The French priest St. John Eudes (1601-1680) founded two religious orders and encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He joined the Oratorians and was ordained a priest at the age of twenty-four.
During several plagues in Normandy, he devoted himself to the care of the sick (living in a huge cask in the middle of a field, so as to avoid infecting his fellow religious).
Later John began giving missions at many different parishes; his skills as a preacher and confessor made him very successful, but he noticed that the local clergy were often ineffective in their ministry, due to inadequate training. John became convinced of the need to have seminaries for the training of priests introduced on a larger scale, and he founded a new religious order — the Congregation of Jesus and Mary — for this purpose.
One day a woman caring for several reformed prostitutes reproached John, saying, “Where are you off to now? To some church, I suppose, where you’ll gaze at the images and think yourself pious. And all the time what is wanted of you is a decent house for these poor creatures.” John was struck by these words, and thereupon formed the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity and Refuge, who actively cared for the needs of such women.
John is especially known for his writings on the Sacred Heart; he presented Christ as the source of holiness, and Mary as the model of Christian life. St. John Eudes died at the age of seventy-nine, and was later declared the father of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Louis (1297), Bishop of Toulouse, France