Thursday, July 21, 2011

Auriesville- Land of the North American Martyrs

I just got home from a road trip which included Auriesville, NY, the site of an old Mohawk village and the place where 2 important events happened:

1. St. Isaac Jogues, St. Rene Goupil, and St. Joseph Lalande were martyred for the Faith. (bios here)
2. Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha was born to a pagan Mohawk father and Christian mother a few years after their martyrdom.

On our way to the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs, we discovered a small shrine to Bl. Kateri not far away. It marked the site of the Mohawk village she grew up in.

Auriesville itself was spectacular! On the drive there, I read aloud from Saints of the American Wilderness, which revealed the hardships and adventures these French Jesuits experienced in their quest to win souls for Christ in the Great Unknown.

Some spots of interest:

A cross marking the spot where St. Isaac Jogues was martyred (hatcheted in the back while entering a teepee).
That's the Mamasita on the left
Most of the trees have wooden crosses nailed to them. St. Isaac Jogues marked the trees this way as a means of spiritual protection.

The ravine where St. Rene Goupil's body was thrown after being martyred. Jogues tried to retrieve it days later. He first hid it in the creek by covering it with rocks beneath the water. When he returned, the body was gone (the Iroquois hid it from him). Eventually, he found the body had been thrown into a ravine, and he buried what he could.
A path follows the ravine
The large shrine on the grounds dedicated to the martyrs has altars built to mimic a fort with a final altar at the very top, where vines and branches entertwine it.

In the shrine are several relics and statues. This statue of Our Lady is from the French Jesuit seminary where Goupil and Jogues received formation. They most likely stopped to pray at the feet of this very statue.

Want to learn more? Take a virtual tour here.

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