St. René Goupil: the patron saint of anesthesia
In 1642, on a mission to Huron territory, Goupil and his associated group of missionaries were captured by the Mohawk people.3 Goupil was brutally tortured while in captivity. Despite enduring considerable suffering, when the Mohawk community needed medical assistance, Goupil was first to help “with as much charity as he would have shown the dearest friend.”4 At a point in time when he knew he was near death, Goupil asked Isaac Jogues, a fellow Jesuit missionary, to anoint him, making him a Jesuit friar. After being seen blessing a Mohawk child with the sign of the cross – misinterpreted by a Mohawk leader as a curse – Goupil was violently killed.
Goupil did not let the unfortunate events of his life define the way he treated others. He was known to be patient, compassionate, and willing to help in any capacity. Canonized in 1930, his selflessness and ability to conduct himself well in difficult times, as well as to relieve pain and suffering, were the traits noted to justify his becoming the patron saint of anesthetists in 1951.5
Conflicts of interest
This submission was handled by Dr. Hilary P. Grocott, Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Journal of Anesthesia.
- 1.Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church. Lives of the Canadian Martyrs - St. Rene Goupil - written by McE Galbreath. Available from URL: http://canadianmartyrs.org/resources/canadian-martyrs/ (accessed October 2017).
- 2.Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Pouliot L. Goupil, René -, University of Toronto/Université Laval. Available from URL: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/goupil_rene_1E.html (accessed October 2017).
- 3.The Arlington Catholic Herald. A patron saint for anesthesiologists - written by Thomas Craughwell – December 10, 2011. Available from URL: http://www.catholicherald.com/faith/a_patron_saint_for_anesthesiologists/ (accessed October 2017).
- 4.Jogues I. Rene Goupil 1608-1642 - Isaak Jogues Narrative. Available from URL: http://www.wyandot.org/goupil.htm (accessed October 2017).