Feast Day: 2 August
Patronage: Eucharistic Adoration
Peter Julian Eymard once described himself as “a little like Jacob, always on a journey,” always seeking. But, his passion was always there, the great love and the driving passion of his life: Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
One day, young Peter Julian Eymard, just five years of age, wandered off from the family home. His sister and half-sister searched frantically for the boy and finally located him in the parish church, standing on a stool close to the tabernacle of the high altar. In response to their anxious questioning, he answered simply, “I am here listening to Jesus.”
Peter Julian’s first attempt to pursue the priesthood ended in serious illness. However, following his father’s death, he tried again, and on July 20, 1834, at age 23, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Grenoble. A few years later, in 1839, Father Eymard professed vows as a member of the Society of Mary (the Marists).
Throughout his life, Peter Julian had an intense devotion to Mary, the Mother of God. It was Father Eymard’s apostolic work for the Society of Mary that would put him in contact with the various currents of Eucharistic piety that were active in France and Europe. Father Eymard was effective at preaching Eucharistic devotions, and on one such occasion, on Corpus Christi, May 25, 1845, he had a powerful experience that would change the course of his life. While carrying the Blessed Sacrament in procession at Saint Paul’s Church in Lyons, he felt an intense attraction to Christ in the Eucharist and resolved to “bring all the world to the knowledge and love of our Lord; to preach nothing but Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Eucharistic.” This consumed his life and energies over the next years.
In 1856, he made the decision to leave the Marists in the hope of a founding a religious congregation dedicated to the Eucharist. The first hurdle was getting approval for the new Eucharistic institute.
Eymard’s understanding of the Eucharist was not limited merely to adoration but to reaching out to those who were estranged from the Church and evangelizing them. He received approval on May 13, 1856.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard had a vision of Eucharistic communities of priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, and lay people living lives of total dedication to the spiritual values that are inspired by the celebration of the Eucharist and deepened through prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
He died on 1 August 1868 and was canonised 9 December 1962 by Pope John XXIII. Eymard’s life was a journey to Christ in the Eucharist.