Eymard was born 4 February 1811 at La Mure, Isère, France. His first attempt as a seminarian ended when he departed because of poor health. Nevertheless, on 20 July 1834, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Grenoble. In 1839, he joined the Marist Fathers, where he worked as a well-respected spiritual advisor with seminarians and priests. He worked with the Third Order of Mary and other lay organizations promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the Eucharist, particularly in the Forty Hours. He rose to the position of Provincial of the Society at Lyon in 1845. In 1856, due to disputes with the Marists, Eymard left them and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and, in 1858, together with Marguerite Guillot founded the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a contemplative congregation for women.
The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament began working with children in Paris to prepare them to receive their First Communion. It also reached out to non-practicing Catholics, inviting them to repent and begin receiving Communion again. Eymard was a tireless proponent of frequent Holy Communion, an idea given more authoritative backing by Pope Pius X in 1905.
Eymard overcame a number of difficulties to reach his goals, including poverty in his family and in his newly founded community, his father's initial opposition to his only son’s desire to be a priest, years of serious illness and pain, a Jansenistic striving for inner perfection and the difficulties of getting diocesan and later papal approval for his new religious community. Eymard was a contemporary and a friend of other saints including Peter Chanel, John Vianney and Marcellin Champagnat.
The French sculptor Auguste Rodin received counsel from Eymard when Rodin entered the Congregation as a lay brother in 1862, having given up art after the death of his sister. Eymard recognized Rodin's talent and advised him to return to his vocation. Rodin later produced a bust of Eymard.
Eymard died on 1 August 1868. He was declared venerable in 1908, beatified in 1925, and canonized by Pope John XXIII on 9 December 1962. His feast day is celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on 2 August. He was named Apostle of the Eucharist.
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