by Russell Fleur Gallego
St. Peter Julian Eymard was born on February 4, 1811 in Isère, in the French Alps. He was a devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Because of his great devotion to the Blessed Mother, he enjoys travelling to various Marin shrines throughout France. When his mother died in 1828, he decided to enter the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He was admitted in 1829 but he had to leave due to his poor health particularly having weak lungs. In 1831, he gained admission in the major seminary in the Diocese of Grenoble. He was ordained as a priest in July 20, 1834.
On August 20, 1837, he entered the Society of Mary seminary in Lyon and made his profession in February of 1840. He worked with various organizations that help promote the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Eucharist particularly in 40 hours. He rose to become the Provincial of the Society at Lyon in 1844. He became in charge of the Third Order of Mary, a lay group dedicated to Marist spirituality and to promote Christian family, wherein St. John Marie Vianney was a member.
He became familiar with the practice of Eucharistic worship during a visit to Paris in 1849 when he met members of the Association of Nocturnal Adorers, who had established exposition and perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories. On January 21, 1851 after praying in the shrine of Our Lady of Fourviere, he moved to establish a Marist community dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration but his superior disapproved this move and wanted to transfer him to the Marist College at La Seyne – Sur – Mer. Because of this He left the Society of Mary to start his new religious congregation with Fr. Raymond de Cuers.
On May 13, 1856, consented to having the “Society of the Blessed Sacrament.”. On January 6, 1857, in a run – down building the public exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in Paris was held. The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament began working with children in Paris to prepare them to receive First Communion. They also reached out to non – practicing Catholics, inviting them to repent and begin receiving Communion again. In 1858, together with Marguerite Guillot, he founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative congregation for women.
He died at the age of 57 in La Mure on August 1, 1868 due to complication of a brain haemorrhage. He was canonized by Pope John XXIII on December 9, 1962. Pope John Paul II named him as an “Apostle of the Eucharist.”