Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille SJ
The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy was founded by Rev. Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille sj in 1650 at Le Puy, France. St. Joseph’s College for Women (Autonomous), a Catholic minority institution, is managed by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy, France.
Fr. Medaille was born in 1610 at Carcassonne, France, and was educated in a Jesuit College in Toulouse. He joined the Society of Jesus (sj) in 1637 and became a priest. The Founder’s spirituality is based on the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola who laid much emphasis on translating the unconditional Love of God, into affecting the lives of people for the better. Fr. Medaille too intended that the Love of God be communicated to all people regardless of their class, creed, race, and socio-cultural backgrounds.
Towards this end Fr. Medaille formed a Society of Women Religious who would make known the boundless love and mercy of God, by their life of prayer and Union with God and engage in works that would most benefit the poor and the needy – spiritually and materially. Thus the Society which later developed into a Congregation, came into existence on the 15th October, 1650.
The Congregation flourished in the 17th Century till the time of the French Revolution in Europe when all religious associations were banned and their personnel prosecuted. In 1789 many of the Sisters in France were captured, imprisoned without trial, and at least five sisters of St. Joseph were guillotined in one of the public squares of Lyons. He guided Francoise Eyraud and her five companions towards a profound spiritual life and formed them into an association called the Little Design. In 1650 in Le Puy this association was named The Sisters of St Joseph. They worked for the poor the sick the orphaned and any "dear neighbour" in need. Their cloister was their hearts, they were contemplatives in action, doing any work of which women were capable. For many years Father Medaille travelled throughout the South of France conducting Parish missions. Between 1662-1669 he wrote the Constitutions or Rules of Life for the Sisters.