Orders or Congregations in North America Specially Devoted to Mary, by Father B Rohner, OSB

detail of a stained glass rose window of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception; date unknown, artist unknown; Saint Nicholas Catholic Church, Zanesville, Ohio; photographed on 31 December 2014 by Nheyob; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsMost of the ancient and modern Religious Orders are to be found on the soil of America, all, too, busily engaged in promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. All that the Benedictines have been doing throughout Christendom for the last fifteen hundred years, they are doing now in North America by their teaching, preaching, and edifying lives of self-sacrifice. What has been done in honor of the Mother of God by the Servites, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Augustinians, the Carmelites, the Jesuits, the Lazarists, the Sulpicians, the Redemptorists and others, is well known to Catholics. The institutions of both sexes belonging to these ancient Orders are plentiful in the New World, and as they retain to the full the primitive spirit of their original founders, they necessarily cultivate and spread abroad, beyond their walls as well as within them, a strong and healthful reverence for the Mother of God.

We confine our account here to those more modern Congregations which were either founded in America, or, at least, found here the chief theatre of their admirable work.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate

Charles de Mazenod, bishop of Marseilles, in France, was the founder of this Order, which assumed, as its chief work, first the instruction of the poor and humble, and the visitation of the prisons, and afterwards the care of foreign missions. Like the Society of Jesus, this Society of Mary placed its members at the disposal of the successor of Saint Peter, who thereupon entrusted to their exclusive direction and care immense missionary tracts in several remote quarters of the globe. In North America the Oblate Fathers have several such missions, where, under the protection of the blessed Mother, great progress has been made in the work of saving souls. The Most Rev. Archbishop Bourget, late bishop of Montreal, was the first to call these missionaries to the New World. In the year 1841 they opened a novitiate in Montreal, which in a short time was filled with zealous candidates, some of whom were already ordained priests, others in the act of preparation for that holy state. Bishop Timon, of Buffalo, entrusted to them the care of his seminary and the French congregations of his diocese. In Texas, Bishop Odin commissioned them to establish the College of the Immaculate Conception, which, after being raised in 1857 to the dignity of a university,was relinquished by the Fathers, who did not then consider teaching in such institutions as coming within the scope of their rule. These men then devoted themselves the more zealously to the exclusive work of the missions throughout the different Catholic settlements scattered far and wide over the immense territory of that state. The recently erected diocese of Brownsville owes its existence chiefly to the heroic labors of these indefatigable sons of Mary Immaculate. In the city of Brownsville there are twelve priests of the Order, who direct the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Joseph’s College, the convent of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, and also attend more than one hundred and fifty Mexican villages in the counties of Cameron and Hidalgo. Another mission of theirs is Rio Grande City, which the Fathers attend, together with the Catholic inhabitants of Rome and San Ignacio, comprising one hundred and ten villages in Hidalgo, Starr, and Webb counties.

Equally edifying and profitable is the good work of these Fathers in the more northern sections: In Lowell, Massachusetts; Buffalo and Plattsburg, New York; Quebec; Montreal, where they have a flourishing novitiate; Rimouski; and Ottawa, where they direct the diocesan seminary and the renowned Ottawa College, to which Pope Leo XIII has granted the title and all the privileges of a Catholic university.

