The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Joseph Amand Passerat

Venerable Joseph-Amand PasseratWhen Saint Clement Hofbauer lay dying he said to his younger fathers: “Be consoled. So far you have had in me an imperfect master. Soon I shall send you my great Frenchman, who will teach you how to pray. If you do not become holy under his instruction you never will.” This man who was known among his brethren as “the great man of prayer” was the Venerable Joseph Amand Passerat. His great devotion to prayer explains the success of his labors for the salvation of souls as well as for his own perfection.

Passerat’s youth fell within the stormy times of the French Revolution. He was born on 30 April 1772 at Joinville, in Champagne. After completing his classical studies he began his higher studies in Paris. But he recognized in time the dangers which threatened both his faith and his life and chose rather to live in his paternal home than to stay in the metropolis. Even here, however, he did not escape the blood-thirsty “comrades” of the Revolution and when he refused to take the oath of the Constitution he was thrown into prison. When the war broke out they removed him from confinement and pressed him into service. At length after two years he was released and he departed from the dangerous soil of his country. The next year we find him a student of theology in Vienna and Wiirzburg. In the meanwhile he had heard of Hofbauer’s great work at Warsaw. He set out to visit the great man and asked to be received into his Congregation. The Saint was not long in discovering the tried virtue of the novice and permitted him to take his vows the same year, 1796. After his elevation to the priesthood in 1797, Passerat was appointed to teach theology and church history to his younger brethren, and soon after became novice-master. Later on we find him in Switzerland, where he established many residences of the Redemptorists. After Hofbauer’s death he labored with great success at Vienna and, as vicar-general of the Congregation beyond the Alps, did very much for the interior strengthening of the spirit of the Order as well as for its external expansion. Under his direction were established the first houses of the Congregation in Alsace, Belgium, Holland, Bavaria, France, England, and North America. He died in old age at Tournai on 30 October 1858. The last eight years of his life, during which he was paralyzed as the result of a stroke of apoplexy, gave him welcome opportunity to devote himself to prayer, according to his heart’s desire.

– 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