An Apostle of Mary in the 19th Century, by Brother John E Garvin, S.M.

Chapter I – Perigueux: Birth and Early Years, 1761-1771

William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Society of the Brothers of Mary, was born in the city of Perigueux, in the south-western part of France, on the eighth of April, 1761.

The little city of Perigueux, the capital of the ancient province of Perigord, and today the chief city of the Department of Dordogne, is one of the few communities of the Dukedom of Aquitania that, since the end of the Hundred Years War with England in the fourteenth century, had never been dominated by the aristocracy. Since 1356, when it repulsed the English, it was made a royal fief and no baron or nobleman ever took his feudal title from the city or dared to claim any seigneural authority over it.

Perigueux is perched upon a platform, overlooking the Isle River, a branch of the Dordogne, and lies about eighty miles east by north-east of Bordeaux. It dominates a smiling valley, which was once so fertile and prosperous as to earn the title of Garden of the Kings of France.

Charles V made the province of Perigord a royal domain and granted the privilege of self-government to the city of Perigueux. The “Citizen-Lords of Perigueux,” as they styled themselves henceforth in the public documents, were proud of that privilege and constituted a select circle of their own, jealously closed to outsiders and closely guarded. Before the French Revolution of 1789, out of a population of about 8,000, the Citizen Lords numbered four hundred.

Blaise Chaminade, the father of William Joseph Chaminade, was, like his ancestors, a member of this honorable body. He had been master-glazier, like his father, but upon his marriage to Catherine Bethon, the daughter of a prosperous draper of Perigueux and also a member of the Citizen-Lords, he took over the business of his father-in-law.

Blaise was a man of the highest integrity and of a certain dignity of character which commanded the respect of every one. He was a practical Catholic, but the times were out of joint, and for a period he allowed himself to be influenced in one instance by the liberal opinions of some of his fellow-citizens; he opened his store on Sunday, presumably to attract the trade of the countrymen who came into town on that day. But it was not for long; his better Catholic sentiments triumphed. He resolutely closed his store on Sunday again, and he had the satisfaction of seeing that his trade increased in consequence, instead of diminishing, as he had feared.

From his democratic father, William Joseph inherited that independence in politics, and that free-and-easy, yet dignified manner that marked him all his life. He was neither servile nor proud, but like the noble and intelligent Frenchmen of today, the equal of any man and the friend of all. During the course of a long life of nearly ninety years William Joseph had to deal with all sorts and conditions of men, from nobles to chimney-sweeps, and he met them all on their own ground, in the most natural and unaffected manner, like one of Nature’s noblemen, honoring the man in his fellow-man and seeing the best in every one.

William Joseph was the thirteenth and last child of the family. Naturally, he was the special favorite of his mother, and his winning ways gained him the hearts of all his brothers and sisters as well. He loved his mother most tenderly, and was always with her. When he was still very young, he used to nestle up to her when she was in prayer, and silently fold his hands in imitation. Even when she went to Holy Communion, the child would cling to her dress and follow her to the altar-rail, as if to participate in the Holy Sacrament.

The early home training of William Joseph was of the very best, and made a deep impression on his mind. In after years he repeatedly adverted to incidents in his early life, and especially to the sayings and doings of his mother. In one of his letters of advice on spiritual matters, when he was already an old man, in speaking of self-abnegation, he very appropriately quotes a saying of his mother, and we smile in sympathy at the occasion of the lesson, for we feel that we have been there ourselves. He writes that he had tried to escape being washed and combed, but his mother insisted: – “It’s worth some pains to look clean and pretty,” she said. Another word of his mother’s made a most durable impression upon him, for he recalled it in one of his conferences in his extreme old age. “One day,” he said, “my mother made me a present of a little trifle, and I forgot to thank her for it. ‘That’s not worth much, my boy, not even a Thank you?’ From that day forth I never failed to thank for any favor received.”

Like all his brothers, William Joseph received the best of education possible in those days. His older brothers, John and Blaise, had finished their studies at the college of the Jesuits in Perigueux, but the Society of Jesus was suppressed in France in 1762, one year after the birth of William Joseph. The College was taken over by the Dominican Fathers, and Francis Chaminade, the third son, finished his education with them. But the Dominicans were unable to obtain affiliation with the university, which had so long antagonized the Jesuits, and the Fathers withdrew.

William Joseph attended the parish-school of Perigueux, and was confirmed in his tenth year. He was now ready for the preparatory classes of College. His oldest brother, John, had joined the Jesuits in Bordeaux in 1759, but upon their suppression three years later he had returned to his native city of Perigueux to complete his theological studies in preparation for the priesthood After his ordination he went to Mussidan near Perigueux to join the priests of the Diocesan Apostolate, who conducted a preparatory Seminary. When Louis, the fourth son, and William Joseph were ready for College, John asked the father to send them to him at Mussidan, and he gladly accepted the proposition. This was in 1771.

Chapter II – Mussidan: Education, Vocation, Ordination, 1771-1792

Mussidan is a pleasant village about twenty-five miles south-west of Perigueux, situated in one of the most picturesque sites of the fertile and smiling valley of the Isle River.

The College of Mussidan had been founded in 1744 by a company of diocesan missionaries as a preparatory seminary. When John Chaminade, the Jesuit, joined the faculty after his ordination, he brought with him the precious advantage of a careful and complete education crowned by the degree of Doctor of Divinity of the University, and also a religious and pedagogical training such as only the Society of Jesus was able to impart in those days.

The two young students made rapid progress under the special care of their brother. William Joseph was particularly successful, and although he was three years younger than his brother Louis, he was soon abreast of him, and they remained together through all their classes until ordination.

William Joseph made his First Holy Communion shortly after his entry into College. At the age of fourteen, with the approval of his brother John, he made private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, with the intention of joining some religious order as soon as he became of age. The irreligious spirit of the Revolution and the subsequent persecution of the Church and banishment of the religious orders crossed his purpose, but he renewed his vows yearly for the rest of his life.

Upon the completion of their Rhetoric class, the two brothers attended the University of Bordeaux for their philosophy and then went to the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris for their course in theology. They were ordained in 1784. William Joseph returned at once to the College at Mussidan, and was soon joined by his brother Louis.

Both priests joined the community of the Mission of Mussidan and the following year, (1785) the three Chaminade brothers assumed complete control of the College. John became Superior, Louis became Prefect of Studies, and William Joseph took charge of the stewardship. A new era of prosperity set in for the College. The number of boarders reached sixty, which was the limit of accommodations, and the day-scholars crowded the institution. Piety and learning went hand in hand. The yearly closing exercises became civic feasts which the Bishop of Perigueux and the mayor of Mussidan never failed to attend, and the reputation of the College extended far beyond the limits of the Province of Perigord. It was classed among the best and most flourishing educational institutions in France at the outbreak of the Revolution.

The notorious Pierre Pontard, the constitutional bishop of the Dordogne during the Revolution, gave testimony to the virtues of the officials of the College of Mussidan, in a curious pamphlet which he published in 1797: “The three Chaminade brothers were the saints of Mussidan. Everybody regarded them, and justly so, as models of edification.”

But the rumblings of a coming revolution were already heard. The state of public affairs was becoming worse and worse, and all France was in a state of unrest. There were grievances indeed, social, political, and even religious, and there was danger of confusing issues, and an excited population was ready to rush headlong to extremes of all kinds, when time and patience were most necessary if any sane and salutary reforms were to be effected.

The calling of the States-General in 1789, proved a most important event in the history of France, for, when that body transformed itself into a National Assembly with the determination to discuss “the condition and state of the country,” the era of Revolution had actually opened.

And indeed, events came fast and furious. The Civil Constitution for the Clergy was signed by the king in August, 1790. The day after Christmas of that same year was the date set for its enforcement throughout France. No priest could retain his charge unless he swore to uphold the new Civil Constitution, and since this new constitution denied the authority of the Pope and practically withdrew the Church in France from the centre of Catholic unity, no priest could subscribe to it without becoming a schismatic.

John Chaminade, the Jesuit, was spared the sorrows of the Revolution. In January, 1790, his edifying life was crowned by such a death as a saint would envy. He died in the College chapel, at the foot of the altar where he had just finished the sacrifice of the mass.

On the 9th of January the two Chaminade brothers, Louis and William Joseph, were summoned to the city hall of Mussidan to declare their position as to the oath to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. They obeyed the summons, but refused to take the oath. William Joseph went further and within a few days published an “Address to the Inhabitants of Mussidan” in the name of the administration of the College, explaining the motives of their refusal.

It was of course impossible for Father Chaminade to continue in charge of the College, although the city officials begged him to remain. The authorities of the department even petitioned the government to grant a pension to Father Chaminade and his colleagues “in consideration of their valuable services to the public and to education, and in recompense for the losses which they sustained on conscientious grounds by reason of their refusal to take the civil oath.” Father Chaminade declined the offer, left Mussidan, and sought refuge in Bordeaux.

Chapter III – Bordeaux: Sacred Ministry During the Revolution and the Reign of Terror, 1792-1797

In the midst of the turmoil of the Revolution, Bordeaux was more tranquil than might have been expected. The local authorities were conservative and wanted peace. The prosperity of the city was largely dependent upon the commerce of its port, and consequently the leading merchants and ship-owners were opposed to any movement of unrest that might disturb trade.

