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Saint John Eudes

Saint John Eudes
  • Century: 17th Century
  • Patronage: Missionaries
  • Feast Day: August 19th

St. John Eudes was born in Ri, Orne, France.  He took a vow of chastity, and studied with the Jesuits at Cain.  He then went on to join the Oratorians, in 1623.  One of his masters and model in the spiritual life was the mystic Charles de Condren.  He was ordained a Priest on December 20th, 1625 and began his priestly life with heroic labors for the victioms of the plague, which was ravaging the country.  He became famous as a missionary, and was called “the prodigy of his age”.  

In 1641, he founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, to provide a refuge for prostitutes who wished to do penance.  The society was approved by Pope Alexander VII, in January, 1666.  It later also included a convent which in 1829 influenced St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, who established The Good Shepherd Sisters, called also as Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, after Our Lady of Charity.  

St. John Eudes severed his connection with the Oratory, to establish the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, for the education of Priests and for missionary work.  This congregation was founded at Caen, in 1643, and was considered a most important and urgent work. He preached not less than 110 missions, three at Paris, one at Versailles, and the others in different parts of France.  

He dedicated his chapels of Caen and Coutances to the Sacred Hearts.  The feast of the Holy Heart of Mary was celebrated for the first time in 1648, and that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1672.  The Mass and Office proper to these two feasts were composed by Fr. Eudes.  For this reason, Pope Leo XIII in proclaiming his virtues heroic, gave him the title of, “Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Heart of Mary”.  He believed in the “Unity” of the hearts of Jesus and Mary and wrote, “You must never separate what God has so perfectly united.  So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary”.  

Fr. Eudes wrote a number of books remarkable for elevation of doctrine, and simplicity of style.  His principal words are: Le Royaume de Jesus; Le contrat de l’homme avec Dieu par le Saint Bapteme; Le Memorail de la vie Ecclesiastique; Le Predicateur Apostolique; and the last is the first book ever written on devotion to the Sacred Hearts – Le Coeur Admirable de la Tres Sainte Mere de Dieu.  He died at Caen, on August 19th, 1680, pronouncing the names of Jesus and Mary.   

Practical Take Away

St. John Eudes was driven to serve the Church, and did so by reaching out to repentant women.  He founded several orders, one being a convent for repentant women.  He also founded an order to teach Priests for missionary work.  He himself, spent a large portion of his life preaching missions around France.  He consecrated himself to Mary, at a very early age.  He also promoted and spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, and was responsible for getting the Church to accept liturgical offices in its honor.  He was always faithful to the Chair of Peter, and was the first to write a book on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Holy Heart of Mary.  Without his life long service to the Church, we would not have the devotion today, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Holy Heart of Mary.  We can ask for his intercession to deepen our devotion to these two Hearts, that can “never be seperated” according to St. John Eudes.