Saint Vincent’s Reading List: LXVII Vincent’s Circle: Jean-Baptiste Saint-Jure, S.J.

Title page of Meditations sur les plus grandes et plus importantes veritez de la Foy, 1644
Title page of Meditations sur les plus grandes et plus importantes veritez de la Foy, 1644

Saint_-Jure S.J., Jean-Baptiste. Meditations sur les plus grandes et plus importantes veritez de la foy. Rapportées aux trois Vies, Purgative, Illuminative, & Virtue Et dressees pour les Retraits Spirituelles. Par le R.P. Jean Baptiste Sainct Jure Religieux de la Compagnie de Jesus. a Paris Chez l Veuve J. Camusat Rue St. Jacques, àla Toyson d’or  et Pierre Petite, au Palais 1644.    SpC. 242 S143m1644

In a conference given in Paris on April 26, 1643, to the Daughters of Charity, on the theme of “Union within the Community,”[1]  Vincent de Paul noted: “Today, I was talking to a good priest, Fr. Saint-Jure, who is very devout;[2] he composed those beautiful meditations that we read aloud.”[3]  Vincent told the sisters that he had asked this author: “How is it that, in Communities, although all the members have the same desire to serve God and the same will to work at their perfections, slight dissensions still arise.”  Saint-Jure replied to Monsieur Vincent: “It’s like this Monsieur, rustic people take offense far more easily than those who are intelligent and refined.  The simplest means to keep them in peace is to accustom them to reconciliation.”

The founder reminded the sisters of their and his own shared rustic origins and counseled: “You must remember that…when you are annoyed with your Sisters, be sure that it’s not usually for the reason you imagine, but because of your frame of mind.”

Jean-Baptiste Saint-Jure was born in Metz, France in 1588 and died in Paris in 1657.  He entered the Society of Jesus in 1604 and served in a variety of leadership positions in the Society. He also proved to be a successful spiritual director for nuns, a unique role for a Jesuit. In his lifetime, he was one of the most celebrated religious writers among the dévots in France.  Among his most popular works is the present volume: “Meditations on the greatest and most important truths of the faith…” first published in 1637.  This edition appeared in 1644.

Reading these simple, straightforward meditations on the mysteries of the faith one can immediately see how they would have earned Vincent’s personal approval, and their place on his list of recommended spiritual texts. In this instance, we also are reminded of Vincent’s intimate network of friends, acquaintances, and collaborators among the spiritual elite who joined him in leading the spiritual and structural reform of the French Catholic Church.

[1] Coste, CCD, 9:78-92.

[2] This is very high praise coming from Vincent de Paul.

[3] Reading aloud at community meals was customary in both the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity.

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