St. Isaac Jogues is one of the seven North American martyrs. When he heard a fellow Jesuit talk of the hardship and treachery of those who went to evangelize the Native Americans, Isaac was completely inspired to join them, willing to risk his life to bring Jesus to these people.
Upon arrival in in America in 1636, he wrote, “I do not know what it is to enter Heaven, but this I know-that it would be difficult to experience in this world a joy more excessive and more overflowing than I felt in setting foot in the New World”.
After being driven out of villages for months and being sent to build Fort Sainte-Marie (where Catholic Natives found refuge) a group of Mohawks captured a group of the Catholic Hurons.
Isaac volunteered to join those captured to comfort the prisoners. The captors took a particular delight in tormenting Isaac, beating him with sticks, tearing out fingernails and gnawing on his fingers until his bones were exposed.
This is why he is missing three fingers in the painting.
Through the next 13 months, Isaac ceaselessly prayed for his captors and comforted, baptized, and heard confessions.
Eventually the Jesuits rescued Isaac and he was sent to France where he was acclaimed by the Pope as a living martyr.
Within a year and a half, Isaac longed to return to New France to continue the missionary work, even if it meant his martyrdom.
And soon after his arrival, the Mohawks blamed Isaac for sorcery when another plague broke out. They seized him and his companion and beat them extensively, killed Isaac with a tomahawk and Jean the next day, dumping the bodies in the river.