Our wish, our object, our chief preoccupation must be to form Jesus in ourselves, to make His spirit, His devotion, His affections, His desires and His disposition live and reign there. All our religious exercises should be directed to this end. It is the work which God has given us to do unceasingly.”St. John Eudes, The Life and Reign of Jesus in Christian Souls

The son of a farmer, John Eudes was born on November 14, 1601 at Ri, France, in the Normandy region. At the age of 14, he was sent to the Jesuit college at Caen. His parents initally refused to give their blessing to his desire to be a priest, but they soon relented and John Eudes was ordained in 1625.

Soon after, he began his mission helping the ill who had succumbed to the plague in Normandy. His devotion to this mission and concern for the welfare of his charges led him to make his home in solitary camps to avoid infecting healthly townspeople. As the plague subsided, the young priest was sent out to preach parish missions. His orations were so moving that up to 100 priests would stand by to hear confessions on the days he preached.

During this time, many had fallen away from the church and even many believers were only lukewarm in their faith. In response, John Eudes founded several religious families, including the women's Congregation of Our Lady of Charity, which helped women and girls whose dignity had been threatened or wounded; the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, which trained priests, deacons and other ministers; and the Society of the Children of the Admirable Mother's Heart, from which many modern-day congregations were born, such as the Daughters of the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. God's love became John Eudes' guiding principle, and along with St. Mary Margaret Alacoque, he initiated devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Heart of Mary, composing the Mass for the Sacred Heart in 1668.

In 1671 and 1673, he preached in the presence of King Louis XIV, gaining the king's admiration. However, despite his many good works, at the end of 1673 he was accused of writing a letter against the interests of the king and was placed under house arrest at Caen by Colbert, a royal minister. A group of Jansenists, who were opposed by the king, sought to spread slanders about Father Eudes, who refused to defend himself and instead regularly prayed for his persecutors.

Five years later, John Eudes finally obtained an audience with Louis XIV, who once again favored the priest against his political enemies. In the next two years, he finished a number of written works, including a vast work in honor of the Heart of Mary. He died in 1680 and was canonized in 1925. The feast day of St. John Eudes is celebrated on Aug. 19.

The Assembly of Bishops of France has called for St. John Eudes to be named a “Doctor of the Church”. Eudist Region in the USA LogoRead about what the title means and how St. John Eudes meets the criteria by clicking here.

To learn more about St. John Eudes, visit AmericanCatholic.org or the Eudist website of the North American Province, or watch the videos below.

Pray the Ave Cor Sanctissimum by St. John Eudes.