Saint of the Day – 29 September – Blessed Jean de Montmirail / Baron de Montmirail, O. Cist. (1165 – 1217) Cistercian Monk, Apostle of the Sick and Afflicted – also known as Seigneur de Montmirail on the Marne, John de Monte Mirabiliborn – born in 1165 in France and died on 29 September 1217 at Longpoint abbey of natural causes, where his tomb now resides.
Blessed Jean was the son of André de Montmirail, Lord of Montmirai and Hildiarde d’Oisy of Cambrai. He was given a religious upbringing by his mother and was well educated. He became the first Lord of Condé.
While young, he embraced a military career and was presented at the Royal Court, as constable of France, where he formed a lasting friendship with Philip Augustus (who later became King Philip II of France). He became, not only the friend and favourite of the King but also later his adviser. On one occasion, Jean was even said to have saved Philip’s life. The dissipations of court life led him to neglect the training of his youth, even his marriage with Helvide de Dampierre, sister of Guy II of Dampierre, failed to effect a change. King Philip II later decorated him with the title of Baron.
In his thirtieth year he met Jobert, Prior of St-Etienne de Montmirail and experienced a conversion. He built a hospital for the sick of all kinds but the objects of his predilection were the lepers and those hopelessly afflicted. He wore a hair-shirt, frequently passing entire nights in prayer. After a while, he entered the Cistercian monastery of Longpont, after having distributed among the poor all his possessions not needed by his wife and family. He was abused for his decision by his former friends. Even members of his own family disapproved of his abandonment of honour and wealth for poverty and subjection.
He died at Longpont on 29 September 1217.
Miracles were wrought at his tomb and attracted pilgrims. By the 1230s, John was being venerated as a miracle-working saint. Pope Leo XIII granted a special office in his honour for the diocese of Soissons. He was Beatified in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII. Below is his tomb and an engraving of his Mausoleum – 1641.