Jesuit Martyrs and Saints: One Catholic’s Heroes

Martyrs and Saints. These are the action figures, the heroes of my childhood and my faith today. Did my parents get me Wonder Woman comic books? No. My good Catholic parents, God bless them, gave me comic books detailing the stories of martyrs and saints and Catholic leaders such as Pope John Paul II. I love that these “characters” filled my imagination and even to this day, I look to these Catholic heroes for inspiration, solidarity, and strength.

When I was studying theology at Regis College in Toronto with the Jesuits, I discovered a whole new set of heroes: the Jesuit martyrs and saints. These guys are in a class all their own in some respects because they are so filled with the zeal and mission characteristic of the Jesuits. My interest and devotion to the Jesuit martyrs was peaked when I visited the North American Jesuit Martyr’s Shrine in Midland, Ontario. Right next door to the shrine is a re-creation of one of the French Jesuit missions from the 1600s, Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, which helped give me a context to the kind of life the missionary Jesuits lived. I was overwhelmed with the stories of Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and the other Jesuit martyrs and how they had given their lives and their deaths for the faith. Experiencing the mission helped me to get to know these martyrs

As with any hero, looking up to them means that you try to emulate their values, attitudes, actions, and perhaps their way of life. For me and the Jesuit martyrs, it means committing myself fully to the liberating mission of Jesus Christ. It means being willing to give of my whole self, not just the parts of myself that I choose.

Who are your heroes and what do they teach you about living the liberating mission of Jesus?

Sister Julie Vieira, IHM, is a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe Michigan. She is author of the popular blog http://www.ANunsLife.org in which she writes about being a young, Catholic nun and answers readers’ questions. Sister Julie also ministers at Loyola Press, a Jesuit publishing company in Chicago.

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