Jesuit Lay Brother and Martyr (1555-1593)
+ Little is known of the early life of William, who entered the Society of Jesus as a lay brother while serving as porter of the Jesuit college of Pont à Mousson.
+ He joined with Blessed James Salès, a Jesuit priest, in preaching an Advent mission among the Calvinists in Aubenas, France. At the time, France was being ripped apart by warring factions of Catholics and Huguenots (French Protestants) and, because of the success of the mission, James and William soon became the targets of frenzied Huguenot radicals.
+ In early February, 1593, Huguenot raiders attacked the town. In order to protect the Blessed Sacrament (which was often desecrated in raids on Catholic churches), James and William rushed to the church to consume the consecrated hosts. The raiders entered the church and dragged the two Jesuits outside.
+ James and William were brought before a tribunal of Calvinist ministers on February 6, and engaged in a heated debate about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. James defended the Catholic teachings on the Eucharist. The Calvinists became so enraged that they dragged the priest into the town square and shot him with arrows, before stabbing and beating him.
+ James urged William to save himself, but the faithful brother refused to leave the priests side and was stabbed to death as he clung to the priest’s body.
+ Blessed William Saultemouche and James Salès were beatified in 1926.
“The Church of Christ was born from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and she continues to grow and develop in virtue of the heroic love of her most authentic sons and daughters.”—Pope Saint Paul VI
Lord God, you honored these brothers of ours by making them on with your Son, Jesus, in the shedding of their blood. Hear their prayers, and gather into perfect unity all who believe in him. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Collect for the Optional Memorial of the Jesuit Martyrs of the European Missions from Supplement to the Divine Office for the Society of Jesus)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.