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St. John Eudes, Confessor

November 14, 1601 – August 19, 1680

Feast Day: August 19

sotw070608The Christ-like role of seeking and saving that which is lost is peculiarly the role of the good priest, and outstanding among the many saintly priests is St. John Eudes, who was born at Ri, France, in 1601. (The book Lives of the Saints quotes 1599, but other sources state his actual birth-date to be 1601.)

In his youth he made brilliant studies at the College of Caen, conducted by the Society of Jesus, and intended to become a member of the parochial clergy. He was attracted, however, to the Congregation of the Oratory, founded by Cardinal Bérulle, which had for its aim the perfection of the priestly life.

St. John Eudes’ first solemn Mass after ordination was sung on Christmas Day, 1625. One of his very earliest ministries was tending to the sick and the dying, which he did with consummate devotion. His attention was particularly drawn to the problems of wayward girls who were trying to reform themselves. For them he established refuges and left them in charge of the Congregation of Our Lady of Refuge (the Good Shepherd Nuns), which he founded. These places were the beginnings of what we know today as Houses of the Good Shepherd.

Another profound interest of his was the formation and sanctification of the clergy. He had been thinking for a long time of educating suitable young men for the ministry of the Church. Earnestly asking for the Divine assistance, with a brave spirit he most regretfully withdrew from the Oratorians, with whom he had lived for twenty years. Associating five priests with himself, in the year 1643 he founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, known today as the Eudist Fathers.

St. John Eudes then opened the first seminary at Caen, and a great many others followed immediately in Normandy and Brittany. Today the Order has seminaries in the US and Canada. It was inevitable that the sparks of zeal which he caught from the Sacred Heart of the great High Priest should lead him to encourage devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

He had labored to promote devotion to the Heart of flesh united to the Divinity which symbolized the eternal love of Jesus. He actually established, and had approved by Rome, the liturgical devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In this way, he was the forerunner in God’s Providence of the work of St. Margaret Mary.

St. John Eudes’ great book, The Admirable Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God, has stimulated much true piety to Our Lady. He was also the author of many excellent treatises, and labored as an apostolic missioner to the very end of his life, preaching the Gospel in very many villages, towns and cities, and even in the royal court.

After his death in 1680, as St. John Eudes became illustrious by many miracles, Pope Pius X added him to the list of the Blessed. As he still shone forth with new signs and wonders, Pope Pius XI in the holy year 1925 placed him among the Saints.

This article was taken from the book, Lives of the Saints For Every Day In the Year, by Fr. Alban Butler. This book, along with other books on saints, is available from www.fatimashoppe.org.

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