The grandest field, however, of their missionary industry is that vast region which was erected by the Holy See, on the 22d of September, 1871, into the ecclesiastical province of Saint Boniface, and whose five bishops and nearly all the priests are members of the Oblate Society. This province, lying between the United States on the south. the Polar Sea on the north, Hudson’s Bay on the east, and the Pacific Ocean on the west, measures fifteen hundred miles in length and the same in breadth. Scattered far and wide through these bleak, icy regions are found roaming hither and thither the last remnants of those once numerous Indian tribes, who have been driven by the European settlers from their old hunting-grounds, and who are now decimated in numbers and strength. Notwithstanding the cruel in justice practised against them, these savages manifest a laudable desire for the blessings of religion. They are deeply impressed with the conviction that the Catholic religion alone possesses the unfailing remedy for healing the inborn infirmities of mankind. Hence Mary, in her compassion for their starving souls, sends among them her brave and faithful sons, who take up their poor and cheerless abodes at those points where the children of the forest most assemble on their return from their hunting expeditions. Here these Oblates of Mary erect their churches, schools, and religious houses though these, for want of means, are not as numerous, influential, effective and permanent as the spiritual wants of the Indian would require. Without assistance from the Mother of God these missionaries could not withstand the hardships and privations which their duties impose on them. In their work in these arctic regions they must not only renounce all the conveniences of civilized life, and begin to ascend the ladder of civilization from its lowest rung, in order to lift these savages from sensuality to religion, but they must also hear the freezing cold of long and severe winters, scarcely tempered by the feeble slanting rays of a polar sun. And even when this tepid sun does shine it gives merely warmth sufficient to render the ice unsafe in crossing stream and lake, yet not enough to dry the snow-soaked earth or to infuse any genial life into frozen nature. The food of the hardy missionary is mainly fish, with no other seasoning than that given to it by a hungry appetite. No bread, no oil, no vegetable, save here and there an aborted potato or half-ripened turnip, not the size of one’s finger. These are the only products that the cold, wet earth can bring forth. For months at a time the otherwise active priest finds himself condemned to utter inaction in the ministry, for it is only during the trading season, when the savages wish to sell their skins and furs, that they gather into the trading-post where the missionary resides.

If compelled sometimes to personally visit his savage children in the season when the earth is buried in ice and snow, he does so with extreme hardship, and even at the peril of his life.

The reader may the better appreciate the state of affairs in those wild districts if he will read what the Right Rev. Vital Grandin, one of these missionary bishops in the colony of the Immaculate Conception wrote to his Superior in the year 1869: “Many of the savages have never yet seen a priest, though there is hardly one of them in the whole territory who is not familiar with the post-traders. Throughout the whole of my vast district not an animal’s skin is suffered to go to loss, while immortal souls of men, redeemed, too, by the blood of Christ, perish day by day.

“Our missionaries are not numerous enough to found all the missions necessary, and are devoid of means to maintain them it established. From our savages we can expect no help. They are fully convinced that they pay us a grand compliment when they bring to us their children for us to feed, clothe, and educate them, believing that by this concession of theirs they establish a claim for themselves and a right to the same treatment. Indeed, these poor creatures have no idea of the sacrifice we make by living among them. Poor as we are, in their eyes we are passing rich. When they meet me on a winter visitation and see the woolen blankets in which I have to wrap myself, they exclaim to each other, ‘Isn’t our bishop rich – he has two fine blankets!’

“Another source of countless troubles is the fact that money has no value with the wild Indians, and we are obliged to supply ourselves with avast quantity of goods for the purpose of trading with them.

“When we require workmen in the erection of buildings, attendants or guides on our journeys, or help in the houses, our troubles know no end. They help to consume our scanty food, demand exorbitant wages, do as little work as possible and that little very badly. In the first place we must pay them in advance, in order that they may buy clothing for themselves and their families to fit them to appear at their work. Once clothed they soon tire of their work, go away, and are seen no more. Thus, at one time, I was compelled for three months to do the washing for myself, a sick lay Brother and three Indian boys. If we only had lay Brothers enough our temporal cares would be so diminished that we could increase and enlarge our missionary work. The few Brothers who are with us here challenge our extreme love and admiration. ‘These young men, while they have made, and do make every day, the same sacrifices as ourselves, have not the consolations, the credit or the glorious keener incentives that attend an apostolate in the priesthood. From morning till night they are hard at work providing for the bodily wants of the priests, thus having to bear the hardest and least appreciated of the duties of these trying missions. Thus it was that in the lowly cottage at Nazareth Saint Joseph toiled with his willing hands, to procure the bodily necessities for the Blessed Virgin and that divine Infant, whose place the poor missionary endeavors to take among the unenlightened, when announcing to them the truths of the gospel of Christ.”

