Our Founder

Henri Grialou was born on December 2nd, 1894, to a simple and deeply Christian family in a mining village in the Aveyron region of southwestern France.  Even as a young boy, he already had his heart set on the priesthood. His seminary studies were interrupted by World War I during which, as an officer in the French Army, he experienced the powerful protection of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. After the war, he returned to the seminary where his profound spiritual life was evident. His discovery of St. John of the Cross was a turning point in his life. It revealed to him his imperative vocation to Carmel, where he entered as soon as he was ordained a priest in February, 1922.He took the name Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus.

From the outset of his ministry, he worked to make the teachings of the Carmelite saints known. His book, Je Veux Voir Dieu (published in English as two volumes: I Want to See God and I Am a Daughter of the Church), is a rich synthesis of Carmel's doctrinal treasures, which also reveals his own spiritual experience.

Convinced of the present-day importance of Teresa of Avila's spiritual legacy, he strove to revitalize the Carmelite monasteries of France, for which he was named Apostolic Visitor in 1948 by Pope Pius XII. Within the Order, he was appointed to various positions, among them: Definitor General (1937 - 1954) and Vicar-General (1954 - 1955). As Vicar-General, he travelled throughout the Near and Far East, visiting the Carmelite nuns and friars there. At the time of his death, he was the Provincial of the Carmelite monasteries of Avignon-Aquitaine in France.

Called upon by God to transmit his grace to a large number of people, he founded the secular institute Notre Dame de Vie, whose members, consecrated laywomen, consecrated laymen, and priests, strive to fulfill their vocation to be contemplative apostles and bear witness to the Living God while immersed in the daily realities of their professions or ministries. Fr. Marie-Eugene wanted everyone to know that the paths of contemplative prayer and holiness are open to all Christians living an ordinary life in the midst of the world. In 1954, the first foundation of Our Lady of Life outside of France took place in the Philippines.

Fr. Marie-Eugene's whole life was marked by the strong influence of the Holy Spirit and our Blessed Mother. He would often affirm: "My children must be sons of the Spirit and the Virgin Mary." He died on March 27th, 1967, an Easter Monday, the feast day of Our Lady of Life.

On April 7th, 1985 the Archbishop of Avignon, France, officially opened the Cause for the Canonization of Fr. Marie-Eugene. Pope Benedict XVI issued the decree attesting to the heroicity of his virtues, thus declaring him "Venerable", on December 19th, 2011. On November 19th, 2016 he was beatified in Avignon by Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints. Blessed Father Marie-Eugene's feast day is celebrated on February 4th, the day he was ordained a priest.