This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4 -- Feast of Blessed Jean-Martin Moye

You can't cheat, Death.  But you can't cheat Death, either.
Do you know that old story (I guess it was retold in modern form by W. Somerset Maugham) about the guy who sees Death at a Baghdad marketplace?  Appointment in Samarra?  It involves trying to hide from Death, which of course one can't do. Blessed Jean-Martin certainly did not try to outrun Death, which always seemed to be close at hand, but Death didn't seem to be in much of a hurry to reap him either. 

Blessed Jean-Martin: picture of piety
Ordained in France in 1754, he busied himself with good works for the under-served.  He started out by founding schools in the country, then establishing a congregation of sisters to teach women and girls.  In 1773, he went to China to serve as a missionary, which was frequently a death sentence.  The abuse he suffered, including imprisonment and deprivation, only strengthened his belief that the Chinese people needed his help.  (Some folks can't take a hint.)  So he founded a congregation of sisters who would teach women and girls, following the model he used in France. 

In 1784, he was broken down from work and stints in prison, so he went back to France to recuperate.  He got a second wind and was evangelizing in Alsace and Lorraine when the French Revolution launched its anti-Church campaign.  As you probably know, lots of priests and nuns lost their heads over the Loyalty Oath, but Blessed Jean-Martin (and the Sisters of Divine Providence working with him) wound up in exile instead. 

Saint Augustine Chao taking it to Blessed Jean-Martin Moye
Digression:  Augustine Chao (not his original first name) was one of Jean-Martin's prison guards.  He's pictured here, flailing the poor priest (but not to death).  Eventually, Chao was so moved by Jean-Martin's example that he accepted baptism (that's how he got the name Augustine), became a priest, and then suffered imprisonment.  He died in prison, but he was beatified before Jean-Martin, and unlike him, has made it all the way to saint. 

Back to our regularly scheduled beatus.  Jean Martin kept up the work in Trier for two years.  Then the French troops followed him there on their conquest of all Europe.  They weren't coming for him, but the typhoid they brought with them was.  He was working in a hospital, caring for typhoid victims when he contracted the disease and died. 

I don't have any reason to believe that Blessed Jean-Martin was rushing toward martyrdom.  If he had been, he wouldn't have taken the exile in Trier instead of the guillotine.  But he wasn't doing much to dodge it either.  It's impressive that he lived to be sixty-two, given the number of times he and Death waved to each other in the marketplace. 

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