John of St. Samson

Servant of God
John of Saint Samson
Ciego tocando la zanfonía (Georges de La Tour).jpg
"You and I, my love, you and I, you and I, and never another nor more!"
Born30 December 1571
Sens, Yonne, France
Died14 September 1636(1636-09-14) (aged 64)
Rennes, Ille-et-Vilaine, France
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church
FeastJanuary 21

Servant of God John of St. Samson (1571–1636), also known as Jean du Moulin or Jean de Saint-Samson, was a French Carmelite friar and mystic of the Catholic Church. He is known as the soul of the Touraine Reform of the Carmelite Order, which stressed prayer, silence and solitude. John was blind from the age of three after contracting smallpox and receiving poor medical treatment for the disease. He insisted very strongly on the mystical devotion of the Carmelites. He has been referred to as the "French John of the Cross" by students of Christian mysticism.

Early life

John Moulin was born in 1571 in Sens-de-Bretagne into a middle-class family. He lost his sight at the age of 3 after contracting smallpox, and more so due to a botched attempt to cure the disease.[1] His Father, Pierre de Moulin, was an assessor of taxes, and his mother, Marie d'Aiz descended from a noble family. Tragically, at the age of 10, his parents died, leaving him orphaned.[2]

John was taken in by his maternal uncle Zachary d'Aiz. He received a good education, learning Latin and being introduced to French Literature. He was impressed by the poetry of Pierre de Ronsard, and even wrote sonnets in imitation of him, before regretting and reproaching himself for such vanity.[3] He enjoyed having spiritual works read aloud to him; he preferred the Lives of the Saints, The Imitation of Christ, The Institutes of Johannes Tauler, but his favorite book was a work titled the Mantlet of the Spouse by Flemish Franciscan Frans Vervoort, which he memorized nearly word for word, and from where he drew his motto, "With Christ I am nailed to the Cross." [4] John developed his obvious talent for music. At twelve years old he was already playing the organ regularly in a local Dominican church, and he also learned other instruments, including the spinet, the harp, the lute, the flute and the oboe. He admitted that it took no less than 15 minutes to learn the rudiments of any wind instrument.[5]

In 1597, he moved to Paris and lived with his brother John-Baptist, who worked as the secretary to the Gendarmerie of France, and his wife. His brother's younger brother-in-law, Jean Douet, was willing to read spiritual works aloud to him, and he continued to turn from worldly interests to the spiritual life.[6] His brother John-Baptist died in 1601, after which John descended into poverty and depended on the good will of others. For a brief period, John was provided lodging by an Augustinian Canon, M. de Montdidier, but had to spend many hours locked out of the house when Montdidier was away.[7] For a period he lodged at a grocer's, and supported himself by playing organ at churches in the Latin Quarter.[8]

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