Father Chaminade took counsel with one of his former professors at the University, Father Langoiran, now Vicar-General and administrator of. the Archdiocese of Bordeaux during the absence of Monsignor de Cice, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly in Paris, and Keeper of the Royal Seal. Father Langoiran warned Father Chaminade that worse was coming; he believed that a persecution of the Church was certain to follow the schism, and counselled him to prepare at once for exercising his ministry through a period of proscription.

Father Chaminade determined to remain in Bordeaux and to do all he could for the faithful of the city during the turbulent times that seemed imminent. He had sunk all his modest fortune in the College of Mussidan, but Father Langoiran advanced him enough money to buy the Villa Saint Lawrence, a property of about four acres, comprising a farm and a vineyard in the suburbs of Bordeaux. This was to be his refuge, but it would have been imprudent to install himself openly and let himself be known as the proprietor.

The very tranquillity and safety of the city of Bordeaux had now become a source of danger, because hundreds of non-juring priests had taken refuge there. The Revolutionary clubs declared that the peace of the city was endangered by the presence of so many priests opposed to the Civil Constitution, and accordingly an order was issued by the Directory of the department that all non-jurors should leave the city at once.

This violent measure encouraged the Revolutionary party in Bordeaux, and echoes of the disturbances in Paris were soon heard in the South. On the 15th of July, 1792, the day after the third celebration of the Fall of the Bastille, the first insurrection broke out in the city of Bordeaux. Mobs filled the streets, and clamored for some victim – and whom did the public fury select but Father Langoiran, the intrepid administrator who had published an “Open Letter to the Nation” in condemnation of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. The mob rushed to his lodgings in the suburbs, dragged him through the streets of the city to the Steps of the Archiepiscopal residence, and there murdered him, set his head upon a pike and paraded it through the city.

This atrocity satisfied the Revolutionary clubs for some time. The Girondist party was comparatively moderate, and opposed to the party of the Mountain, then dominant in Paris, and it had until now saved Bordeaux from the worst excesses of the Revolution such as had disgraced the capital city. But the Girondist party was defeated and proscribed; the Mountain party entered Bordaeux in October, 1793, and set up the terrible guillotine in the Square of the Nation. The Reign of Terror had come to Bordeaux.

The Mountain party had passed a decree of exile against all non-juring priests, and the Revolutionary agents in Bordeaux proceeded to enforce it vigorously and unrelentingly. Father Chaminade determined to defy the edict and remain in the city to minister to the faithful. It was a larger field for good and there was more security. In order to conceal his presence he conceived the idea of bringing his parents to Bordeaux. The Villa Saint Lawrence would be a peaceful and welcome refuge for them in their declining years, and their presence would be most useful in veiling his own activities.

Accordingly he went to Perigueux in April, 1792, and proposed the plan to his father and mother. It proved very acceptable. William Joseph had always been their favorite son, and the pleasure of living with him outweighed all other considerations which might have counted against a change of environment and of habits at their advanced age. They transferred their draper business entirely to their son Francis, who had already taken charge of the larger part of it, and coming to Bordeaux at once, they settled at Saint Lawrence.

Ostensibly they were the proprietors, while William Joseph effaced himself as completely as possible. The villa was entirely surrounded by a high wall, with only one gate. A faithful dog was trained to bark loud and long at the appearance of any stranger; the only workman employed in the property was a vine-dresser of the neighborhood, a certain Bontemps, “Citoyen Bontemps” as he called himself under the new regime, a revolutionist whose Jacobin proclivities were of the steepest, and a rabid sans-culotte who would have been absolutely incapable of shielding a “clerical”. Evidently he was kept for that very reason.

A female servant, Marie Dubourg, was also engaged for the service of the household. She was a native of Bordeaux, shrewd and talkative, but faithful even to self-sacrifice. She was particularly adroit in leading callers into talk, in order to divine their intentions or the reason of their visit, and she was also past-mistress in the art of getting them out of the way or of answering them in such a manner as to gain time.

Several hiding-places were arranged in various parts of the property. The principal one was an underground room which was entered through a trap-door skillfully concealed in the floor of the pantry, and “to make assurance doubly sure” a bale of straw was kept in that corner of the floor.

Evidently it was not fear that dictated these precautions. Father Chaminade protected his life in the comparative security of his vineyard in the suburbs, only in order to expose it all the more boldly in the work of saving souls. Every day he faced the gravest dangers in order to carry to the faithful of the city and the suburbs the aid and the consolations of religion. He often passed the fatal tumbrel carrying its victims to the guillotine; he often met the funeral corteges of the victims on their way to the cemetery, and when he passed through the Square of the Nation he saw the dread instrument itself.

Forty non-juring priests remained concealed in Bordeaux, and the people of that city were indeed worthy of the heroic devotedness of their clergy. It was death to be convicted of harboring a non-juring priest, and a price was set upon their heads, but neither threats, dismay nor promises could win the good Catholics of Bordeaux; not one case of betrayal is on record.

It is easy to imagine the extraordinary courage needed to brave such dangers. One little imprudence and the guillotine was the price to pay. Of the forty faithful priests, twenty were captured by the Revolutionary agents and died on the scaffold during the Reign of Terror in Bordeaux.

Father Chaminade generally disguised himself as a tinker. He wore a working blouse; he carried a kettle and a kit of tools and trudged along slowly through the streets of Bordeaux crying out “Tins to mend! Tins to mend!” He often called on the faithful by “appointment,” as he used to term it, in recounting his adventures. Children of the house where he was wanted would be set as pickets in the streets to watch for the “tinker.” When they recognized him they would go ahead of him, pretending to chase one another about in play, until they came back to the house. They would run inside, make sure all was safe, and then come out again to signal to the pseudo-tinker, who would enter, and there again become the minister of God.

He was known to many in the city, and the Revolutionary agents were also aware that he had not “emigrated”, and had not obeyed the decree of exile, but was actively engaged in the secret ministry of religion. One day he was in his usual disguise of a wandering tinker, his face smeared, a kettle in his hand, and a large pan swung over one side of his head, and trudging along the street trying to look as old and feeble as a man of thirty-three could manage. Suddenly on turning a corner, a company of soldiers encountered him. “Did you see the priest Chaminade pass by here?” they asked him. “That Chaminade again? Why, he was around this corner just a minute ago,” he answered, as if inquiring of himself; “Look sharp and you’ll find him!” and with that he shuffled on, unmolested.

On another occasion, while disguised as a peddler of needles and thread, he felt less secure, and indeed, he was soon shadowed by a trio of gendarmes. He turned down an alley and took refuge in a cooper’s shop. The cooper hurried him under a barrel which he was hooping. The gendarmes rushed in a few minutes later and, looking about, asked the cooper where the priest had gone to. “Why, he’s here under this barrel!” said the workman in a jesting tone; “Come out here, mon pere, and surrender!” he continued, rapping his hammer on the head of the barrel. The soldiers contented themselves with shrugging their shoulders and walking away. When they were safely out of sight the cooper tipped the barrel over, and invited Father Chaminade to come out. “But, what did you mean by trying to betray me?” he complained to the cooper. “Oh! there was no danger!” said the man; “those fellows know me. They’d never believe I told the truth. That never happened to me yet.”

Even in the confines of his own villa, Father Chaminade was not safe. One day the police came to search the house and it was only the resourcefulness of the servant-maid that saved him by keeping them talking and leading them to search in the wrong place, until Father Chaminade had time to reach a shelter.

At another time the police entered the property so unexpectedly that the servant had only time enough to upset an empty wash-tank over him in the kitchen. The police dispersed in different parts of the property and searched long and carefully, but all in vain. On their way back through the kitchen the maid invited them to a glass of wine. To avert suspicion, she set stools around the upset tub, and used it for a table. We may well imagine the feelings of the prisoner, crouched and huddled in that strange refuge where, as he used to say himself in relating the escape “only the thickness of a board lay between me and the guillotine.”

This life of alarms and uncertainty lasted until 1797. In the spring elections of that year the Conservative party gained control of the government, and the persecution ceased, but it proved to be a very short and illusive peace. Father Chaminade had already presumed to come out of his hiding-place and openly exercise his ministry in Bordeaux. Meanwhile, the Jacobins would not accept the verdict of the nation. Being still in control of the army, they resolved upon a bold stroke. On the 4th of September, 1797, the army entered Paris, decreed the annulment of the spring elections and exiled two of the five members of the Directory. The penal laws against religion were re-enacted. All non-juring priests who had returned to France during the interval of peace were commanded to leave their commune within twenty-four hours and the territory of France within two weeks, under pain of deportation to Guiana.

The stroke was so unexpected that Father Chaminade could not parry it. He was personally served with a summons to leave Bordeaux at once. He protested that he had never left home, and therefore, not having returned during the interval, was not legally included in the decree. But it was all in vain; his remarkably effective concealment in Bordeaux during the Reign of Terror now worked against him. The police, baffled so frequently in their search for him, had at last been led to believe that he had really left the country and they had entered his name on the list of the emigres. His own heroism and adroitness had undone him, and the argument turned oddly back on him: He had left France; the police records showed it; he had returned during the peace, for was he not actually in Bordeaux? Therefore, he must leave France again Voila tout.

Being thus summarily commanded to conform to the law, and being served with a passport to Spain, and under the surveillance of certain officials who would assure themselves that he should make use of it, he sorrowfully accepted his fate. He hastily arranged all affairs at the Villa Saint Lawrence, and left his father in charge. His mother had died in September, 1794. He was destined never to see his father again in this world The good old man could not bear to live alone at the villa where he had spent five happy years in the company of his son. He rented the property and went back to live in the old homestead at Perigueux with his son Francis. He died there in March 1799, a year before William Joseph returned from his exile in Spain.

