RELIGIOUS OF SAINT-VINCENT-DE-PAUl

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Home » Way of Holiness » Venerable Jean-Leon Le Prevost

Jean-Léon Le Prevost was born in Caudebec-en-Caux in Normandy on August 10, 1803.

He founded, with the help of Clément Myionnet and Maurice Maignen, the Institute of the Brothers of St-Vincent de Paul on March 3, 1845.

He died in Chaville near Paris on October 30, 1874.

Described by his contemporaries as “another Vincent de Paul”, he bequeathed to his spiritual sons nearly 2,000 letters which manifest, in an exceptional way, the traits of a man “all charity” full of tenderness and kindness for all, as well as a deep sense of justice and dedication to the service of the poor and the little ones.

He was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II on December 21, 1998 upon recognition of his heroic virtues.

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Jean-Léon Le Prevost was born in Caudebec-en-Caux in Normandy on August 10, 1803.

He founded, with the help of Clément Myionnet and Maurice Maignen, the Institute of the Brothers of St-Vincent de Paul on March 3, 1845.

He died in Chaville near Paris on October 30, 1874.

Described by his contemporaries as “another Vincent de Paul”, he bequeathed to his spiritual sons nearly 2,000 letters which manifest, in an exceptional way, the traits of a man “all charity” full of tenderness and kindness for all, as well as a deep sense of justice and dedication to the service of the poor and the little ones.

He was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II on December 21, 1998 upon recognition of his heroic virtues.

From literary salons to faith

In 1825, Jean-Léon Le Prevost worked at the Ministry of Worship. He lives at no. 4 rue Cassette near the St-Sulpice church.

April 25, 1830

Like all Parisians, he was surely touched by the translation into the streets of Paris of the relics of the giant of charity, Saint Vincent de Paul… the beloved saint of the French. Grace was working in his heart…

In the living room of Montalembert

Since his arrival in Paris, a stone’s throw from his home, Le Prevost frequented the Montalembert salon where artists, thinkers, writers such as Eugène Boré, Lacordaire, Lamennais, the musician Liszt and then the youngest of the group, a young university student in law, Frédéric Ozanam… We discussed politics, social change, Catholicism…

Even if the political events upset this sensitive and romantic young artist (July Revolution – the Three Glorious Days of 26-27-28 – fall of Charles X… revolts in Belgium, in Poland, capitulation of Warsaw), he in fact aspires to things other than poetry and politics…

His friend, Charles Gavard, who also frequented the Montalembert salon, introduced him to a young Angevin poet named Victor Pavie. It is to him that he confides, in his first letters that have remained to us, his spiritual journey. Her friendship with Victor Pavie opens her heart.

He gradually abandoned dreams of romanticism and political freedom and began his ascent towards God… his path of conversion and the search for his vocation.

On August 9, 1832, he announced to his friend Pavie that he had become a believer again.

As with Saint Vincent, God made his way into his heart, without forcing him, at the favorable moment.

prayer for beatification

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Library

The Call of Charity

The misery of the poor of Paris

The social situation in France, and particularly in Paris, is dramatic: the poor are left to their fate, the nascent industrialization begins to exploit the workers, and especially the children, who work in miserable conditions, the craftsmen struggle to survive.

Ozanam, a young student from the Sorbonne who, with a group of friends was meeting at Emmanuel Bailly’s, in a study circle called “Conference of History”, decides to commit himself further, in the field of charitable devotion .

Thus, on April 23, 1833, springing from the loving and zealous heart of Frédéric Ozanam, the “Conference of Charity” was founded, with Emmanuel Bailly as president.

Monsieur Le Prevost who wants to “give form to his faith”. The Lord responds to his desire with a providential meeting in a small restaurant in the rue des Canettes where he often had meals with his friend Levassor.

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One day, in this restaurant, find Frédéric Ozanam, whom he knew at Montalembert, and his companions. The exchange is more than cordial, hearts unite around the same faith and the same spirit of charity. The Prevost was then invited to be part of the new Charity Conference.

Proposal by Le Prevost: Saint Vincent patron of the Conference

Le Prevost is certainly very marked by the life of Monsieur Vincent, because on February 4, 1834, inspired by a grace of the Spirit, he proposes to the Conference of Charity to take Saint Vincent as patron. The proposal was accepted and a new turn was taken by the St. Vincent de Paul Conference.

Marriage with Aure De Lafond

Le Prevost seeks his vocation from God. In 1833, while he was staying with the Hébert family, he met Aure De Lafond, ten years his senior, a painter, enjoying arts and letters like him.

This reciprocal friendship will be reinforced by the care that Mlle De Lafond will give him when Mr. Le Prevost is attacked by cholera. He then believes that God’s purpose is found in the noble calling of marriage.

Le Prevost married Miss De Lafond on June 19, 1834 and moved to no. 98 rue du Cherche-Midi, a stone’s throw from the Maison des Lazaristes behind the chapel of St-Vincent de Paul where he would go every day. pray.

The Lord watched over Le Prevost and supported him in this marriage of “charity” which would become a sanctifying trial for him.

The Prevost within the SSVP

By the end of 1834, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul had become numerous. Ozanam and a few companions, including Le Prevost, considered splitting the Conference in two and even spreading his movement throughout France. On February 17, the decision was made, the SSVP split into two sections: St-Étienne-du-Mont and St-Sulpice.

