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Maunoir, Julien, Bl.


Breton missionary and author; b. Saint-Georges de Reintembault, Rennes, France, Oct. 1, 1606; d. Plèvin, Jan. 28, 1683. He entered the Society of Jesus at Paris in 1625 and taught at the college of Quimper, where he dedicated himself to the Bretons. Having been born in the French-speaking part of Brittany, he had no knowledge of Breton language; but within two months after a pilgrimage to the shrine of Ty-Mamm-Doue (the House of the Mother of God) he was preaching fluently in this Celtic tongue. In 1640, after ordination, he began his apostolate and for the next 42 years conducted more than 400 missions in all parts of the duchy, preaching mostly in Breton. He was called universally "An Tad Mad" (The Good Father). Maunoir was the organizer of the Breton missions. He based his program on the Spiritual Exercises of St. ignatius of loyola, but added catechetical instructions, symbolical charts, didactic hymns, and dramatic presentations of the Savior's life. He was a pioneer of the closed retreat, and was responsible for building at Quimper one of the earliest retreat houses.

At Maunoir's missions, which lasted from four to five weeks, attendance of 10,000 was common. At the great missions the numbers reached 20,000 and 30,000, and the sermons and catecheses had to be given in the open fields. To serve these Pentecostal assemblies he organized assistants from the diocesan clergy; these assistants eventually numbered 1,000 and included five bishops. For a mission he would invite 20 or 30 priests who would preach, hear confessions, catechize, teach hymns, or prepare the grand procession. During the mission they lived in common under his direction. They recited the Office and meditated together and participated twice daily in conferences on mission methods, problems of moral theology, and projects of their own personal holiness. Such itinerant seminaries elevated the standards of the Breton clergy, many of whom lacked formal training. Maunoir published seven works, including ascetical books, collections of hymns, and a Breton-French dictionary and grammar. His hymns became part of the literature of the Breton people. He was beatified by pius xii, May 20, 1951.

Feast: July 2 (Jesuits).

Bibliography: a. boschet, Le Parfait missionaire (Paris 1697). x. a. sÉjournÉ, Histoire du vénérable serviteur de Dieu Julien Maunoir, 2 v. (Paris 1885). l. kerbiriou, Les Missions bretonnes (Brest 1934). h. brÉmond, Histoire litteraire du sentiment religieux en France, 11 v. (Paris 191633) 5:82117. Acta Apostolicae Sedis (1951) 225226, 428432, 437440. m. p. harney, Good Father in Brittany, the Life of Bl. Julien Maunoir (Boston 1964). j. n. tylenda, Jesuits Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998) 1820.

[m. p. harney]

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