Fr. John Eudes crawled back into the big, empty barrel that formerly held cider. It was almost large enough to live in—although a bit damp and cold at times—while he attended the suffering plague victims in his home diocese in France. He could not stay in safety, he thought, while so many needed the sacraments and a comforting presence.
But the plague was highly contagious and he did not want to spread it to his fellow religious. So he lived in a barrel outside the city till his work was done. It was but one example of the intense, Christlike and Marylike love that burned in his heart.
St. John Eudes was born in 1601 and ordained a priest of the Oratory of Jesus and Mary in 1625. His primary job was to conduct parish missions and he proved himself a zealous and effective preacher.
In 1641, touched by the unfortunate condition of the prostitutes he ministered to in his work, he founded a religious congregation—the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, now known as the Good Shepherd Sisters—to give shelter and support to these women.
During his time as a missionary, he was disturbed by the lack of formation among the clergy. The idea of dedicated diocesan seminaries was relatively new, having only been introduced by the Council of Trent the previous century. So priestly formation often lacked standards and could vary widely. Fr. Eudes noticed that the good reforms he inspired among the faithful at his missions often disappeared quickly because their parish priests were so poorly formed.
So he decided to do something about it. He founded his own congregation—the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, also known as the Eudists—to establish seminaries for the education of priests.
But perhaps the greatest gift that St. John Eudes gave the Church was his intense devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This devotion formed the core of his spirituality and lit the fire of his missionary zeal. He wrote the first Masses in honor of the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart and the first book about devotion to them. Popes have praised his contributions to devotion to the Hearts, and there is a movement afoot to proclaim him a Doctor of the Church.
Remind yourself of the love and zeal of St. John Eudes with our Calvary Sacred Heart Crucifix. A finely-detailed corpus rests against an elaborate baroque Cross background, with fleur-de-lis at each end of the Cross to honor Our Lady. Overhead, the Sacred Heart of Jesus reminds you of Christ’s intense love as angels adore Him on either side. A truly stunning and unique piece to honor Jesus and Mary! Available today at The Catholic Company!