Jean de Brébeuf | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jean de Brébeuf

Jean de Brébeuf, Jesuit missionary, author of Relations des Jésuites, 1635, 1636 (born 25 March 1593 at Condé-sur-Vire, in France; died on 16 March 1649 at St. Ignace in Huronia).

Martyrdom of the Jesuits

Missionary Work in Canada

Jean de Brébeuf came to Canada in 1625 as a missionary to the nomadic Innu (Montagnais). Sent to the Wendat (Huron) near Georgian Bay in 1626, he learned their language and preached there until 1629 when Quebec was captured by the Kirke brothers and the Jesuits were forced to return to France. In 1633, he returned and was among the Huron again in 1634, remaining in charge of the mission (see Ste. Marie Among the Hurons) for four years.

Brébeuf, an accomplished linguist, supervised the preparation of a Huron grammar and dictionary. In 1640, following a devastating smallpox epidemic, the Huron attacked him and his companion and damaged their mission. In 1640–41. Brébeuf began a mission among the Neutral but they regarded him as a sorcerer.

In 1644, he returned to Huronia. He remained there until 16 March 1649, when he was captured by the invading Haudenosaunee at the St. Louis mission. He was taken to St-Ignace and killed. After his death, Paul Ragueneau discovered 39 fragmentary writings in which Brébeuf described his visions, his ecstasies and prophetic dreams. His bones are buried at the Martyrs' Shrine near Midland, Ontario.

St. Jean de Brébeuf

On 29 June 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized Jean de Brébeuf.

Further Reading