Cassant, Marie Joseph

views updated


Trappist Cistercian; b. Casseneuil-sur-Lot, France, March 6, 1879; d. Abbey of Notre Dame du Désert, June 17, 1903. Joseph desired intensely to become a priest, but was handicapped by an almost total lack of the necessary intellectual endowments. At the age of 15 he entered the Trappist Cistercian Abbey of Notre Dame du Désert (Dec. 5, 1894), where he received the habit of a choir religious, made his simple profession in 1897, and was solemnly professed on May 24, 1900. Weak in body, prone to discouragement, and unresponsive by nature to many aspects of monastic culture, this seemingly ungifted monk lived in a constant and vivid awareness of the essential Christian and monastic realities. Less articulate than Thérèse of Lisieux or Charles de Foucauld, Joseph nevertheless had the same thirst for the absolute, the same poverty of spirit, and the same intense charity. With the help of his spiritual father, André Malet (later abbot of the monastery), Joseph had the joy of being ordained on Oct. 12, 1902, and of living the last eight months of his life as a priest. His cause for beatification was introduced at Rome, Feb. 19. 1956.

Bibliography: m. e. cheneviÈre, L'Âme cistercienne du Père Marie-Joseph Cassant d'après ses notes inédites (Abbey of Sainte-Marie-du-Désert 1938); L'Attente dans le silence: Le Père Marie-Joseph Cassant (Bruges 1961), definitive biog.

[c. waddell]