Barré, Nicholas, Bl.
BARRÉ, NICHOLAS, BL.
Pedagogue, founder of the Schools of Charity, the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus (also known as the Ladies of St. Maur), and the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus of Providence of Rouen (France); b. Amiens, France, Oct. 21, 1621; d. Paris, May 31, 1686. Born into a well-to-do family, Nicholas chose to enter the Order of the Minims of St. Francis de Paul at age 18 and was professed at Amiens in 1641. Even before his ordination, Barré was given the chair of theology at Paris, which he held with honor for 20 years. At the convent of the Royal Square (Paris), he had as confreres illustrious men of science, of wide knowledge, and profound spirituality.
Although he trained many students in scholastic as well as spiritual matters, he spent the major part of his ministry in preaching, spiritual direction, and the great work of instituting free popular teaching. In Rouen first (1662) and later in Paris, he founded and directed those Schools of Charity of the Holy Infant Jesus that became models throughout France. To these schools he gave program, method, and teachers whose religious, cultural, and didactic preparation he had scrupulously supervised. The Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus had two distinct branches: one in Rouen, also called the "Institute of Providence"; the other at Paris, called the "Institute of the Dames of St. Maur," from the house of its foundation. Barré also considered a male branch of the Congregation: the "Teachers." This, however, was accomplished in the foundation of the Brothers of the Christian Schools by St. John de la Salle, whom Barré had directed, advised, and encouraged.
Barré had a solid base of Thomistic theology and a sense of equilibrium that enabled him to avoid the excesses of rigorism and laxism. He fought both jansenism and quietism. Humility, faith, charity, mortification, and personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist are the pillars of his spiritual doctrine. He was an advocate of frequent Communion, and often affirmed that Holy Communion is the best disposition for Holy Communion. His extant spiritual works are Lettres spirituelles (Rouen 1697; Toulouse 1876) and Maximes spirituelles (Paris 1694). His cause for beatification was introduced before the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1931. On April 6, 1998, a miracle attributed to his intercession was approved, which led to his beatification by John Paul II, March 7, 1999.
Feast: Oct. 21.
Bibliography: Œuvres complètes, ed. t. darras, m. t. flourez, and m. f. toulouse (Paris 1994). Acta Apostolicae Sedis no. 7 (1999): 310–312. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 8 (1999): 2; no. 10 (1999): 1, 3, 6. c. farcy, Le Révérend Père Barré, religieux minime (Paris 1942). b. flourez, Marcheur dans la nuit: Nicolas Barré, 1621–1686, 2d. ed. (Paris 1994). h. de grÈzes, Vie du R. P. Barré … (Barle-Duc 1892). g. moretti, Un pedagogista santo (Rome 1929). g. papÀsogli, Nicola Barré, educatore di anime (Rome 1975).