The Life of the "Holy Man of Tours"
LE SAINT HOMME DE TOURS
-Apostle of the Holy face of Jesus-
-Conseiller à la Cour Royale de la Martinique-
|Saint Martin of Tours|
Léon was thus related to the Marie-Jacques Gaigneron-Jollimon de Marolles (1775-1855), First Count de Marolles, and the family of the Empress Josephine Tascher de La Pagerie, vicomtesse de Beauharnais ( 1763-1814)
|The noble house of Gaigneron Jollimont de Marolles and Papin du Pont de L'Épine|
He was born to the créole elite of the French Caribbean islands. Both of his parents were representatives of two of the most illustrious families that colonized Martinique and Guadeloupe. Léon's father was a Capitaine d'infanterie and died in Brest, France in 1803. The Venerable Léon was born in Martinique. His parents moved there after the French Revolution (1789-1799) fearing the new laws under the Revolutionary Convention. Martinique was under English rule so it was isolated from the terror of the French Revolution. The island was returned to France in 1802 (Source 1).
During the Napoleonic Wars in Europe and the subsequent invasion of Martinique in 1809, the Papin du Pont family sent young Léon to study in New York from 1809 to 1811. Afterwards, it appears that Léon wen to France to continue his studies until 1815 at the prestigious collège de Pontlevoy near Amboise. The School was part of the Abbaye de Pontlevoy. During his time in France, Léon's mother remarried Pierre-Grégoire d'Arnaud in Lamentin. The "Holy Man of Tours" remained in France to pursuit his studies in Law for several more years. It was in France that he received his first nickname "le marquis des égards" due his great consideration for others (Source 1).
|La Maison d'Audiffret|
After he married, the Venerable Léon settled in Saint-Pierre, Martinique at the l'hôtel des Follets (which become later a seminary run by the Father of the Holy Spirit).
|Church of the Trois Islets, Martinique where L.Papin Dupont married.|
In 1837, while gazing a picture of Saint Teresa of Avila, Ven. Léon become very active in spreading the Catholic faith and to this end wrote a book on Marian shrines. He also joined the newly founded Society of Saint Vincent de Paul to which he contributed large sums of money.
|Stained Glass from the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours with Ven. Papin Dupont|
Tours, France: The ApostolateSince at least 1840's, the Venerable Léon Dupont lived in Tours, France and become very active in the city. For example, in 1847 he invited Saint Jeanne Jugan (October 25, 1792 – August 29, 1879 to establish a house of the "Little Sisters of the Poor" in Tours. He contributed to their cause for many years to come (Source 2). At Tours, he lived with his mother Madame Marie- Louise-Philippine Gaigneron Jollimont de Marolles until her death in 1860.
Moving his attention to the Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, the Ven. Léon wanted to re-establish devotion to Bishop Saint Martin (316 or 336 – 8 November 397). The Basilica was severely damaged after the French Revolution. Léon considered Saint Martin to be a model of charity and thus, he wanted to rebuild the Basilica and restore the memory of Saint Martin. Thanks to his efforts, in 1848 the Cathedral of Tours began to honor the Feast Day of Saint Martin of Tours which was on the 11th of November. The Venerable Papin Dupont also established perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in Tours and hoped that it would spread across France. He wrote a book to this end entitled, "Faith Revived and Piety Reanimated Through the Eucharist" [La Foi Raffermie Et la Piété Ranimée dans le Mystère de l'Eucharistie]. Papin Dupont wanted to fight world's attacks against the Eucharist with his book and perpetual adoration (Source 2)
|Hans Memling’s “St. Veronica c.1470-75 – St. Veronica, the model of reparation to The Holy Face|
The fame of Léon Papin Dupont spread throughout France and Europe. He was in contact with other French religious figures who were later proclaimed Saints such as Saint Jean Vianney ((8 May 1786 – 4 August 1859) and Saint Peter Julian Eymard (4 February 1811 -1 August 1868). Léon was often addressed as the "Le Saint Homme de Tours" and was even known to Pope Pius IX.
|The original image which Ven. Papin Dupont venerated|
His devotion to the Holy Face (La Sainte Face) started a early as 1844 when Léon heard that Sister Marie of St. Peter Mary (Marie de Saint-Pierre et de la Sainte Famille,1816-1848)saw images of Jesus and Mary in Tours. It is reported that the Ven. Papin Dupont started to burn a vigil lamp before an image of the Holy Face of Jesus Christ according to the image of the Veil of Veronica. He did not know the image from the Shroud of Turin as it was only revealed through a photograph in 1898 (Source 2). Another devotion that Papin Dupont had was the coin of Saint Benedict with the words "Vade Retro Satana" printed on them. The image of Veronica's Veil is also printed on the coins of Saint Benedict.
