|St. Peter Julian Eymard|
August 2nd is the feast of St. Peter Julian Eymard. He is the founder of the religious order of men, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, that have staffed my parish, St. Jean Baptiste, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since 1900 In addition, he founded an order of contemplative sisters, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, and an association of lay faithful, the Aggregation of the Blessed Sacrament.(http://www.stjeanbaptisteny.org/).
Fr. Eymard was born in 1811 in the south-eastern French province of Isere, in the town of La Mure d’Isere. In spite of multiple serious obstacles, St. Peter Julian followed a steadily advancing path, first to the diocesan priesthood, then to the Marist Fathers and finally to found, in 1856 at Paris, a congregation of men dedicated, as their name suggests, to the Eucharist. His followers endeavor through carefully celebrated liturgy, prayer, preaching, teaching, writing and other apostolic work to uncover multiple layers of the mystery of Christ present in the Eucharist and among His church.
One of Fr. Eymard’s early recruits was the young Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Rodin came to him in 1862 during a period of guilty mourning following the death of his much-loved sister, Marie. Although he tried, Fr. Eymard perceived that the young man was not a particularly good candidate for the congregation and kindly suggested that Rodin return to that for which he was obviously gifted. Rodin obeyed and the rest, as they say, is history. Rodin became the great maverick sculptor of late 19th century France, known for works like “The Thinker”, “The Kiss”, “The Gates of Hell", and “The Burghers of Calais”.
|Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais|
French, 1884-1895 (cast 1985)
|Rodin at work on the bust of Fr. Eymard,|
Auguste Rodin, Cast of Bust
St. Peter Julian Eymard
New York, Eglise St. Jean Baptiste
© M. Duffy, 2011