Venerable François-Léon Clergue

Venerable François-Léon ClergueAlso known as

  • Marie-Antoine de Lavaur
  • Apostle of the South (of France)


The oldest of three children born to Jean-Louis-François-Frédéric Clergue, a law clerk, and Rose Amilhau, he was baptized when he was only a few minutes old. He was known as a pious and stubborn child who planned from age 6 to become a priest. He began studying at a junior seminary in Tolouse, France when he was ten years old; even then he went out at night to minister to the homeless.

Ordained a priest on 21 September 1850. He began service as a parish priest, and went out into the rural areas to minister to farm people who were slipping back to paganism. In 1855 Father François heard what he believed to the the voice of God which said, simply, “You will be a Capuchin.” On 27 May 1855, he joined the Franciscan Capuchins, taking the name Marie-Antoine de Lavaur, and making his solemn profession on 13 June 1856.

He met Saint Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France in July 1858. He helped develop pilgrimages to Lourdes where he would preach and minister to the spiritual needs of the pilgrims. He spoke out against secular influences on the Church and the lives of the faithful. A noted preacher, he led over 700 home missions in southern France.




MLA Citation

  • “Venerable François-Léon Clergue“. CatholicSaints.Info. 19 January 2021. Web. 16 May 2021. <>