Eucharistic Crusade

Fr. Gaston de Ségur Couderc {1820 - 1881}

During his life, Ségur was one of the world’s greatest preachers and lovers of the Blessed Sacrament and also one of the world’s most fervent promoters of frequent Holy Communion. The secret of all his success was his great love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It was there he received consolation and strength to carry on. Everything which centered around the altar appealed to him. He even helped to form an association to help poor churches to keep their sanctuary lamps burning. He belonged to the Third Order of St. Francis and St. Dominic and he was so holy that the Cure of Ars called him a saint!

Gaston was the first child born to Count and Countess Ségur in Paris, France, on April 15, 1880. His first name was Louis, but he went by his middle name. They sent the boy to school when he was six, but because the French Revolution had forbidden so many Catholic ideals, many schools didn’t really care about the Catholic Faith.

Gaston received his First Communion with great piety and later this would become his saving grace! When he was old enough, he went to High School in Paris but this move did him much harm, and it really weakened his Faith. He left school at the age of eighteen and returned home. There his mother, his grandmother and his cousin, gave him good Christian examples to follow and his Catholic Faith became strong again.

Shortly after his return home, Gaston made a general confession and received Holy Communion. From then on he decided to live for God alone and to do God’s most Holy Will to the best of his ability. He was sorry now, for the bad life he had lived in Paris and did much penance for his sins. He was so strict with himself that he became very depressed. But God was watching over him and in time Gaston found a director who could understand and help him. His Confessor directed him to receive Holy Communion daily, something that was rarely heard of in those days!

Gaston was very good at drawing, so he took up art classes. He divided his time between his family, his art and his works of charity. At the same time his mother encouraged him to have some social life, but he preferred to spend his evenings, drawing at home.

Some time later Gaston took up art in the studio of Paul de la Roche, who was an excellent painter. But Gaston did not like the worldly atmosphere of the art studio, so he decided to continue his art work at home, where he would not be in danger of falling into sin.

Gaston joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and had great compassion for the poor. He would often give clothes to the poor or visit the sick in hospitals or help those who were dying. He was truly and angel of mercy! Gaston and his friends would also attend Mass in some of the churches where people hardly ever went, in order to give them a good example and thus encourage them to have a greater Catholic Faith.

In 1841, count de Ségur obtained for Gaston, a job at the French embassy in Rome. There the young man kept himself busy with social life, his art work, and his spiritual life. Since his official duties took up only two hours a day, he gave much of his time to his art work.

One day Gaston became terribly sick! Fr. Vernon, a kindly priest, took the young man into his own home and nursed him back to health. This turned out to be a very great blessing, because Gaston was very impressed by this good priest. He saw that Fr. Vernon was living a very holy life and he was inspired to lead a holier life as well.

When he regained his health, Gaston made a pilgrimage to the Holy House of Loreto. This famous building was the same house which Jesus, Mary and Joseph had lived in, and which was carried by the angels from Nazareth to Italy! Three months after this pilgrimage Gaston made a vow of virginity, and promised to read the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” every day.

As time passed, Gaston felt drawn to the priesthood. He wrote to his mother telling her about his vocation, but she objected to his becoming a priest! Many years later, Countess de Ségur would realize how proud she was for not wanting her son to become a priest, and she would thank God for the great blessing to her son and herself.

Gaston wanted to study for the priesthood in Rome, but his spiritual director advised him to enter the Seminary of St. Sulpice at Issy, France, because the spirit of this seminary was the spirit of Christ. Gaston went to Issy and studied there for four years. He was ordained in Paris by Archbishop Affre in December, 1847.

During the ordination ceremony, he begged Our Lady to give him a cross which would make him suffer much, but not interfere with his priestly duties. Later his prayer would be answered.

At first, Fr. de Ségur lived in a little apartment of his own, but after a while he went to live with a few other priests. He was then appointed chaplain to the prisoners of war. Fr. de Ségur was very apostolic and did much to help young boys to learn their Catechism. But he overworked himself and soon became very sick. He had to give up his apostolic work, but he kept himself busy writing a book called, “Answers to the Principal Objections Against Religion.” This book helped many people to become Catholic or come back to the Faith. Later on, 700,000 copies of this book were sold, and it was printed in every language! The good priest continued his charitable work by visiting hospitals and consoling the sick. He was a shining example of virtue, giving good example to all.

In 1852, Louis Napoleon became Emperor, and wanted Blessed Pope Pius IX to crown him. The good pope refused to do so unless Napoleon got rid of certain ideas he had, which were not good for the Catholic Church! But Napoleon was a proud man and refused to obey the holy Pope.

On May 1, 1853, Fr. de Ségur received the cross which he had asked Our Lady to give him. He noticed a red spot on his left eye which gave him much pain. Before long he was almost blind! The holy priest knew that soon he would be completely blind, so he began to prepare for this by memorizing several Masses, and many psalms and prayers.

Fr. de Ségur begged Our Lady to be allowed to see the members of his family before he became totally blind. On September 2, 1853, he went home to his family, and while he was walking with his brothers and sisters in the park, he suddenly became completely blind!

The good priest found that his blindness was a heavy cross at first, but he realized that it was God’s most Holy Will. He wrote, “It is a great blessing to be fastened to the cross by any illness, especially blindness. By it you are constantly united to Christ Crucified. This drives you to throw away the world with all its crazy and stupid ideas.”

But even though he was blind, Fr. De Ségur returned to Rome to continue his priestly duties. He was overjoyed to be present at the Vatican on December 8, 1854, when Blessed Pope Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception. From that day onward, all Catholics had to believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the very first moment of her existence, was preserved free from all stain of original sin! She was the only human that ever received this special grace, and God did this because she was to be the Mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

In 1885, since there was no hope of a cure for his blindness, Ségur decided to resign and go back to Paris to work again among the soldiers, the workers, and the children. He moved to an apartment there; Abbé Diringer was his secretary and a soldier was his personal servant. In Paris he lived like a religious, getting up at 5:00 AM. He would then hear confessions, say Mass, write books and make charitable visits to people. But sometimes he was not able to follow this schedule because often he was away preaching, giving missions and retreats. The people loved him and he loved them. He encouraged many to enter the religious life and used the money he made from his writings, to help poor students who wanted to become priests. Ségur suffered in body and soul and very often he was in spiritual desolation. It was difficult for him to pray and continue his good work, but he did not give up and accepted all the work that was given to him.

In 1856, Pope Pius IX asked that an organization be set up to fight against secret societies, like the wicked Freemasons. Ségur wrote a famous pamphlet against the Freemasons, and it is believed that because of this pamphlet, they made plans to kill the holy priest. Ségur threw himself into this work and was made the president of the organization. As president he had to travel around France to preach. The organization was so successful, that just before he died, there were more than one and a half million members!

At the same time Fr. de Ségur continued writing books. He wrote mainly about the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed Pope Pius IX liked Ségur’s book on Holy Communion so much, that he used to give copies of it to priests in Rome.

So great was his love for Jesus, that in reparation for a sacrilege, which some boys committed against the Blessed Sacrament, he had 5,000 Masses said, and in reparation he also made a vow to get up every night and spend at least one hour visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament!

In 1878 he assisted at the funeral of Blessed Pope Pius IX. The following year he had an attack of congestion of the brain; a problem with the blood vessels. Several attacks followed. When he turned sixty-one, Ségur had a final attack, and prayers were said all over France for his recovery. But God wanted to take him to Heaven and the holy priest died on June 9, 1881.

Good Fr. Gaston, Pray for Us!             

The End       


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