About the Shrine
The site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs was once a 17th century Mohawk village called Ossernenon where three Jesuit missionaries were martyred during the 1640s. Father Isaac Jogues, René Goupil, a Jesuit brother, and John Lalande, a lay missioner, are the only canonized American martyrs. Together with five Jesuit priests killed in the native missions of Canada, they are known as the North American Martyrs. The "Lily of the Mohawks," Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, was born here in 1656.
In 1884, the site was purchased from a local farmer by Father Joseph Loyzance, S.J., pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Troy, NY. He called it "Our Lady of Martyrs" for the Blessed Mother who stood at the cross of Jesus. The first Mass was celebrated on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1885, the 243rd anniversary of Father Jogues arrival at the village as a captive.
By 1895 more property and a larger chapel were needed to accommodate thousands of pilgrims who arrived by boat, train and on foot. The addition included "the Ravine," the holy place where a grieved Father Jogues interred the bones of René Goupil in an unmarked grave.
With the canonization of the North American Martyrs in 1930, an even larger church was needed. The construction of the Coliseum was completed in 1931, and holds 6500 people with standing room for an additional 3500.
Today the Shrine is comprised of 400+ acres of flowered landscapes and tree-studded slopes and lawns. Five chapels, two museums, a candle shrine, Jesuit cemetery, outdoor Stations of the Cross and Visitor Center and Gift Shop provide places for Mass and prayer, private devotions and reflections, and education and enjoyment.
In its 125th Anniversary year of 2010, the Shrine is a natural reliquary sanctified by the blood of the martyrs, a place of peace and reconciliation that the Auriesville saints procured.