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Saint Vincent's Reading List XX: Jean-Pierre Camus and a Turning Point in Vincentian History

by Rev Edward R Udovic CM 8/23/2011 2:21:00 PM

Recommended Reading:

Jean-Pierre Camus, Homelies quadragesimales de Messire Jean Pierre Camus, evesque & seigneur de Belley, (A Rouen: Chez Jean Osmont…, 1625),

Call Number: SpC. 252.62 C211h1625

Jean-Pierre CamusHenry IV named Jean-Pierre Camus (1584-1652) as Bishop of Belley in 1609 one year after his ordination to the priesthood at age 25. The appointment required a papal dispensation. This move was a reward to the bishop's family for their early support of Henry's claim to the throne.  

Camus was one of the most prolific French authors of Vincent's time. He not only wrote the spiritual works one might expect but more unexpectedly he also wrote novels, and short-stories.  The bishop was influenced by Francis de Sales whom he knew personally. In 1639, he published a volume on the spirituality of the "Blessed Bishop of Geneva" and was considered to be an expert on the topic.

Camus also immediately preceded Vincent de Paul as Louise de Marillac's spiritual director. There are several extant letters between the two that date from the period of 1623-1626.  These give us insights into Louise’s spiritual state at this time. In March 1623, Camus wrote in support of Louise and her husband Michel’s request to be permitted to read the Bible in French.

It was Camus' imminent departure as her director that contributed to Louise's heightened feelings of spiritual anxiety which were relieved in her Lumière experience on the feast of Pentecost in 1623. Louise wrote: "I was also assured that I should remain at peace concerning my director; that God would give me one whom He seemed to show me. It was repugnant to me to accept him; nevertheless, I acquiesced. It seemed to me that I did not yet have to make this change."  Vincent became Louise's director in late 1624 or early 1625.  

Camus resigned as bishop of Belley in 1628. He lived the last years of his life performing works of charity at the Hospice des Incurables on the rue de Sèvres, where he was buried.

Camus also had a reputation as an ecclesiastical orator, and the present volume is a contemporary compilation of his sermons.


St. Vincent’s Reading List is recurring blog series exploring texts known to have been read and recommended by St. Vincent de Paul, those which can be presumed to have been read by him, and important works published during his lifetime (1581-1660). All materials discussed are held by DePaul University’s Richardson Library. The entire series may be viewed here.


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