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Moyë, John Martin, Bl.


Founder of religious congregations of women and missionary to China; b. Cutting, Lorraine, France, January 27, 1730; d. Trier, Germany, May 4, 1793. John, the sixth of 13 children born to John Moyë and Catherine Demange, was educated at the Collège of Pont-à-Mousson, the Jesuit College of Strasbourg, and the Seminary of Saint-Simon in Metz. After his ordination in 1754, Father Moyë devoted himself as vicar to pastoral work in the Diocese of Metz for 17 years. To secure free education for village children, he founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1762. He was appointed superior of the Seminary of Saint-Dié in 1767, but two years later he asked to join the paris foreign missionary society. On March 28, 1773, he arrived in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan in southwestern China, to work under Bp. François Pottier, the vicar apostolic. His missionary field covered half of Sichuan and the province of Guizhou. He worked there for ten years with tireless and inventive zeal, baptizing native children in danger of death, writing books of devotion, and organizing exercises of piety. In 1782 he established an Institute of Christian Virgins to care for the sick and to give Christian instruction to Chinese women and children in their homes.

Physical exhaustion and the opposition to his apostolic methods manifested by his five co-workers caused him to ask to return to France in 1784. Lorraine again became the field of his apostolate and the Sisters of Divine Providence his special care. Within the decade, the French Revolution created grave religious problems. Father Moyë gave counsel and generous help to the persecuted nonjuring priests and the religious forced from their cloisters. To save the congregation he had founded, he moved the Sisters of Divine Providence to Trier in 1791. The advance of the French army, however, caused its suppression the next year. Restored in 1816, the congregation numbered 116 convents by the end of the century, and in 1866 the Sisters made a foundation in San Antonio, Texas. Father Moyë died in the typhus epidemic that spread to Trier. leo xiii approved the introduction of his cause, January 14, 1891. The heroicity of his virtue was proclaimed May 21, 1945, and he was beatified Dec. 27, 1954, by pius xii.

Feast: May 4.

Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 38 (1946) 287290; 46 (1954) 734737,739740; 47 (1955) 3339. j. marchal, Vie de M. labbé Moyë de la Société des Missions Étrangères, foundateur de la Congrégation des Soeurs de la Providence en Lorraine (Paris 1872). g. goyau, Un Devancier de l'oeuvre de la Sainte-Enfance: Jean-Martin Moyë, missionaire on Chine, 17721783 (Paris 1937). r. plus, J. M. Moyë des Missions Étrangères: fondateur des Soeurs de la Providence (Paris 1947). m. g. callahan, The Life of Blessed John Martin Moyë (Milwaukee 1964). j. guennou, Le Bienheureux Jean-Martin Moye (Paris 1970). m. kernel, De l'Insécurité: le projet de vie des Soeurs de la Providence selon le "Directoire" de Jean-Martin Moyë (Paris 1976). g. h. tavard, L'expérience de Jean-Martin Moye: mystique et mission (Paris 1978); Lorsque Dieu fait tou la doctrine spirituelle du bienheureux Jean-Martin Moye (Paris 1984).

[g. m. gray]

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