Chapter IV – Saragossa: Exile in Spain, 1797-1800

Providence led Father Chaminade to Saragossa, a city in the north-eastern part of Spain. Saragossa traces its Christianity back to the time of the apostles. In the persecution of Diocletian the number of its martyrs was particularly numerous. It is a beautiful city on the banks of the Ebro River, but set in the middle of the desolate plain of Aragon. For centuries it had been the shrine of a great pilgrimage to the Blessed Virgin, for it contained the famous statue of our Lady of the Pillar.

Father Chaminade arrived in Saragossa on the eleventh of October, 1797, the eve of the patronal feast of the city – the feast of our Lady of the Pillar. The bells of the great basilica were pealing in honor of the great day; twelve bonfires had been built in the public square in front of the edifice. Inside the basilica, twelve hundred silver lamps were kept burning all night, while bands of music played successively until two o’clock in the morning, when the masses commenced. It was a feast for the entire province as well as for the city, and people came from round about for a hundred miles to attend the celebration.

This city of the Virgin Mary was to be the sojourn of Father Chaminade for three years. For him they were to be three years of retreat, of meditation, of preparation for the real work of his life. Here it was that Mary was awaiting him with her real inspiration and her revelations which were to orient him for the rest of his life and send him back to his native land, a confident zealous and finished apostle of Mary.

The lot of the refugee French priests in Spain was very unequal, but the lines of Father Chaminade’s exile had fallen in pleasant places. Through the generosity of a banker in Bordeaux who managed a branch-house in Saragossa, Father Chaminade was well provided for. He devoted most of time to study and prayer. He applied himself especially to the reading of Holy Scripture, to theology, Church History, Church discipline and to the study of usages of monastic life. But it was especially in the “Santa Capilla,” the chapel of our Lady of the Pillar that he loved to pass his time. In this famous and venerated sanctuary, where the presence of the august Virgin is almost sensibly felt, Father Chaminade passed long hours of prayer, and poured out his soul in intimate communion with his heavenly Mother.

There is no doubt that, during his stay at Saragossa he received graces of two kinds, some regarding his personal sanctification and others relating to the apostolate which he was to undertake in the interest of his Immaculate Mother. His soul was passing through a process of purification and refinement, and at that time, in his intimate communings with the Virgin Mother, the apostolic character of his vocation was clearly specified and confirmed, and the sphere of his activity was determined with a precision which left no doubt. He was to be a missionary of Mary; he was to be the founder of a society of religious; he spoke of it in his intimate conversations, and his companions in exile used to tell him that they would be pleased to be favored with some of his future religious as aids in their ministry when once they were permitted to return to France.

We do not know the manner in which it pleased the Blessed Virgin to unveil the future to the eyes of her favored servant, but beyond all doubt it was done by some extraordinary means and by a supernatural light. The faith and the confidence of Father Chaminade in the reality of his mission were too great to have any other than an absolute spiritual re-assurance. More than once, after the establishment of the Society of Mary, he declared that in its institution he had followed a distinct call of the Blessed Mother. One day in particular, in one of his conferences to his first religious, he was dwelling on the pleasant recollections of the happy hours he had spent in the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar and he exclaimed in the fullness of his heart: “Such as I see you now before me, such also I saw you in spirit at Sargossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society; she it was who laid its foundation, and she will also continue to preserve it.”

In his conferences as well as in his writings, he was prodigal of the word “inspiration” whenever he spoke of the circumstances which impelled him to establish the Society of Mary, and in his letters to the Court of Rome, in seeking approbation for the institute, he insists upon the same fact of inspiration.

It has been a constant tradition in the Society of Mary that the beginnings of the institute were planned in Saragossa. It is a pious belief among the Brothers that the Blessed Virgin appeared to Father Chaminade in the hallowed shrine of the Santa Capilla, outlined to him his future apostolate and sketched the plan of the Society of Mary. Our Lady of the Pillar was often the theme of Father Chaminade’s discourses, and in every community in the Society the image of Nuestra Senora del Pilar is honored with a special devotion.

Three years were passed in this special initiation of Father Chaminade into the service of the Blessed Virgin. The period of his exile was touching its end. The Directory at Paris had fallen into disrepute. Bonaparte had returned to France. The coup d’etat of the 18th Brumaire (November 9, 1799), had placed him in control. He re-opened the churches and invited the priests to return to France. At last there was promise once more of a definite and lasting peace for the Church in France.

Chapter V – The Sodality at Bordeaux (founded in 1800)

Immediately upon his return to Bordeaux, Father Chaminade began the work of his apostolate for Mary among the youth of the city. Already on the 8th of December, 1800 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we find him at the head of a group of young men whom he gathered about him both as disciples and as co-laborers. He had decided not to accept any work which would incorporate him with the clergy of the diocese, because it would not leave him the liberty and the time necessary to devote himself to his special mission as apostle of Mary among youth.

The Archbishop of Auch, who had been a fellow exile of his in Saragossa, and for whom Father Chaminade had performed many special favors in France during the Revolution, had obtained for him several titles and privileges from the Court of Rome. Of these various titles and dignities Father Chaminade accepted only one, that of Missionary Apostolic, because it comported so well with his chosen occupation. As to the other favors, he neglected them and never even presented to the Archbishop of Bordeaux for ratification and record the pontifical rescript in which they were granted.

His chosen apostolate among youth was something quite peculiar and unusual in the church in France, but it was particularly well adapted to the conditions and wants of the times. There was great need of a general re-awakening among the Catholics of France. For nearly ten years Catholic worship had been disorganized, and religious instruction had been next to impossible. To repair the ravages of infidelity and schism it was necessary to cultivate the youth of the land and to have them in turn work upon others.

It was the young people that had to be won over to the great cause of the restoration of religion in France. It is more welcome and grateful to appeal to the young, than to those of riper age because, even though it be ignorant of the principles of faith, youth is seldom skeptical, except by mere affectation. Skepticism is not congenial to its temperament. Sad to say, youth is vicious at times, but even though it may be dissolute, it is not corrupt beyond redemption. In the* heart of a youth of twenty there is always a healthy strain which welcomes regeneration. In spite of weakness and cowardice and inconsistency, it is the heart of youth that preserves the seed of optimism and that spirit of enthusiasm which is so necessary to any vital work of regeneration and reform.

Father Chaminade was unusually well-gifted and unusually well-prepared for his chosen work. There was both inspiration and preparation. His long experience with youth in the College of Mussidan, and the special attraction which he felt for continuing that apostolate had fitted him for his mission. He set to work at once. He rented a room in the center of the city and transformed it into an oratory. There he said his daily mass and preached on Sundays. Some of the faithful began to attend regularly. Father Chaminade took notice particularly of two young men in the assembly; he spoke to them; he found that they were not acquainted, and introduced them to each other; he invited them to visit him during the week in order to agree upon certain religious devotions to be practiced in common. The two young men came, and welcomed his offer of leadership in the apostolate of youth which he proposed. As a practical introduction to this work he asked them each to bring back another man to the next meeting. Four young men attended the next meeting, and they in turn proposed that each bring another to the next meeting. The details of an association were drawn up and a plan of organization adopted. The Sodality was an accomplished fact. On the 8th of December, 1800, it was formally established and placed under the patronage of the Immaculate Virgin.

The new Sodality of the Blessed Virgin comprised two College professors, three University students, two theological students, three men of business, and two tradesmen. Good example is as contagious as bad example. Men of all ages and conditions of life flocked to the oratory of Father Chaminade and were welcomed as aspirants to the Sodality. These candidates came from every class of society. Some of the great merchants and ship-owners of Bordeaux were shoulder to shoulder with their own clerks; professors of the schools and Universities united in companionship with their students; tradesmen and day-laborers were welcomed by all. They were all children of Mary united in the bonds of a Catholic apostolate.

The mind of Father Chaminade was unusually progressive and his manners peculiarly independent. He welcomed the Liberty, Equality and Fraternity of the Revolution, but accepted it in wholesome sense and in a Catholic spirit. Before the Revolution the exclusiveness and prejudice of the aristocracy had invaded even the pious associations of the Church; there had been confraternities for the various classes of society, one for the nobility and gentry, another for what these were well pleased to call “the common people” one confraternity for the masters, another for the servants; one for men of education another for the illiterate. To Father Chaminade this looked like a denial of the Christian spirit; he welcomed a liberty such as the children of God desire; he welcomed a healthy equality of opportunity and a fraternity of soul such as the Church had always fostered, and his Sodality was a practical manifestation of the true Catholic spirit, a beneficent center of activity, radiating true liberty, equality and fraternity.

This democracy of spirit was the first characteristic of the Sodality. The second characteristic was a remarkable individuality, and a healthy spirit of initiative. The Sodality was not to be a confraternity ruled by an external authority, supported by officials from within, such as were the older confraternities before the Revolution. Father Chaminade was the master indeed but he was not the ruler. He owed his great influence, not to the mechanical organization of the Sodality, but to his own personal ascendancy as director. He looked upon the Sodality, as the work of the associated members as well as his own, and welcomed their collaboration not only as an aid but as a real necessity.

