Jean-Baptiste Muard was born on April 24th, 1809 at Vireaux (Yonne). His parents were farm workers. He soon learned all about poverty, but even as a young man, he declared : “I would like to be a missionary and die a martyr.” Even at this early stage he was already concerned for the salvation of souls. But what did God expect of him ?
The designs of God reveal themselves gradually. As a diocesan priest, founder of the Missionaries of Pontigny, one day he had a vision in prayer of “a community which would devote itself humbly to prayer and penance”. It was in the Rule of St. Benedict that he found his true vocation.
In Rome, he was advised to begin his monastic life according to the Rule of St. Benedict with the Trappists at Aiguebelle. After a fervent novitiate, he founded, at la Pierre-qui-Vire in the Yonne region, the work which heaven asked of him. Th us were born the Benedictines of the Sacred Heart. The life is characterised by a strict observance of the Rule : perpetual silence, total abstinence from meat, rising for the offi ce of Matins during the night (at 3 am) and manual labour.
Father Muard died, exhausted by a life of prayer vigils and mortifi cation, aged only forty-five. At the time of his death, his young foundation was still far from being well established. God himself was about to give him his greatest reward.