18. St. Isaac Jogues, Creighton University

St. Isaac Jogues
Creighton University, 1878
Omaha, Nebraska

Saint Isaac Jogues (1607-1646) was born in Orleans, France. At the young age of 17 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Rouen. Isaac then went on to studies at the Royal College of La Fleche and Clermont College in Paris. As soon as he completed his studies and was ordained a priest, Fr. Jogues took ship with other Jesuits for the Huron missions in North America, arriving in Quebec by midsummer of 1636.

Father Jogues travelled over 900 miles by canoe and by foot to Huronia, where he learned to speak the language of the Indians among whom he lived. After some years of highly successful ministry he and a young lay missionary were travelling from one village to another when Mohawk Indians attacked and captured them. After enduring several days of intense, prolonged torture, Isaac’s companion was killed, but the priest was kept as a slave. After some months Father Jogues was assisted by Dutch traders to escape and was given free passage to France.

Even the Pope considered Fr. Jogues to be a living martyr and gave him a dispensation to continue celebrating Mass even though the fingers of his hands had been mutilated during the tortures he had endured. Following a brief respite in his home country, he returned to the missions in 1644. Isaac begged his superiors to let him try to convert some of the Mohawk Indians. But when he went to live among them, they blamed him for the crop failures and disease they were experiencing and again tortured and finally killed him.

The Saint is pictured holding the Blessed Sacrament, wearing priestly vestments decorated with what is meant to represent Indian corn. Beneath his feet is a medallion with a sunrise and a lake with two sail boats that represent the lakeside mission location of Huronia. Below the medallion is the instrument of his death, a tomahawk, with a rawhide thong attached.

The shield of Creighton University contains likenesses in profile of its two lay founders, Edward Creighton and Count John Creighton. The inscription reads: Creighton University, Omaha; the foundation date is 1878. The school colors are blue and white.