The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Jean-Baptiste Muard

Father Jean-Baptiste MuardA new flower of sanctity in the ancient Benedictine Order is the Venerable John B. Muard. The boyhood of the Servant of God was full of hardships. He was the son of poor parents who could scarcely afford him any education. Luckily his pious grandmother was still living and there was in his birthplace – Vireaux, Diocese of Sens – a zealous pastor who took the boy into his house and gave him his first lessons in Latin. Muard then pursued his studies in Auxerre and in Sens and was ordained priest on 24 May 1834. He displayed the greatest zeal in the salvation of souls. “Souls, O Lord, first many souls, and then at last, to heaven,” was his frequent prayer. This fervent love aroused in him a glowing devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the sanctuary, the confessional, in private conversation, and in his letters he urged with irresistible persuasiveness the veneration of the Heart of the Saviour as the best antidote against religious coldness and sloth. “You can hardly believe,” he wrote to a friend, “how much I rejoice when I hear of Christians who practise this devotion. What can please me more than meeting souls who love our sweetest Master and Saviour and especially His Sacred Heart.” One day, while he was deep in prayer before the tabernacle, it seemed to him that the Saviour stood before him and bade him devote himself to the giving of missions. To make sure that imagi- nation was not deceiving him he asked, as proof of the reality of the vision, the conversion of the six worst sinners of his parish, and that same evening he found all six at the tribunal of penance. After overcoming many obstacles Muard was able to follow the manifest will of God. Later he founded a society of mission priests who followed substantially the rule of Saint Benedict and were called “Benedictins-predicateurs” (Benedictine Preachers). They were afterward formally incorporated with the Benedictines of Monte Cassino. Muard received the heavenly reward of his holy life in 1854. He was forty-five years of age. His noble motto was: “For the greater glory of God, for the salvation of souls, for my own humiliation.”

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916