Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Feast day August 3
Peter Julian Eymard is called, among other things, “Champion of the Blessed Sacrament”. He had such a singleness of purpose, in his great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament that he would Found an Order devoted solely to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the spread of that devotion. That Religious Order is called “Priests of the Blessed Sacrament.”
There’s a teaching here, which we don’t want to miss. He went from Diocesan priest, to the Order of Mary, to founding an Order in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Wherever you find the Mother, you will find the Son; wherever you find the Son, you will find the Mother. Wherever you find the Mother and the Son in the Eucharist, you will find the priesthood. We have never researched or written about any Saint who has not had a great devotion to the Eucharist, coupled with a great love for Our Lady. Peter Julian Eymard confirms this in his choice of ministries.
But his path to Our Lord Jesus and Our Mother Mary was not an easy one. To begin with, there was a great feeling of anti-clericalism in France. Remember, he was born in 1811, not that many years after the French Revolution, in which priests and nuns were executed wholesale by the guillotine. And the year he was born, Napoleon was still the Emperor of France, and most of Europe.
Add to that Peter’s father did not want him to become a priest, or live the religious life. They were poor, and Peter suffered poor health. The situation in France at that time was so bad that most children suffered malnutrition and/or many of the other diseases of the poor. Needless to say, it was a struggle for Peter from the beginnning. But he had such a burning desire to serve Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary that virtually nothing could stop him. Finally, on July 20, 1834, he was ordained Fr. Peter Julian Eymard.
At the beginning of his priestly ministry, he devoted his time to normal parish activities, but he felt a powerful draw to the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist was always the Center around which his life revolved. He proclaimed more than once, “Without it, I would have been lost.”
One time, while carrying the Consecrated Host in procession on Corpus Christi Sunday, he had a religious experience:
“My soul was flooded with faith and love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Those two hours seemed but a moment. I laid, at the Feet of our Lord, the Church in France, myself, and everybody throughout the world. My eyes were filled with tears: it was as though my heart were under the wine-press. I longed, at that moment, for all hearts to have been within my own and to have been fired with the zeal of St. Paul.”
He left the diocesan life to enter the Marist community, where he had been a novice in 1829. When he was leaving the diocese to enter the Marists, his sisters begged him to reconsider. he told them, “God calls me now. Tomorrow will be too late.”