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December 8

St Noel Chabanel - December 8

Saint Noël Chabanel
Priest, Missionary, Martyr
(1613 – 1649)

“I implore you, therefore, O my Savior, to accept me as a perpetual servant of this mission, and grant that I may be worthy of such sublime service.”

Saint Noël Chabanel

His Early Life

Noël was born on February 2, 1613, in Saugues, Haute-Loire, France. He was the son of a notary and grew up as one of four children in his family.

Jesuit Noviatate

At the age of 17 following in the footsteps of an older brother, Noël entered the Jesuit novitiate in Toulouse, France on February 8, 1630, to pursue a religious vocation. After completing his novitiate, Noël served as a college teacher in Toulouse from 1632 to 1639. During this time, he deepened his knowledge and understanding of various subjects, including rhetoric. Then, Noël studied theology for two years in preparation for his ordination.

Ordained Priest and Rhetoric Professor

In 1641, Noël was ordained as a priest and subsequently taught rhetoric at the college of Rodez. He was highly esteemed for virtue and learning and gained a reputation as a brilliant teacher.

Missionary

However, Noël, like many other Jesuits, felt a strong calling to engage in missionary work. In 1643, he embarked on a journey to New France (present-day Canada) to serve as a missionary to the Hurons. He arrived in Quebec, Canada on August 15 of that year. His first year in Quebec was as a chaplain at the Ursuline convent and ministered to the French residents.

Then, Noël was appointed to the mission at Sainte-Marie. In his apostolic labors, he was the companion of Saint Charles Garnier. Life in the mission fields proved to be extremely challenging for Noël. He struggled to grasp the languages spoken by the native Hurons, detested the unfamiliar food, and could never fully adapt to the living conditions. Father Rageneau, his superior, wrote after his death that “even after three, four, five years of study of the Indian language, he made such little progress that he could hardly be understood even in the most ordinary conversation.”

Preserved Through Spiritual Trials

Additionally, Noël experienced a profound period of spiritual dryness and trial. In 1647, after Saint Isaac Jogues became the second Jesuit martyr, Noël was given the opportunity to return to France.

Despite these difficulties, Noël made a decisive commitment to persevere in his missionary work. He resolved to rely solely on faith. In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, Noël vowed to dedicate the rest of his life to this mission.

Hardships with the Hurons

Noël was sent to assist Saint John de Brébeuf at the mission of Saint Louis (near the present day hamlet of Victoria Harbour), but was replaced by in February 1649 by Saint Gabriel Lalemant. Noël was sent to help Saint Charles Garnier among the Petun. One month later, Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Gabriel Lalemant were captured in an Iroquois raid on the St. Louis mission and taken to the nearby mission off St. Ignace where they were killed.

Noël encountered countless hardships while serving among the Hurons. He witnessed the massacre of Christian Hurons by pagan Iroquois. Noël was among the survivors who sought refuge and safety.

His Martyrdom

In early December 1649, Noël was directed to go to Christian Island because of famine and his superiors’ fears about the missionaries’ safety there. On his way on a trail, Noël was killed on December 8, 1649 at the age 36 in Saint Jean, Ontario, Canada by a renegade Huron who threw his body into the Nottawasaga River. This Huron, who was an apostate, confessed that he killed Noel with a hatchet because of his hatred for the Catholic Faith.

His dedication, selflessness, and ultimate sacrifice earned Father Noël Chabanel the status of martyr. Saint Noël Chabanel is recognized as one of the Martyrs of North America, a group of individuals who gave their lives while spreading the Christian faith in the New World.

Born :                   February 2, 1613 in Saugues, Haute-Loire, France

Died:                    December 8, 1649 age 36 in Saint Jean, Ontario, Canada

Beatified:            June 21, 1925 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:         June 29, 1930 by Pope Pius XI

Feast Day:          December 8, October 19 on some calendars, September 26 (one of the Martyrs of North America)

Patron Saint:     Canada (One of the North American Martyrs)

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Noël Chabanel faced numerous challenges and difficulties in his missionary work, including language barriers and cultural clashes to better understand and communicate the Christian message. He also experienced profound interior struggles, feeling a lack of spiritual consolation. Despite facing great challenges and internal struggles, Saint Noël Chabanel made a vow of perseverance trusting in God’s providence and committing to continue his missionary work.

How you can live out your faith today, even in the midst of difficulties and spiritual dry patches, to continue your walk on a path to deeper spiritual growth and understanding on our way to eternal life?

Prayers

Saint Noël Chabanel,

I am in awe of your missionary zeal and commitment to the Gospel, so I turn to you in prayer, seeking your intercession and guidance.

You, who embraced challenges and frustrations in your mission, help me face the difficulties in my own holy journey with strength and commitment to persevere in my faith, even in times of doubt, internal struggles, and spiritual dryness.

Pray for me to learn the redemptive power of suffering, that I may transform challenges into opportunities for spiritual growth.

As you made a vow of perseverance in your mission, guide me in remaining steadfast in my commitment to Christ and deepen my reliance on His teachings in all aspects of my life.

Saint Noël Chabanel, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Angelus – Misfit and martyr: The ‘holy frustration’ of St. Noel Chabanel

Bellator Society – St. Noel: Martyr of Desolation

Catholic Exchange – Saint Noel Chabanel: A Life of Faithfulnes

Catholic Online – St. Noel Chabanel

Jesuits – Saint Noél Chabanel

New Advent – Spillane, E. (1908). Noel Chabanel. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

The Koala Mom – Who was Saint Noel Chabanel? (North American Martyr

Wanydot Nation of Kansas – Noel Chabanel / 1613 – 1649

Video Link

My Confirmation Saint: St. Noël Chabanel – YouTube (The True Enlightenment!)