St. John Eudes
St. John Eudes is one of the outstanding figures among the priests in the 17th Century France. He was born on November 14, 1601 in the small Normandy town of Ri. In 1623, he joined the Oratory which Pierre de Berulle had founded 12 years earlier, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1625. During more than 50 years, he engaged in intensive apostolic activity focusing particularly on the preaching of parish missions and the formation of priests. In order to better achieve these goals, in 1643, he founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) to which major seminaries were entrusted.
Moreover, during parish missions, he dealt with women in prostitution. Eager to assist them, he instituted the Order of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge in 1641. The largest branch of the Order in existence today, the Good Shepherd Sisters, was established at Angers, France, in 1835 by St. Mary Euphrasia. For the laity, St. John Eudes founded the Society of the Most Admirable Mother, a sort of secular institute which would eventually count among its members, Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Amelie Fristel, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary at Parame, in France.
He shared with St. Margaret Mary Alacoque the honor of initiating devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (he composed the Mass for the Sacred Heart in 1668) and the Holy Heart of Mary, in popularizing the devotions with his “The Devotion to the Adorable Heart of Jesus” (1670) and “the Admirable Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God”, which he finished a month before his death at Caen.
St. John Eudes had but one consuming passion: to proclaim by word and deed “the incomparable riches of Christ.”
St. John Eudes died on August 19, 1680. He was beatified on April 15, 1909, and canonized on May 31, 1925.