Jean Paul Médaille (29 January 1618 – 15 May 1689) was a French Jesuit missionary, and founder of an order of Catholic religious sisters. While the Catholic Encyclopedia (1911) and the Encyclopedia of Canada attribute the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph to Jean Paul Médaille, at least three congregations of sisters identify his older brother Jean Pierre Médaille (1610-1669) as founder of the Order.
John Paul Médaille was born 29 January 1618 at Carcassonne, Department of Aude, France. He entered the Society of Jesus, 15 August 1640, and after completing his studies spent a number of years in the classroom, teaching both the lower and higher studies of the college courses and particularly, for the space of six years, philosophy. Later he was applied to preaching, his life's work; to this he gave himself up almost exclusively for eighteen years, until advancing age forced him instead to take up directing sodalities and hearing confessions.
He was one of the number of missioners formed in the school of St. Francis Regis of the Society of Jesus, and spent the best years of his life in the evangelization of Velay, Auvergne, Languedoc, and Aveyron. Pious sodalities, lacked certain elements which Father Medaille regarded as necessary. Their members, although devoted, were hampered in many ways and by many ties.
According to the Encyclopedia of Canada, on October 15, 1650, the first daughters of St. Joseph were presented by Father Jean Paul Medaille, a famous Jesuit missionary, to the bishop of Le Puy.
He died at Auch, Department of Gers, France.
Sacred Heart High School in Vineland, New Jersey was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph, and presents a "Jean Paul Medaille Award" in honor of their founder.
Jean-Pierre Médaille was born in Carcassonne, France on 6 October 1610 to Phelippe d’Estévéril and Jean Médaille. His father was King Louis XIII’s advocate. The family lived in fairly comfortable circumstances and were deeply religious. Little is known of his childhood. There were two brothers: Jean-Paul, born in 1618, who later became a Jesuit missionary, and Jean, who inherited his father’s position and became an eminent jurist.
At age 13, Jean Pierre attended classes at the newly founded Jesuit College in Carcassonne. Shortly before his 16th birthday he entered the Society of Jesus in Toulouse, where he met St. Jean-Francois Regis. He taught for a while in Carcassone before returning to Toulouse to study theology. He was ordained in 1637 at the age of 27. Fr. Jean-Pierre served as Assistant to the Rector of the Jesuit College in Aurillac before returning to Toulouse, where he met Father Noël Chabanel, S.J. shared this year of spiritual renewal and enrichment with him. Father Noël was missioned to Canada at the end of this year. Noel was later killed while on assignment and is one of the Canadian Martyrs.
Father Jean-Pierre was a gifted spiritual director and a superb preacher. In 1645, he was assigned to preach parish missions. It was during these missionary tours that he encountered several young single women and widows who confided in him their desire to consecrate their lives to God and the service of the people in need while living in the world.
In Le Puy-en-Velay, the Saint-Joseph hospice for orphans and widows was under the authority of Bishop Henri de Maupas. He had been a friend of Saints Vincent de Paul and Francis de Sales. Both of them had founded congregations of women engaging in apostolic works outside the cloister (a requirement for women religious at the time). Fr. Jean-Pierre approached the Bishop with a design for women who wished to combine holiness of life with apostolic activity, and the Bishop responded favourably. Fr. Jean-Pierre founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Le Puy, France, a congregation of nuns who should give themselves up wholly and unreservedly to all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The design of the congregation was based on the spirituality of the Society of Jesus. Bishop de Maupas, officially accepted the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph giving them canonical status and the habit on 15 October 1650.