4 August – Blessed Frédéric Janssoone OFM
– Franciscan Priest, prolific and passionate preacher, Evangeliser
“God’s Pedlar”, “Good Fr Frederic”, apostle of the Passion, of the
poor, of charity of Marian devotions – born on 19 November 1838,
Ghyvelde, France — died 4 August 1916, Montreal, Canada. Patronage –
the Secular Franciscan Regional Fraternity of Eastern Canada.
The son of a prosperous and devout farming family, Frederic Janssoone
was born on 19 November 1838, in Ghyveldge, in the North of France.
His father died when Frederic was only nine. He attended secondary
school in Hazebrouck and then Dunkirk but in 1856, he had to leave
school to support his mother. He found work as an errand boy and
eventually had great success as a traveling salesman. After his mother
died, in 1861, he was able to complete his studies. In 1864, he
entered the novitiate of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in
Amiens. He was Ordained a priest in 1870 and was a military chaplain
during the Franco-Prussian War. Afterwards, he became assistant novice
director and librarian. He then became superior of the community in
In 1876, he traveled to the Custody of the Holy Land. He became
chaplain for the Brothers of the Christian Schools in Cairo and gave
preached retreats there and in Alexandria. Between 1878 and 1888, he
was assistant to the head guard of the Sacred Sites in Palestine. He
helped with administration, promoted a renewal of the custom of Holy
Land pilgrimages, re-established the ritual of the Way of the Cross in
the streets of Jerusalem and directed construction of the Church of
the Nativity in Bethlehem. He revised the set of customary regulations
that had developed through the centuries between the Latins, the
Greeks and the Armenians for the use and maintenance of the shrines of
Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre.
In 1881, Father Frederic made his first trip to Canada to establish an
annual collection for the Holy Places and to submit to the Bishops a
plan for the Commissariat for the Holy Land in Canada. He gave
preached retreats throughout Quebec – in Quebec City, Portneuf,
TroisRivières, Bécancour and Cap-de-la-Madeleine. He settled in Canada
for good in 1888. He lived in Trois-Rivières, where he became closely
involved with the organisation and development of the pilgrimage of
Our Lady of the Rosary that had been started up by Father Luc Désilets
at nearby Cap-de-la-Madeleine. He promoted the Franciscan Third Order
in Quebec and New England. He created three outdoor Ways of the Cross,
organised conferences and pilgrimages and gave many preached retreats.
He also wrote magazine and newspaper articles, booklets, works on the
Holy Land, lives of Jesus, Mary, Saint Anne, Saint Joseph, Saint
Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony of Padua and the first Franciscan
born in Canada, the Venerable Brother Didace Pelletier.
Father Frederic paved the way for the re-establishment in Canada of
the Order of Friars Minor, which had ceased to exist with the death of
the last Recollet in 1812 Father Frederic, the former travelling
salesman, had become a pedlar for God. He travelled from one parish to
another in several Quebec dioceses and went door-to-door selling his
works. The profit from his sales went toward the establishment of
several communities of consecrated life – the Franciscan Missionaries
of Mary, the Poor Clares, the Franciscans of Trois-Rivières and the
Sister Adorers of the Precious Blood of Joliette.
Bl Frederic took to his bed in June 1916 physically worn out by his
many exertions in his ministries and in great pain. He was admitted to
the Franciscan Infirmary in Montreal, where he was diagnosed as
suffering from stomach cancer. After almost two months of intense
pain, he died there on the following 4 August. His body was returned
to Trois-Rivières, where he was buried in the small chapel he had
built attached to the friary. Next door is now a Museum dedicated to
him. He was Beatified by St Pope John Paul II on 25 September 1988.
As a young man, Frederic Janssoone received the rigorous humanist
college education typical of his era. He developed skill in business
before turning to priestly life. His upbringing left him with a
sensitive conscience but he had unusual gifts for pastoral work.
He was always curious and in Paris he researched the early Franciscan
mission to Canada. He was a natural pedagogue and could touch hearts
and minds when he preached. He was comfortable presiding at liturgical
celebrations and believed in making them resplendent as this would
draw the minds of participants to God. He was among those who promoted
a religious awakening in France following the Franco-Prussian War.
In Palestine, he demonstrated considerable diplomacy and skill in
building churches. His devotion to the passion of Christ inspired him
to re-establish the practice of praying the Way of the Cross in the
streets of Jerusalem. His sincere and upright character as well as his
spirit of justice and conciliation permitted him to develop the set of
regulations that decreased the tensions between the Greeks, Armenians,
and Latins regarding the shrines of the Holy Sepulchre and Bethlehem.
His preaching was leavened by his close observation of life and it was
delivered with energy. He was never afraid to be dramatic if it could
touch the hearts of his listeners. He took advantage of his first-hand
knowledge of the land where Jesus and Mary had lived to illustrate his
sermons. His apostolic spirit characterised his promotion of the
devotion of the Way of the Cross, pilgrimages and the Franciscan Third
Order. He played an important role as the initiator of a spiritual
renewal based on meditation on the suffering and passion of Christ.
Father Frederic had an innate sense of publicity and used his facility
for writing to add lustre to the projects that he poured himself into.
As soon as he began visiting Quebec, he published newspaper articles
on the Holy Land to publicise his mission. The Canadians liked his
style of preaching. The Journal des Trois-Rivières wrote that he was
“one of the best preachers that one could encounter.”
He was humble and objective and he expressed his apostolic ambition
with the prayer, “Let me bring to you, whoever comes to me.” After he
created the pilgrimage site at Our Lady of the Cape Shrine, he
suggested to the Bishop that he entrust its management to the Oblates
of Mary Immaculate, “because they are very humble and have simplicity
ways.” His devotion to Mary was expressed in the promotion of prayer
to Our Lady of the Rosary, which is at the heart of the pilgrimage to
Cap-de-la-Madeleine. He founded the Annales, known today under the
title NotreDame-du-Cap. His goodness and his reputation as a moving
preacher earned him the nicknames “Holy Father” and “Good Father
It was said of Fr Frederic “the man is joyful and full of humour.” He
had numerous areas of interest, going from theology to the pastoral,
by way of history, geography, astronomy, botany, painting,
architecture and archaeology.
Tireless apostle, his love of people and preaching, his goodness,
austerity, his extreme poverty, his patience and his serenity during
adversity, made others compare him to St Francis of Assisi.
Listen to me for one moment and you will see that only the service of
God will console us and make us happy in the midst of all the miseries
of life. To accomplish it, you do not need to leave either your
belongings, or your parents, or even your friends, unless they are
leading you to sin. You have no need to go and spend the rest of your
lives in the desert to weep there for your sins. If that were
necessary for us, indeed, we should be very happy to have such a
remedy for our ills. But no, a father and a mother of a family can
serve God by living with their children and bringing them up in a
Christian way. A servant can very easily serve God and his master,
with nothing to stop him. No, my dear brethren, the way of life that
means serving God changes nothing in all that we have to do. On the
contrary, we simply do better all the things we must do!
-- St. John Vianney
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was
hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God,
command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is
written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that
proceedeth from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:2-4)
Prayers in honor of St. Joseph for the agonized:
Eternal Father, by Thy love for St. Joseph, whom Thou didst
select from all men to represent Thee upon earth,
have mercy on us and on the dying.
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...
Eternal Divine Son, by Thy love for St. Joseph, who was Thy
faithful guardian upon earth, have mercy on us and on the dying.
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be ...
Eternal Divine Spirit, by Thy love for St. Joseph, who so
carefully watched over Mary, Thy beloved spouse,
have mercy on us and on the dying.
Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory be...