The Ambulatory Murals
Saint Isaac Jogues and the two donnes, Rene Goupil and Jean de la Lande
The Church officially recognizes eight martyrs of North America. All were French, six of them being Jesuit priests and the remaining two donnes, or lay assistants to the priests.
The image of three of these intriguing saints occupy the mural overlooking the sanctuary from the north wall. They are Saint Isaac Jogues and the two donnes, Rene Goupil and Jean de la Lande. The three were martyred near Auriesville, New York.
Goupil, the first of the three to gain the martyr's crown, was born in Anjou, France in 1608. As a youth he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Parish, but was forced to leave due to deafness. He because a doctor and eventually attached himself to the Jesuits in New France.
Captured by the Iroquois, he underwent barbaric and horrible tortures. Finally, on September 29, 1642, he was murdered with an ax for having made the sign of the cross over a child.
Saint Jogues was captured with Goupil and likewise was mercilessly tortured. However, he managed to escape and return to France for a brief time. He was granted a dispensation to celebrate Mass because of the condition of his left hand, which was mutilated during the torture. Saint Jogues soon returned to North America to resume his mission work. While on a peace mission to the Iroquois, he and his companion, de la Lande were captured, this time by the Hurons, who tomahawked them to death. Saint Jogues suffered martyrdom on October 18, 1646, and de la Lande the following day. Other than the episode of his martyrdom, little is known about de la Lande, including the date of birth.
These three courageous American saints were canonized on June 29, 1930. The feast of the eight North American martyrs is October 19.
Saint John Nepomucene Neumann
On the south wall above the middle confessional is the image of Saint John Nepomucene Neumann. This American saint was born March 28, 1811 in Prachatite, Bohemia. He worked as a missionary in New York state near Niagara Falls for several years before joining the Redemptorist Fathers in 1842. In spite of his wishes to remain in a subsidiary position, he was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia in 1852.
The accomplishments of this saint were amazing. Neumann founded over 100 parochial schools, a model seminary, and established American branches of several orders of nuns. He was the first United States bishop to have Forty Hours Devotion in his diocese. He also wrote numerous popular doctrinal aids for children in both German and English.
His canonization took place in 1977. He was the first American prelate to be so honored. January 5, the date of his death in 1860, is celebrated as the feast day of this saint.
The Nash Chapel Mural
Venerable Felix de Andreis
Above the entrance to the Nash Chapel is the painting of an Italian Vincentian, Venerable Felix de Andreis. He was born in 1778 in the small Italian town of Demonte. Fr. Andreis was blessed with extraordinary intellectual gifts. After his ordination and studies in theology, his brilliance was so evident, he was immediately appointed a professor in the same institution where he had studied. His reputation also reached the attention of Pope Pius VII. Fr. Andreis, however; wished only for obscurity. His dream of mission service was fulfilled when he was appointed to the Diocese of Louisiana in 1815. He labored untiringly at the task of training seminarians. He died in 1820. In 1918 Pope Benedict XV introduced his case for beatification.
The Sacristy Mural
Saint Frances Cabrini
On the south wall, above the sacristy entrance, is the mural depicting the first American citizen to achieve sainthood, Frances Xavier Cabrini. Born in Italy in 1850, Cabrini experience divine favor most of her life. Of her confirmation, she said, "From that moment I was no longer of the earth...I cannot tell why, but I knew the Holy Ghost had come to me."
After being denied admission to one religious order, Cabrini associated herself with anther as a laywoman. The convent's closing prompted her and others to form their order: the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Hearth. During her lifetime, this order spread throughout Europe and the United States.
Saint Frances Cabrini died in 1917. On July 7, 1946, she was canonized. Her feast day is November 13.
The North Portal Murals
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
Above the inner north door is the mural honoring Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne. Born in 1769 into a wealthy and cultured French family, Duchesne entered the Visitation novitiate in 1788. The ensuing French Revolution forced the nuns of this convent to flee so she returned home, devoting herself to prayer and charitable work necessitated by the revolution. Unable to regroup in the Visitation convent, she and her companions were accepted in the newly founded Society of the Sacred Heart.
Duchesne's lifetime dream was fulfilled when she came to America to do mission work. The schools she founded were abjectly poor; but they were academically excellent. She worked principally in Louisana and Missouri, and briefly in Kansas.
Duchesne spent the last years of her life in the obscurity of prayer and humble work. She died at age eighty-three at Saint Charles, Missouri. Known for her holiness and sacrificial life, Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne was canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is November 18. Duchesne Academy in Omaha is named after this pioneer educator.
Saint Juniperro Serra
On the west wall of the North Entrance is a mural of the Franciscan padre born Miguel Jose Serra on the Spanish island of Mallorca, 1713. Upon his ordination, he took the name Junipero, the name of Saint Francis' beloved original companion friar. After receiving a doctorate in philosophy, he taught at the university in Parma until 1749. At age thirty-seven he was sent as a missionary to central Mexico and Baja and Alta, California. Despite poor health, he dedicated his life to founding missions, converting, education, and advocating for the native people. Tirelessly, he traveled, wrote, and preached and administered the sacraments until his death in 1784. Fr. Serra is the namesake of Serra Club, and international Catholic organization dedicated to the promotion of vocations. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988 and canonized by Pope Francis in 2015.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
The mural on the east wall of the North Entrance, above the doorway to Our Lady of Nebraska Chapel, portrays Catherine (Kateri) Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint. Born in 1656, she was the daughter of a Mohawk chief. Orphaned at four, scarred and nearly blinded by smallpox, and as a Catholic convert, she endured abuse and harassment. She eventually fled to a mission near Montreal, where she dedicated herself to the Blessed Virgin. Always frail, she died in 1680, age twenty-four. Today she is revered as a patron of ecology and the environment. Beatified in 1980 and canonized in 2012, her feast day is July 14.
~The Beauty of Thy House, 2005