October 2007 - Volume 12, Issue 3

Saint Of The Month

St. Charles Ganier - October 19

Photo of a painting of Saint Ganier The son of a notable French family, Charles Ganier was horn in Paris. At age 18, he joined in the Society of Jesus. After teaching for several years, Charles became a priest in 1635. Almost immediately, he told his superiors he wanted to be a missionary in North America. A year later, Charles reached Quebec, and then set out on a long, difficult trip to live among the Hurons.

Frontier life tested Charles's frail body, but he welcomed the rigors of converting the Huron. 1-Ic was faced with skepticism at first. Some of the Native Americans were suspicious of the Jesuit "blackrobes" and the Huron religious leaders accused the missionaries of treachery. But Charles learned the native language, tended to the sick and gradually won many converts.

After several years, Charles settled in with the Petun people. At first, he seldom said Mass, until one convert offered the use of his cabin as a chapel. Charles was then able to baptize children and adults, teach the catechism and lead his flock in prayers.

Despite Charles's success, he and the other Jesuits always faced danger. Battles between the Huron and their principal enemy, the Iroquois, sometimes cost the priests their lives. In 1649, Charles learned of the martyrdom of three fellow Jesuits. How happy I should be to die with this little flock," he wrote.

Later that year, the Iroquois raided Charles's village. As they brutally killed women and children, Charles rushed to baptize the dying. Finally, an Iroquois bullet struck him and he died. Brave and determined until the end, Charles was canonized in 1930. He shares his least day with seven other Jesuit martyrs of North America.

0 God,
who by the preaching and the blood of your blessed martyrs,
John and Issac and their companions.
consecrated the first fruits of the faith
in the vast regions of North America,
graciously grant that by their intercession
the flourishing harvest of Christians
may be everywhere and always increased.
through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives