Within the church are the relics of the martyrs St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Gabriel Lalemant, and St. Charles Garnier.
The crutches and canes that hang upon the wall are a testimony to the many people that have been healed of various ailments through the intercessions of the martyrs at the shrine.
The martyrs that are honored at Martyrs’ Shrine, also known as the North American Martyrs, were Jesuit missionaries who had left their comfortable lives in France to work among the Indigenous people of the territory of Wendat Nation which is now known today as Georgian Bay.
In 1648 and 1649, the Iroquois began a series of devastating attacks on local Wendat and Petun villages including the Wendake mission which resulted in the deaths of Antoine Daniel, Jean de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, and Noël Chabanel who were all later canonized.
In the Spring of 1649, the mission was burned to the ground by its residents to protect it from desecration from the hands of the Iroquois raiders. The mission of Sainte-Marie was re-established briefly on Christian Island among the Beasoliel First Nation, but was relocated to Quebec after one year due to continued Iroquois interference and a disastrous winter famine. The residents revisited Sainte-Marie and exhumed the bones of Brébeuf and Lalemant, removed the flesh, and took the bones with them to Quebec City to be kept as relics for they knew in their hearts that one day, these men would be declared saints.
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