The Congregation of the Precious Blood

This is another association of priests, which although not bearing the name of Mary, has for one of its main objects the diffusion among men of love and reverence for the holy Mother of God. Founded in Rome by Canon Caspar del Bufalo, a zealous priest who died in the odor of sanctity in the year 1837, the Congregation of the Precious Blood spread so rapidly that in the year 1830 it had one hundred and fifty branch establishments in Europe, Asia and Africa. In the year 1843 the Rev. Francis de Sales Brunner came to Cincinnati with eight missionary priests and six novices, and settled in Norwalk, Ohio. They were followed, one year later, by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, who, since the year 1833 had gathered in community life with the mother of the same Father Brunner, at Lowenberg, in the canton of Grisons Graubundten, in Switzerland.

Mass was celebrated in this religious colony in America for the first time at midnight on Christmas eve. On account of this event the members called their little convent “Mary of the Manger.” So rapidly did they grow in numbers that the Superiors were soon enabled to found branch establishments, and in the year 1862 they num- bered four hundred Sisters. In a few years, in a region of some five-and-twenty miles in length, and of unequal breadth, they had numerous churches, chapels, schools and convents-so that the Most Rev. Archbishop Purcell used to call this part of the country the Thebais of the New World. At last reports the number of priests was about forty.

For all these bountiful blessings the Brothers and Sisters of the Congregation of the Precious Blood are profoundly grateful to their heavenly Mother. To show their appreciation of her invaluable aid, they have given her name to each of their establishments. The admirable spirit in which these Religious-Fathers, Brothers and Sisters-work for the glory of God and the honor of His blessed Mother is touchingly portrayed in a biographical sketch, written by the reverend founder, of the best and truest of his disciples. Of this saintly member, Father Willibald Willi, who died in Saint Mary’s Home on the 15th of December, 1854, too early in life for this world, but not too soon for heaven, the writer says: “As a true child of Mary be cherished the most tender love for that Mistress of God’s treasury of graces, the Mother of the Most High. He lost no opportunity to advance her honor. In the confessional, in his public discourses, and in his casual conversations, he labored to win for her zealous reverers and faithful imitators. All this he did so unassumingly, so quietly, so prudently, and so carefully within the bounds of holy obedience to his Superiors, never saying or doing too much or too little, that it seemed that he had hardly any part in all the good that be accomplished, most at which indeed, was often attributed to others. Of the unbounded reverence and love which Father Willibald entertained for Mary in his very infancy, in his childhood and in his early manhood, volumes might be written. But in order to be as brief as possible, I shall merely mention a few incidents here and there in his later life. Being ordained priest towards the end of January, he joyfully prepared himself most assiduously and scrupulously so as to be able to celebrate his first Mass on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. His great love for her who is full of grace impelled him, with the permission of his Superiors, to go on a pilgrimage of forty~five miles to a chapel in which our blessed Lady is revered under the title of ‘The Sorrowful Mother at the Sepulchre,’ there to offer up for the first time in his life the unbloody sacrifice of the body and blood of Our Lord. Three miles from that chapel, at Mary Camp, he had previously visited a shrine, dear to his heart, that of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Before his departure for America he was in the habit of making frequent pilgrimages, not only to the shrine of Our Lady of Mercy on the lofty mountain of Citailly, and to the chapel of the Mother of Sorrows in his own native village of Ems, but also to the celebrated sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace at Einsiedeln.

