|Saint Peter Fourier, C.R.S.A.|
Polychromed 18th-century statue in the former Abbey Church of Moyenmoutier, Vosges, France
|Canon Regular and Religious founder|
|Born||30 November 1565
Mirecourt, Vosges, France
|Died||9 December 1640
Gray, Haute-Saône, France
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||1730 by Pope Benedict XIII|
|Canonized||1897 by Pope Leo XIII|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Pierre Fourier|
Peter Fourier, C.R.S.A., (French: Pierre Fourier) was a French canon regular who is honored as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. He served as an exemplary pastor in Mattaincourt in the Vosges, and also helped to found a religious congregation of canonesses dedicated to the care of poor children.
Early life 
Fourier was born in the village of Mirecourt, in the Department of Vosges, then in the Duchy of Lorraine. He began his monastic career as a canon regular in the abbey at Chaumousey, where he made his profession of vows in 1687and was ordained a priest at the extraordinary age of twenty-four. He was a scholastic theologian who knew the Summa Theologica by heart, and earned the great respect of both the university officials and the Count-Bishop of Metz, who offered him a high ecclesiastical post. Fourier chose, instead, to return to his abbey.
After his return to his canonical community, however, he was subjected to two years of hostility and abuse by his fellow canons, even by some accounts a case of attempted poisoning. He chose not to confront his abbot with the situation and accepted this persecution patiently. The care of local parishes in that region of France was routinely entrusted to the many abbeys and priories of canons. In 1597, when his abbot was assigning him a post, Fourier passed over two prestigious options, accepted the post of pastor of Mattaincourt in order to combat the indifference to religion widespread in the town, and to shore up religious orthodoxy (to counter nascent Protestantism in the area).
To this end, he instituted two major reforms that showed his intelligence and concern for his flock. The first of these was to improve the financial lives of his community by setting up a community bank. His second innovation was in his preaching style, where he employed dialogues with small groups of his parishioners to explain their faith. He had his pupils engage in dialectics on Sundays on the various virtues and vices in practice by the congregation. This style was immensely successful and the entire region remained loyal to the Catholic Church.
Fourier led an extremely ascetic way of life while serving as pastor. He would spend much of the night in prayer. He refused the services of a housekeeper, even when his own stepmother offered to provide his care. His severe self-denial enabled him to direct much of the income of the parish to the needy of the town.
Reformer and founder 
The success of Fourier's pastorate in inspiring his flock to a greater fidelity to the faith was brought to the attention of the local bishops of the region. They prevailed upon him to go about to different parishes to preach to the people. He did so and, as a result of seeing the situation of the populace throughout the region, he was struck by the depths of their ignorance and superstition.
Along with Blessed Alix Le Clerc, he founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Canonesses Regular of St. Augustine, who were committed to the free education of children. Soon there were six schools run by his spiritual daughters. By the time of his death, they had grown to forty. The canonesses went on to spread throughout France, Germany and England.
Fourier's vision also extended to the life of his own Order. He sought to revive a spirit of fervor and discipline in the communities of the canons regular. In 1621 the Bishop of Toul, Jean des Porcellets, chose him to organize the canonical communities in his diocese. He therefore entrusted the ancient Abbey of St. Remy in that city to Fourier and six companions, where they could lead the way of life he envisioned. Within four years, eight houses of the Order had embraced his reform. In 1625 they were formed into the new Congregation of France for the entire region of Lorraine. To reinforce the reform, any canons who wished to join had to undergo a new novitiate and profession of vows. Otherwise they could retire with a pension from the canonical life. On 11 February 1628, they were officially named the Congregation of Our Savior by the Holy See.
He himself was elected as abbot of the congregation in 1632. He hoped to guide his fellow canons to caring for children, as the canonesses were doing. This vision never took root among the men, however.
After the invasion by the Kingdom of France of the Duchy of Lorraine in 1632, Fourier refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the King of France. Thus he and his community were forced to flee their monastery, taking refuge in Gray, Haute-Saône. Fourier and the canons with him were occupied in that city nursing plague victims. It was there that he died on 9 December 1640.
The vision of Fourier was exported to Canada in 1654 by Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, who was the president of a sodality of volunteers associated with the work of the canonesses. Moving to New France at the invitation of the governor, she became one of the early founders of the new colony. There she established the Congregation of Notre Dame, which was the first to provide education to the children of the colonists, as well as to the Native American children. Her work has been highly successful both there and in the United States of America.
- "St. Peter Fourier". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Lives of the Saints
- Holy Savior Lorraine Website of the Augustinian Canons "Congregations and Houses"