Living on Divine Providence: Bl. Hyacinth-Marie Cormier, OP

 Bl. Hyacinth-Marie Cormier, OP

Hyacinth-Marie Cormier, OP was born in Orleans in France on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1832.  His father died while he was still very young; consequently, Henry and his only brother, Eugene, were taken by their mother to live with an uncle, who was a priest.  Both Henry and Eugene entered the preparatory seminary, but a year later, Eugene died, leaving Henry devastated and alone.

After having completed his studies at the major seminary, Henry was ordained to the priesthood in 1856.  He then seized the opportunity to fulfill a desire that had been growing for some time.  Henri Lacordaire had been working tirelessly to restore the Dominican Order in France and had just opened a novitiate.  Henry begged to be admitted.

Because of Henry’s delicate appearance, there were doubts about whether he was fit to be a Dominican friar, but they admitted him to the novitiate and gave him the name Hyacinth.  However, when the time came for his profession, doubts had been confirmed: Hyacinth had suffered several hemorrhages and, as the Order had already lost several promising friars to illness, the community was afraid to profess him.  Lacordaire took Hyacinth to Rome to obtain a special dispensation from the pope.  The pope responded that if Brother Hyacinth could go 30 days without a hemorrhage, he could be professed.  Though he did all he could, he made it 29 days before falling seriously ill and was anointed.  Finally, thinking he had only days left to live, he was allowed to make his profession.  But to the surprise of all, he recovered and would go on to serve the Order vigorously for fifty years.

Father Cormier became instrumental in rebuilding the Order in France and reestablishing the primitive vigor of the entire Order, assuming positions of leadership and eventually elected Master of the Order.  When he was elected Master in 1904, it became necessary to replace him in some of the work he had been doing.  His brothers were surprised at the load he had been carrying: teaching and writing, as well as regular confessor to eight large convents and extraordinary confessor to several more.  In spite of all the demands on his time, he spent several days in front of the Blessed Sacrament every day.

As Master of the Order, Father Cormier focused his attention first on the novices of the Order.  He always loved the novices as the future of the Order and many of his writings were aimed at young people.  He was gentle as a child in his manner, but firm and inflexible in matter of principles; he lived to the letter the policies he wanted followed in the Order.  He also founded the Angelicum, the international house of studies for the Order in Rome and supported other educational projects.

Fr. Cormier died in Rome in 1916.  In 1945 his cause for beatification was introduced.  Examined during the course of this process were 171 printed works written by this zealous apostle.

Excerpts from St. Dominic’s Family by Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P.


(22 May 2016)