Born in Orleans, France, on October 1, 1607, Isaac Jogues was the son of a prominent official in Orleans, He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Rouen when he was seventeen; he did his philosophy studies at the Royal College of La Fleche. He was ordained in January 1636, celebrated his first Mass in February 10 that year, and on April 8, 1636, he left France for the Jesuit missions in Canada. Shortly after he arrived in New France three months later, he wrote to his mother saying that when he saw the natives he "thought he was in paradise."
Father Jogues' first mission was to the Hurons at Three Rivers, south of Quebec. He had arrived there on September 11, 1636, to join Father John de Brébeuf. However, their mission was shortened because of an outbreak of smallpox that the Hurons blamed on the Jesuits.
After short stays in several Indian villages, in July 1642, Father Jogues arrived in Sainte Marie, a prosperous Huron village. There being no Jesuit priests available to serve with Jogues, the Jesuit Provincial sent René Goupil, a surgeon and lay associate who lived and worked with the missionaries; food and clothing were his only recompense. By early August, Jogues and Goupil were in Three Rivers when a group of Mohawks attacked the village and took them prisoner. As the two prisoners travelled across Lake Champlain, Goupil asked to be a Jesuit brother, and Father Jogues agreed to accept his vows as a Jesuit.
The time the two prisoners spent with the Mohawks was a period of repeated physical torture. In July, when they arrived in Ossernenon, the two Jesuits were given to the chief as slaves. A year later, Jogues was taken to Fort Orange (Albany, New York) where he was ransomed by some Dutch traders who took him to New York.
On November 5, 1642, Father Jogues sailed for Europe and arrived at the Jesuit house in Rennes, France several months later. He was able to visit his mother in Orleans. Most significant for Jogues was that he was able to attend Mass and receive Communion for the first time since being taken captive. His great sorrow was that he could not offer Mass himself because of his mutilated hands; however, the French Jesuits succeeded in obtaining a dispensation for him from Pope Urban VIII.
By spring 1644, Father Jogues was back among in North America. He attended a peace conference between the French and the Iroquois, and in 1646 asked to be sent to them as a missionary. His superiors reluctantly agreed with the request. In September of the same year, Jogues set out to visit the Mohawks who were suffering from simultaneous epidemics and crop blight. This tribe, blaming the missionary for their sufferings and crop failure, beat and decapitated Jogues. The missionary died on October 18, 1646.
Isaac Jogues, along with seven other North American martyrs, was canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930.