The third characteristic of the Sodatity was the spirit of apostolic zeal exercised by personal influence. The Sodality was to be a living mission, and every sodalist was to be a missionary. The Sodalities were not to seek only their own profit, but they were to be a militant band of chosen souls, each one with a commission to spread the spirit of Christianity by devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

The new Archbishop of Bordeaux, the venerable Monsignor d’Aviau, looked with special favor upon the work of Father Chaminade. He was himself a priest of most apostolic spirit and was also especially devout to the Blessed Virgin. At the outbreak of the Revolution he had occupied the archiepiscopal see of Vienne in Dauphiny. The Concordat of 1802 transferred him to Bordeaux. He pleaded to remain in Vienne, but Napoleon threatened to re-nominate the notorious Constitutional bishop Dominic Lacombe, who had occupied the see of Bordeaux during the Revolutionary era. To prevent so unwelcome an issue Monsignor d’Aviau sacrificed his preference and accepted the archdiocese of Bordeaux. He came to his new see with the reputation of a saint, and his wide experience as well as his moderation of character especially fitted him for so important and critical a post.

The new archbishop had already heard of the zeal and devotedness of Father Chaminade during the years of persecution in Bordeaux. In one of the services at the Cathedral the prelate noticed the fervor and enthusiasm of the young men of the Sodality, and he took pleasure in showing his satisfaction to Father Chaminade. He also expressed the fear that Father Chaminade might eventually prefer to return to his own native diocese of Perigueux. But the see of Perigueux, united to that of Angouleme, had been given to Lacombe, and Father Chaminade did not hesitate between the former constitutional Bishop of the Dordogne and the venerable Monsignor d’Aviau. He declined several advantageous offers made by the archbishop and begged leave to devote himself entirely to his Sodality. The archbishop agreed, but insisted on nominating Father Chaminade as canon of the Cathedral of Bordeaux, an honor which he retained until his death.

Within three years the Sodality had outgrown its quarters, and the archbishop gave Father Chaminade the church of the Madeleine for the exclusive use of his various apostolates. This church was admirably adapted to its purpose both in arrangement and location. It had been the chapel of a private institution, and had never served as a parish church. It was in the very heart of the city, easily accessible from all parts, and still removed from the noise of the great business streets of the neighborhood.

A new era of prosperity opened with this change of location. The Sodality came more before the public eye, and gave correspondingly more edification. The mass on Sunday was said at an early hour in order to allow the sodalists to attend the services in their own parish churches and teach the catechism classes. The Sunday night meetings were especially remarkable, for there the official business was transacted, and the real work of the Sodality could be seen.

These meetings were unique. Let us describe one of them. Night has set in; the Madeleine is all ablaze with lights. The Sodalists have filed in and filled the church. In the sanctuary the officials have their special seats, with the director and any of the clergy who belong to the Sodality. The prefect opens the meeting with prayer; a hymn to the Holy Ghost is sung. The business of the Sodality is then attended to; reports are made by the various committees, whether of religious or social or charitable work; new plans and propositions are offered and discussed. Another song is sung; then a discourse is made by one of the sodalists, who has been previously commissioned to prepare the subject; discussions are again in order, the prefect acting as chairman and moderator. These discourses touched upon the questions of the day as well as upon the interests of the Sodality; they were always carefully prepared, and delivered by young men either of education or of particular training and experience in the subject discussed. Father Chaminade closed the proceedings with a short address or an exhortation. Night prayers were said and the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament ended the meeting.

It would be endless to follow the work of the Sodality in all its ramifications. The far-reaching effect of its apostolate was really remarkable. Works of the most diverse kind had their origin and their encouragement in this blessed society. A few examples must suffice.

1. Seminary. – When Monsignor d’Aviau re-organized his diocesan seminary, the entire personnel, director, professors and students, came from the Sodality of Father Chaminade.

2. Christian Brothers. – The Brothers of the Christian Schools owe their very first novitiate in France after the Revolution to the Sodality. Two of the sodalists devoted themselves to the establishment of a free-school in Bordeaux. Father Chaminade undertook to direct them. He wrote to Toulouse for a copy of the rule of the Brothers, and trained the two young men in its observance. When the Christian Brothers returned to France in 1805 and established themselves at Lyons, Father Chaminade obtained the services of two of the religious for his little community in Bordeaux. He installed the novitiate in his own property at the Villa Saint Lawrence. The archbishop appointed him ecclesiastical superior of the new establishment. His two sodalists were known in religion as Brother Elias and Brother Paulinus. The novitiate prospered from the very beginning and remained at the villa until 1811, when it was transferred to Toulouse, which before the Revolution had been the seat of the provincial administration of the Brotherhood for the southwest.

The two sodalists in their new sphere of action did excellent service. Brother Paulinus was made master of novices, but died soon after in 1813, at the age of forty-one. The Superior-General of that date, Brother Gerbaud, declared that Brother Paulinus was both capable and worthy of any position in the Society. Brother Elias was named as one of the assistants of the Superior-General and died in 1847, at the age of 76. Both these Brothers preserved their love and veneration for Father Chaminade to the end of their lives.

3. The House of Mercy. – The first refuge of the Good-Shepherd, the Misericorde, was founded by Father Chaminade with the help of Mademoiselle de Lamourous, one of the first and foremost of his sodalists of the young ladies’ section. In fact, she was the favorite aid of Father Chaminade, and he had singled her out as the best and ablest associate in the great work he had planned for the institute which eventually became the Society of the Daughters of Mary – founded in 1816, a year before the Society of Mary.

Father Chaminade had made the acquaintance of Mile, de Lamourous in Bordeaux during the Reign of Terror, and had frequently said mass secretly for congregations assembled in her house. During his exile in Spain he continued his spiritual direction by frequent correspondence. On his return to Bordeaux he counted on her co-operation for the success of the Young Ladies’ Sodality, and he was not disappointed. But a pious and generous old lady of Bordeaux, interested herself in the establishment of the House of the Good Shepherd, and having attempted with little success to re-open it, came to Father Chaminade and asked him to give her Mile, de Lamourous as her assistant. Father Chaminade was at first unwilling, but he promised to speak of the matter to Mademoiselle. This young lady was not only unwilling, she was disgusted even to think of the proposition. However she consented to visit the institution where about a dozen penitents had been gathered. No sooner was she in their company than all her repugnance vanished, and she felt a great interior consolation. The penitents also felt attracted to her, even though they felt her firmness as well as her goodness. They knew well enough that they were not the most docile of company for their aged directress, but they also felt that Mademoiselle was the one to manage them, and they openly said as much. “There is one who can make us behave!” they remarked to one another.

But hardly had Mademoiselle left the house than the same feeling of repugnance came over her. She tried a second visit; it brought new consolation, but followed again by new disgust. She felt that she was called by God, and that her true mission in life lay where her happiness seemed to lie. She was wealthy and of noble birth, but she decided to devote her life to God. Abruptly she left her home, drove to the lodgings of Father Chaminade, and invited him to accompany her to the home of her penitents. In spite of her repugnance she entered resolutely – and there, in the doorway of the institution, she bid adieu to Father Chaminade – “J’y suis et j’y reste” – “Here I am, and here I stay,” was all she said.

The success of this wonderful woman was remarkable. She quickly found associates from the ranks of the Young Ladies’ Sodality and organized her followers into a society called the Daughters of Mercy, which has since been approved by Rome and controls several houses in the south of France. Father Chaminade had relinquished her aid at the very moment when he had counted most on it, but his generosity was rewarded by the sight of her unusual success. He was appointed the ecclesiastical superior of the House of Mercy from the very beginning in 1801, and continued to direct the institution until his death in 1850.

Mile, de Lamourous died in 1836. All Bordeaux had revered her as a saint and respected her as a consummate administrator. Her life has been written twice, and the process of her beatification has been introduced at Rome.

4. The Orphanage. – The Orphanage of Bordeaux was reorganized by members of the Sodality.

5. Library. – The “Library of Good Books” was founded by Father Chaminade in the early years of the Sodality, and was for a long time housed in the rooms of the Sodality of the Madeleine. It founded branches in various towns around Bordeaux, and is in a prosperous condition to this very day.

6. The Prison Society. – The Society for the Visiting of Prisoners had its origin in the committees appointed monthly by the Society.

7. The Bakers’ Guild. – The Bakers’ Guild was organized by the Sodality in 1802, and remained under the patronage of Father Chaminade for many years. The war with England advanced the price of flour, and the bakers found themselves sorely pressed on all sides. The city authorities interfered and tried to control the prices; the people complained of extortion, and the dealers had to protect their own interests at the same time. In such straits the master-bakers found the aid of the sodalities and the advice of Father Chaminade very opportune.

8. Various Works. – The Ladies of the Retreat, the Students’ Society, and even the little “Circle” or club of the chimney sweeps of Bordeaux, were all direct results of the activities of the Sodality.

9. Vocations to the Priesthood and to Religious Life. – The Sodality was also a nursery for vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life. Several Bishops and Archbishops of France issued from the Sodality. The Venerable Mgr. Adolphe Dupuch, the Archbishop of Algiers, was in his Sodalist days in Bordeaux, the patron, the life and the inspiration of the Chimney-Sweeps’ Circle. The various Sisterhoods of Bordeaux and of the entire south of France drew upon the Young Ladies’ Sodality for many of their most useful and influential members.

10. Religious Institutes. – Finally, one of the ultimate intentions of Father Chaminade in founding his Sodality was the establishment of the two Institutes that were at once the glory and the crown of his activities – the Society of the Daughters of Mary and the Society of the Brothers of Mary.

