Villeneuve, Jean Marie Rodrigue
VILLENEUVE, JEAN MARIE RODRIGUE
Cardinal archbishop of Quebec, Canada; b. Montreal, Canada, Nov. 2, 1883; d. Alhambra, Calif., Jan. 17, 1947. Born of an old (nine generation) Canadian family, Villeneuve studied at Mont-St.-Louis, Montreal. He entered the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Lachine, took his vows Aug. 15, 1902, and after study at the University of Ottawa was ordained May 27, 1907. From 1907 to 1919 he taught at the university; obtained doctorates in philosophy, theology, and Canon Law; and was outstanding in the religious, social, and literary worlds of Canada, taking part in the Semaines sociales and the Canadian Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, and initiating closed retreats in Ottawa. Named superior of the Oblate scholasticate (1920), he directed the formation of his young colleagues until his nomination as first bishop of Gravelburg, Saskatchewan (1930). He was consecrated at Ottawa on September 11 and set about organizing his diocese, where he founded a major seminary. A year later the Holy See recalled him east as archbishop of Quebec. He was installed there Feb. 24, 1932, and created a cardinal March 13, 1933.
His active apostolate, particularly in preaching and writing, made him well known nationally and internationally. He preached often during Advent and Lent in the Cathedral of Quebec, published many of his discourses, was the author of Quelques pierres de doctrine (Montreal 1938), and contributed frequently to newspapers and periodicals. His pastoral letters and charges alone fill three volumes of the collection of Mandements des Evêques de Québec. During his 15-year reign he consecrated several churches and many bishops and, as far as possible, insisted on ordaining all priests. During World War II he took keen interest in visiting Canadian soldiers even on the battlefield. He was the recipient of numerous religious and other honors, including Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre (1932), Grand Cross of the National Order of the Legion of Honor (1934), member of the Roman Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas (1935), honorary member of the Royal Society of Canada (1942), and numerous honorary doctorates from universities in Canada and elsewhere. The high points of his career were the three papal appointments as legate a latere to the first National Eucharistic Congress of Quebec (1938), of which he was the guiding spirit; the dedication of the Basilica of St. Joan of Arc at Domrémy, France,(1939); and the crowning of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico (1945).
Cares and hardships prematurely weakened the cardinal's health; in June 1946, while returning from a tiring trip to the Oblate missions of Northwest Canada, he suffered his first heart attack. Despite rest cures at l'Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, his country home in Neuville, a New York hospital, and finally in California, he suffered his final attack in a sisters' convent at Alhambra. On Jan. 24, 1947, after simple obsequies in his cathedral, his remains were interred in the crypt of bishops of Quebec.
Bibliography: l. m. lejeune, Dictionnaire général … du Canada, 2 v. (Ottawa 1931) v.2. Semaine Religieuse de Québec 59 (Jan. 23, 1947).