Thursday, August 2, 2012

St Peter Julian Eymard

Born in France in February 1811, Peter Julian Eymard worked at his father's trade as cutler until eighteen when he went to the seminary at Grenoble. In spite of his poor health, he was ordained a priest in 1834. He served as a parish priest for several years, then in 1845 he joined the Marists where he worked as a well-respected spiritual advisor with seminarians and priests. He worked with  other lay organizations promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Eucharist. He rose to the position of Provincial of the Marist Society at Lyon in 1845. In 1856, due to disputes with the Marists, Eymard left them and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and 2 years later founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a congregation for women.
The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament began working with children in Paris to prepare them to receive their First Communion, even though this custom was only approved in 1909 by Pope Pius X. It also reached out to non-practicing Catholics, inviting them to repent and begin receiving Communion again. Eymard was a tireless proponent of frequent Holy Communion, another idea approved by Pope Pius X in 1905. 

Eymard overcame a number of difficulties to reach his goals, including poverty in his family and in his community, his father's opposition to his only son’s desire to be a priest, years of serious illness and pain, and the difficulties of getting diocesan and papal approval for his new Order. Eymard was a contemporary and a friend of other saints including Peter Chanel, John Vianney and Marcellin Champagnat, the founder of the Marists.
The French sculptor Auguste Rodin received counsel from Eymard when Rodin entered the Congregation as a lay brother in 1862, having giving 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.
St. Peter Julian died on 1 August 1868. He was beatified in 1925, and canonized by Pope John XXIII on 9 December 1962. His Order runs a church in New York City where they have perpetual adoration of the Eucharist.

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