SAINT JOHN EUDES (1601-1680), priest, missionary and founder – Patron saint of the Diocese of Baie-Comeau in Québec, Canada
Today, the Church honors Saint John Eudes, a French missionary priest who founded two Congregations and a great promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
John was born in 1601 in the village of Ri, located in the Normandy region of France. Since the time he was a child, he tried to live his life in imitation of the life of Jesus; and, at the age of fourteen, he took a vow of chastity.
He joined the religious community of the Oratorians and was ordained a priest in 1625 at the age of twenty-four. During severe plagues in 1627 and 1631, Father Eudes volunteered to care for the stricken in his own diocese at great risk to his own life.
At the age of thirty-two, he began preaching missions and was renowned for his inspirational sermons, preaching missions all over France, especially throughout Normandy.
Encouraged to care for the spiritual needs of prostitutes, he founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge in 1641, an Order which provided refuge for “women of disrepute” who wished to do penance and begin living a moral lifestyle . The Congregation was approved by Pope Alexander VII on January 2, 1666.
In his concern with the spiritual improvement of the clergy, he realized that the greatest need was for new schools of education and formation, and it was his desire to establish new seminaries for this purpose. In order to realize his dream, he had to sever his relationship with the Oratorians, and, in 1643, founded a new society called the Society of Jesus and Mary (or what many called the Eudists). He founded several seminaries in Normandy. The Society continues today with members preaching missions and teaching in seminaries in Canada and France.
Father John Eudes died on August 19, 1680 in Caen, France and was canonized a saint in 1925 by Pope Pius XI.
Saint John Eudes is probably best known for the central theme of his writings – Jesus as the Source of holiness and Mary as the model of Christian life. His devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary led Pope Pius XI to declare him the father of the liturgical cult of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
We commemorate his feastday on August 19.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint John Eudes)
“Father, You chose the priest John Eudes to preach the infinite riches of Christ. By his teaching and example, help us to know You better and live faithfully in the light of the Gospel.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”