The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable Louis Mary Baudouin

Venerable Louis-Marie BaudouinThe Venerable Louis Mary Baudouin won for himself the name of an apostle of loyal La Vendee. His early years were quietly and peacefully spent in the bosom of his deeply religious family at Montaigu in La Vendee and in the seminary at Lugon. But he had hardly been ordained priest when the terrible tempest broke forth which demanded of him the martyrs courage. In fact, Baudouin was the first priest imprisoned by the revolutionists in the diocese of Lugon. He had refused the oath of the new constitution and had dared energetically to resist an apostate who pretended to be bishop of Lugon. This was only the beginning of afflictions. In 1792, Baudouin, along with several other priests, was banished to Spain. Their life in exile was very hard. They were often obliged to change their abode, to live on alms, and had no occupation suitable to their calling. The ever dreadful tidings that came from their native land quite robbed them of every joy and consolation and we read that many of these noble and faithful priests became ill from sheer heaviness of heart.

The thought of the misery of so many souls and of the faithful Vendeans, who were deprived of all priestly services, gave Baudouin no rest. Disguised as a laborer he crossed the Pyrenees in July, 1797, and in Bordeaux found good friends who took him aboard a ship and brought him safely to La Vendee. The fugitive found a hiding-place in the house of a rich lady at Les Sables d’Olonne. Here he remained concealed for three years, praying continually that Heaven might have mercy upon his poor country. Only in the darkness of night could he exercise his ministry. Like the Christians in the catacombs, so here the few faithful were often surprised by an unexpected visit during the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. Many a time it seemed a miracle that the priest escaped the bailiffs.

Finally, about the middle of 1800, the First Consul permitted the free exercise of the Christian religion. There was plenty of work for the zealous priest. The people had experienced how empty and disconsolate they could be when the churches were closed or burned down, when the sacraments were no longer administered and the sublime truths of religion no longer preached. The good Vendeans everywhere called for priests, but these were very few. Pere Baudouin accomplished superhuman deeds. For eight or nine years there had been no public First Communion, no Church Wedding, no Baptism, no Confession. He tried to restore all. The crimes of the Revolution, moreover, had brutalized many and had opened the way to evil customs. It is not strange, then, that the zeal of God’s servant met with resistance. His life was more than once in the greatest peril. But his unselfish charity and patience conquered everything. He went from house to house seeking all who might not be reconciled to the Church. Chavagnes, where he lived as pastor after 1801, venerated him as a saint.

Baudouin saw that it was above all necessary to educate the young in Christian principles. But competent teachers were altogether wanting. So, assisted by a former nun, he founded a congregation of women for the education of girls. He named it the “Ursulines of Jesus,” commonly known as the Ursulines of Chavagnes. It grew rapidly and later spread into North America, Africa, and China. The training of a clergy had also to be provided for, because the Revolution had destroyed all institutions for the education of priests. Trusting in Providence, he started, in 1802, a little seminary in his parish. In this enterprise the hand of God was visibly manifest. Unfortunately, in 1812, it was closed for a time by command of the government, which forbade private institutions of the kind. Baudouin, who had proved himself an able educator, was appointed superior of the great Seminary of La Rochelle. When his native diocese of Lu^on was afterward re-established, he was sent there to fill the same office. But his activity extended over the whole diocese; he took care of schools, religious establishments, the holding of missions, and many works of importance.

Broken down by his many labors, he retired to his beloved seminary of Chavagnes, which, to his joy, had been re-established. He was always happiest when among these lighthearted boys, whom he so well understood. There, on 12 February 1835, he died a holy death. He was always distinguished by his extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Virgin, especially in the Immaculate Conception. It is touching to read how familiar and intimate were his dealings with Our Blessed Mother. During his active life he founded several pious institutions; in Spain, a society of Mary among the banished priests; at Les Sables d’Alonne, a union for the propagation of devotion to the Immaculate Conception; and later, in Chavagnes, a congregation of secular priests under the title “Society of the Children of Mary,” whose purpose was to give instruction in little seminaries and to give missions to the country folk. His biographer narrates many miraculous cures which were wrought even within recent years. May it please God to hasten his beatification.

– 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

MLA Citation

  • Father Constantine Kempf, SJ. “Venerable Louis Mary Baudouin”. The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century, 1916. CatholicSaints.Info. 25 February 2018. Web. 19 October 2020. <>