The Sodality served, so to speak, as a reservoir which gathered the waters and held them in reserve to feed the many canals which branched out from it. The Madeleine became a sort of central power-house, from which radiated zeal and apostolic fervor to all parts of the diocese. And yet, it was all done without ostentation, in the true spirit of the Church and of Christ. The all-pervading influence of Father Chaminade was felt rather than seen; he worked democratically and not autocratically; he set his associates to work with him, and inspired them with his own zeal as well as with his wise foresight.

In the midst of all his numerous activities, his one dominating idea was the regeneration of religion; for this regeneration apostles were needed – apostles of personal solicitation – and his Sodality was founded to nourish and train and furnish such apostles. It was not his own glory nor the glory of the Sodality that he sought. Indeed his Sodality was often weakened by the withdrawal of its best and most useful members to other fields of labor, but he saw in this only an increased usefulness, even though the ranks of his associates were depleted. “We are playing at the game ‘who loses wins’,” he once remarked when he was reminded that a number of his most brilliant young men and women had gone to the Seminary or to the Convents. Suffice it that the work was done and well done, he was content and even anxious, to be forgotten.

Indeed, so well had he withdrawn himself that history has well-nigh forgotten him. His accomplished works still remain in evidence, but their creator is lost in obscurity. Only men who have searched and meditated the history of those days can estimate the extent of Father Chaminade’s influence, and even then only in part. Cardinal Andrieu said of him “Father Chaminade was the Vincent de Paul of Bordeaux at the opening of the nineteenth century.” Cardinal Donnet, also of Bordeaux said: “Father Chaminade was an eminent and excellent priest. We do not know him sufficiently; we do not appreciate him; indeed we shall never know all that we owe him.” Trace any work of piety, of charity, of education, in Bordeaux to its source, and there at the beginning of every one will be found the name of Father Chaminade.

The recital of the numerous activities of the Sodality and its participation in so many pious and charitable enterprises prove that Father Chaminade, the founder and director, was a many-sided man of intense application and all-embracing devotedness, but it also demonstrates that he accomplished all his good works through and by his Sodality. That was the lever by which he set so many enterprises in motion. His whole life was wrapped up in the care for his Sodality and all his hopes were centered in it. He was always at the service of the young men; they came and went with the most refreshing though wholesome freedom about the rooms of the Madeleine, and were always sure of a welcome and always sure of being invited into some further service.

What must have been the joy of Father Chaminade when, on the 2nd of February, 1826, he celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the solemn consecration of his first twelve Sodalists. The feast was solemnized in the Madeleine. Before the high mass, Father Chaminade, in a voice filled with emotion, rehearsed the story of the humble origin of the Sodailty, and of the blessings obtained for it so abundantly by its Immaculate Patron. He then laid before the assembly a copy of the original act of consecration, and they pressed forward to sign it. At the offertory of the mass the prefect of the Sodality advanced to the foot of the altar, took up the act of consecration that had just been signed, read it in the name of all his associates, enclosed it in a silver heart which had been specially made for the occasion, and placed it in the hands of Father Chaminade, who blessed it and placed it in the arms of the statue of the Blessed Virgin which surmounted the high altar.

Now at last – and with what deep emotion it must have been! – he saw in the full bloom and beauty of living reality all the hopes that he had treasured in his heart since the day when he had knelt in the sanctuary of . our Lady of the Pillar at Saragossa. The work of Mary was accomplished; the Sodality had prospered beyond expectation; it had spread and multiplied its branches – nay, much more than that – already for ten years it had seen blossom upon its stem two flowers that were at once its glory and its crown: the Institute of the Daughters of Mary and the Society of the Brothers of Mary. In his humility the pious Founder was astonished to think that he had been chosen to co-operate in such works of benediction and predilection, and in the depths of his heart he repeated to himself what he had so often said to his spiritual children of the two Societies; “It is Mary who has accomplished all of this, and it is Mary who will continue to preserve and protect it.”

Chapter VI – The Society of Mary: The Establishment of the Society of Mary, the Crowning Work of Father Chaminade, 1817

The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin at Bordeaux was the cradle of the Society of the Brothers of Mary. Within the ranks of the Sodality were a select company – souls of predilection who felt themselves called to a life of greater perfection. Little by little this chosen band gathered about their leader, and seconded him in all his undertakings. They became his “staff” as he loved to call them, his aids in the various departments of the Sodality. He trained them in an especial manner, and intended them to perpetuate the various works of the Sodality. They lived the life of religious although they were not separated from the cares and occupations of the world by any enclosure or limitations. They vowed obedience to their director, and were only waiting for a favorable time to complete their sacrifice by the vows of poverty and chastity.

Father Chaminade had planned to perpetuate the Sodality through its staff. “To direct a Sodality” he said, “we need some one who will never die,” and this immortal being could be no other than a religious society which would contain within itself the principles of vitality and of perpetuity. This was to be the Society of Mary.

The most brilliant, energetic and influential member of the Staff of 1817 was a young man of twenty-two, John Lalanne. He was born in Bordeaux, in 1795, and had entered the Sodality at the age of twelve, but his extraordinary mental powers made him far more responsible than such an age would indicate. After completing his classical studies, he took up a course of medicine, and at the age of seventeen won a nomination to the medical staff of the General Hospital at Bordeaux. Later he went to Paris with the intention of completing his studies in medicine, but feeling an attraction to the priesthood; he attended a private college, which in a few years became the College Stanislas and was incorporated as a part of the University of France. Forty years later, by a singular train of events, he was called to take charge of the same College Stanislas, where he remained fifteen years, from 1853 to 1870, and raised the institution to the height of prosperity, making it one of the foremost Colleges in France.

After a few months in Paris he renounced his intention of perfecting himself in the medical profession, and devoted himself entirely to theology. After his return to Bordeaux he was in doubt whether to join the secular clergy or to enter some religious order. In this state of mind he resumed his activities in the Sodality, became a member of the staff, and was soon the favorite disciple of Father Chaminade.

On the first day of May, 1817, he called upon Father Chaminade with a most important message. He had come to a resolution in the matter of his vocation: he had determined to offer him- self entirely and unreservedly and at once, to his beloved spiritual director to be used in the realization of the pious designs of the Sodality. Father Lalanne has himself left us an account of this momentous interview:

“When I had finished my little recital Father Chaminade was in tears of joy, and he exclaimed: ‘Thank God! This is just what I expected long ago. God has made His Holy will known to me. The time has come at last to put into execution a plan which I have been revolving in my mind for twenty years; a plan that God Himself has revealed to me!”

At the close of this interview, which marked a memorable date in the history of the Society of Mary, John Lalanne, and also Father Chaminade, spoke to several other members of the staff. Divine grace was evidently at work. Arrangements and final dispositions were made during the summer, and on Thursday the 2nd of October, 1817, the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, at the closing of a week’s preparatory retreat, seven of the young men of the staff declared formally and publicly to their director that they placed themselves entirely at his disposal, chose him as their religious superior, and at the same time begged for the privilege of sealing their promise by the three vows of religion.

This was the origin of the Society of Mary. The seven founders represented the various classes of society. Two were preparing for Holy Orders; one was a College professor; two were business men, and two were coopers by trade. Thus from the very beginning the Society of Mary embodied in itself both priests and Brothers, men of special education and men of less culture – all destined to combine into one force for the regeneration of Catholicity and the glory of Mary.

They continued their novitiate by a more intense and personal training in community life under the special supervision of Father Chaminade, and on the eleventh of December of the same year they made their profession of the religious vows at the Madeleine in the hands of Father Chaminade. A few days later the seven Brothers of Mary were received by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and the Society was formally recognized.

The religious education of youth was at that period the most pressing need in Bordeaux, and Father Chaminade determined to turn the activities of the new Brothers to this work. A boarding and day-school was at once opened, and the success was immediate. Within two years the Brothers of Mary were known in Bordeaux as the managers and teachers of one of the most efficient schools in the city.

Two years later, in 1820, a colony of three Brothers took charge of a free-school in Agen, a town about eighty miles southeast of Bordeaux. The success was phenomenal. Even the most bitter Jacobin prejudices were overcome. People beheld the strange spectacle of wealthy parents begging the parish priest for “certificates of poverty” in order that their children might be admitted to the free-school taught by the Brothers. The good old parish-priest gave the certificates cheerfully and with a good conscience, to every one who applied. “I recognize two kinds of poverty,” he said, “temporal and spiritual, and there are very few parents that do not suffer from one or the other.”

Villeneuve-sur-Lot, near Agen was the scene of the third foundation – a boarding and day-school for secondary education. The college prospered remarkably and continuously for eighty-five years, down to the suppression of religious orders in France in 1903. In the cemetery of the little town may be seen the beautiful mortuary chapel erected to the Brothers who died there in service. It is dedicated:

“To the Brothers of Mary
From Three Grateful Generations.”

Father Chaminade wanted his Society of Mary to be a religious order with all the fervor of the early days of monasticism. Its members were to assume without any mitigation the serious obligations of the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. But if the essence of the ancient religious life was all preserved, the external forms were different. Father Chaminade was singularly indifferent as to form as long as the essence was con- served. He was so intent upon the substance – and the spirit – that the form became quite a minor matter in his estimation.

