The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century – Venerable John Claude Marie Colin

Venerable John Claude Marie ColinOn 23 July 1816, the day after their ordination, twelve young priests made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Fourviere to implore counsel and courage for the foundation of a new religious society. The plan was proposed by the Venerable John Claude Marie Colin, but years elapsed before the establishment of “The Society of Mary” was accomplished.

John Claude was born on 7 August 1790, at Saint Bonnet-le-Troncy, Diocese of Lyons, of a good Catholic family. After completing his studies in the little seminary he first took up military life. But after a time he found his heart more inclined toward the militia of Christ. At the seminary of Lyons he was the friend and classmate of the Blessed Cure d’Ars. After his ordination he worked nine years as assistant to his brother Peter, pastor of Cerdon. During this period he conceived the design of establishing a congregation and he awaited a favorable moment for beginning a community life. The Congregation of Sisters (Maristines) was first established.

The misery of the villages in the country roundabout – a result of the Revolution – had touched his heart. With priests like himself he gave missions, and thus in effect obtained the end of the society he had in mind. The work was very successful. But he was called from this field and was entrusted with the direction of the seminary of Belley. Still he did not lose sight of the purpose of his life. Missionaries were wanted for Oceania, and since the “Society of Mary” seemed adapted for this work he obtained approbation from Rome in 1836. Among those who first took vows with Colin were his brother Peter, the Blessed Peter Aloysius Chanel,* and the Venerable Marcellin Champagnat. Colin was elected superior-general. The Society extended rapidly and now labors in nearly every country of the globe. Their great success in foreign missions, especially in Oceania and New Zealand, is well known to all. In 1854 Father Colin resigned the office of superior-general to devote all his time and attention to the spiritual upbuilding of the young Society. He lived to have the happiness of seeing his rules approved by the Apostolic See in 1873. He died holily, as he had lived, on 15 November 1875, at La Neyliere.

– this text is taken from The Holiness of the Church in the Nineteenth Century: Saintly Men and Women of Our Own Times, by Father Constantine Kempf, SJ; translated from the German by Father Francis Breymann, SJ; Impimatur by + Cardinal John Farley, Archbishop of New York, 25 September 1916