Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint John Eudes (1601–1680)

Saint John Eudes (1601–1680)

Patron saint of prostitutes who are reforming their lives

Feast day: August 19

Saint John Eudes was born in France in 1602. He felt called to religious life and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. When plagues struck France in 1627 and 1631, John ministered to those afflicted. He lived apart from the members of his religious community because he didn’t want to infect them with the diseases that he was exposed to through his ministry.

At the age of 32, John felt called to spread the Good News by becoming a parish missionary. After many hours of prayer and reflection, John left his religious community and founded his own, focused on the development of the clergy. Even though his work was approved by bishops, many groups disapproved, including the Jansenists. (This was a group of Catholic thinkers who believed that only some people were predestined to be saved and that no one could refuse God's grace. Jansenism was later declared a heresy. God wants all people to be saved, and we have been given the gift of free will to either accept or refuse God's grace in our lives.)

John felt great compassion for the mistreated and abandoned, especially prostitutes who wanted to end their lifestyles. In order to shelter and care for these women, John founded another religious community, the Sisters of Charity of the Refuge. In all of his writings, John emphasized Jesus’ holiness and Mary’s model Christian life.

Saint John Eudes was canonized in 1925. The congregation of sisters he founded is now known as Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, and serves those who are poor and marginalized around the world, including the United States. 

(Image ©Vasilii L/