Gailhac, Pierre Jean Antoine
GAILHAC, PIERRE JEAN ANTOINE
Founder of the Religious of the sacred heart of mary; b. Béziers, France, Nov. 14, 1802; d. there, Jan. 25, 1890. He was born in modest circumstances and received his early education from a priest. After a brief apprenticeship to his uncle, a pharmacist, he entered the seminary of Montpellier. He remained there for eight years after ordination (1826) as professor of theology. When the government demanded that all professors of theology teach and defend the declaration of the
french clergy of 1682, Gailhac alone among the Montpellier faculty incurred diocesan disapproval by refusing (see gallicanism). While serving as hospital chaplain in Béziers (1830–49), he decided to devote himself to the sick poor. He opened a house of refuge for penitent women and later an orphanage. In 1849 he founded the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. The immediate obligation of this congregation of women was the care of orphans, but the general purpose was the education of young women. A second foundation, the Priests of the Good Shepherd, did not endure. In 1860 Gailhac was anonymously accused of poisoning two nuns, subjected to an official investigation, and acquitted. Years later an obscure citizen sent a deathbed statement to the bishop confessing his responsibility for the false accusation. The decree introducing his cause for beatification was issued in 1953.
Bibliography: f. leray, Un Apôtre: Le père Jean Gailhac (Paris 1944). h. magaret, Gailhac of Béziers (New York 1946).