Jean-Charles Caron

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Jean-Charles Caron, born on 31 December 1730, entered the Congregation on 9 October 1750 and made his vows on 10 October 1752.

Announcement of Addition to Vincentian calendar

But when, in 1927, the Superior General, François Verdier, asked the Congregation of Rites to approve the Proper for our martyrs, the opinion of Coste, who noted that the two confreres at that time were pastors in Collégien and Genevrières, respectively, prevailed. The request for insertion into the calendar of the Congregation of the Mission was limited to the two martyrs, Blessed Louis Joseph François and John Henry Gruyer]] (martyred at Paris on 3 September 1792 and beatified on 17 October 1926)

Today, a more organized study of all the detailed documents of our history leads us to believe the two blessed martyrs, Caron and Colin, as fully belonging to our Community.

The Superior General, Fr. Gregory Gay, at the Council meeting of 4 October 2005, decided to ask the Congregation for Divine Worship to insert in the memorial of 2 September the two martyrs, Jean-Charles Caron and Nicholas Colin, too. The Congregation, on 15 October 2005, granted that the memorial, in addition to Louis Joseph François, John Henry Gruyer and Pierre-René Rogue would include Jean-Charles Caron and Nicholas Colin and would be entitled: “Memorial of Blessed Louis Joseph François and Companions, Martyrs”.

Biography (prepared by Paul Hetzmann CM)

Son of Philippe-Albert et Marie-Antoinette Duprez, Jean-Charles Caron was born on 30 December 1730, in Auchel (Pas-de-Calais), a village de 93 homes, 338 inhabitants, some thirty kilometres North-West of Arras. He was baptised the following day, in the church of Saint Martin, by the curate Pierre-André Cossart .

This family, which started life on 26 May 1721, consisted of 10 children; four daugthers and six sons. One of the boys died in early infancy. Four became priests : Jacques-Joseph, Philippe-Albert, Jean-Charles CM et Mathieu CM. The last, Louis-Joseph, took over from his father as small farmer and laborer.

The area raised wheat, oats, flax, rape-seed, hemp and tabacco. In winter, the country people took on manual work ; weaving, pottery and carpentry.

Auchel is in the diocese of Boulogne-sur-Mer. Mgr Pierre de Langle, an ardent jansenist, died on 12 April 1724. The Carons benefitted immediately from the committed pastoral care of his successors, notably Jean-Marie Henriau (1724 –1738) and François-Joseph de Partz de Pressy (1742 –1791), who were assisted by good clery, formed in the Seminaries.

The priests of the Mission had been in the seminary at Boulogne since 1682 and preached missions from 1697. We don’t have a great deal of information about their activities but their influence was felt ; the diocese was to give to the Congrégation thirty-eight brothers and one hundred priests, amongst them Dominique Hanon and Pierre Dewailly. Forty-two entered the Internal Seminaire Jean-Charles. One of them, in 1736, was his cousin Martin-Joseph Caron, later placed in the parish of Notre-Dame, at Versailles.

Jean-Charles, à la maison du clerc, attended the village school, learning reading, calculus, catechism and probably some degree of latin. Having done some part of his secondary studies, he presented himself at Saint Lazare, on the 9 October 1750. He took vows on 10 October 1752. On 20 November 1752, his bishop, Mgr de Pressy, gave permission for him to receive tonsure.

After priestly ordination, Jean-Charles, towards the end of 1759, was sent to the parish of Saint Louis, at Versailles, about one kilometre from that of Notre-Dame, both of them situated some hundreds of metres from the entrance to the Palace.

Faithful to the contracts signed in 1727, the Saint Louis community comprised twelve priests, two brothers and four clerics. Their presbytery, completed in 1760, included some twenty rooms for residents and visitors, still more for domestic staff, all the offices necessary for community life and out-offices as well. The library contained four thousand volumes.

The new church, built by the architect Mansart de Sagonne, inaugurated in 1754, continued to be embellished. In 1761, Noël Hallé painted a Saint Vincent de Paul as a preacher.

In this context, rich in works of art, the sons of St Vincent exercised their priestly ministry simply and lived their community life according to their constitutions and the instructions received both from the successors of the Holy Founder and from the General Assemblies. Up to the Revolution, the church, parish and community of Saint Louis were unremarkable. Their history is empty of major events and Notre-Dame remained the Royal Parish. The circulars of the Superiors General contain no reference to it (St Louis).

(Trans. Eugene Curran, CM)