Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland – Marist Fathers


Active. Under Simple Vows. Founded 1816.

The Society of Mary, whose members are generally known as Marist Fathers, was founded in 1816 by the Very Rev. Father Colin, in the Diocese of Lyons. It is a missionary and educational Order. The holy founder, who was born in 1790, desired from his childhood to found a society whose members should specially consecrate themselves to the service of Our Blessed Lady, and whose end should be missionary work. As soon as Father Colin was ordained priest, he persuaded a few other zealous ecclesiastics, including his own brother, to join him. He sketched out a rule and sent it to Pius VII, who issued a brief approving it on 9 March 1828. The following year the Society of Mary took charge of the ecclesiastical seminary at Belley, by request of the Bishop of the diocese.

In 1836 Pope Gregory XVI confirmed the Congregation under the title of the Society of Mary, and Father Colin was elected as the first General Superior. The final Papal sanction was given by Pope Pius IX. on 28 February 1873. The holy founder died two years later at Notre Dame de la Neylière, aged eighty-five.

From the first the Society devoted itself to foreign missionary work. In 1835 the Fathers undertook the work of evangelizing Western Oceania, and a few years later (1841) their first martyr, Father Chanel, suffered martyrdom at Futuna. In 1842 the Fathers went to Central Oceania, in 1843 to New Caledonia, in 1844 to Melanesia and Micronesia, where several have suffered martyrdom – some through cannibals. In Australia a house was opened at Sydney in 1845, and two others later.

In France the Society is divided into two provinces – that of Lyons, where the mother-house is, and that of Paris, each of which had its own novitiate, colleges, mission-houses, and churches.

The Marist Fathers were the first missionaries to preach the Gospel to the Maories in New Zealand, and nearly all the Catholic clergy in the dioceses of Wellington and Christchurch are Marists.

The Fijian Archipelago is another field for the labours of the Fathers, and there they have suffered terrible persecution. The evangelization of the natives of the Solomon Islands is the latest field of missionary labour entrusted to the Marist Fathers by the Holy See.

In England the novitiate is at Saint Mary’s Hill.

MLA Citation

  • Francesca M Steele. “The Marist Fathers”. Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 November 2018. Web. 18 April 2021. <>