About the Relics

After Brébeuf's brutal martyrdom at the hands of the Iroquois in 1649, his remains were initially buried near Sainte-Marie among the Huron villages where he dedicated his life to spreading the Christian faith. However, the violence and turmoil of that time led to uncertainty regarding the safety of the graves of the martyred Jesuits. Consequently, the remains of Brébeuf and his fellow missionary, Gabriel Lalemant, were exhumed by their Jesuit brethren, seeking to protect and preserve their relics.

These sacred remains began a journey, safeguarded by devoted Jesuits amid the dangers of ongoing conflicts and the shifting landscapes of colonial Canada. Over the years, these relics changed hands multiple times, moving between various Jesuit communities for protection and veneration. They were carefully safeguarded, hidden, and transported to prevent desecration or destruction.

The journey of Brébeuf's remains ultimately led to their relocation to Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a Jesuit mission site in the Georgian Bay area of present-day Ontario. The mission of Sainte-Marie was significant as it symbolized the Jesuit commitment to evangelization and their resilience in the face of adversities in the New World.

In the following years, the Jesuits established a shrine and museum dedicated to preserving the memory and relics of the martyred missionaries. The shrine in Midland, Ontario, became a sanctuary honoring the sacrifices and contributions of these early missionaries, including the revered relic of Brébeuf's skull.

The relic of St. Jean de Brébeuf's skull became a focal point of veneration within the shrine, attracting pilgrims and believers seeking spiritual solace and connection to the martyred missionary's legacy. The shrine's exhibitions, encompassing artifacts, documents, and representations of the Jesuit missions, serve as a testament to Brébeuf's enduring influence and the Jesuits' enduring commitment to their faith.

Throughout its history, the relic of Brébeuf's skull has stood as a tangible link to the courageous and selfless efforts of the early Jesuit missionaries in Canada. It embodies the enduring spirit of devotion and sacrifice that continues to inspire reverence and contemplation among those who visit the shrine, offering a profound connection to the legacy of St. Jean de Brébeuf and the rich history of Catholicism in North America.