646. We remember Isaac Jogues, the first saint and French martyr in North America. The reading is from S. Trevor Francis, two stanzas of his famous hymn, "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus."

It is the 18th of October 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at I'm Dan van Voorhis.

The year was 1646.

We've been to this year before. We've looked at the end of the Thirty Years War on the European mainland. We've looked at the English Civil Wars and the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Today we will direct our gaze to the great white north, Canada, and those North Americans known for being polite, curling, and the greatest number of comedians per capita of any industrial nation.

The earliest settlers from the East were likely Vikings, but the first in the modern age was John Cabot, otherwise known as Giovanni Caboto of Italy, sent by King Henry VII of England. But it was the French who would put their lasting stamp on the land they would call Canada. The story goes that Jacques Cartier overheard two captured Iroquois refer to their land as "Kanata," Iroquois for "village." Cartier and his descendants would refer to the entire region as "Canada." "Canada" as it was informally known (it was officially "New France") stretched as far west as the American Midwest and as far south as Louisiana. It was almost not called Canada but instead "Efisga," an acronym for English, French, Irish, Scottish, German, and Aboriginal.

Cartier was followed by Pierre de Mont and Samuel de Champlain. They would establish the first settlement in North America north of Florida in 1604. The story of the 17th century in Canada is the story of the interaction between the first nations and the European settlers. As was the case in most of the Americas, the men who first came were nominally interested in religion and mostly looking for land, riches, or excitement. But soon, news spread in the old world about the opportunity for the promulgation of the Gospel in the New World.

As there are stories about Puritans to the south, there are stories about Catholics to the North. In 1930, the Catholic Church recognized the earliest missionaries and martyrs by canonizing the eight Canadian Martyrs, a group of Jesuits. They died for their faith preaching amongst the first nations people. The first of those martyrs, Isaac Jogues, was martyred on this, the 18th of October, in 1646. Jogues, the first American saint, was born in Orleans, France, in 1607. By 17, he had entered the Jesuit community. His desire to preach and minister in the New World led to his ordination and mission to new France in 1636. Jogues would become the first European known to preach to natives as far as 1000 miles into the interior. This is five years before John Eliot's ministry amongst the Natives near Boston Harbor.

In 1642 after a particularly lousy crop, Jogues and his colleagues were blamed for the calamity, kidnapped, and tortured. Dutch Calvinists eventually rescued them from nearby New Amsterdam. Jogues made his way back to France as a living martyr. He was invited to celebrate Mass with the Pope and did so despite having had his fingers maimed. It is said he held the host with his only two working fingers.

His desire to continue his mission amongst the Iroquois gave some pause, yet they agreed to let Jogues return in 1644. He reconnected with the Iroquois and was initially accepted amongst his one-time captors. In 1646 however, another bad crop led to Jogues' downfall. Iroquois warriors set out to find the missionary, and when they found him, they slashed and beat him. They led him to a village where they decapitated him and placed his head on a pike to warn others. However, within years, even larger groups with natives leading the mission helped set up missions and convert many of those who had just years earlier made Isaac Jogues the first saint and French martyr in North America. Born in 1607 and dying on this day in 1646, Isaac Jogues was 39 years old.

The reading for today comes from a Canadian Christian, S. Trevor Francis. These are two stanzas from his famous hymn, "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus."

O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
is the current of thy love —
leading onward, leading homeward,
to that glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus —
spread his praise from shore to shore!
How he loves us, ever loves us,
changes never, nevermore!
How he watches over his loved ones,
died to call them all his own;
how for them he's interceding,
watching o'er them from the throne!

This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 18th of October 2020 brought to you by 1517 at The show is produced by a man still surprised that a Canadian team hasn't won the Stanley Cup since 1991, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.

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