EUDES, yūdz or (Fr.) ūd, JEAN, AND THE EUDISTS: French Roman Catholic priest and the Congregation founded by him. Eudes was born at Mezerai, southern Normandy, Nov. 14, 1601; d. at Caen (149 m. w.n.w. of Paris) Aug. 19, 1680. He was educated at the Jesuit college in Caen and at the Oratory in Paris under Bérulle, where he was ordained priest in 1626.
Eudes distinguished himself by his care of the sick during times of plague and as a missioner, and in 1639 became superior of the Congregation of the Oratory at Caen. Four years later, however, he left the Oratoriens, and with five companions founded the Congregation of the Missionary Priests of Jesus and Mary, or Eudists, which substituted for monastic vows the vow of strict obedience and received the official sanction of the bishop of Bayeux in 1644. The object of the Congregation was to provide a corps of educated secular priests for the special purpose of holding missions among the people, and during Eudes's administration of thirty-seven years as superior-general it spread throughout Normandy and a portion of Brittany, while seminaries were founded on the model of the mother house in Rouen, Evreux, Lisieux, Coutances, and Rennes. Under the immediate successor of Eudes, Blouet de Camilly, additional seminaries were established at Avranches, Dol, Senlis, and Paris, while under Guy de Fontaines (d. 1727) and Pierre Cousin (d. 1751) the Eudists, together with the Jesuits, strongly opposed Jansenism. Up to the outbreak of the Revolution the Eudists were one of the most respected and influential Congregations of Roman Catholic France, and possessed a college at Paris, in addition to twelve large and five small seminaries, while Father Hébert, the superior of the Paris house, was the confessor of Louis XVI.
Despite the suppression of the Congregation during the Revolution, it was quietly revived in 1800 by Toussaint Blanchard in the seminary at Rennes, and was formally reorganized in 1826. It has consistently maintained its pronounced Ultramontanism, and since the middle of the nineteenth century has been active in foreign missions. Eudes himself not only founded the Congregation which bears his name, but also the Daughters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, the prototype of the modern sisterhoods of the Good Shepherd, and was likewise active in spreading devotion to the hearts of Jesus and Mary, thus preparing the way for the later Congregations devoted to this purpose (see SACRED HEART OF Jesus, DEVOTION TO). Since 1874 the Eudists have earnestly striven to secure the canonization of their founder.