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Dehon was born on March 14th 1843, in La Capelle, France. From
adolescence onwards he felt called to be priest although it was
against his fathers will. Following the wishes of his father he went
and studied Civil Law in Paris and accepted the offer (again by his
father) to go on a journey, to several regions, including Holy
Land, in a attempt to help him to forget the idea of becoming a
priest. But on his return, Leo asked to begin at Saint Clare’s
Seminary in Rome where he did his studies in Theology and Canon Law.
On December 19th, 1868 he was ordained a priest, in the presence and
agreement of his parents. Appointed as one of the parish curates in
St. Quentin, he accepted his mission with enthusiasm and was able to
take on pastoral initiatives connected with the most diverse types
of work: oratory, college, printing, youth ministry, and the working
He was a cultured priest, both spiritual and dynamic, yet something
was disturbing him. So after a long period of discernment, he made
the decision to found the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus in June 28th, 1878, the day of his First Profession.
The principle aim of the Congregation was to be devotion to Sacred
Heart of Jesus and to spread his Reign in the hearts of the faithful
and in society.
His cultural formation and sensibility lead him to work in the
social and missionary fields, spreading the social doctrine of the
Church through conferences, articles, magazines, newspapers and
books. Of particular note is ‘The Social Christian Manual’. He has
also the merit of opening the Congregation to missionary work by
sending many religious to America and Africa.
He died aged 82 years, on August 12th, 1925.
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