Saint Antoine Daniel was a Jesuit missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, and one of the eight Canadian Martyrs.
Daniel was born on May 24, 1601, at Dieppe, in Normandy. After two years' study of philosophy and one year of law, Daniel entered the Society of Jesus in Rouen on 1 October 1621. He was ordained a priest in 1629 and having heard of the humble work converting the Hurons, he went as a missionary to Canada.
Daniel travelled to New France in 1633 and studied the Wendat (Huron) language. In 1634 he travelled to Wendake with Frs. Brébeuf and Daoust. Fr. Daniel’s grasp of the Huron language was rapid and he translated the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and other prayers in the Huron native tongue and put them to music. For two years, in what is now Quebec, he had charge of a school for Indian boys, but the children proved to be too undisciplined. When Father Daniel returned to Huronia in 1638 he relieved Father Brébeuf at the new mission.
During Father Daniel’s eight day retreat of prayer at Ste. Marie in June of 1648, he seems to have been aware of upcoming danger as he spoke prophetically to others, confessed and prepared for death before returning to Teanaostaye.
On his return to Teanaostaye in July of 1648, with most of the men away in Québec trading, the village came under attack by Iroquois forces just as Father Daniel was finishing mass. Father Daniel did all in his power to aid his people. Before the palisades had been scaled he hurried to the chapel where the women, children, and old men were gathered, gave them general absolution and baptized them, before urging them to flee to safety. Daniel himself made no attempt to escape, but is reported to have calmly advanced to meet the enemy, still in his mass vestments.
Fr. Daniel, in an effort to cause a diversion, took up a cross and walked towards the advancing Iroquois. Seized with amazement the Iroquois halted for a moment, then recovering themselves they fired on him. Daniel's lifeless body was flung into the burning chapel. Many of the Huron managed to escape during this incident.
Daniel was the second to be martyred among the Jesuits sent to New France, and the first of the missionaries sent to the Hurons. Father Ragueneau, his superior, speaks of him in a letter to the Superior General of the Jesuits as "a truly remarkable man, humble, obedient, united with God, of never failing patience and indomitable courage in adversity" (Thwaites, tr. Relations, XXXIII, 253-269). Daniel was canonized by Pope Pius XI on 29 June 1930.