Miracles of the Canadian Martyrs

The following is taken from a book Jean de Brebeuf by Joseph P. Donnelly, S.J.
(Chicago: Loyola Union Press 1975) p.306f.>

          In the Hotel-Dieu at Quebec a very sick Protestant soldier vehemently declared to the nuns, anxious to convert him, that he would die rather than abandon the faith of his fathers.  His pious nurse clandestinely dipped a relic of Jean de Brebeuf into the sufferer’s medicine, praying that the martyr would cure the soldier both in body and mind.  Though the soldier’s health did not improve, he spontaneously asked to receive instructions and became a Catholic.

          A second instance was considered much more striking than the first.  In 1663 the venerable relics of Father Brebeuf were considered to be directly instrumental in curing a woman of demoniacal possession.  Charles de Lauson de Charny, Bishop Laval’s vicar-general, testified that on August 9, 1663, a woman, suffering for two years from possession by a demon, was instantly cured when she touched some relics of Father Brebeuf.

          In the years immediately following the martyrdom of Jean de Brebeuf, cures of both body and mind, attributed to his intercession, were, apparently, granted chiefly to those among whom he lived and labored.  Undoubtedly, the most striking such blessing was received by the Iroquois who was considered to have been the martyr’s executioner.  He was an Oneida whom the French called Cendre-Chaude, a name which might be rendered in English as “Hot Cinder.” He not only became a Christian, but an enthusiastic apostle.  Through his life Hot Cinder manifested the greatest devotion and reverence for his heroic victim, Jean de Brebeuf.  Hot Cinder’s greatest boast was that it fell to him to have dealt the deathblow to Father Brebeuf.

Perhaps the most accurately attested case of Jean de Brebeuf’s celestial intervention concerned Mere Marie de Saint Augustin, an Augustinian nun at the Hotel-Dieu at Quebec.  Born Marie-Catherine de Simon de Longpre at Saint-Sauveur-de-Vicombte, Lower Normandy, in 1632, she joined a convent of nursing nuns at Bayeux where her older sister had preceded her.  She was then only twelve years old.  Her mistress of novices, considering her a rather frivolous child, thought of dismissing her, but Marie-Catherine refused to leave, saying that she would depart from Bayeux only for New France.  She came to Quebec in 1648 when she was only sixteen.  Despite frequent bouts of serious illness, Mere Marie was treasured at the hospital because she was a very competent nurse, a good businesswoman, and, above all, because she was a true mystic.  Though she never saw Father Brebeuf in the flesh, she very seriously considered him here sole spiritual director who had been assigned here by God himself.  Mere Marie frequently saw Father Brebeuf who always carried a palm, indicating that he was a martyr.  When the nun died in 1668, Bishop Laval, himself a very holy man, asked Father Ragueneau to write her biography.  Ragueneau published his La Vie de Mere Catherine de Saint-Augustin at Paris in 1671.  The book, replete with references to Father Brebeuf, gave further impetus to his cult both in Canada and France.

Miracles leading to Canonization

          In his decreee, Militantem ecclesiam, declaring the canonization of Jean de Brebeuf and his companions, Pius XI recounted the essential details of two.

Marie Robichaud, born in 1898 at Shippigan, New Brunswick, entered a congregation of nursing sisters in 1920.  Five years later, in 1925, she was gravely afflicted with fibrocaseous tubercular peritonitis.  Attending physicians finally declared that further treatment was useless.  The afflicted nun, and her community, sought the miraculous intercession of the North American martyrs.  On June 9, 1925, she was instantly and permanently cured.

Alexandrina Ruel, a healthy young lady until 1907, was stricken with severe pains in her stomach.  When an operation was performed for the removal of her appendix, the organ was declared to be tubercular.  Her constant state of poor health became critical in 1918 when a second operation revealed tubercular peritonitis affecting the whole abdomen.  When the medical profession gave up on the case, she had recourse to the intercession of the North American martyrs.  She was cured, instantly and permanently, as her physicians attested under oath.