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René Goupil

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Jesuit missionary; born 1607, in Anjou; martyred in New York State, 23 September, 1642. Health preventing him from joining the Society regularly, he volunteered to serve it gratis in Canada, as a donné . After working two years as a surgeon in the hospitals of Quebec, he started (1642) for the Huron mission with Father Jogues, whose constant companion and disciple he remained until death. Captured by the Iroquois near lake St. Peter, he resignedly accepted his fate. Like the other captives, he was beaten, his nails torn out, and his finger-joints cut off. On the thirteen days' journey to the Iroquois country, he suffered from heat, hunger, and blows, his wounds festering and swarming with worms. Meeting half way a band of two hundred warriors, he was forced to march between their double ranks and almost beaten to death. Goupil might have escaped, but he stayed with Jogues. At Ossernenon, on the Mohawk, he was greeted with jeers, threats, and blows, and Goupil's face was so scarred that Jogues applied to him the words of Isaias ( 53:2 ) prophesying the disfigurement of Christ. He survived the fresh tortures inflicted on him at Andagaron, a neighbouring village, and, unable to instruct his captors in the faith, he taught the children the sign of the cross. This was the cause of his death. Returning one evening to the village with Jogues, he was felled to the ground by a hatchet-blow from an Indian, and he expired invoking the name of Jesus. He was the first of the order in the Canadian missions to suffer martyrdom. He had previously bound himself to the Society by the religious vows pronounced in the presence of Father Jogues, who calls him in his letters "an angel of innocence and a martyr of Jesus Christ."

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