Claude Poullart des Places

Claude Poullart des Places Claude was born on February 26, 1679 of French parents Francis Claude (Lawyer in the parliament of Britany) and Jeanne Le Meneust de la Vieuxville. He was, in fact, the first born boy of this noble couple. Due to the strong devotion of this couple to Our Lady, the little Claude was always clad in white robes until he was seven in honor of Our Lady. He was entrusted to a good private tutor and at the age of 9 he began his secondary studies at the Jesuit School in Rennes in 1690.[1]  Claude was an exceptionally brilliant boy and acquired many academic honors in different disciplines such as Philosophy, Rhetoric and law. It was his parents’ hope that he would succeed his father in the parliament and inherit great wealth.Claude, however, chose to abandon all the wealth and prestige and went to study theology in Paris. While studying theology, Claude developed attention to the poor chimney sweeps in the capital. Claude became a friend to these chimney sweeps and taught them how to write and read and took care of their material needs as well.

He noted, as well, that there were many students for Priestly formation who lived miserable life and could not attend all courses because they had to do menial jobs to earn a living. He took it upon himself to offer these future clerics the food that he was served in the college and helped them with the money he saved from the allowances he received from his father. He went ahead to rent a house and accommodated 12 of these poor seminarians and on the Pentecost day, May 27, 1703,  Claude, then simply an aspirant, established a community and Seminary and consecrated it to the Holy Spirit under the invocation of the Blessed virgin Mary conceived without sin.

Claude continued playing two roles: taking care of the seminary as well as preparing for his own ordination and on 17thDecember 1707, he was ordained a priest. Claude had a special characteristic of self-privation and penances. It happened that there occurred a severe winter in France followed by famine.This together with the effects of privation made Claude very vulnerable and was attacked by Pleurisy and abdominaldisease by the end of September 1709. On October 2, 1709, he died at 5.00pm after serving for only two years as a priest.[2] The work he left behind, however, still makes him remembered today worldwide.

[1] Cf:Spiritans Today No. 4: The founders of Spiritans

[2] Cf: Henry Koren J. To the ends of the East: A general History of the Congregation of Holy Ghost. (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1983), p1-11.