Léon Dehon

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Léon Dehon
Léon Dehon in 1908.
Ordination 18 December 1868
Personal details
Birth name Léon Gustav Dehon
Born (1843-03-14)14 March 1843
La Capelle, Soissons, France
Died 12 August 1925(1925-08-12) (aged 82)
Brussels, Belgium
Nationality French
Denomination Catholic (Roman Rite)
Title as Saint Venerable

Léon Gustav Dehon (14 March 1843 – 12 August 1925) was a French Roman Catholic priest, who founded two religious orders. His beatification process started after his death but was halted due to accusations of anti-Semitism.


Born in La Capelle (Soissons), France, Dehon's mother was especially devoted to the Sacred Heart and passed this devotion on to him. As a young man he felt called to the priesthood, but his father sent him to study at the Sorbonne in Paris. He earned a degree in civil law at 21, but had spent much of his free time in a local church. His father sent him on a long tour of the East, but on his way home Leo entered the French Seminary of Saint Claire in Rome in October 1865. He was ordained on 19 December 1868 in the basilica of Saint John Lateran. His father came to terms with his son's vocation and returned to the Church himself.

Fr. Dehon acted as stenographer for the First Vatican Council and then served as a parish priest at Saint Quentin. He began feeling drawn to communal religious life, and on 28 June 1878, following a pilgrimage to Loreto, Italy, he founded the Oblates of the Sacred Heart, taking the name Father John of the Sacred Heart. The Oblates grew quickly, but due to misunderstandings about their mission, they attracted opposition, and on 3 December 1883 the order was compelled to disband. After a period of depression, prayer and reflection, Dehon re-formed the order as the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians) on 25 February 1888 taking parish and foreign missionary work as their activities, with special devotion to Eucharistic adoration. They received the approval of Pope Leo XIII who asked Dehon to preach on the basis of one of the pope's encyclicals. In 1889, he started a magazine called Reign of the Sacred Heart. Though the Dehonians had the support of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, Pope Benedict XV, and Pope Pius XI, Dehon and his priests continued to be accused of slander and various other charges for years. He participated in congresses and conferences, founded new houses for the order, and heard confessions for long hours at a time. He began the construction of the Basilica del Sacro Cuore di Cristo Re in Rome on 18 May 1920. He died of natural causes on 12 August 1925 in Brussels, Belgium.

Beatification process[edit]

Pope John Paul II declared Leo Dehon venerable in 1997. His beatification, which received the approval of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on 19 April 2004, is pending. It was originally scheduled for 24 April 2005, but was delayed due to the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005. The Vatican then announced that his beatification has been placed on hold due to a re-examination of his writings in response to charges of anti-semitism levied by a number of individuals and organizations, both clerical and secular.[1]


  1. ^ Alan Cooperman (16 June 2005). "Pope Halts Beatification of French Priest". Washington Post. 

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