Peter Julian Eymard

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Saint Peter Julian Eymard

St Peter Julian Eymard.jpg
Priest
Apostle of the Eucharist
Born(1811-02-04)4 February 1811
La Mure, Grenoble, French Empire
Died1 August 1868(1868-08-01) (aged 57)
La Mure, Grenoble, French Empire
Venerated in Catholic Church
Beatified 12 July 1925 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized 9 December 1962 by Pope John XXIII
Major shrine Santi Claudio e Andrea dei Borgognoni
Feast 2 August
Attributes Eucharist, Monstrance, Eucharistic Adoration, Eucharistic Congress, Cope, Humeral Veil, Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, Real Presence

Peter Julian Eymard (French : Pierre-Julien Eymard, [pjɛʁ.ʒy.ljɛ̃ ɛj.mɑʁ] ; 4 February 1811 – 1 August 1868) was a French Catholic priest and founder of two religious institutes: the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament for men and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament for women. Eymard entered the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in June 1829. His first attempt as a seminarian ended because of serious illness. Throughout his life, Eymard suffered from poor health, particularly ‘weakness of the lungs’ and migraine headaches.

Contents

Life

Eymard was born 4 February 1811 at La Mure, Isère in the French Alps. His father was a smith whose second wife was Julian's mother. [1] All his life Peter Julian (or Pierre-Julien in French) had an intense devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Before his first communion on 16 March 1823, he went on foot to the shrine of Notre-Dame du Laus. Later, he came to know about the apparition of Notre-Dame de La Salette and enjoyed traveling to various Marian shrines throughout France. [2]

When his mother died in 1828 Julian resolved to enter the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and, despite his father's opposition, did so in June 1829. His first attempt as a seminarian ended because of serious illness. Throughout his life, Eymard suffered from poor health, particularly ‘weakness of the lungs’ and migraine headaches.

After his father's death in 1831, he succeeded--with the help of his former superior--in gaining admission to the major seminary of the Grenoble diocese. On 20 July 1834, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grenoble. [3] He was assigned as assistant pastor at the town of Chatte, and three years later, appointed pastor of Mount Saint-Eynard.

On his second assignment at Monteynard, the parish, which had a dilapidated church and poor rectory, consisted of a farming community with few people attending Mass. There had not been a regular pastor there for some time. The bishop urged Father Eymard's two sisters to move with him to the rectory, which they did. In fact, they furnished the rectory, for the parish was very poor. Although Eymard is known to have revitalized the place, he was dissatisfied with parish work, and decided to join the Marists (the Society of Mary). His two sisters were quite devastated as they had dedicated their lives to serving him. [4]

On August 20, 1837, he entered the Society of Mary seminary at Lyon and made his profession in February 1840. He worked with lay organizations promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Eucharist, particularly in the Forty Hours. He rose to the position of Provincial of the Society at Lyon in 1844. His new responsibilities included being in charge of the Third Order of Mary, a lay group dedicated to Marist spirituality and to the promotion of the Christian family. St. John Vianney was a member. [5]

His eucharistic spirituality did not spring full-grown from some mystical experience, but progressively. [6] As visitor-general, Eymard travelled throughout France to inspect the various Marist communities. He became familiar with the practice of sustained eucharistic worship during a visit to Paris in 1849, when he met with members of the Association of Nocturnal Adorers who had established exposition and perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories. After praying at the shrine of Our Lady of Fourviere on 21 January 1851, Eymard moved to establish a Marist community dedicated to eucharistic adoration. However, his desire to establish a separate fraternity promoting adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was not seen as part of the charism of the Marists. [4] His superiors disapproved, transferring him to the Marist College at La Seyne-sur-Mer. Eventually, Eymard resolved to leave the Society of Mary to begin his new religious congregation with the diocesan priest Raymond de Cuers. [7]

Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament

Le Pere Eymard, by Rodin L55 - Musee Rodin - Le Pere Eymard.JPG
Le Père Eymard, by Rodin

On 13 May 1856, the Paris bishops consented to Eymard's plans for a ‘Society of the Blessed Sacrament’. After many trials, Eymard and de Cuers established public exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in Paris on 6 January 1857 in a run-down building at 114 rue d’Enfer (which literally meant ‘street of hell’). [7]

The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament began working with children in Paris to prepare them to receive their First Communion. It also reached out to non-practicing Catholics, inviting them to repent and begin receiving Communion again. Father Eymard established a common rule for the members of the society and worked toward papal approval. [4] A second community was established in Marseille in 1859, and a third in Angers in 1862. Pius IX granted a Decree of Approbation in June 1863. Eymard was a tireless proponent of frequent Holy Communion, an idea given more authoritative backing by Pope Pius X in 1905.

On 10 January 1969 Pope Paul VI issued a Letter to the Superior General, Father Roland Huot, S.S.S., of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, lauding the most excellent function of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament Outside Mass declaring all those who do so make their Eucharistic Adoration "in the name of the Church". [8] This concession is included in the revised Roman Ritual, Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, No. 90 in the editio typica.

By DECREE of the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, dated 9 December 1995, SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, PRIEST, was inserted in the General Roman Calendar with the rank of optional memoria.

Font and fullness of all evangelization and striking expression of the infinite love of our divine Redeemer for mankind, the Holy Eucharist clearly marked the life and pastoral activity of Peter Julian Eymard. He truly deserves to be called an outstanding apostle of the Eucharist. In fact, his mission in the Church consisted in promoting the centrality of the Eucharistic Mystery in the whole life of the Christian community.

The French sculptor Auguste Rodin received counsel from Eymard when Rodin entered the Congregation as a lay brother in 1862, having given up art after the death of his sister. Eymard recognized Rodin's talent and advised him to return to his vocation. Rodin later produced a bust of Eymard.

Servants of the Blessed Sacrament

Bust of Eymard in a church in Dublin St Peter Julian bust.jpg
Bust of Eymard in a church in Dublin

In 1858, together with Marguerite Guillot, he founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative congregation for women. He is quoted as saying, "You take communion to become holy, not because you already are." [7]

Contemporaries

Eymard was a friend and contemporary of saints John Marie Vianney, Peter Chanel, Marcellin Champagnat, Blessed Basil Moreau and Pauline-Marie Jaricot . He died at the age of fifty-seven [3] in La Mure on 1 August 1868, of complications from a stroke. His remains were buried in the cemetery at La Mure until 1877, when they were moved to the Blessed Sacrament Congregation’s Corpus Christi Chapel in Paris, which had been consecrated in September 1876.

Veneration

He was declared venerable in 1908, beatified by Pope Pius XI on 12 July 1925, and canonized by Pope John XXIII on 9 December 1962. [9] (Also canonized with Eymard were Servite priest Anthony Mary Pucci (1819–92) and the Capuchin lay brother Francis Mary of Camporosso (1804–66). His feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on 2 August. John Paul II named Eymard "Apostle of the Eucharist". [5] [6]

Patronage

Saint Peter Julian Eymard is a patron saint of Saint Jean Baptiste Catholic Church in New York City. A shrine to the saint in the church contains a reliquary bearing the right humerus bone of the saint. [10]

Legacy

Eymard is recognised as a major contributor to nineteenth-century French spirituality.

The following landmarks were named to honor Father Eymard:

See also

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