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Jean Paul Medaille

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Jesuit missionary; b. at Carcassonne, the capital of the Department of Aude, France, 29 January, 1618; d. at Auch, the capital of the Department of Gers, France, 15 May, 1689. He entered the Society of Jesus, 15 August, 1640, and after completing his studies spent a number of years in the classroom, teaching both the lower and higher studies of the college courses and particularly, for the space of six years, philosophy. Later he was applied to the work of preaching, which may be regarded as his life work; to this he gave himself up almost exclusively for eighteen years, until advancing age and the infirmities brought on by his laborious and austere life forced him to devote himself to the less fatiguing work of directing sodalities and of hearing confessions, especially of the poor. He was one of the number of illustrious missioners formed in the school of St. Francis Regis of the Society of Jesus, and spent the best years of his life in the evangelization of Velay, Auvergne, Languedoc, and Aveyron. His apostolic labours were attended with greater and more lasting fruit, because he established wherever he preached fervent sodalities of men and women who, by all sorts of works of charity, such as instructing children, visiting the sick, helping the poor, perpetuated and extended the fruits of his missions. These pious sodalities, however, lacked certain elements which Father Medaille regarded as necessary for the stabliity of his work. Their members, although devoted, were hampered in many ways and by many ties in the exercise of their zeal. Father Medaille resolved, therefore, to start a congregation of nuns who should give themselves up wholly and unreservedly to all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy . Having matured his plans, he laid them before Mgr de Maupas, who gave them his fullest approval. Shortly after, Father Medaille founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The general idea of the congregation was drawn, at least to a certain extent, from the works of St. Francis de Sales, but the details of its practical development were based almost entirely on the constitutions of the Society of Jesus . It is as the founder of this congregation that Father Medaille is best known. His active life left him no time for writing; consequently we have nothing from his pen, aside from some correspondence, except the "Constitutions pour la Congrégation des Soeurs de Saint Joseph ". These consitutions have been incorrectly attibuted to Father Peter Medaille, S.J. It is true that Father Peter Medaille contributed much in later years to the establishment on a firm basis and to the spread of the congregation, but at the time of its foundation he was still a novice and had neither the experience nor the authority necessary for so responsible a work.

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