“Deeply impressed with the solemn truth that a man’s salvation depends very much on his choice of a state of life, he was desirous of ascertaining as correctly as possible in these sanctuaries, where grace and light are so abundantly shed on pilgrim souls, the correctness of his own vocation in life. It was at the shrine in Einsiedeln that he heard for the first time the call of God, summoning him to the holy priesthood. Then it was that he deter- mined his future course of life and resolved to enter the Congregation of the Precious Blood, to consecrate his whole life to missions in foreign lands, and to win to his heavenly Mother reverent children. It was near a sanctuary of Mary that he bade farewell to father, and mother, brothers and sisters in order to find in Mary alone spiritual father, mother and brethren. The festival of the Assumption in the year 1850 was a day of sadness for his family, but for his own soul a day of indescribable happiness. While his friends were in tears at his departure, peace and resignation beamed calmly from his countenance. It seemed as if he was listening to the voice of Mary repeating the words once uttered by the Almighty to Abraham, ‘Go forth out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and out of thy father’s house, and come into the land which I shall show thee.’ (Genesis 12:1) Passing through Paris he visited the Church of Our Lady of Victories, where he dedicated himself anew to the pure and sacred heart of Mary and earnestly besought the Lord to grant him, through the intercession of that blessed Mother, all the graces necessary to enable him to do the divine will of Heaven in all things. While crossing the Atlantic, in company with some thirty other persons, all destined for a religious life in America, he waited upon them in their sea-sickness, encouraged them, anticipated their wishes, seeming to be entirely forgetful of himself and his own wants.

“On reaching America he was sent to the priests’ house of Saint Mary of the Angels in Thompson. There be utilized every moment of his time, applying himself, under obedience to his Superiors, to study and prayer, patiently awaiting his call to receive Holy Orders. While there, too, our lamented Willibald had recourse to the Queen of angels, who is the Seat of Wisdom in that institution. He placed his future destiny unconditionally in her hands. It would appear, too, that the Lord Himself was well pleased with this resolution of Father Willibald. For as of old He was pleased at the prayer of Solomon, who preferred Heaven’s gift of wisdom be fore all worldly goods, so, in this instance, the young priest seemed to be providentially endowed with the gifts of wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Again, when he was sent by his Superiors to found a new monastery, the very reflection and knowledge that he had to begin his work in extreme poverty gladdened his heart. He said it seemed to him as if he was permitted to dwell in the lowly cottage of the Mother of Jesus at Nazareth. Hence he called his new religious house, ‘Saint Mary’s Home.'”

Among the laity dwelling in that modern Thebais in Ohio, devotion to the Blessed Virgin has brought forth abundant fruit. In every family throughout the mission “The Glories of Mary,” by Saint Alphonsus, is a favorite book. The Rosary is recited in the family circle every day. The chapels are crowded every evening. In the depth of the coldest winter may be seen lines of lanterns glimmering through the darkness of the early morning, as the faithful pick their way over the most wretched of roads to the “break-of day” Mass and the first Rosary. All are enrolled in one or more of the Confraternities of the Blessed Virgin. “Our people,” once remarked a devoted priest of that region, “would almost think it a mortal sin to omit the Rosary on Sundays or festivals.” It is indeed the Blessed Virgin’s land. The whole district resounds with Saint Bernard’s cry, “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”

The Congregation of the Holy Cross

What the Congregation of the Precious Blood is engaged in doing for the Catholic people in the humbler walks of life, especially among the Germans, is being done for the English-speaking people and the educated classes by the Congregation of the Holy Cross. This Congregation, founded in France in the year 1834, and approved by Pius IX. in the year 1856, embraces two departments, namely, the priests of the Holy Cross and the Josephites, or lay Brothers. The Marianites, or Sisters of the Holy Cross, were originally very closely united to the Order also. In the year 1842, at the invitation of Bishop de Saint Palais of Vincennes, these Religious came to Indiana, where they settled in Saint Joseph’s county, about thirty miles south of Lake Michigan. Here a tract of land had been secured years before by the proto-priest of the United States, Father Badin. His efforts, however, had only been crowned by the erection of a little log church and a poorer log house. The situation is one of extreme beauty, though not of grandeur, for northern Indiana can claim nothing of the sublime or grand in her scenery.

Yet the monotony of the lowland is frequently diversified by the clear, placid little lakes surrounded by gently undulating plains. The farm in question contained two of these pleasant lakes, to which Indian tradition had attached many a tale of enchantment.

