Friday, August 28, 2015

Day 11- Canadian martyrs

Day 10 wasn't much to write home about - we spent the day driving the rest of the way to Midland to meet up with dana's hubby. We thought we might stop in at the Big Nickle and mining museum (Dynamic Earth)...

My dad worked in the old mine there as a summer student waaay back when. However, the museum was closed unexpectedly so we had a short lunch and snapped our souvenir pics and moved on through our last leg of northern Ontario. A great big party happened when the hubby arrived at last. 

The following morning we wandered down to the Canadian Martyr's Shrine in time for mass. The whole place was a treat. Beautiful statues and stained glass- gorgeous grounds to wander around on, a gift shop, and some sweet priests who were happy to have is visit all the way from Alberta. We got another family blessing- and spent a good deal of time praying in the church and looking at the various relics they have. 

I was so happy to be there, as the twins are born on the feast day of the Canadian Martyrs, and Sammy is born on the their American feast day. After mass, the priest ( a Jesuit, like Pope Francis) invited everyone to come up one at a time and receive a special blessing with the relics. 

The Canadian martyrs were very brave priests from the 1600s who came to New France (canada) to help minister to the settlers and the native people here. They got along very well with (most of) the Hurons, but were often attacked and tortured or captured by the Iroquios (the enemies of the French and Hurons.  They chose to stay here despite the dangers and were martyred for their faith. 

After the Shrine, which we would love to visit again some day, we went across the highway to Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons. It's the site where the actual Jesuit Mission had been. 

Similar to Heritage Park back in Calgary- this was a great place for the children to explore. It was very authentic and we were supposed there were no guard rails anywhere stopping us from exploring. In fact, there were open fires in the longhouses- flint and steel lying out on the tables, tall platforms to climb on and cows and pigs in the pens without warning signs :) Us city-folk couldn't believe they trusted us with so much freedom! It was a wonderful way to immerse ourselves in the history of both the early settlers and the Hurons. 

One of the more unexpected sites in this touristy village was the actual gravesite of St. John de Brebeuf. It was like wandering around Heritage Park in the old area by the fort, turning a corner and coming across the real grave of a saint.  Very strange- but I guess they didn't discover it until the 1950s after they had already built the shrine and maybe wanted to leave his remains where they had been for 300 years. Right beside his grave was a little graveyard of the unnamed Huron Martyrs as well. Even if it was in the middle of a tourist attraction, it was touching and I made the sign of the cross as we went by to honour them. 
The museum on site was also very educational. It took us on a journey from 17th century France, to the exploration of the New World, early settlements in Canada and the native's traditions and beliefs. There was even bible from the 1600s and other interesting artifacts to view. I was very impressed with the little place. 

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