A layman, René Goupil was born near Augers, France on May 13, 1608. He became a successful surgeon. On March 26, 1639 he entered the Society of Jesus in Paris, as a lay assistant (donné) rather than as a Jesuit,because of his deafness.
In 1640, René went to Quebec to help care for the French settlers and the Algonquin Indians in the nearby town of Sillery. Two years later, he met Isaac Jogues, and agreed to help the Jesuit in the Huron missions.
In August 1642, on their way to the Jesuit missions, Father Jogues and Doctor Goupil were ambushed by members of the Mohawk tribe and brutally tortured. In the course of this ordeal, René told Father Jogues that he wanted to consecrate his life to God as a Jesuit. He recited the Jesuit vow formula in Father Jogue's presence.
On August 14, when the two missionaries arrived in what is present-day Auriesville, New York, they were tortured and then given as slaves to a Mohawk chief. Six weeks later, René was killed by tomahawk while he was making the Sign of the Cross.