- Guillaume Joseph Chaminade
Second-youngest of fifteen children of Blaise Chaminade and Catherine Bethon; a deeply religious family, three of his brothers were also priests. Took the name Joseph as his Confirmation name, and preferred it to William. At age ten he went to the College of Mussidan where one of his brothers was a professor; as student, teacher, steward, and chaplain, William remained there for 20 years.
Priest during the persecutions and violence against the Church of the French Revolution. He refused to swear allegiance to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1791, and was forced to minister to his flock in secret. Beginning in 1795, he had the job of receiving the returning priests who had taken the Civil oath, but later saw their error; he helped about 50 reconcile with the Church, and return to work in the diocese.
Exiled to Zaragoza, Spain from 1797 to 1800 during the French Directorate, the only time he lived anywhere outside his native Bordeaux. Near the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Chaminade received a message, telling him to be Mary‘s missionary, to found a society of religious to work with her to restore the Faith in France. On his return to Bordeaux in November 1800, he founded the Sodalities of Our Lady.
Chaminade’s concept of the Sodality was to gather all Christians – men and women, young and old, lay and clerical – into a unique community of Christ’s followers unafraid to be known as such, committed to living and sharing their faith, dedicated to supporting one another in living the Gospel, working under the protection of the Virgin Mary. To the usual religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Marianists add a fourth vow of stability, faithfulness to the congregation, and special consecration to Mary. As an outward sign of this fourth vow, they wear a gold ring on their right hand.
Apostolic Administrator for the diocese of Bazas. Named Missionary Apostolic by the Vatican in 1801. As his own insights developed, Chaminade saw the Sodality as the Marianist Family, dedicated to sharing Our Lady‘s mission of bringing Christ to the world. It was characterized by a deep sense of the equality of all Christians, regardless of state of life, by a spirit of interdependence, by concern for individual spiritual growth, and by the desire of presenting “the amazing and attractive reality of a people of saints.”
Some Sodality members later formed the nucleus of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, founded by Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon and Father Chaminade in 1816, and the Society of Mary, founded in 1817. The institutes grew, and members began teaching in primary, secondary, and trade schools. Father William tried to start a network of teacher‘s schools for Christian education, but it failed due to the 1830 Revolution. In 1836, the Daughters of Mary established rural schools for women throughout southwestern France. The Society of Mary spread into Switzerland in 1839, then into the United States, becoming established in Dayton, Ohio in 1849, the Marianist Sisters in Somerset, Texas in 1949.
We were witnesses during our younger days of his life and words. We affirm that we never saw him spend a day, not even a single hour at anything which did not relate directly to God and to the welfare of souls. – Father John Lalanne
It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it.” – Blessed William
What is a faithful man to do in the chaos Of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God .Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good. – Blessed William
Our work is great; it is magnificent. It is universal because we are the missionaries of Mary, She says to us, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’ Yes, we are all missionaries. – Blessed William
Jesus made Mary the companion of His labors, of His joy, of His preaching, of His death. Mary had a part in all the glorious, joyous, and sorrowful mysteries of Jesus. – Blessed William
The deposit of the Faith is entirely in Mary. At the foot of the Cross she held the place of the Church. – Blessed William
The mysteries which were announced to Mary were accomplished because she believed. – Blessed William
A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus. – Blessed William
The beatification during the Jubilee Year of William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, reminds the faithful that it is their task to find ever new ways of bearing witness to the faith, especially in order to reach those who are far from the Church and who do not have the usual means of knowing Christ. William Joseph Chaminade invites each Christian to be rooted in his Baptism, which conforms him to the Lord Jesus and communicates the Holy Spirit to him. Father Chaminade’s love for Christ, in keeping with the French school of spirituality, spurred him to pursue his tireless work by founding spiritual families in a troubled period of France’s religious history. His filial attachment to Mary maintained his inner peace on all occasions, helping him to do Christ’s will. His concern for human, moral and religious education calls the entire Church to renew her attention to young people, who need both teachers and witnesses in order to turn to the Lord and take their part in the Church’s mission. – Pope John Paul II, from his homily during the beatification of Blessed William
- “Blessed William Joseph Chaminade“. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 September 2012. Web. 30 July 2015. <>