St. John EUDES, (1601–80), French missioner. Born at Ri in Normandy and educated at the Jesuit college at Caen, he was accepted by the Superior General of the Oratory in 1623 and ordained priest in 1625. After heroic service in plagues in 1627 and 1631, he spent ten years in conducting missions. In 1641 he founded the ‘Order of our Lady of Charity’, dedicated to the heart of Mary, to care for fallen women, which in 1644 was entrusted to the Visitandines of Caen. In 1643 he withdrew from the Oratory and founded at Caen the ‘Congregation of Jesus and Mary’, dedicated to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, an association of priests whose object was to conduct seminaries. In 1657 the Caen sisters set up an independent community (‘Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Refuge’), with a fourth vow, to care for fallen women.
St John Eudes shares with St Margaret Mary Alacoque [modern renewal of] devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus [Devotion to the Sacred Heart had been well-known in the middle ages through the writings of the nuns of Helfta, particularly St. Gertrude the Great and St. Mechtilde, whose influence St. John Eudes acknowledged. St. Margaret Mary substantially shifted the orientation of such devotion from the medieval emphasis on intimate union with the gentle Christ to a theology of "reparation" for wrongs done to Christ, particularly sacrilege against the Eucharist].
St John Eudes sought to give [this devotion] a theological foundation[:]
This word, Heart, has several meanings in Scripture:
1. It means that material and corporal heart that we bear in our breast;
2. It is used to signify the memory;
3. It denotes the understanding by which we make holy meditation;
4. It expresses the free will of the superior and reasonable part of the soul, which is the noblest of its powers, the root of good or evil;
5. It refers to that supreme part of the soul that theologians call the highest point of the soul;
6. It sometimes means the whole interior of man;
7. It signifies the Holy Ghost Who is the heart of the Father and the Son, which they wish to give us as our spirit and our heart;
8. The Son of God is called the Heart of the Eternal Father.
Oeuvres complètes, VI, pp. 33 sq.
[...] Jesus gives us
His most lovable Heart, which is the principle and origin of all His other
gifts. For it was His divine Heart that made Him go forth from His Father’s
bosom and come upon earth to give us all these graces; and it was His Heart,
humanly divine and divinely human, that merited and acquired them for us by all
the sorrows and anguishes that He bore while He was in this world.
Oeuvres complètes, VIII, p. 311.
[...] He wrote several offices of the feast. He also fostered devotion to the heart of Mary, introducing in his congregation a feast in its honour in 1648, and publishing in 1670 Le Cœur admirable de la Mère de Dieu.
[...] Above all (under the title Heart of Mary) we intend
and desire to revere and honor primarily and principally that faculty and
capacity of loving, both natural and supernatural, possessed by this Mother of
entirely used by her for loving God and her fellows, or rather all the love and
charity of the Mother of the Saviour in regard to God and ourselves. . . . For,
while the heart represents the whole interior, yet it chiefly signifies love. .
. . And so it is this incomparable love and inefflable charity that we specially
regard and revere in our Most Honored Lady and our very dear Mother. It is this
that we principally mean by her most holy Heart, and it is under this beautiful
aspect and under this glorious title of Mater Pulchrae Dilectionis,
Mother of Love and of Charity, that we wish singularly to honour and to
praise this most lovable Virgin and admirable Mother
Cf. Le Coeur Admirable, Bk. I, ch. 111 and 1V.
The best known of his other writings is La Vie et le royaume de Jésus (1637). He was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1925. Feast day, 19 Aug.
The ‘Congregation of Jesus and Mary’, whose members are commonly known as ‘Eudists’, was almost extinguished by the Revolution. It was reconstituted in 1826 and is now chiefly concerned with secondary education. In recent times it has been active in South America, the United States, and esp. Canada. In 1835 a separate congregation, the Sisters of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, was formed to establish reformatories.
Œuvres complètes pub. with introd. and notes, 12 vols., Paris, 1905–9; Lettres choisies et inédites ed. C. Berthelot du Chesnay, CJM (Namur, 1958). The primary Life by P. Hérambourg, CJM (1661–1720) was ed. by A. Le Doré (Paris, 1869) and, more accurately, by D. Boulay, CJM (ibid., 1925; Eng. tr., Westminster, Md., and Dublin, 1960). Modern Lives by D. Boulay (4 vols., Paris, 1905–8), H. Joly (‘Les Saints’, 1907; Eng. tr., 1932), E. Georges (Paris, 1925), and A. Pioger (Paris, 1940). Bremond, 3 (1921), pp. 583–671. C. Lebrun, CJM, La Spiritualité de S. Jean Eudes (1933; Eng. tr., 1934). C. Berthelot du Chesnay, Les Missions de Saint Jean Eudes (1967). P. Milcent, CJM, in Dict. Sp. 8 (1974), cols. 488–501, s.v. ‘Jean (90) Eudes’. E. Georges, La Congrégation de Jéesus et Marie, dite des Eudistes (1933). C. Berthelot du Chesnay in DHGE 15 (1903), cols. 1331–5, s.v. ‘Eudistes’; J. Hamon in DIP 4 (1977), cols. 1140–42, s.v. ‘Gesù e Maria, Congregazione di’.
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