St. John Eudes: “Father, Doctor, and Apostle” of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
August 18 is the optional memorial of St. John Eudes, a French priest who founded of the Society of Jesus and Mary (the Eudists) and the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him to be the “father, doctor and apostle of the liturgical cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.”
John Eudes was born at Ri, Normandy, France, on November 14, 1601, the son of a farmer. Prior to John’s birth, his parents who had been praying for a child and when he was born, they offered him to God through Mary.
He attended the Jesuit college at Caen, joined the religious order of the Oratorians, and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. John worked as a volunteer, caring for the victims of the plagues that struck Normandy in 1625 and 1631. In order to avoid infecting his fellow religious, he lived in a huge cask in the middle of a field during the plague.
At age 32, John became a parish missionary, building a reputation as an extraordinary preacher and confessor. During his long life, he preached more than one hundred missions in various parts of France. He strongly opposed the heresy of Jansenism, which taught that human nature was immoral, original sin was flourishing, and perfection was both necessary for salvation and virtually unattainable. In contrast, John promoted the tender love of Jesus and his Mother and devotion to their Sacred Hearts.
He became interested in helping prostitutes, and in 1641, with Madeleine Lamy, founded a haven for them in Caen under the direction of the Visitandines. John resigned from the Oratorians in 1643 and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (the Eudists) at Caen, composed of secular priests not bound by vows but dedicated to upgrading the clergy by establishing effective seminaries and to preaching missions.
In 1650, the Bishop of Coutances invited him to establish a seminary in that diocese. The same year the sisters at his refuge in Caen left the Visitandines and were recognized by the Bishop of Bayeux as a new congregation under the name of Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge. He also established the Society of the Heart of the Mother Most Admirable — a third order group.
St. John Eudes is known for his writings, especially The Ideal Confessor, The Wondrous Childhood of the Holy Mother of God, The Admirable Heart of Mary, and The Apostolic Preacher. Above all, St. John Eudes taught that Jesus was the source of all holiness and Mary was the example of a Christian life.
He died at Caen on August 19, 1680 at the age of 79. He was beatified in 1909 by Saint Pius X, and canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925.
“He belongs to you, but more than that, He longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He wants His breath to be in your breath, His heart in your heart, and His soul in your soul.”
“Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make his spirit, his devotion, his affections, his desires and his disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly.”
“I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is our true head, and that you are one of his members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours. . . . You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God.”
Prayer by St. John Eudes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Heart all lovable and all loving of my Savior, be the Heart of my heart, the soul of my soul, the spirit of my spirit, the life of my life and the sole principle of all my thoughts, words and actions, of all the faculties of my soul, and of all my senses, both interior and exterior. Amen.
Prayer by St. John Eudes to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Hail Mary! Mother of God the Son.
Hail Mary! Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary! Temple of the Most Blessed Trinity.
Hail Mary! Pure Lily of the Effulgent Trinity.
Hail Mary! Celestial Rose of the Ineffable Love of God.
Hail Mary! Virgin pure and humble,of whom the King of heaven willed to be born and with thy milk to be nourished.
Hail Mary! Virgin of Virgins,
Hail Mary! Queen of Martyrs, whose soul a sword transfixed.
Hail Mary! Lady most blessed! unto whom all power in heaven and earth is given.
Hail Mary! My Queen and my Mother! my Life, my Sweetness and my Hope,
Hail Mary! Mother Most Amiable,
Hail Mary! Mother of Divine Love,
Hail Mary! Immaculate! Conceived Without Sin!
Hail Mary! Full of Grace! The Lord is with Thee!
Blessed art thou among women! And blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus!
Blessed be thy spouse, Saint Joseph,
Blessed be thy father, Saint Joachim,
Blessed be thy mother, Saint Anne,
Blessed be thy guardian, Saint John,
Blessed be thy holy angel, Saint Gabriel,
Glory be to God the Father, Who chose thee,
Glory be to God the Son, Who loved thee,
Glory be to God the Holy Spirit, Who espoused thee.
O Glorious Virgin Mary, may all people love and praise thee.