Spirituality for Today – March 2015 – Volume 19, Issue 8

Saint of the Month
St. Gabriel Lalemant

March 7

A painting of Gabriel LalemantSaint Gabriel Lalemant

As a young man of 22, Gabriel joined the Society of Jesus, just as his two uncles had done before him. For years he longed to follow them to New France in Canada and become a "blackrobe", missionary to Native Americans. After ordination, however, his frail physical condition convinced the Jesuits to keep him in France, where he supervised studies at Bourges.

Gabriel persisted though, and finally his superiors changed their minds. In 1646, he joined his uncle in Quebec. But Gabriel was not satisfied. He pleaded for a more demanding mission among the Native Americans – believing that Jesus had also suffered and died for them. After two years, his uncle allowed him to travel with Jean de Brébeuf to Huronia, located near Georgian Bay.

Life in the wilderness was dangerous. The Iroquois people were at war with the Hurons. Gabriel arrived at the mission in January 1649. He was only 38 years old and brimming with enthusiasm for his new work.

On March 15, the Iroquois attached the Huron settlement. Although the two priests could have escaped, they stayed to protect the frightened woman and children while the Huron men tried to defend their village. But the Iroquois outnumbered them. They set fire to the village, killing nearly all the inhabitants.

Father Brébeuf and Gabriel were captured and tortured to death. Gabriel's only cry was "Jesus, have mercy on us!" Both joined the growing list of martyrs who died while bringing Christianity to the New World.

St. Gabriel Lalemant who, notwithstanding weakness and ill health
and the appeals of family and friends,
generously gave yourself to the work of saving souls,
and in so doing sacrificed your life by a cruel death,
intercede for me and obtain detachment from the things of this world.
Let me be strong in the freedom of the children of God
and follow your example so that I may share your reward in Heaven.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives