SAINT CLAUDE de la COLOMBIÈRE (1641-1682), priest
Today, the Church honors Saint Claude de la Colombière, a priest, homilist and spiritual director who devoted his life to living the Gospel message with all whom his life touched.
Claude was born on February 2, 1641, in a small town in the diocese of Grenoble, France. His parents were very devout, as is evidenced by the vocations of four of their children – a Jesuit priest, a Sulpician friar, a diocesan priest and a Visitation nun.
In 1650, Claude was sent to a junior college in Lyons run by the Jesuits. At the age of seventeen, Claude felt the interior calling to the religious life. He entered the Jesuit novitiate house in Avignon.
Two months after his solemn profession as a Jesuit in 1675, he was appointed superior at Paray-le-Monial, in Burgundy, France, in which the convent was located where Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque was staying. Here, Father Claude became her spiritual director, and she opened her soul to him and told him of the many communications she believed she had received from our Lord.
He assured her he accepted their authenticity and urged her to put in writing everything in their regard, and did all he could to guide and support her in carrying out the mission with which she had been entrusted.
Encouraging her in the spread of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sister Margaret Mary mentioned that our Lord referred to him as His “faithful and perfect friend”.
Because of Father Colombière’s remarkable gift as a homilist, he was sent to England where he took up residence in London to be the court preacher to the duchess of York, who was to become the wife of the future King James II. His radiant personality and his gift of preaching were noted by everyone.
When the alleged plot to assassinate King Charles II shook the country, Father Colombière was accused of complicity in the plot and imprisoned. Through the intervention of King Louis XIV of France, he was released, then banished from the country in 1679, but not before his health had badly deteriorated due to the deplorable conditions in prison.
He spent his last years at Paray-le-Monial, where he was spiritual director to the young Jesuits. Father Claude de la Colombière died on February 15, 1682, and was canonized a saint on May 31, 1992 by Pope St. John Paul II in Rome.
We commemorate his feastday on February 15.
(From catholicnewsagency.com/saint, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, newadvent.org and vatican.va/news_services)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Holy Men)
“All-powerful God, help us who celebrate the memory of Saint Claude to imitate his way of life. May the example of Your saints be our challenge to live holier lives.
“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.”