Father Jean de Brébeuf was one of that brave company forming the Jesuit
mission to the Hurons
. He was captured by the Iroquois
in 1649 and was put to death by torture. For stark horror
the record of the sufferings which this missionary
had to endure
before he died is probably unrivalled in all history. It was undoubtedly an instance
where the powerful physique
and iron constitution
of the victim
were to be regretted purely because they caused him to have to endure
suffering and agony
which long before would've killed or rendered insensible
a weaker man.
For start with, de Brébeuf's hands were chopped off. His flesh, at many and different parts of the body, was pierced with pointed iron instruments of various kinds. Tomahawks made red-hot were suspended around his neck, so that every turn of the head was a torment; while a belt composed of bark smeared with resin and pitch was tied around his body and set alight.
These various torments, in all their severity, were meant neither to kill nor render a strong man unconscious. They were specifically designed to ensure a gruesome lingering death and to provide prolonged entertainment for the savages who capered around their prisoners; other members of the mission, as well as number of Hurons, were captives too and were treated in similar fashion. But de Brébeuf endured these agonies staunchly. More, he lifted up his voice and preached to his persecutors. They retaliated by seizing burning brands from a fire and thrusting them into his mouth. Even this could not stop the flow of eloquence. They proceeded with further outrages and mutilations, eventually silencing him for all time by cutting off his lips. Then, over his body, they flung again and again buckets of boiling water. They cut pieces of flesh from his limbs and trunk, avoiding any part likely to prove fatal, roasted them in fire and ate them there and then right before his eyes. The sands of life were running low by this time, but before death actually came, they managed to amputate his feet and to tear off his scalp.
For further narrative of the life and martyrdom of this heroic missionary, I would refer the reader to The Travels and Sufferings of Father Jean de Brébeuf, edited by Theodore Besterman, Golden Cockerel Press, 1938.