Dedicating this spot to “Our Lady of the Lake,” Father Sorin, the pioneer of the Order in America, selected a charming little island in the largest lake as the site for two novitiates: one for the priests he hoped to train for his new mission, and the second for the Brothers. A beautiful situation was also chosen on the banks of the lake for the future college. Then, with a firm confidence in divine Providence, putting his trust in Mary, Father Sorin passed the first winter in collecting the scattered Catholics of the neighborhood into a regular congregation, in forming the novitiate of the Brothers, and in attending to the temporal wants of his little colony.

At this period the aid so long and earnestly desired by this devoted missionary was found in the person of his former beloved friend, the young Father Cointet, who was indeed another true servant of Mary, for in his youth he had made this rule of life; “I will give up some time every day to reading holy books. Out of love for Mary I shall recite the Rosary every day. Since an early age I have been consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, and to her care I have confided my chastity. I will study attentively the virtues of this holy Mother, to whom I am strictly bound to have many traits of resemblance, and towards whom I ardently desire to feel all the tenderness of a true child.”

Thus, then, in holy poverty, and in love to Mary, these two priests laid the foundation of the University of Notre Dame and all the offshoots and institutions that have sprung from it.

How apostolic their lives were, the following words of Father Sorin will tell: “For some years the wardrobe of Father Cointet and his Superior was considered very full when they possessed a pair of boots and a hat as property in common. The boots he adroitly managed not to wear until they had passed through the stages of good and indifferent, but the hat could not be so easily managed, there being no alternative except to replace the biretta by the beaver, when on the mission. Accordingly, if Father Cointet was recognized riding or walking off with a hat on his head, it was known to all the members of the little community that the Superior was at home.”

As Notre Dame now stands it holds in various establishments, circling the pleasant waters of the lake, the University of Notre Dame, with about fifty professors and more than five hundred pupils and a school for manual labor, conducted by the Brothers, with fifty apprentices or novices. Saint Mary’s Academy of the Immaculate Conception, one mile westward, is the mother-house of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. It counts eight hundred Religious. The number of pupils attending the academy is about one hundred and ninety. There are, too, in the diocese of Fort Wayne, twelve other schools directed and taught by these Sisters, while the lay Brothers of Saint Joseph have several schools and colleges in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Texas.

Of all these religious homes and pious families Mary is the Mother to whose special protection they were solemnly dedicated from the beginning. As a sign of this we see elevated one hundred and ten feet in the air, on the dome of the university building, the statue of the “blessed among women,” upon her lofty brow a crown of electric stars. From the same height in the church spire every hour, peals forth the music of sweet-voiced bells reminding, by their harmonious tones, the reverers of Mary of their beloved Mother. The chief among these chimes, named Saint Mary, is one of the largest in the United States, weighing seventeen hundred pounds. Thus Mary presides over her favored colony. She looks with love upon the apprentices of the school for manual labor, in their different workshops and in the fields, on the Brothers in their quiet novitiate and on the Seminarians in their solitude of prayer and study. Off a mile to the west her motherly eye rests benignantly upon the institutions of the Sisters of the same Order, under the title of Saint Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception. The Catholic pupils of the academy are enrolled in the Sodality of the Children of Mary and the Living Rosary. Every Saturday evening the litany of Loretto is chanted in the conventual churches and chapels. The Catholic students of the university have an Archconfraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the members of which attend a special Mass and hear a special sermon every week. The Month of Mary is here made a glorious continued festival of thirty-one days at both institutions. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is given every evening and a discourse is pronounced by one of the reverend Fathers in honor of the heavenly Queen.

The feast of the Assumption is annually celebrated by a solemn procession after High Mass or Vespers. On that day every picturesque spot is adorned with some memento of the Queen of heaven. Arches ornamented with her image point out the way to the pious pilgrims. The murmuring waters of the lake, the songs of the birds, and all the pleasant sounds of midsummer in the green woods, together with the chimes of twenty-one bells in the church-tower, unite to form a triumphal accompaniment to the happy voices of the children of Notre Dame, as they intone the litany of Loretto, the “Magnificat,” or the “Salve, Regina.”