|Marie de Saint-Pierre et de la Sainte Famille (1816-1848)|
Before dying, the Venerable Léon established in 1851 the Arch-cofraternity of the Holy Face in Tours. For 30 years Papin Dupont prayed so that the veneration to the Holy Face of Jesus Christ spread throughout France. At the age of 79, the Holy Man of Tours died after spending his fortune on the poor and the Carmelites of Tours.
|March 18, 1878, the death of Léon Papin Dupont|
The Legacy of Ven. Léon Papin DupontAfter his death, the Archdiocese of Tours bough Léon Papin Dupont's house on Rue St. Etienne and turned it into the Oratory of the Holy Face. Archbishop Colet created and proved the Order of the Priests of the Holy Face to take care of the house and chapel of Papin Dupont. The Order was canonically erected in 1876 and the Reverend Father Pierre-Désiré Janvier, who as a friend of Papin Dupont, become the first superior. In 1882, Father Pierre-Désiré Janvier wrote one of the first biographies of the Venerable Papin Dupont in 1880. In 1885. His Holiness Pope Leo XIII formally approved the devotion to the Holy Face according to the Veil of Veronica. This devotion is said to have influenced another great saint of the French Church, Saint Therese of Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897).
|Saint Therese of Lisieux with the Holy Face of Christ|
In 1939, the case for the canonization of the Léon Papin Dupont was formally presented to the Vatican office of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Holy Mother Church declared the Holy May of Tours, "VENERABLE OF GOD" and that December 1st be his feast day. He now awaits the long process of Beatification and Canonization.
Thanks to the love that the Venerable Léon Papin Dupont had for the Sacred Face of Jesus Christ, Pope Pius XII approved in 1958 a new image of the Holy Face and a Feast Day as Shrove Tuesday or the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The Holy Face of Jesus was thus associated with the Holy Face of Turin and by 1950 a Benedictine religious order was established under the name of Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Source 2)
The Testament of the Ven. Léon Papin Dupont (1863)
|Excerpt from the Testament of M. Dupont (Source 4)|
- Canonical erection of the Priests of the Holy Face to administer the Oratory of the Holy Face in Tours, France in 1876
- His Holiness Pope Leo XIII approves the Devotion to the Holy Face in 1888
- The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints opens case to review the life of the Ven. Papin Dupont on June 21, 1939
- Pontifical approval for the foundation of the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ in 1950
- His Holiness Pope Pius XII proclaims the Feast of the Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday in 1958
- His Holiness Saint Pope John Paul II proclaimed Léon Papin Dupont Venerable of God on March 29, 1983 (Source 5)
The House on rue St. Etienne
|The Oratory to the Holy Face, Tours-France 1877|
|The Oratory of the Holy Face Today in Tours, France|
|The tomb of the Venerable of God, Léon Papin Dupont|
The Life of Ven. Papin Dupont in French (click to view, faire click)
Biographies of the Ven. Léon Papin Dupont
|"Le Saint Homme de Tours" by Léon AUBINEAU (1878)|
|"M. Dupont et l'oratoire de la Sainte-Face" by Pierre-Désiré JANVIER (1880)|
|"Le Saint Homme de Tours..." by Francine DESSAIGNE (1984)|
|"Un simple ...." by Odile Métais-Thoreau,(1993)|
|"The Holy Man of Tours" by Pierre-Désiré JANVIER (1880)|
|"The Holy Man of Tours" by Dorothy SCALLAN (1952, 1990, 2011)|
|"Show Us Your Face" by Br. Gerard HAGEMANN (1962,2011)|
2) "Léon Papin" entry on Wikipedia in English.There is also a French entry.
3) "Holy Face Devotion" - Religious website dedicated to the cause of the Ven. Papin Dupont, This website is the mos authoritative on the topic of the history of the devotion to the Holy Face.
4) Sainteté Et Gestion Du Patrimoine Au Xixe S. À Propos Du Testament Et De L'inventaire Après-Décès De M. Papin-Dupont, « Le Saint Homme De Tours ». PERSEE, 1993. Internet resource.
5) There appears to be quite a discrepancy in dates when it comes to when Léon Papin Dupont was made a Venerable of God. Some websites says it was during the Pontificate of Pius XII and others during the Pontificate of Saint John Paul II (see website for further information: http://newsaints.faithweb.com/year/1876.htm)