January 31st : S.G. PETER JOHN CAYRON, SJ

Servant of God Peter John Cayron, SJ

Born: January 13, 1672
Died: January 31, 1754

Peter Cayron was born in Rodez, in southern France. He studied at the Jesuit school in his native city from the age of ten and decided to enter the Society when he was fifteen. To change his mind, his parents who opposed his leaving home, forbade him contact with his Jesuit teachers unless absolutely necessary for his class work. They also kept him from attending weekday Mass. Although Peter endured these restrictions for a year his resolve to be a Jesuit did not weaken. His friend, Anthony Delmas, who entered the Society in 1687, had all the novices praying for Peter and their prayers were answered when Peter’s parents saw it was pointless to oppose what they now regarded as God’s will. With their permission Peter entered the novitiate in Toulouse on December 7, 1687.

After his simple vows on Dec 1689, he remained in Toulouse to do his philosophy. From 1691 until 1698 he taught first at Montpellier and later at Tournon, where Fr John Francis Regis had once been a student. Peter was attracted to the saintly Fr Regis as a boy and this attraction remained with him throughout his life in the Society. He returned to Toulouse in Sep 1698 for his theology and to prepare for his ordination. He was ordained at Rodez on Sep 21, 1700 when he was twenty-eight years old. During his tertianship, Fr Cayron wrote to the general of the Society to volunteer for the foreign missions and was told to remain at the disposal of his provincial.

Fr Cayron’s first assignment was to teach philosophy at Carcassone. As he belonged to the district sanctified by the ministry of Fr Regis, he was also asked to promote Fr Regis’s beatification cause among the faithful which he did most willingly. In 1708, he returned to Tournon to teach philosophy to young Jesuits and he started an apostolate among the poor very much in the spirit of Fr Regis. He collected alms from the rich and distributed them to the poor and needy. He befriended the poor and he gathered them for instruction and within a short time he had them receiving Communion once a month. He also went to the countryside to preach missions and to give retreats.

At the end of 1708, Fr Cayron was transferred to Rodez where he continued to teach young Jesuits but his mind was still set on foreign missions. It was at Rodez that he finally discovered his vocation within the Society. During prayer one day he received the grace to understand that he could help souls immeasurably by teaching and training others to be priests and missionaries. It was not necessary for him to go on missions, but by training others to be apostles he would share in their work. Thus for the rest of his life, Fr Cayron fulfilled this mission.

In 1711, Fr Cayron was appointed assistant to the novice master in Toulouse and later in 1713, he was both master and rector of the community, a position he retained until the end of 1729. He was also the vice-postulator of Fr Regis’s cause and to his great joy, Fr Regis was beatified on May 8, 1716 and he saw that the event was properly celebrated in the novitiate.

After sixteen years directing novices, Fr Cayron was made rector of the college in Toulouse. When Fr Michelangelo Tamburini, the Jesuit general died in Feb, 1730, Fr Cayron was chosen to be one of the electors of the new general. He was asked by the new general, Fr Francis Retz to resume his former position as novice master which he did so for another five years. In 1738, when Fr Cayron was sixty-six years of age, he was appointed rector of the Jesuit residence in the city. His first task was to hold an eight-day celebration in honour of Blessed John Regis who was canonized in June 1737.

In 1745 when he was seventy-three, Fr Cayron was asked to be the instructor of tertians in Toulouse, a position he held for the next seven years. With his love for the saints of the Society, he also began to promote the cause of the Jesuit martyrs of Aubenas and that of the great missionary of Brittany, Fr Julian Maunoir.

By January 1754, Fr Cayron who was then eighty-two, was growing weak and looked feeble after a life of self-abnegation and mortification. On the night of January 20, it was unusually cold in Toulouse and Fr Cayron was unable to get warm no matter how hard he tried and he realized that it was the beginning of the end. He celebrated his last Mass the following morning with great effort. A week before his death, he asked the brother infirmarian about whose feast was celebrated on January 31 and when told it was St Peter Nolasco, he smiled for he knew that was the day he would be called home to be with his Lord. He suffered a severe asthma attack on the 30 th then on 31 Jan, with his Jesuit brethren at his side Fr Cayron surrendered his soul to the God whom he loved above all else.

Fr Peter John Cayron was known during his life for his charity, prayerfulness and love of the poor and the sick. When he died he was acknowledged by Jesuits and the faithful as a saint. His cause is now under consideration.