In his native village as well as in the Seminary at Montauban, in fact from the time of infancy his colleagues and peers called him le petit saint. We are not dealing with some form of traditional rose colored, syrupy literature that presents the saints without any defect. Jean’s contemporaries claim that he had an attractive personality that radiated goodness, closeness and an impressive righteousness. His short but impactful life would affirm that neither his peers, nor his parishioners nor his confreres had any reason to regret have designated him with that title of le petit saint.

None of our other brothers and sisters who have been canonized have impacted young people discerning a vocation to the Congregation as has Saint Perboyre. This fascinating individual has touched the hearts of many young people … and has done so yesterday and today … and will continue to do so tomorrow as he shows these young people the path of the missionary vocation that leads to the Congregation established by Vincent de Paul.

Three brief brush strokes of his deep humanness will touch the burning hearts of young people and return them to their first love (Revelation 2:4):

[1] In those days I will raise up a just shoot (Jeremiah 33:15): The home of Pierre Perboyre and Marie Rigal received the mission of guarding, revealing and communicating the love that God had given to them in their eight children. Six of those children dedicated their life to the service of the Lord by mean of the consecrated life (three as members of the Congregation of the Mission, two as Daughters of Charity and one as a Carmelite). The other two children sanctified themselves loving God with the strength of their arms and the sweat of their brows[1]in the fields of their homeland.

As a result of the love that was shared in the family, as a result of daily and fervent prayer as well as quiet and assiduous work and a sense of belonging to the Church … all of this made the home a “vocational pedagogical place” where heroic souls came alive. The words of Jesus took on deep meaning in this family: by their fruits you will know them (Matthew 7:16-21).

[2] To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68): At every hour of the day the Lord calls people to work in vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) … Jean Gabriel was called at dawn and he ran to meet the Lord. Jean listened to the voice of the Lord and always had his eyes focused on Jesus (Luke 4:20). Jean Gabriel conformed his life to that of Jesus and he never looked back. With great reason he has been called alter Christus.

 Let us listen to some of his words:

Jesus Christ is the great Teacher of knowledge;
Only he gives truth light!
Only one thing is important:
To know and to love Jesus Christ.
When you study,
Ask Jesus to teach you;
When you speak with someone,
Ask Jesus to inspire your words;
When you must do something,
Ask Jesus to tell you what he expects from you

Let us now pray with him this prayer that was the fruit of his relationship with the Master, a prayer that he prayed after the celebration of the Eucharist:

O my Divine Savior,
transform me into yourself.
May my hands be the hands of Jesus.
May my tongue be the tongue of Jesus.
Grant that every faculty of my body may serve only to glorify you.
Above all, transform my soul and all its powers,
so that my memory, my will and my affections
may be the memory, the will and the affections of Jesus.
I pray you to destroy in me all that is not you.
Grant that I may live but in you and for you,
and that I may truly say with St. Paul:
“I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

[3] Woman, behold your son (John 19:26): Jean Gabriel was ordained on September 23, 1826 in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity (on the Rue de Bac) where four years later the Blessed Mother would appear to Catherine Laboure.

Almost five years after those apparitions, on February 2, 1835, the Superior General allowed Jean Gabriel to begin his missionary journey to China. He received this news on the feast of the Purification of Mary which he viewed as a sign of Mary’s protection and intercession. With a few possessions and with many medals he began his journey toward the heavenly kingdom. Mary, through her Medal, would open the hearts of many people in China so that Jean could he plant in them the seeds of her Son, Jesus Christ.

As priests and brothers and future ministers in the Congregation of the Mission let us open our hearts and ears and make the words of Jean Gabriel our words:

Act like those who you are in debt and have no money to pay.
Isn’t it true that they borrow?
Well, borrow from the Blessed Virgin everything you need.
In her you will find faith, humility, love;
in a word, all that you lack,
because it will not be with your dispositions,
but with those of Mary,
that you will be received by Christ!
Ask Mary to bless your words and her actions…
When you speak, when you go to confession,
when you offer the Holy Sacrifice,
interest Mary in all that you do.
Do nothing without Mary
and you will receive abundant blessings
on everything you undertake.
Yes, we would like to continue delving into this mine of sanctity that is Saint Jean Gabriel Perboyre. We have only touched the surface … and yet, we can dig ever deeper in order to obtain the treasures that we need from God, and in order to continue our daily journey to the heights of holiness.

By:Marlio Nasayó Liévano, CM
Province of Columbia
Chinauta, Fusagasugè,
September 4, 2019
Anniversay of the Act of Association
of the First Missionaries

Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA


[1]Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conference, Documents, translators: Helen Marie Law, DC (Vol. 1), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 1-14), James King, CM (Vol. 1-2), Francis Germovnik, CM (Vol. 1-8, 13a-13b [Latin]), Esther Cavanagh, DC (Vol. 2), Ann Mary Dougherty, DC (Vol. 12); Evelyne Franc, DC (Vol. 13a-13b), Thomas Davitt, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Glennon E. Figge, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), John G. Nugent, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Andrew Spellman, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]); edited: Jacqueline Kilar, DC (Vol. 1-2), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 2-13b), Julia Denton, DC [editor-in-chief] (Vol. 3-10, 13a-13b), Paule Freeburg, DC (Vol. 3), Mirian Hamway, DC (Vol. 3), Elinor Hartman, DC (Vol. 4-10, 13a-13b), Ellen Van Zandt, DC (Vol. 9-13b), Ann Mary Dougherty (Vol. 11-12 and 14); annotated: John W. Carven, CM (Vol. 1-13b); New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014, vol. XI, p. 32.  Future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [CCD] followed by the volume number, followed by the page number.