In the “new seminarian” introduction to the Sulpician tradition, we learned about the great figures of Jean-Jacques Olier, St. Vincent de Paul, Charles de Condren, and others. I had already heard of Blessed Agnes of Jesus, OP (also known as Blessed Agnes of Langeac), in connection to these venerable priests, but I did not know much about who she was or the vital role she played in the formation of the Society of St. Sulpice. My interest in her was sparked by the homily Fr. Dominic Ciriaco, PSS, Rector, gave on the feast day of Blessed Agnes when he said, “Without Blessed Agnes, the Sulpicians would not even be here today!”
As a French Dominican nun in 1631, Mother Agnes had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary requesting that she pray for a young priest yet unknown to her. She did. That priest, Abbé Olier, likewise had a similar dream that a Dominican nun, whom he had never met, was praying for him. Two years later, after hearing about the reputation Mother Agnes had for her holiness, Fr. Olier arranged to meet her. Upon meeting, each immediately recognized the other. The message that Blessed Agnes related to Olier was that he would establish the first seminaries in France. The rest is history. The vision of Mother Agnes and the obedience of Fr. Olier gave rise to the Sulpician tradition which has shaped countless seminarians in the various Sulpician provinces and seminaries across the world. Blessed Agnes has come to be known as the “Spiritual Mother of Seminaries.”
On October 19, Theological College hosted the celebration of her feast by inviting Dominican priests, brothers, and sisters from the Washington, DC, area. The seminarians very much appreciated the Eucharistic celebration and ensuing reception, which provided an opportunity to become further acquainted with her impact on Fr. Olier and on the Church. We look forward to making this celebration an annual event to commemorate her life and to advance her cause for canonization. Blessed Agnes of Jesus, pray for us!