Heritage and Spirtuality Group
Sr. Rosinha, RSHM
In our RSHM CALENDAR OF EVENTS, I was struck by the fact that, on May 31st, two very important events were highlighted:
1. May 31, 1867, Jean Gailhac receives permission from Pius IX to read books inscribed in the index)
2. May 31, 1955, the Apostolic Process towards the Beatification of our Founder, which began in 1953, is concluded – remaining open until the present.
Situating these two moments in the life of Fr. Gailhac:
– Fr Jean Gailhac died on January 25, 1890, aged 88.
– In the 1950s, Mother Gerard Phelan presented her cause for beatification.
– Fr Jean Gailhac was declared Venerable by the Roman Catholic Church in 1972.
Venerable is an epithet, or canonical title, used in various Christian churches, which equates to respectable or worthy of esteem and honor. The concept rests directly on the adjective “venerable”, derived from the Latin noun veneratio, which means ‘respect’ and ‘worship’, meaning, therefore, ‘worthy of reverence and veneration’.
In the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite, the canonical title of venerable is granted to those who are posthumously recognized as having practiced heroic virtues, in a formal process of canonization.
A QUESTION IS HERE
We can now ask ourselves: why are we interested in this aspect of Fr. Gailhac, searching hard for the path already taken so far, with a view to the public recognition of his undeniable life of Holiness?
For me, this answer comes immediately, certain that each person carries a part of the Holiness of God. And the recognition of this “spark”, joined to many others, makes the Holiness of God himself shine through, making him, little by little, known and loved!
On the path taken by Fr. Gailhac, from his earliest childhood, we can “taste” this shining spark of his God, through a captivating and loving life, which is good for us to remember here. After all, an adult saint doesn’t improvise!
Gailhac was born on November 13, 1802 in Béziers, France. He entered the major seminary of Montpellier in 1821 and was ordained by Bishop Nicolas Fournier to the Diocese of Montpellier on 23 September 1826. As a young priest, he taught philosophy and helped with the religious formation of seminary students.
On September 12, 1828, Father Jean Gailhac was appointed chaplain of the civil and military hospital in the city of Béziers, where he met many women who suffered from diseases resulting from prostitution. These women, for the most part, had neither family support nor social support. With the help of friends, he founded the Good Shepherd, a shelter for these women.
Over the years, Father Gailhac shared his dreams with his friends – Eugene Cure and his wife Appollonie Cure. In 1848, after Eugene Cure’s death, Appollonie Cure decided to devote her resources and her life to working for the training and help of these women and their children.
In 1849, Father Gailhac gathered Appollonie Cure and five other women to form them to become the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Father Gailhac acted as their spiritual director and trainer to begin work on the “Good Shepherd Refuge”, for women, and an orphanage.
The death of the sisters always caused him great sadness. He outlived the first two general superiors, Mother St. Jean and Mother St. Croix.
- Gailhac, Venerável P. Jean. Cartas, Vol. I and II.
- Gailhac, R. P. The Religious Life. New York, 1934 (English translation of: Gailhac, R.P. La Vie Religieuse. 2 vols., Lille, 1892).
- Leray, Abbé F. Un Apôtre: Le Père Gailhac (1802–1890), Fondateur des Religieuses du Sacre Coeur de Marie. Paris: Éditions Spes, 1939.
- Magaret, Helene. Gailhac of Béziers. New York : Longmans, Green and Co., 1946
- Maymard, V. Beatification and canonization of the servant of God, John Gailhac, priest and founder of the Institute of the Sacred Heart of Mary: inquiry into the historical value of Father V. Maymard’s biography: Sacred Congregation of Rites, Historical Section. Westminster, Md. : Christian Classics, 1977.
- Sampaio, Rosa do Carmo, RSHM. A Journey in Faith and Time: History of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. Vol. 1 The Birth of the Institute: Its Development during Mother Saint Jean’s Lifetime 1802-1869. Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, 1995.