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Isaac Jogues Memorial in Lake George
August 1642, a French Missionary by the name of Isaac Jogues, was captured
on the St. Lawrence by an Iroquois war party. En route to the native
village, the natives and their captives stopped first at
Isle la Motte,
and then at a small island near present day Westport, NY.
After some fourteen months in captivity, Jogues was ransomed back to Quebec, where shortly afterward he sailed to Europe to petition the Pope to allow him to celebrate Mass with his deformed hands. Having received this special dispensation from Rome, Jogues then set out back into the land of his abusers on a special "peace mission" to the Mohawk.
On his way south to the Mohawk villages, he again stopped at Isle la Motte, no doubt at the site of the old French settlement, Fort Ste. Anne, then detoured to a settlement on Otter Creek. Upon reaching the lake known to the natives as Andiatrocte [present-day Lake George] in 1646, he christened it Lac du Sainte-Sacrement. Incredibly, Jogues was received hospitably by the Mohawk, with whom he left gifts of religious articles. He returned to Canada with the good news that he had been favorably received. Upon receiving permission to establish a mission among the Mohawk nation, he once again set out on the arduous journey south.
In the meantime, a plague of caterpillars had
devastated the Mohawk grain harvest. The missionary was charged with
bringing "bad spirits" among the Indians and he and his
colleagues were murdered. As a warning to future missionary visitors,
their decapitated heads were mounted on posts facing north
Reverend Jogues was canonized a saint in
1930. His peaceful countenance
looks out to this day over the beautiful site of Battlefield Park in Lake
Jogues Island illustration: Warwick Stevens Carpenter. The Summer Paradise in History. Albany: General Passenger Department, The Delaware and Hudson Company. 1914. Courtesy of John and Barbara Gallagher.
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