A Pilgrimage to the North American Martyrs Shrine

By Benedict Shibler, 8th Grade

On September 17-19, 2023, the St. Louis de Montfort Academy did a pilgrimage to the North American Martyr’s Shrine in Auriesville, NY. Where the shrine now is, St. Isaac Jogues and St. Rene Goupil were killed; along with St. John Lalande four years later, all by the Iroquois Indians. Pope Pius XI canonized them on June 29, 1930, along with five others who had been martyred.

We left from the Academy property in Herndon, Pennsylvania on Sunday, September 17, and after a five hour drive on the Academy bus, got to our campsite. On the drive there, among other things, we prayed a rosary and sang the Little Office of the Blessed Virgen Mary. The campsite had bathrooms, showers, washers, and dryers in a building near the campground. After arriving, we unloaded our bags from the Academy bus and set up the tents. While waiting for dinner, we played football until dinner was ready. Then after eating dinner, we played a few games around the campfire, showered, sang the Salve Regina, and then went to bed.

That night it rained for several hours making the night miserable. All our tents, sleeping bags, and clothes were soaking wet. Thankfully, we were able to use the dryers that morning and later throughout the day to dry clothing and shoes. That morning we had breakfast, then we got ready to leave to start the pilgrimage.

After the short drive to the starting point, we began the pilgrimage. We then walked the twenty miles to the shrine of the North American Martyrs. While walking, we would pray rosaries and sing hymns to Our Lady. Occasionally there would be a break where there was water and snacks. Some of the students played songs on their fifes and bagpipes that they had brought along.

Once we had arrived, there was about a thirty minute break; then we sang the Little Office of Mary in the ravine where St. Rene Goupil was killed. We were then able to pray or walk around the grounds. Most people put their rosaries in the stream that St. Rene Goupil’s body had been cast into after he had been killed. Many students also got rocks from the stream as relics. While there, we saw the hill where St. Isaac Jogues had to run the gauntlet. After a few hours, we left the shrine and went to a restaurant for dinner.

After we ate a pizza dinner, we left to go back to the campground. Upon arriving, we had night prayers and went to bed. Most people slept in an unused, empty arcade-room, not wanting to risk another night of rain. The next day after waking up, we had a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, yogurt, and coffee, then began packing the tents and our bags. After leaving, we arrived back at the Academy at about 3:00 p.m. on the 19th.

The pilgrimage was very hard but also enjoyable because we were able to get away from the normal daily life for a few days. All the students made it the whole way and most of us enjoyed it very much. We did the pilgrimage as an outing but also because it honors the saints and gives glory to God.