Blessed Antoine Chevrier

Blessed Antoine ChevrierMemorial

Profile

An only child in a family of workers in the silk industry, Antoine was baptized at the age of 2 days. He made his First Communion in 1837, and in 1840, at age 14, he considered becoming a priest – and had such a sense of happiness at the idea that he knew he had a calling to the priesthood. He began his seminary studies in 1842. While studying, he considered joining the foreign missions, but his mother threatened to disown him. “Do you think I raised you for you to be eaten by savages?”, she demanded. “Savages you can find in Lyon!” He was ordained a priest in the archdiocese of Lyon, France on 25 May 1850.

Father Antoine’s first assignment was to the parish of Saint-André de la Guillotière, an area of the poorest of Lyon‘s poor. There he dedicated himself to helping the poor, relieving some of the spirit-grinding misery in which they lived, and convincing others to do the same. He preached against greed, helped organize charity, and on Christmas Eve 1856, while meditating before a Nativity creche and contemplating the humble beginnings of Christ on Earth, he felt a call to not just work with the poor himself, but to organize a religious congregation for others with the same dedication. In January 1857 he sought the counsel of Saint John Marie Vianney on the matter, and the Cure of Ars encouraged him follow the call. Chevrier received permission to leave parish work, and with the help of the layman Camille Rambaud, he began working with and sheltering poor children, abandoned children, factory working children, and those who had already been sent to prison as children.

He joined the Franciscan Third Order in 1859, and on 10 December 1860 he purchased an old ballroom and converted it to a chapel, shelter and school for poor children. During his lifetime he personally worked with around 2,400 boys and young men. In 1866 he opened a school for the boys who felt a call to priestly or religious life, and to teach them to work with young poor people; the group became the Institute of the Priests of Prado, and the female branch, the Sisters of Prado opened soon after; the two groups were often known as the Work of Prado. The first of the Priests of Prado were ordained in Rome, Italy in 1876.

Father Antoine helped quell civil unrest in Lyon in 1871 by leading a Eucharistic procession thorugh the streets on the Feast of Corpus Christi; no one on either side of the conflict dared disrupt such an event. Chevrier wrote the books Disciple of Jesus Christ and God Sends Revolutions, which was a critique of priests who were devoted to comfort, worldly goods or careerism. Though Antoine did not live to see it, the Work received diocesan approval in 1924, was made part of the Conventual Franciscans in 1930, received a decree of papal praise for their work by Pope John XXIII on 28 October 1959, and continues its good work today in dozens of countries.

Born

Died

  • 2 October 1879 in Lyon, Rhône, France of natural causes
  • around 10,000 people attended his funeral, many of them the people the Work of Prado had helped
  • he was buried in the chapel he had built, and the street in front of it is now named for him

Venerated

Beatified

Patronage

MLA Citation

  • “Blessed Antoine Chevrier“. CatholicSaints.Info. 5 February 2018. Web. 21 February 2018. <>