Later this month, Pope Benedict XVI is slated to canonize Father Jacques Berthieu, a French Jesuit who was martyred in Madagascar in 1896. Fr. Berthieu will be canonized alongside six other blesseds in an Oct. 21 ceremony on World Mission Sunday at the Vatican. The priest was born in 1838 and grew up with six siblings in a pious farming family in central France. He was ordained to the priesthood for Diocese of Saint-Flour in 1864. Fr. Berthieu then felt called to join the Society of Jesus, and did so in 1873. While in the novitiate, he became devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which had been popularized by the Jesuit St. Claude de la Colombiere. Before finishing his novitiate, he was assigned to the missions in Madagascar in 1875. In a letter to a friend dated July 28, 1875, he wrote that “I have been designated as a future apostle to the Malagasy (Madagascar)...probably to never return, which is fine with me.” The French priest became a highly successful missionary, nearly tripling the number of mission stations on the north of the island.
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