Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland – Congregation of Jesus and Mary, or The Eudists

Article

Active. Under No Vows. Founded 1643.

The Fathers and Brothers of this Congregation are known in France particularly as the Eudists from their holy founder the Venerable Jean Eudes, who was born at Ri, near Argentan (Orne), in 1601, and died in the odour of sanctity in 1680 at Caen, and was declared Venerable by Pius IX, of pious memory, who desired that his cause of beatification should be proceeded with.

Thirty years before Blessed Margaret Mary, Père Eudes preached and promoted in France devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, thus opposing a barrier to the progress of the spirit of Jansenism. In 1641 he founded the Order of Our Lady of Charity of Jesus and Mary for nuns, whose work was the rescue of poor girls, for whom they provide houses of refuge.

He first joined the French Oratorians, and was beloved by the founder, Cardinal B┬úrulle, and Père du Coudren, and won here great success by his preaching; but the desire of his heart was to see the decrees of the Council of Trent on the sanctification of the clergy put in execution, and to pursue this end he left the Oratory to found the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, encouraged by Cardinal Richelieu, in 1643, when he founded a seminary at Caen at the same time that Saint Vincent de Paul and M. Olier began their foundations in Paris. Soon after he established a second seminary at Coutances, and a third at Lisieux. After the death of Venerable Eudes his Congregation continued his work, and up to the time of the great Revolution ceased not to supply zealous missionaries and wise directors to the Church. In the eighteenth century it continued to spread until the Revolution broke up the Congregation, dispersed the members, and killed the Superior, Père Hubert, confessor of Louis XVI, at the Carmelites* monastery, in company with several of his Fathers.

In 1826 the Society was officially re-established, from which date the Eudists have devoted themselves to missionary work in Normandy and Brittany, and have been sent as auxiliaries to the American Bishops, and for a long time have had charge of a whole diocese in the Antilles. But especially have they consecrated themselves to the work of education, and in France many colleges are under their direction; they are one of the Congregations who have recently applied for authorization there.

The Constitutions of the Eudists have been approved by the Holy See. The special aim of the Society is the sanctification of the priesthood; community life and sacred orders have been imposed upon it as a means to this end. The members are priests and lay-Brothers; they take no vows, but they practise the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Though they are not bound to give up their personal fortune, which they can use or dispose of for pious and charitable works they cannot spend it on themselves. The community provides for all their needs, and in return all they receive from their ministry goes to the Society.

The novitiate lasts three years and three months. The Society is governed by a Superior, elected for life by the General Assembly. Every five years the Superior convokes and presides at this assembly, half of the members being elected by the Fathers; it gives to the Superior four assistants to form his council, and during its sitting is supreme. The Superiors of each house are nominated by the General, who can change them when he likes, but cannot keep them in office more than nine years. The Superior-General also nominates the assistants of the heads of houses and all the principal officers.

MLA Citation

  • Francesca M Steele. “Congregation of Jesus and Mary, or The Eudists”. Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903. CatholicSaints.Info. 2 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>