Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Au Service De l'Eglise De France: Les Eudistes, 1680-1791

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Au Service De l'Eglise De France: Les Eudistes, 1680-1791

Article excerpt

Au service de I'Eglise de France: Les eudistes, 1680-1791. By Guillaume de Berber de Sauvigny. [Kronos,Vol. 30.1 (Paris: Editions S. P M. 1999. Pp. 629. 43 Euros.)

Founded by St. John Eudes (1601-1680), the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) played a significant role in the Catholic Reformation in France, especially in Normandy. A congregation of diocesan priests devoted principally to seminary teaching and to rural missions, the Eudists worked hard to improve the intellectual and moral level of both clergy and laity. The present volume examines how the Eudists fared from the death of their founder to their dissolution during the French Revolution.

The author, himself a member of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, gives ample attention to difficulties encountered by the early generation of Eudists, and how challenges were or were not overcome. The hybrid status of diocesan priests, who yet at the same time formed a congregation, with its own superiors, created a variety of permanent tensions and opportunities. The superior elected in 1680,Jean-jacques Blouet de Camilly, succeeded in helping the Eudists to survive the potential crisis of the death of their founder, and even to prosper. Working mainly in Norman dioceses such as Bayeux, Rouen, and Lisieux, though also at Rennes and a few other places outside Normandy, Eudists were highly valued by some bishops, marginalized by others. Held in special contempt in Jansenist circles, which considered this inopportune congregation a rustic, relatively ignorant equivalent of the Jesuits, the Eudists paid a heavy price for their adamant support of Unigenitus and other anti-Jansenist measures advanced by church or state. Newcomers in already crowded clerical and religious milieux, Eudists competed, for attention and for recruitment to their own numbers, with a broad array of orders and congregations. Never large in numbers, Eudists were also as subject to disease and early death as everyone else. …

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