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin may truly be said to be the presiding spirit of the place. Private chapels in her honor are to be found in every house. The grounds are adorned with statues of the Madonna and Child, and of the Immaculate Conception. As a crowning tribute to the Queen of heaven, an exact facsimile of the famous grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes has lately been completed at a great expense. It stands within a stone’s throw of the portals of the university, and is a favorite place of pilgrimage for students and professors.

In the conventual church is the altar of the Seven Dolors, which is a fine group of statuary representing the body of our blessed Lord taken from the cross and laid in the arms of His Mother. A magnificent stained window above the main altar represents the Assumption.

In every direction the spirit of Mary seems to breathe an influence. The full ecclesiastical year should be passed at Notre Dame in order to understand how every festival of the Blessed Virgin brings some new and touching evidence of the love which the Congregation of the Holy Cross bears to Our Lady, and which it seeks to instill into the hearts of its pupils.

On a beautiful little promontory, opposite the university, the zeal of the Superior has caused to be erected a chapel dedicated to “Our Lady of the Angels.” Here until recent years, the Catholic pupils spent one night of every month in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. This chapel is built on the exact plan of the celebrated chapel of “Our Lady of the Angels,” sometimes called the Portiuncula, at Assisi, in Italy. It has been enriched by the Holy See with all the privileges of that world-renowned pilgrimage established by Saint Francis of Assisi.

At Saint Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception, the residence of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, one mile west of Notre Dame, the duplicate of the “Santa Casa,” or Holy House of Loretto, has been erected as the special chapel of the Children of Mary. This chapel has also been enriched by the Holy See with all the indulgences belonging to the famous pilgrimage of Loretta in Italy.

These two chapels bring to our own land the two most famous shrines of Italy and are most powerful means, in the hands of the Religious, of promoting in the hearts of the youth entrusted to their care a deep and abiding love for the blessed Mother of God.

For many years past there has been published at Notre Dame a weekly magazine, of thirty-two pages octavo, and widely and favorably known throughout the length and breadth of the land as “The Ave Maria.” It has received the approbation of the Sovereign Pontiff and fifty-eight archbishops and bishops, and by its excellently written articles has been productive of much good.

Branches of the Congregation have opened schools and new missionary houses in the dioceses of New Orleans, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, Fort Wayne, and Galveston, while Montreal, Canada, possesses the provincial house of “Our Lady of the Snows,” with forty priests, twelve scholastics, fifty Brothers and eighteen novices. There are also two colleges in Canada under their direction and a third in the diocese of New Brunswick, at the episcopal city of Saint Johns. The Sisters of the Holy Cross are the most numerous, for, beside being employed in goodly numbers in all the above-named places, they have also schools and hospitals in Maryland, Washington, Indiana, Idaho, Ohio, Utah, Illinois, California, and Texas.

The Society of Mary (Marist Fathers)

The Society of Mary arose, at the opening of this century, as a remedy against some of the spiritual ills resulting from the French Revolution. Its cradle was the city of Lyons, France, where its founder, Father Colin, first gathered his band of missionaries, and trained them to scour the poor country districts around, reviving the wounded faith, teaching anew the doctrine of life, and mending the universal moral mischief that prevailed.

Pius VII blessed the infant community in 1821. By a laudatory brief dated 29 April 1836, Gregory XVI formally approved and established it. At last, after years of experiment and consequent modification of the rule, Pius IX in February, 1873, sealed with his supreme authority and fixed forever the final constitution of the new organization.

The name of the Society suggests its end: self-sanctification and the salvation of souls after the model and under the guiding protection of the Mother of God. Hence the hidden life is the Marist ideal, not the inactive, contemplative life; for the Marist has in hand the apostolic work both of college education and of pastoral and mission care. In this labor he leans with special devotion towards the Holy See, and studies ever to move with the greatest respect for episcopal authority, while the absence of distinctive dress helps to make him more nearly one with the diocesan clergy.

