martyr. A schoolmaster's son, born at Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet (Deux-Sèvres), he joined the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris as a young man, transferring to it from the seminary of Poitiers diocese. In 1852 he was ordained priest and in 1854 he was sent to Tonkin (Vietnam) in a time of severe persecution. Expelled from Namdiuh in 1856, he went to Hanoi, where however the renewed persecution obliged him to hide in caves and sampans. At last he was arrested, placed in a bamboo cage, and ultimately beheaded for the Christian faith. His letters and his example inspired the young Theresa of Lisieux to volunteer for the Carmelite nunnery at Hanoi. In 1865 Vénard's body was translated to his Congregation's church in Paris, but his head remains in Tonkin. With 19 other martyrs from this area (see Vietnam) he was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1988. Feast: 2 February.
E. Vénard, Vie et correspondance de J. Th. Vénard (1864), selected letters republished in 1964; Life by F. Trochu (1929); J. Nanteuil, L'épopée missionnaire de T. Vénard (1950); N.C.E., xiv. 594; Bibl. SS., xii. 987–91.