1730  — 1793

Jean-Martin Moye

French Catholic priest, mystic, founder of the Sisters of Providence, and missionary in China.

Born in Cutting Lorraine, France, Moye studied at the Jesuit college in Pont-a-Mousson, Strasbourg, and in Metz (1745-1754), where he later became apostolic vicar. In 1762, in what was the beginning of the Sisters of Providence, he began sending women to remote villages to teach, This much-disputed initiative and others led to the end of his vicariate in 1767. From 1772 he worked as a missionary of the Paris Foreign Missions in Szechwan (Sichuan) Province, China, where he was briefly imprisoned in 1774 but continued to visit clandestinely the Christian communities. He recruited Chinese Sisters of Providence, sending these Christian celibate women to villages that were barred to men.

For health reasons he repatriated in 1782 and worked as apostolic missionary in Lorraine. Exiled to Trier during the French Revolution, he died from typhus in1793, infected by a soldier he was tending. He wrote Le dogme de la grace (1774) and Directoire des soeurs de la Providence de Porlieux (1858, 1874), as well as numerous works of devotion and prayers written in French and in popular Chinese. He was beatified in 1954.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Anne-Marie Abel, La pauvrete dans la pensee et l’oeuvre de Jean-Martin Moye ( 1730-1793) (1972; includes complete bibliography); Generosa Callahan, The Life of Blessed John Martin Moye (1964); Jean Guennou, Une spiritualite missionnaire: Le Bienheureux J.-Martin Moye (1970); George Tavard, L’experience de Jean-Martin Moye: Mystique et Mission, 1730-1793 (1978) and Lorsque Dieu fait tout: La doctrine spirituelle du bienheureux Jean-Martin Moye (1984).

About the Author

Leny Lagerwerf

Interuniversity Institute for Missiological and Ecumenical Research, Utrecht, The Netherlands