|Annual Pilgrimage to Jesuit Martyrs’ Shrine|
The annual pilgrimage to the Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, ON, is a definite highlight of the year at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom. Every year on March 16, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Jesuit Martyrs, Sts. Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement, the Academy marks this historic and holy day by visiting and praying at the sites of the Jesuits’ capture and martyrdom.
After a long bus ride to the Georgian Bay region, by Midland, the pilgrims make their first stop at the Martyrs’ Shrine and pray the Way of the Cross along the beautiful outdoor stations. After a picnic lunch, and a moment of prayer outside the Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons’ palisade near the remains of Brébeuf and Lalement, the group visits the place of the first Mass on Ontario—a site surrounded by farmers’ fields and marked by an outdoor altar commemorating the historic event of August 12, 1615.
The third stop is St. Louis, where St. Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement, along with a number of Hurons, were taken during an Iroquois raid on the village in 1649. Here the pilgrims listen to an account of the capture, and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Then it is off to the final site, that of St. Ignace, where Sts. Jean and Gabriel, with their Huron companions, were brutally tortured and killed for their faith. Professor John Paul Meenan, who has led the pilgrimage each year since the founding of OLSWA, reads an account of the horrendous martyrdom, and pilgrims have the opportunity to pray silently at the cross which marks the site of the saints’ deaths. Fittingly, the pilgrimage concludes here with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
This year, we were blessed with unseasonably high temperatures, sun, and dry ground. Fr. Tom Lynch and members of his Lindsay youth group joined us, and we were blessed to have Fr. Lynch offer the Holy Mass at St. Ignace. First-year student Dale Aalbers of Alberta expressed his sentiments on the occasion of his first pilgrimage to Midland:
For me the highlight of the day was being able to walk and see the places where our Canadian Martyrs worked and died. Additionally, being able to do all of these things on the day of St.Jean de Brébeuf's death was truly inspiring. Furthermore, the pilgrimage was an amazing opportunity to pray and have Mass celebrated on the very ground where 353 years ago these men shed their blood for Christ and his Church. This was a great experience for me and I would say that it was one of the highlights of my year.
Click here to read more of the about the Jesuit mission in Huronia and the martyrdom.