On March 3, 1835, ten years to the day before the founding of the Brothers of St-Vincent de Paul, the first session of the St-Sulpice Conference took place. Le Prevost became president on December 11, 1836. It was then that, for nearly ten years, the zeal and creativity of Mr. Le Prevost led him to give his heart and soul to the charitable works of the SSVP. The St-Sulpice Conference will deserve the beautiful title of “queen of conferences”.

In the spirit of Saint Vincent de Paul, several small works are born: for the poor, the orphans, the sick: the house in rue Copeau, the patronage of apprentices…

Le Prevost is gradually becoming “another Vincent de Paul”

In the spring of 1843, a young man of 21 presented himself at 98 rue du Cherche-Midi. His name is Maurice Maignen. He was born on March 3, 1822 in Paris. He heard of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Maurice Maignen will quickly become a friend and a son for Mr. Le Prevost who will bring him back to religious practice and accompany him on the path of his vocation.Editor of t

The work of Saint-famille

Saint Vincent has not finished inspiring Mr. Le Prevost. In April 1844, he founded the work of the Sainte-Famille. On Sundays, in the basement of the St-Sulpice church, he brings together the most humble families to bring them a little consolation and Christian formation: prayers, songs, talks, lotteries… Mr. Maignen helps Mr. Le Prevost in this work which is rapidly spreading to other parishes.

Prayer for beatification

Lord,
we thank you
to have called
the Venerable
Jean-Léon Le Prevost,
following
de saint Vincent de Paul,
to serve
the poor and the little ones.
Put in us
that same love
for those who suffer
and who are struggling
and, through his intercession,
grant us the graces
that we request
… (your intention)
may we
invoke him one day,
like one
of our protectors.
We ask you
by Jesus
Christ our Lord.
Amen

foundation project

In the fall of 1844, during a walk in the woods of Chaville, Mr. Le Prevost confided to Mr. Maignen his project: that of founding an Institute of Brothers dedicated to works of charity to support the SSVP.

« Il faudrait, he declares to Maignen, whom God caused to arise in his Church, for the salvation of the poor and the workers, a new society of religious, entirely consecrated to these works, of which we see the power, and, upon them, the manifest blessing of God… These would be, friend, the true monks of the nineteenth century ».

That same walking day in 1844, while continuing the conversation with Maurice Maignen, Le Prevost tells him how, one morning, on leaving the chapel of the Lazarists, he had been approached by a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Conference of Angers, who also wanted to consecrate himself to God in a new Institute devoted to the working classes.

His name is Clément Myionnet, he is 32 years old.

The founding of the Brothers of St-Vincent de Paul

A year later, Jean-Léon Le Prevost, Maurice Maignen and Clément Myionnet kneel before the reliquary of Saint Vincent de Paul, their patron, to found the new congregation, whose only brother is Clément Myionnet, Monsieur Le Prevost being retained by the bonds of marriage and Maurice Maignen not having yet decided to leave his family.

M. Le Prevost becomes superior of the community

On September 17, 1845, after a long suspense, many letters, a great deal of psychology and “ability in the handling of souls”, Mr. Le Prevost wrote to Bishop Angebault that he had obtained the formal consent of his wife. After having been able to untie the suffering marital bond without breaking it, he is now free to follow his attraction…but he will still need time to free himself completely.

The three Brothers are finally reunited!

On October 3, 1846, with the entry into community of M. Maignen, the three Brothers, already united in heart, were now whole, body and soul, at the house in rue du Regard.

The apparition on the mountain of La Salette

It was during this same year that on September 19, at the top of the Alps, in the village of La Salette, a beautiful lady addressed to two humble children a message of conversion and reconciliation. Mr. Le Prevost saw in it a special sign addressed to his small religious family and had a Sanctuary erected in Vaugirard in honor of Notre-Dame de La Salette.

The development of works

After the Patronage of Rue du Regard, a second patronage was founded in Grenelle. A year later, the community obtained permission to keep the Blessed Sacrament and to have mass celebrated in the small chapel of the patronage of Grenelle. In 1850, the arrival of Father Henri Planchat enabled them to welcome priests and brothers. The Congregation is called to find its charism in the collaboration between the Brother and the Father.

The community will expand and strengthen. The patronage of rue du Regard moved to the Notre-Dame de Nazareth church. There are a hundred young workers, two hundred apprentices and fifty old people. Shortly after, an orphanage was opened in the inner suburbs with the Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette chapel. Vaugirard will become the “Maison d’oeuvres” dedicated to the poor, young people and workers.

The last years of his life

Jean-Léon Le Prevost was ordained a priest on December 22, 1860 at the chapel of La Salette in Vaugirard. He will go on a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de la Salette a few years later. In 1869, he went to pray in Rome at the tomb of Saint Peter. He celebrates mass in the different basilicas and receives communion from the hands of Pope Pius IX on Maundy Thursday.

The war of 1870 caused suffering for the population of Paris and for the young congregation with the sacking of the house of Chaville. Added to this is the Paris Commune during which Father Planchat, the first priest of the Congregation, was taken hostage and shot by the Communards on May 26, 1871.

Jean-Léon Le Prevost, already weakened by illness for several years, died on October 30, 1874, surrounded by his family.

On the way to beatification

From then on his reputation for holiness extended beyond his religious family.

His beatification process, delayed by political events and the wars, was finally opened in 1937. The heroicity of his virtues was recognized by Pope John Paul II on December 21, 1998. He then became Venerable Jean-Léon Le Prevost.

All the letters of Jean Léon Le Prevost (Intratext search)