In fact, Father Chaminade was a man of views rather than of traditions; he had no over-powering respect for precedent, and it was amusingly said of him that in the organization of the Sodality and of the Society of Mary he believed more in making precedents than in following them. His Brothers were to adapt the means of apostolate to the needs of the age as well as to the spirit of the times. Some of the traditional external forms were attenuated almost to the vanishing point. The Brothers were to call no attention to themselves even in costume. They were to have no distinctive dress except uniformity among themselves, and differing in no wise from the garb of worthy and respectable seculars. If by dint of time and shifting of modes, the costume has now become distinctive, it also remains unconventional.

For the very reason that the Society lowered some of the barriers that separated monastic life from the world, it was to be all the more assiduous in training its members to a truly deep and intense life. This intense interior religious spirit was to be the characteristic trait of the Brothers of Mary. A Benedictine abbot to whom the Rule of the Society was submitted, declared it to be one of the most binding and circumscribed manners of life he had ever read.

The union of priests and Brothers in the same society seemed a bold innovation, yet the practice was not without the sanction of the earlier religious orders. Even the court of Rome took exception to the arrangement, and ordered certain modifications, but the practical application of the policy of “fusion without confusion” wisely outlined by the Founder, was able to show most happy results impossible by any other system. Later on, in 1867, the Court of Rome commissioned the Archbishop of Besangon, Cardinal Mathieu, to make a thorough investigation of the matter by visiting every house and questioning every member in private conference. He made an exhaustive and careful inquiry and reported most favorably upon the system. The Court of Rome withdrew its objections and formally approved the Society as constituted, a union of priests and Brothers. Thus after fifty years of trial the idea of the founder triumphed.

The clerical element was not to form a separate corporation, but was to be fused into the complete organism. The Society was not to be an association of priests having the Brothers as aids for certain services, nor was it on the other hand to be an association of Brothers having among them a few priests for those ministrations which require the sacerdotal office. The two elements, clerical and lay, were to be intimately united into one corporate body.

In many particulars the usages of that select company called the Staff of the Sodality were transplanted into the new Society of Mary which was the outgrowth of the Sodality. The vow of zeal taken by the staff was transmuted into the fourth vow of stability, which comprehended both the pledge of perseverance in the Society and the honor of a complete and permanent consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The gold ring which the professed religious wear on the right hand was to be the symbol of this alliance and a constant reminder of this engagement.

The novitiate of the Society was established in the Villa Saint Lawrence, and later transferred to a larger establishment, also on the outskirts of Bordeaux. Calls for Brothers came from all parts of France, and even from foreign countries. The most important establishments outside of Bordeaux were at Saint Remy in the eastern part of France, and at Ebersmunster in Alsace. Saint Remy was a large abandoned chateau, but well preserved, and Ebersmunster was a large Benedictine abbey which a friend of the Society of Mary purchased and presented to Father Chaminade. Both these establishments, each a domain in itself, soon became central houses of new provinces, with Novitiate and Normal school. Before the death of the founder, in 1850, the Society of Mary numbered four provinces, sixty establishments and nearly five hundred members in France, Switzerland, and America.

Father Chaminade governed the Society until 1841, when in his eightieth year, he resigned the generalate and lived in retirement in the little community of the administration at the Madeleine in Bordeaux. He died the death of a saint on the 22nd of January, 1850, in the eighty-ninth year of his age, and in the thirty-third of the Society of Mary.

His funeral was held in the church of the Madeleine, where he had worked for fifty years in the interests of his Sodality and of all its affiliated labors. The body was then brought to the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, where the Office of The Dead was sung and a solemn service held according to the ritual prescribed for the burial of Canons. The attendance was very large. The various pious and charitable associations of Bordeaux, and the different religious orders, all of which owed so much to the zeal and activity of Father Chaminade, were especially well represented in the assembly of mourners.

His body rests in the Carthusian cemetery at Bordeaux. A majestic monument, crowned by a statue of the Immaculate Mother, marks his grave. Soon the people of Bordeaux began to visit the tomb. How it came about, no one can tell, but great numbers of pious people found their way to the grave. They brought flowers, they knelt in prayer, they hung ex-votos about the tomb and upon the railing enclosing the monument. Again and again these thank-offerings and ex-votos have been swept away – by reverent hands indeed, but guided by wise heads who would not dare to anticipate the verdict of the Church. However, it is all of no avail. Even to this very day the pilgrims still come, the ex-votos still re-appear, and the strangest circumstance about all is that a great many of those who come to pray at the tomb know nothing of the life and labors of him whose intercession they invoke – and also whose intercession they thank. “A saint lies buried there,” is all they have to say.

May God hasten the day when the spiritual children of this wonderful man may be authorized to proclaim to the world what each one of them has already conceived and cherished in his heart, and that when they rise up to bless his memory, they may indeed call their holy Founder Blessed.

Chapter VII – The Character and Virtues of Father Chaminade

It is written that “the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance” (Psalm 111:1). The fragrance of his virtues and the brilliant example of his holy life continue long after his death, for the glory of God, of Whom he was the faithful servant, and for the further sanctification of souls, to whose salvation he had devoted his entire being.

The life and work of Father Chaminade are of course better known in his native country, but on the occasion of the centenary of the foundation of the Society of Mary, it would seem fitting to call the attention of the Catholics of the United States to his merits and achievements. Ever since the introduction of the Society of Mary in the United States in 1849, only a few months before the death of the Founder, the Brothers of Mary have devoted their energies to the care and education of youth, and there are thousands of men in all parts of this country who have received their education in the schools of the disciples of Father Chaminade.

A complete record of his life and work would fill several volumes. We stand amazed at the prodigious activity of this priest who spent sixty-five years in the ministry, and who was able to declare that he “never passed a day, not even a single hour in anything that did not relate directly to the glory of God and the welfare of souls. But he also prayed to be humble and forgotten – and his prayers were heard indeed. Now that we feel that his humility has been exalted in heaven, we also believe that his memory should be revived and blessed here upon earth.

It is particularly tempting – and also particularly dangerous, to analyze the life of a man, and then attempt to resume it in one phrase, or even in a single word. Zeal, as a term, would epitomize the life of Saint Paul; love of poverty, the life of Saint Francis of Assisi; charity, the life of Saint Vincent of Paul; penance, the lives of many saints; but the history of their lives is not well signified by only one such word. However, we may attempt to epitomize the life and character of Father Chaminade in the one simple word of – Faith.

Those who lived closest to him were first and most impressed by his remarkable spirit of faith. To those who were further away, he appeared rather as a man of action. He was both. He was a man of faith and of good works, but the deeds were the outcome of his intense faith. And this is in fact a description of a true priest. Father Chaminade was first and foremost a priest, an ambassador who represented Christ on earth, and who stood as a minister between God and men – with faith looking to God and good works done for men through faith in God.

Father Chaminade was a man of the deepest convictions. In all his dealings with God and with men, faith was the dominant factor. By faith he saw all things, weighed all questions and took his decisions. He had no human respect. Like Jesus, his Divine Model, he feared no man and regarded not the persons of men. To his keen vision of faith, men were only so many souls to be saved. He looked through the earthly envelope of man as with the X-rays, and saw the spiritual; all the rest was to him merely accidental, if not actually vain and contemptible. It was not easy to arrest the attention of Father Chaminade on things unspiritual. He was interested in external things only in so far as they related in some way to the saving of souls. He did remarkable work, and a great deal of the most absorbing kind, and he did it well, but it was not done for men. Let men take it or leave it – it was done for God.

His life was cast in turbulent times France was in the midst of a political and social upheaval. Father Chaminade was twenty-eight years old when the Revolution broke out. Change followed change with disconcerting and bewildering rapidity. And yet, in the tenor of his life and manners we find no variation. His faith in God led him to take things as they came and make the best of them. He made no attempt to change the course of political events; he stood out bravely for the Church and her rights, and suffered for her cause, but he was ready to adjust himself to any change and draw the most good from it. He accepted exile only when it was forced upon him; he had remained in France as long as he could, and he hastened back as soon as possible.

In all the vicissitudes of French politics, it is hard to divine the political affiliations of Father Chaminade. King, assembly, directory, consul, emperor and king again, all passed by in cycle, and left him uncommitted. He had opinions, indeed, but he did not intrude or parade them; he left them on deposit with his faith in God. His private opinions were subsidiary to the duties of his priesthood. He never committed himself as a royalist, nor as an imperialist. He was a humanist; he stood for man. He was like his friend of later years, an old Brother of La Vendee, whom he used to tease about his ultra-royal proclivities by pleasantly belittling the aspirants of the various royal families – and they all had their weak points. Driven from one kingly pretender to another, the good old Brother would finally take refuge in declaring himself for the “kingdom of heaven.” Such was also the complexion of Father Chaminade’s politics; he believed in the right of man to the kingdom of heaven. His views were of faith in the world to come. His policy was: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” – that was a position advanced and progressive enough for him.

From the spirit of faith to the spirit of prayer is a most obvious step in discussing the habits and character of Father Chaminade. Even his favorite prayers were acts of faith. The Credo was his ordinary subject of meditation, and he gave whole conferences, indeed, whole retreats on the subject of faith and the prayer of faith. He was especially proficient in mental prayer, which he used to call the prayer of faith. He composed a small treatise on the subject; he was also unwearied in teaching the method of the exercise, but he was still more careful in gaining men to practice it. “There are many methods of mental prayer,” he used to say, “but there are few men of prayer.”

