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St. Peter Julian Eymard

Seeker of the Blessed Eucharist

He was just 5 years old the first time he went looking for Christ.

The parents of St. Peter Julian Eymard were frantic when they realized their little boy had gone missing. They rallied their children and began searching for the boy across the small French village where they lived, only to find him in their local parish church. He stood near the tabernacle, where he said he was “listening to Jesus.”

It wasn’t easy to pursue the priesthood in 19th-century French society. In the after-math of the French Revolution, society was unfriendly to clerics, but St. Peter Julian persisted and was ordained at the age of 23.

But God was not done working in St. Peter Julian’s life. He was carrying the Blessed Sacrament during a procession when he felt overpowered by Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. He immediately resolved to focus on the Blessed Sacrament as a means of connecting people with their faith.

His work captured the attention of his colleagues, who saw the evangelistic power of sharing the Eucharist more broadly. St. Peter Julian’s order began directing its resources to people living in poverty, and to outreach to bring non-practicing Catholics back to Mass.

He brought the Eucharist to many, but in doing so he suffered a good deal of poverty and hardship. In fact, his newly created Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament first practiced eucharistic adoration in a dilapidated old building located on the Rue d’Enfer (“Street of Hell”) in Paris. He and his followers often went hungry.

Through these sacrifices, St. Peter Julian ultimately came to a level of reflection that enriches Catholics to this day. His conception of people dedicating themselves to a relationship with Christ through the Eucharist — occurring years before Vatican II — continues to form a strong foundation for believers.

He urges each Catholic to “be the apostle of the divine Eucharist [as the] the sacrifice par excellence, the sacrament of love, the fountainhead of holiness, the goal of Christian perfection, the nutriment of piety, and the means as well as the model of religious life.”

St. Peter Julian Eymard was canonized in 1962. His feast day is Aug. 2.