Peter Julian Eymard
|Saint Peter Julian Eymard|
|Apostle of the Eucharist|
4 February 1811|
La Mure, Grenoble, France
|Died||1 August 1868(aged 57)|
|Honored in||Roman Catholicism|
|Canonized||9 December 1962 by Pope John XXIII|
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. All his life Peter Julian had an intense devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. 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.
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 1822. His first attempt as a seminarian ended because of serious illness. 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. He was assigned assistant pastor at the town of Chatte, and three years later, appointed pastor of Monteynard.
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. Later on, when the call to religious community became so readily apparent to Father Eymard, he decided to join the Marists (the Society of Mary). His two sisters were quite devastated as they had dedicated their lives to serving him.
In 1839, he joined the Marist Fathers, where he worked as a well-respected spiritual advisor with seminarians and priests. He worked with the Third Order of Mary and other 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 1845.
His eucharistic spirituality did not spring full-grown from some mystical experience, but progressively. Eymard 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. 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.
Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament
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’).
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, obtained in 1858 from Pope Pius IX. Eymard was a tireless proponent of frequent Holy Communion, an idea given more authoritative backing by Pope Pius X in 1905.
Servants of the Blessed Sacrament
In 1858, together with Marguerite Guillot, he founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative congregation for women. He is quoted as saying, “Religious life is not the end ... religious life is only a means.” And again, "You take communion to become holy, not because you already are."
Eymard overcame a number of difficulties to reach his goals, including poverty in his family and in his newly founded community, his father's initial opposition to his only son’s desire to be a priest, years of serious illness and pain, a Jansenistic striving for inner perfection, and the difficulties of obtaining diocesan (and later papal) approval for his new religious community. Eymard was a contemporary and a friend of other saints including Peter Chanel, John Vianney and Marcellin Champagnat.
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.
Eymard died on 1 August 1868.
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. His feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on 2 August. John Paul II named Eymard "Apostle of the Eucharist".
Honors and recognition
|Organizations and events|
The following landmarks were named to honor Father Eymard:
- Rue Julien-Eymard (Julien Eymard Street), located in Shawinigan, Quebec, Canada;
- Eymard Drive (formerly Sunnyside Drive), located along E. Rodriguez St., Quezon City, Philippines, where the provincial house of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, Province of our Lady of the Assumption is located;
- Catholic Parishes dedicated to St. Peter Julian Eymard are located in Algiers, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Mooroolbark, Victoria, Australia; and Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
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 arm humerus bone of the saint.
- "Julien Eymard", Society of Mary
- Perez SSS, Bro. Michael. The Spiritual Journey of St. Peter Julian Eymard, Emmanuel Publishing, Cleveland, Ohio
- "A Short Bio of Peter Julian Eymard", The Congregation of the Blessed sacrament
- Caron SSS, Sr. Catherine Marie. The Life and Letters of Saint Peter Julian Eymard
- Grace C.V.I., Madeleine. "'Study the Blessed Sacrament': The life journey of Pere Peter Julian Eymard", Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, October 2007
- Pelletier SSS, Norman B., "Peter Julian Eymard: The Apostle of the Eucharist", Emmanuel Magazine
- "Our Story", Blessed Sacrament Congregation, Province of the Holy Spirit
- Foley O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, (revised by Pat McCloskey O.F.M.), Franciscan Media, ISBN 978-0-86716-887-7
- Church of Saint Jean Baptiste
- Father Eymard's writing
- Letellier, Arthur. "Venerable Pierre-Julien Eymard." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 29 Jun. 2013