His education had been of the best, in preparation for his position in life, but once he had come to recognize the peculiar nature of his vocation, then his study, his reading, his meditation, became almost wholly religious. Whatever he read or studied, was destined to be used in his ministry of souls. Let other men apply their time and their talents to the betterment of the material world, for him, it was all the spiritual and only the spiritual. He had a wonderful capacity for work. It is related of Saint Alphonsus of Ligouri that he had made a vow never to lose a moment of time. If Father Chaminade never registered such a vow, he has left us abundant testimony that he could have easily kept it.

It was this spirit of prayer that preserved his remarkable serenity of soul and equipoise of mind in the midst of the most trying circumstances. Sickness, poverty, persecution, exile – and even that supreme trial of the soul: contradiction and opposition by the closest friends – all were his portion at one time or another, but he never complained. No one ever saw him angry, and still he was not naturally of a mild temperament. The very slowness of his speech – a triumph for any irascible native of Perigord – the very deliberation in his movements, proclaimed the mastery which he had attained over himself.

This moderation was observed even in his spiritual life, and in his relations with God. There was enthusiasm without exaltation. He did not give himself to illuminative ways, or seek to walk in extraordinary paths. His piety and his devotions were based on theological reasons; they were the result of conviction rather than of sentiment. He had cultivated that plain common sense which, as far as it is given to any man, tries to see things as they are, and to do things as they ought to be done. His faith was of the same practical kind; it was complemented by his own efforts. Once, in upbraiding the promoter of a rash enterprise he wrote: “You speak rather loudly and grandly about the faith and the confidence that work miracles, but allow me to whisper very softly ‘Yes, they do work miracles, but only after we have employed the means which faith inspires and which our good sense advises.'”

All deliberative and slow that Father Chaminade was when deliberation was the word, he was no less a man of action when action was in order. He was of an all-calculating prudence in the plan, but he was bold and determined almost to audacity, when he had once resolved upon execution. His friends used to complain of his pottering and long planning before undertaking; there was hesitation and wavering in details. This was true, and we may ascribe it to a certain subtlety of analysis which led him to accentuate too strongly the difficulties and objections in an undertaking, as well as from a fear, inspired by his humility, of falling into absolutism and over-assertion of authority.

But his friends were often surprised at his intrepidity when once he had determined his plan. For him to undertake an enterprise it sufficed him to be convinced that it was the will of God. Then his prudence changed to boldness. It was no longer hampered by any of those human calculations which stop and stickle and fear to undertake except after every possible assurance of success. If God willed it, then he went ahead; he did all that he could to co-operate, but he left it to God to give the guarantee of success.

In founding the House of Mercy in company with Mile, de Lamourous, he was unflinching in the face of discouragement and even ridicule. He advised her to buy a Convent that had been set up for sale by the government. The price was staggering; there were no visible means of paying, but he trusted in God and pledged his name for the whole amount. Assistance came just in time. “This morning,” he wrote to a friend while in that predicament, “I did not know where to look for the means to pay the daily expenses of the establishment; this evening I am able to redeem my guarantee of 80,000 francs.”

In 1823, some years after the founding of the Society of Mary, he was involved in unexpected financial difficulties through the purchase of the chateau and domain of Saint-Remy in the eastern part of France. He boldly faced the difficulties: “We have undertaken the work; let us continue; I have never yet abandoned an enterprise once started, and I do not intend to begin now at my advanced age,” and, in fact, Saint-Remy became one of the most prosperous houses in the Society.

Of his devotion to the young, we have already seen the evidences in his Sodality. All his life was spent among youth, and he understood them thoroughly. For him, the young were the hope of the Church, and no zeal or sacrifice was too great to gain them to virtue. He pledged his most cherished enterprise, the Society of Mary, to the work of educating youth, and the chapters in the Constitution of the Society, on Education and Instruction, are master-pieces of practical Christian pedagogy. Every year, before the opening of the schools in September, it is a custom in the Society of Mary to read and ponder these two chapters in the weekly conferences during the space of a month.

But to his practical mind, youth was only an embryo; much remained to be done because much was yet to be encountered. He had no sympathy with that system which attempts to measure youthly virtue and strength in the absolute. It is refreshing to read in one of his letters to a superior, upon the admission of candidates: “Do not reckon so much upon the virtues they have acquired, for there is often not much of substance in these youthful accomplishments; look rather into the condition of the machine, as I might say; examine the state of the springs and bearings; they are the vital things from which results may be expected once the proper motive-power has been installed. Have more respect for the capabilities of youth, and their proper orientation, and do not judge too much by their past performances.”

If Father Chaminade had an attraction for youth, the young also, on their side, felt a peculiar attraction for him. At the College of Mussidan, he was their favorite master. In his Sodality at Bordeaux, he was their ideal. His very appearance was captivating. “He fascinates all who meet him,” wrote one of his disciples in the first years of the Sodality, “and the charm of his manner is all so candid and so free from any tinge of condescension, that every one falls almost unconsciously under its spell.”

Even when the burden of years had broken his bodily strength, and sickness bent his stately form, and cares had traced their lines upon his features, he was yet a most distinguished looking man. His high forehead, the long and flowing locks of silvery hair which looked like a halo around his venerable countenance, inspired respect, while his soft and gentle eyes, his finely chiselled features, always peaceful and benevolent, commanded the attention of every one. “His was a beautiful old age,” wrote one of his later disciples; “he was one of the most distinguished looking men that I ever saw, and at the time I knew him he was over eighty years old.”

No wonder that the Brothers of a later generation loved to hear of him from those who had seen and known him. Only during the past ten years have the last of those favored ones gone to their own eternal rest. Their acquaintance with the venerated Founder was a life-long privilege for themselves, and for the younger Brothers it was a never-failing theme of interest. Those veterans used to speak with a sort of superior air, as if they had enjoyed exceptional advantages – as indeed they had – much as the disciples of Saint John the Evangelist in his later days, who were wont to glory in being taught by one “who had walked with the Lord.”

The manners of Father Chaminade were touched with a distinction of the old school; his exquisite politeness and his affable greeting attracted every one. “He kept his room almost too much,” said Father Lalanne, his favorite disciple, “and was always occupied in labors of zeal.” This accessibility and devotedness created for him a new apostolate, the role of counsellor to the youth of Bordeaux. His abundant experience and his rare wisdom were at the service of every one who called. He never showed impatience if a caller interrupted him even in his busiest moments; he would devote himself entirely to his visitor as if that were his only business in the world.

It was chiefly in the confessional and in private interviews that he came into contact with souls. His work was of a more direct and intimate nature, and his spiritual conquests were individual rather than collective. His influence in Bordeaux was both wide and deep, but not being exercised in public, it was not striking; even the best-informed men of the city knew and felt much more of this influence than they ever saw.

In the apostolate of preaching, Father Chaminade was faithful and prolific. Sermons, addresses, instructions and conferences, in the Madeleine or in the religious communities of the city, were every-day employments for him. He was too busy a man to compose his sermons in full; he wrote enough to set himself on his track, and merely sketched the rest. He had none of those graces of manner or of style which attract and captivate men. No one ever accused him of being an orator, and yet in discussing the merits of his priests as preachers, Monsignor d’Aviau, the Archbishop of Bordeaux, ranked Father Chaminade as the best in the archdiocese. This verdict must have been on the score of final effectiveness rather than of immediate impression.

The eloquence of Father Chaminade was from the heart rather than from the head. He made no attempt to please by the graces of rhetoric; his gestures were few and constrained; his delivery was slow and hesitating, and his accent had a tinge of the burr of his native Perigord. But, for all that, there was real power in his discourses. This power lay rather in his grave and recollected air and his tone of conviction, than in any art or mannerism. He spoke in order to convince and convert, not to please. Father Chaminade’s strongest point in eloquence was himself, his forceful personality. When he preached, it was virtue preaching duty. A man is skilled in persuading when he believes what he says, and he is strong in converting when he is practices what he preaches.

To the apostolate of preaching, Father Chaminade added another, no less fruitful and laborious – the apostolate of correspondence. His incessant but organized and quiet activity, enabled him to grapple with an enormously increasing correspondence. It is hard to understand how so many letters, nearly all written in the midst of work and pre-occupation, could be so perfectly in accordance with the character and needs of his correspondents. Most of his correspondence was in the work of directing souls, an art in which he was past master.

Besides devoting himself to his sodalists, most of whom came to him for confession and spiritual direction, Father Chaminade was also confessor and spiritual director of a large number of priests and laymen. His learning, his exalted virtue, his inexhaustible charity and his intimate knowledge of the human heart made him the chosen counsellor and guide of thousands.

He was especially expert in the science of the religious state. He had early developed an interest in asceticism, and he applied himself to the study all his life. His early environment and influences had been religious Two of his elder brothers had joined religious orders. John, the eldest, had become a Jesuit; Blaise, the second son, a Franciscan of the Recollect branch, and we have seen that Louis and himself had joined the diocesan priests of the Mission, who lived a fervent life in community. From his brother John, he received his religious training, and it was under his guidance that, at the age of fourteen he had taken the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Before the Revolution he had made an application to enter a religious order, but the laxity of the house discouraged him, and he had determined to await a more opportune time.

