Canadian Martyrs’ Pilgrimage

September 28, 2013

A pilgrimage is one of the best ways to obtain the graces necessary to persevere in these extraordinary times. Trusting that God is not outdone in generosity, we are happy to announce the date of the 2013 Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs: Saturday, 28 September.

This National Shrine honors the eight Jesuit saints who lived, worked, and died in Canada over 350 years ago. They came from France intent on spreading the Catholic faith, ready to give their lives for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

The Relics

Within the National Shrine are the relics of three out of the eight Martyrs: St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Gabriel Lalemant, and St. Charles Garnier.

Jean de Brébeuf was massive in body, strong, and yet gentle in character. His visions of the cross and of his future martyrdom were fulfilled after he was captured in March 1649. He was tortured for hours and finally martyred at St. Ignace, six miles from Ste. Marie, at the age of fifty-six.

Gabriel Lalemant entered the Jesuits at the age of nineteen. He was ordained at twenty-seven and then served the Order as a scholar, professor, and college administrator. Delicate in body, he had a strong desire to convert the Huron tribes. Thus after spending two years in Canada, he left for Huronia and quickly learned to speak the natives’ tongue. He assisted Jean de Brébeuf for only one month before sharing with him the palm of martyrdom on 17 March 1649.

Charles Garnier joined the Jesuit Mission in Huronia at the age of thirty-one. For thirteen years he served as pastor and missionary to the Hurons and Petuns. Gentle, innocent, and fearless, his great faith in God’s goodness drew many to the baptismal font. Even when his settlement was attacked and he was himself wounded, he continued baptizing neophytes and caring for an injured Huron. He soon died from his wounds, about thirty miles from Ste. Marie.

Practical notes

  • A rented bus will depart from the Church of the Transfiguration in Toronto promptly at 7:45am, and will return approximately at 10:00pm.
  • The bus fee should be $20.00 per person, depending on the number of pilgrims who travel by bus. There is room for 48 passengers.
  • Those who provide their own means of transportation may meet, as in past years, at St. Ignace II at 10:00am.
  • Pilgrims will walk in different, smaller chapters to facilitate prayer and meditation. Priests will be available for confessions throughout the pilgrimage.
  • A van will be available to pick up tired pilgrims along the way.
  • Pilgrims should bring a picnic lunch. Water, however, will be provided. A barbecue dinner, held at the North Simcoe Recreation Centre, will follow the closing Mass. Burgers and sausages will be sold, while complimentary salads and desserts will be prepared by the parishioners of our chapels in advance.
  • Pilgrims driving their own cars should drop all passengers off at St. Ignace II and then drive their cars to the Shrine, parking near the East Gate. A shuttle bus will leave the Shrine at 10:15am to bring the drivers back to the starting point of the pilgrimage.


  •   7:45am – Departure of bus from Toronto, Church of Transfiguration. 
  • 10:15am – Pick-up of drivers from the large parking lot just inside the East Gate of the Shrine.
  • 10:30am – Sermon and start of the pilgrimage at St. Ignace II, the location where St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant suffered martyrdom.
  • 12:50pm – Picnic lunch at MacKenzie Park, Bergie Crescent, Victoria Harbor. Please bring your own lunch.
  •   1:50pm – Continuation of the pilgrimage.
  •   3:45pm – Concluding Mass, followed by procession to the Shrine and veneration of the Canadian Martyrs’ relics.
  •   5:00pm – Barbecue at North Simcoe Recreation Centre.
  •   6:00pm – Bus returns to Toronto, Church of the Transfiguration.