In the footsteps of Dom Jean Leuduger

On 23 June 2022, 28 people, including a majority of “Daughters of the Holy Spirit” nuns, attended a day organised by the Pilgrimage Service of the Diocese of Saint-Brieuc, to go “In the footsteps of Dom Jean Leuduger”, a priest, a missionary of our Breton countryside -France-, who died three centuries ago!

In alternately cloudy and sunny, yet pleasant, weather, we took the 70 km journey beyond Saint-Brieuc by coach, chanting the Lauds prayer in the passing traffic and crossing the lush green countryside of the early summer. The programme included: – a stop at the castle of the Count and Countess of La Garaye, linked to Jean Leuduger; – a stop about 5 kilometres further on, to discover, in a church in Dinan, a stained glass window representing the Count and Countess next to Louis Grignon de Montfort, disciple and collaborator of Jean Leuduger; – a stop at Le Légué, in Plérin (port of St Brieuc): There is the first “charitable house” of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit with the evocation of Jean Leuduger. Then a stop at the parish church of Plérin, the church of the baptism and first mass of Dom Jean Leuduger, born in this town in 1649.

The celebration of a mass punctuated the very special pilgrimage of this day of the “Year of Jean Leuduger”, initiated by the Diocese and our Congregation -beginning on 17 January, date of his death in 1722- which will end on 23 October, Mission Sunday-.

The castle of La Garaye, in Taden

A long and interesting exchange in front of the ruins of the castle! The noble couple of the Count and Countess of La Garaye lived in great ease. Trials came and went… And, struck down by a grace, they became aware of the misery around them.  Abandoning all worldly life, they decided to serve the poor for the love of God: they sold their crockery, their horses and their dogs to finance their work and put their own servants at the service of the sick. The task became overwhelming, so the Count had his horses saddled and flew in his carriage to Plérin (70 km) where he begged the highly honourable Marie Balavenne for help. Three sisters then left for Taden to care for the poor at home and to teach the children.  This very first swarm settled in a noble and modest house, “Le petit bon espoir”, given to them by the Count: thus they lived there what they had already lived in Plérin thanks to the support and teaching received from Dom Jean Leuduger.

The stained glass window of the church in Dinan

We see the Count and Countess de la Garaye, piously gathered near Louis Grignon de Montfort, -disciple and collaborator of Dom Jean Leuduger-, turned towards the Virgin, imploring her to help those who are at his feet.  At the top of the window, this writing: “Holy Virgin Mary, ask for us the holy love of God”: a writing that recalls the litanies of the saints, oral prayers said during the Missions and contained in “Bouquet de la Mission”, a book by Jean Leuduger.

At the port of Le Légué, the first “House of Charity”

” 1706.  First house of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit, in the parish of Plérin. This house is due to the charity of a widow, Marie Balavenne, who, under the direction of Dom Jean Leuduger, canon and scholastic of the cathedral of Saint-Brieuc, had devoted herself entirely to the service of the sick poor. She inspired the same intention in a pious woman, Renée Burel, and then in several others, and thus became, without thinking about it, the founder of a new religious society.”
(Sister Marie-Pierre Torlay, DHS)

Stained glass window in the parish church of Plérin

We see Dom Jean Leuduger, founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit, handing the Rule of the Congregation to Marie Balavenne.

We also see, above Jean Leuduger’s head, a cross representing the Son; at the very top of the window, a dove represents the Spirit, and all the light of the rays represents the Father.

“… they shall honour, as perfectly as possible, the three adorable persons of the Holy Trinity; but they shall have a special devotion to the third, which is the Holy Spirit, the love of the Father and the Son.”
Article 1 of the Rule of Taden.

On the feast of Saint John the Baptist, feast also of John Leuduger who, like this prophet, revealed the Word of God to the people of the parishes by his teaching and his life.

Jeanne Landuré and Marie-Thérèse Héliès, DHS. Published on 25 June 2022.

 Photo 00. Dom Jean Leuduger – photos 01 02: on a journey – photos 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10: Château de La Garaye – photos 11 12 13 14 15: Church of Dinan – Photos 16 17: journey – Photos 18 19 20: The Charity House – Photos 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28: church of Plérin.