The Favor from Heaven

As soon as Peter and Teondechoren entered Ossosane, cries of dismay spread through the village.

"Chiwatenwa is dead!" "The believer is dead!" The brothers carried Joseph's body slowly through the village which was cluttered and disordered because of the packing and moving preparations.

The news reached Marie Aonetta just before her brothers-in-law arrived at the cabin. She stood motionless, staring at her husband's body, her arms hanging limply at her sides.

For a long time, she could not move or speak, and then, her voice cracking, she whispered, "So often Joseph would say, 'He who is the master of it has thus arranged it. What could we do in the matter?' "

The villagers were talking emotionally in the background. Now and then a voice rose clearly above the tumult, "He was struck down because he was a Christian."

The crowd became silent when Echon arrived. They moved aside and let the giant priest pass quickly through them to reach Joseph's body.

Jean de Brébeuf knelt on the ground next to his dead son. His hand shook as he gently touched the remains of this man whom he now regarded as the first Huron martyr. Echon stood and took Marie Aonetta's hands, covering them with his own. His blue eyes looked steadily into her own dark ones. Without the passing of words, each spoke to the other, telling how deep a wound was made by the loss of this loved one.

Joseph Chiwatenwa was buried the following day, August 4, 1640, with all the solemnity of a Christian burial. Jean de Brébeuf delivered the funeral oration. Later, he spent some time with Joseph's family, marveling at Marie Aonetta's acceptance of her cross. When he left them, Echon told Marie, "The best Christians in Europe could not bear their sorrow any better than you are doing."

Jean de Brébeuf went back to the chapel which would be abandoned in a few days when the villagers completed the move to the new village. He knelt in the darkness and began to pray. Often before he had had visions during prayer. Now, again, he was transported from his surroundings as if he existed for a moment suspended somewhere between sky and earth.

He saw a huge dome come down from heaven and rest itself on the grave of Joseph Chiwatenwa. Then it seemed to him that someone turned the dome and lifted it back to heaven. The vision lasted a long time and Jean de Brébeuf was given the knowledge that God wanted him to understand that Joseph's soul was with Him.

When the vision faded. Father de Brébeuf remained on his knees. Now his prayers were turned to Joseph. "You prayed for your nation every day while you were on earth. Pray harder for us, Joseph, now that you are in heaven."

Early the next morning, Echon had a visitor. He knew the man well who stood there before his cabin. Usually his face was painted in bizarre patterns, but today his dark skin was clean. Father de Brébeuf remembered a comment he had once heard about this man, "Teondechoren is a mass of flesh that covers a soul as gross as his body." "What do you want, Teondechoren?" The elder brother of Joseph Chiwatenwa looked straight into Echon's eyes. "I want you to baptize me." Father de Brébeuf gaped at him, speechless for a moment. Then he blurted out, "You? You could not be baptized unless you gave up your immoral life and superstitious ways."

"I am willing to give up all these things." Joseph's brother put his hand to his chest and grabbed his charm, the head of a snake, which he wore on a leather string around his neck. With a pull, he ripped the ugly charm from the string. "I no longer believe in the oqui. And I shall give up my practice in the fire rites.

Jean de Brébeuf stared at Teondechoren, unbelievingly. "You would still have to be instructed."

"I learned from my brother all the truths of the Faith. Even though he did not know it, I listened to him and learned." Echon's face softened to a smile. His heart was singing with )oy at the thought that no gift of sacrifice was ever accepted by God with less than the promised hundredfold being given in return. . . .

"You will still need a few instructions, Teondechoren. Perhaps in about a month, you shall be ready for baptism."

"I am grateful, Echon. And when you baptize me, I shall ask for my brother's name, that I may continue the work he began."

Echon watched Teondechoren go back into the confused and dismantled village of Ossosane.

In a few days, the people would put their lives back in order, with new cabins in a new village.

Echon's mind wandered. Perhaps in a few years, the people would put their souls in order. Perhaps this was the plan of God--now that He had Joseph Chiwatenwa in heaven and a new Joseph on earth.

Table of Contents