America has seen a quick growth of the Society. In 1863 a parish was accepted in Louisiana; in 1864 Jefferson College, also in Louisiana, was included, and the next year a second parish, Saint Mary’s, Algiers. New England was then tried, and in 1882 the Society undertook mission work at Lawrence, Massachusetts, and two years later a mission house in Isabella Street, Boston, as well asa third in Van Buren, Maine. Late in 1885 the Bush Street Church, San Francisco, was started and was followed in the succeeding fall by that of Cedar Street, Saint Paul, Minn. A third college came under the Marist direction in 1889, that of All Hallows, Salt Lake City. A house of studies and noviceship was canonically erected at Dodon, Maryland, in 1890, and a second placed in 1892 beside the Catholic University of America, to which it is affiliated. In 1897 two new parishes were opened in Georgia, in Brunswick and in Atlanta. Thus, counting the house in Mexico and the two colleges in South America, the Society has in the Western Continent no fewer than eighteen foundations, manned by a force of ninety professed members.

But it has besides many houses in other lands; notably in France, and in the British Islands, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand. Some of the South Sea groups are evangelized by Marists. In Futima, one of the smaller isles, Father Chanel was martyred in 1841. He was solemnly beatified in 1889. Four Marist bishops and about two hundred priests are working among the islanders of the Southern archipelago.

The Society appears indeed to be acknowledged and blessed by her whose name it bears, and without noise or display continues, with divine help, its providential work among the nations.

Brothers of Mary

Side by side with all these associations stands worthily and honorably the Congregation of the Brothers of Mary, whose members honor as their founder the venerable Father William Joseph Chaminade, honorary canon of the Metropolitan Church of Bordeaux, a saintly priest, who died in 1850.

Driven from his home by the French Revolution, he was kneeling one day before the miraculous image of Mary in a celebrated place of pilgrimage at Saragossa in Spain. As he prayed he felt himself inspired to make a promise that he would, in the hope of restoring religion in France, found a Society in honor of the Immaculate Conception, the members of which were to devote themselves to the instruction of youth,especially of the poorer classes. Soon after his return to Bordeaux a Sodality of young people was formed, of all conditions in life, who were to make it their study to revive Catholic faith and practices by the frequent reception of the sacraments, by childlike devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and by mutual encouragement and support among all true children of Mary. This Sodality, which still exists, was the preparatory school for the promised Congregation of the Brothers of Mary. Its rules and practices are still those laid down and prescribed by its worthy founder. The lives of the members are practical evidence of their adherence to his favorite counsel, namely, “Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the altar and reverence for Mary shall constitute the prominent characteristics of the Brothers of Mary.” Beside the daily recital of the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary they recite special prayers at different hours of the day and night. Long before the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated as an article of faith, these pious Brothers used to pray every evening as follows: “With transports of joy we embrace a state of life where everything is done under thy protection, and every one engages himself to praise thee, to serve thee, to publish thy greatness and to defend thy Immaculate Conception.”

Under the protection of the zealous bishops of France, who soon learned to appreciate the valuable services of the Society, it grew rapidly, receiving in 1839 a letter of commendation from, and in 1865 the full approbation of the Apostolic See. Meanwhile its branches had spread throughout France, into Alsace, Lorraine, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The first colony came to America in 1849, chiefly through the kind offices of the great missionary, Father Wenninger. After remaining for a short time in Cincinnati they removed to Dayton, where they now have their mother-house, novitiate and postulate, together with a very flourishing high school for boarders. Beside these they have in the United States thirty-two establishments, in which they impart instruction, and encourage reverence for Mary in the hearts of more than ten thousand pupils. Their principal houses, outside of Dayton, are in San Antonio, the Sandwich Islands, Cincinnati, Alleghany, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Rochester, Pittsburg, San Francisco and New York. The Blessed Virgin Mary has visibly protected this Society, and all the members deeply appreciate her maternal goodness, and foster the fond hope of always faithfully serving her and her divine Son, Jesus Christ.

– text taken from Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Her Feasts, Prayers, Religious Orders, and Sodalities, by Father B Rohner, OSB, adapted by Father Richard Brennan, LLD, published in 1898 by Benziger Brothers; it has the Imprimatur of Archbishop Michael Augustine, Archdiocese of New York, New York, 22 June 1898