At Saragossa he had heard the voice of God calling him to labor not only at the re-establishment of the Catholic faith in France, but also at the restoration of the religious life, and the principal work of his life was to be the institution of the Society of Mary. Faithful to the divine call he prepared himself by a careful study of the different forms of religious life from the earliest times down to his own days; he visited the monasteries of all the religious orders in and around Saragossa, where nearly all the old orders were represented; and he gathered books upon the subject to such an extent that he could boast of one of the most complete collections of monastic rules in France. His competence in this matter was early recognized, and there was hardly a religious order founded or restored in Bordeaux or the surrounding country that did not count him as a patron and adviser.

In collaboration with Mlle de Lamourous, he founded the Daughters of Mercy to take charge of the House of Mercy in Bordeaux. In 1816, in collaboration with Mlle de Trenquelleon he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, which prospered in France and Corsica until the suppression of the religious orders in France in 1903. The mother-house is now in Nivelles, Belgium. The Sisters devote themselves to the education of girls.

To call attention to Father Chaminade’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin after what we have said of his Sodality and the Society of Mary, would be like calling attention to the brilliancy of the sun, the fragrance of the rose or the beauty of the lily. To him, Mary was a Mother and Queen and Model and Patron and Intercessor, and everything that was dear or precious or desirable. His life and his labors were dedicated to her, and the two most cherished interests of his life – the Sodality and the Society of Mary, were hers. Our Lady of the Pillar was his special favorite for the fifty years of his life after his return from Saragossa. Every word, every thought, every action of his life was directed to the honor and glory of the Mother of God. He pledged his sodalists to defend the dogma of the Immaculate Conception fifty years before it was defined, and in that most loving of prayers, the Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin, read by his sodalists at their reception, and still recited every morning by every Brother of Mary, we have a master-piece of tender piety united to lively faith and robust Christianity – all enlisted in the service of Mary: “Glorious Queen of heaven and earth! prostrate at the foot of thy throne where respect and love have enchained our hearts, we offer thee our homage of devotion and praise, we consecrate ourselves to thy service, and with transports of joy embrace a state of life where everything is done under thy protection and every one engages himself to praise thee, to sieve thee, to publish thy greatness and to defend thy Immaculate Conception. Would that by our zeal for the honor of thy worship and the interests of thy glory, we were able to make amends to thee for all the attempts of heresy, the outrages of incredulity and the indifference and neglect of the generality of mankind. O Mother of our Redeemer! dispenser of all graces, extend the empire of religion in the souls of men, banish error, preserve and increase the Faith in this country, protect innocence, preserve it from the dangers of the world and the allurements of sin. O dearest Mother! sensible of our necessities and favorable to our desires, obtain for us the charity which animates the just, the virtues which sanctify and the glory which crowns them.”

Verily, if all the traditions and all the remembrances of Father Chaminade were to be lost to his disciples, this Act of Consecration, engraven in their minds by frequent repetition, and dear to their hearts because it is the prayer of their Founder, would be sufficient to remind them of their dedication to the Blessed Mother of God, and to demonstrate to them that Father Chaminade was truly a man of God and a servant of Mary.

There is a touching memorial of the revered Founder in the garden of the Novitiate of Saint Anne near Bordeaux. In his declining years, Father Chaminade loved to visit the Novitiate, and in his walks through the property he always found his way to the statue of the Blessed Virgin erected at the end of a beautiful avenue of linden-trees. There the venerable old man, bending his tottering head before the image of Mary and reaching out his trembling hands to place them on the foot of the Virgin resting on the head of the serpent, used to press them with a gesture of mingled triumph and contempt, and say: – “Ah! Satan, she crushed your head, and she will triumph over you forever!”

This exclamation, bursting spontaneous from an overflowing heart, is surely the word that best expresses the inmost secrets of his mind, that reveals the head-spring of his inner life, the end and aim of all his zealous labors, the inspiration of all his enterprises, and the centre point of all his many experiences, his consolation in life, his hope and triumph in death it was Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, the Mother of God!

A famous writer has truly said: “Every great human institution is the lengthened shadow of some great man.” In like manner we can say that every religious institute is the incorporated extension of some holy man. The Society of Mary is the legacy that Father Chaminade left to the world; it is the organized extension, the incorporated syndicate of his zeal for the education of youth and for the spread of devotion to Mary. Father Chaminade devoted all his life to the service of Mary; and it is fitting that his name should live and be passed on to future generations through the institute which he founded in her name and for her glory.

In this centenary of the foundation of the Society of Mary, it is very proper that we should call attention to the life and labors of this man of God. His spirit still lives in his Society, his labors are extended by his devoted spiritual children, the Brothers of Mary, but in the Catholic world at large he has not been sufficiently known or his work sufficiently appreciated. If we were not convinced that he prayed for oblivion, we should almost suppose that a conspiracy of silence had been formed to obliterate his memory. But the eclipse of half a century has dissolved into a jubilee; his name has emerged from its obscurity and is now in the ascendant; the process of his beatification has been introduced at Rome, and the hundred years of service that the Society of Mary has rendered to the Church under the inspiration of his teaching, and – we firmly believe – with the aid of his intercession in heaven, are a proof that the venerated Founder was in life a man of God, and is in death a servant of God and a child of Mary, raised to his reward in heaven, and, we fervently hope and pray, soon to be praised and invoked by his children and admirers on earth.

May God and His Blessed Mother hasten the day!

Epilogue – An Invitation

From the history of the life of Father Chaminade and from the study of his character and virtues, we have seen that all his enterprises were pre-eminently works conceived in a spirit of faith, undertaken and continued in abounding hope, completed and again renewed in apostolic charity and self-sacrifice. God was their only inspiration and His glory was their only end and aim.

These many enterprises seemed to rise out of nothing. The material resources were slender, but the resources of faith and hope were superabundant, and the resources of devotedness were almost heroic. Some of his undertakings were sketched on plans that were new and bold in many respects. They met with more than their usual share of difficulties and contradictions, but they grew and expanded steadily, so that, even before the death of the venerated Founder in 1850, his Institute had spread into several foreign countries, even into distant America.

Since 1850, the Society has continued the work of education and apostolate with unabated zeal, animated with the same high spirit, and inspired with the same high ideals as in the beginning, in order to answer as fully as possible to the designs of Providence. Her members have increased in numbers, and their fervor and devotedness have maintained the same high standards. Her fields of labor have expanded with her increasing numbers, and even the ends of the world have been reached by her missionary efforts. The flourishing schools in Japan, and especially the newly founded apostolic schools for the training of native catechists, form one of the most important and encouraging fields of the labors of the Society of Mary and one of the most promising prospects in the gradual evangelization of this rising nation which is fast becoming the preponderating influence in the far East.

The Society of Mary has also been privileged to see her organization approved and her services recognized by the Church. A Pontifical brief of August 11th, 1865, commended the works and the aim of the Society. A decree of January 30, 1869, confirmed its composition and organization, and finally a decree of July 11, 1891, signed by Leo the Thirteenth, definitively approved the rule and constitution of the Society.

Thus time and experience and the wisdom of the Church have tested the works of Father Chaminade and have found them good and salutary and of the kind that should perpetuate themselves in the organization of the Catholic Church. The faith of Father Chaminade has been rewarded by God, and his enterprise has been vindicated by man. He was a man of faith and of good works, of zeal and of abnegation, but always with an eye single for the will of God, and his works were not therefore of those that perish in a year or a generation.

It is a singular encouragement for his spiritual children to continue his work of zeal, to perpetuate that spirit of apostleship which he has left them as a precious legacy.

It is also an encouragement for souls who are devoted to the Immaculate Virgin, and even more – it is an invitation for them to follow in the footsteps of this eminent apostle of Mary, in order to learn from him the secret of imitating Jesus in His filial piety to His Mother by enrolling in her service, by associating themselves with her apostolate to spread the kingdom of God and establish the dominion of Christ throughout the world.

Most of all, it is an appeal to those youths of predilection who have come to the period where they must choose their career, and who have heard the call of the Master inviting them to a life of sacrifice and devotedness. It is an appeal to those chosen souls who are casting about for the means or the manner of consecrating their lives to the special work of God, under the patronage of the Immaculate Virgin, for the education and salvation of souls.

The history of the life of Father Chaminade has shown him to be a man of his day, a man of the times, in the more elevated and Catholic sense of the word, a leader who had a presentiment of actual needs and the intuitive knowledge of the more modern forms of the religious apostolate, and who instituted a Society which is capable of utilizing the most varying kinds of aptitudes and abilities and enlisting them in the work of the Church.

To those who feel themselves attracted to the priesthood, the Society of Mary offers the opportunity to devote themselves to the sacred ministry under the auspices of the Immaculate Virgin.

To those who do not feel called to assume the higher responsibilities of the priesthood, but who nevertheless desire to devote themselves entirely to the service of God in the religious profession, the Society of Mary offers the career of evangelical perfection in the Brotherhood, and gives them the opportunity to engage in the education of youth, or in other efficacious works of the modern apostolate.

Finally to those who seek their personal sanctification in manual labor and prayer, while still contributing to the success of the higher labors of education and the sacred ministry, the Society of Mary, in its various establishments and communities, offers an excellent means to accomplish their desire.

These are the laborers needed in Christ’s vineyard, today as much as ever. These are the soldiers that are needed in the battle of religion against the evils of the world and the assaults of the demon. These are the servants of Mary who are called to enroll themselves under the standard of her who, from the very beginning, has crushed the serpent’s head, of her whom the Church exalts as the destroyer of heresies, and to whom are reserved still greater victories in the future.

– text and images taken from Centenary of the Society of Mary by Brother John E. Garvin, S.M., 1917