On April 15, we celebrate the feast of Blessed César de Bus, a priest, teacher, and founder of two religious congregations: the Fathers of Christian Doctrine and the Daughters of Christian Doctrine. He is the patron of catechists.
César was born at Cavaillon, France in 1544, and was educated by the Jesuits. As a youth, he led a holy and virtuous life. At eighteen, he joined the French army, and fought in the king’s war against the Huguenots. After the war, he dedicated his time in pursuit of the arts, writing poetry and painting. Then, he tried to join a naval fleet, which was besieging La Rochelle; but due to serious illness was unable to carry out his plans. Instead, he travelled to Paris.
In Paris, César drifted away from his faith and began living a life of self-gratification and worldly ambition. For three years, he indulged his sinful wishes until the death of his brother, a canon of Salon. When his brother died, César managed to acquire his vacated position, which he desired for its income and worldly connections.
Then, one night, while on his way to a masked ball, he passed a shrine where a small light was burning before an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was suddenly overwhelmed by the memory that a friend who had prayed zealously for his salvation. He immediately understood that there was no way he could live a life offending God and then expect to be accepted in the end. There, on the road, he experienced an outpouring of God’s grace, resulting in his complete conversion.
César returned to his pious lifestyle, and, at the age of 38, was ordained to the priesthood. Following his ordination, he began teaching the faith to those who would receive the Gospel message from no one else: those living in deplorable conditions, those living in rural, poorly populated places, and those marginalized by society. Working with his cousin, César further focused on the catechesis of the family, teaching both parents and children together. His ultimate goal was to prevent heresy.
His work was so fruitful that he attracted many followers, and decided to found an order of priests dedicated to the preaching of Christian Doctrine. The order was known as the Fathers of Christian Doctrine. A few years later, César founded a companion order, the Daughters of Christian Doctrine.
César wrote five volumes on the Catechism, portions of which continue in use today. His Instructions for the Family on the Four Parts of the Roman Catechism, was published 60 years after his death. César de Bus died in 1607 and was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1975. He was known for his virtue of charity and for his great zeal for preaching and teaching the faith.
Blessed César de Bus, you who left us the admirable example of a life completely dedicated to God, you who were on fire with the desire to communicate the life of God to your brothers, intercede for us with the Lord now, so that the same fire may consume us and the same charity urge us.
- Pope Paul VI during the beatification of Blessed César de Bus