Saint Louis de Montfort, His Life and Work – The Fathers of the Company of Mary (Montfort Fathers)

cover of the ebook 'Saint Louis de Montfort: His Life and Work', by Georges RigaultGrignion De Montfort’s summons still sounds in the Church of God. It recruits those missionaries who, crucifix in hand, are to be found everywhere in France, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, England and Switzerland and who preach the Gospel in Africa in the region of the Great Lakes. In America, they are to be found in Haiti, Canada and the United States, and have reached the tribes of half-savage Indians in the forests of Colombia. Near and beyond the Company of Mary, Montfort’s voice still comes to thousands of souls who consecrate themselves to the Blessed Virgin, and through her mediation implore the light of divine Wisdom.

Men go to his tomb to learn and to find grace, to sense an influence which makes the designs of Providence plain and revives our failing courage. At Saint Laurent-sur-Sevre his fervent Prayer is still said and still heard.

But what was the condition of this company of missioned at the time of his death? It numbered seven assistant Brothers of whom only four had taken vows. And there were two priests.

Neither of these had come of his own accord. They had yielded to Father De Montfort’s imperious persuasion. The one, Father Vatel, came from the Seminary of the Holy Ghost, and was preparing to cross the Atlantic as a chaplain on the ship which was to convey him, when he heard the famous preacher at La Rochelle. The latter had already picked him out in the crowd. “There is opposition from someone here,” he declared during his sermon. “It is as if my words came back to me. But whoever it is, he shall not get away from me.” Father Vatel knew at once that this was meant for him. At the close of the service he went to see this man who could read hearts. “You must come with me and we will work together,” said Montfort, and Father Vatel annulled his contract with the ship’s captain and went off to give a mission with Saint Louis at Tangon-la-Ronde.

It was the spring of 1715. In the following autumn a young priest, Father Rene Mulot, came to see the saint while he was preaching at Fontenay-le-Comte and asked him to come to the parish of Saint Pompain. “My eldest brother is the pastor of that parish. He would be glad if you would give a mission there.” Montfort hesitated at first, but the young man insisted, whereupon he said: “Very well; I will preach at Saint Pompain. But you must work with me for the rest of your life.” Rene Mulot was half paralysed; he was asthmatic; he was a martyr to headaches, and these troubles it was which had made him give up his parish work. He explained this. “What would you do with such a missioner?” – “Follow me. As soon as you begin to work for the salvation of souls, your troubles will vanish; you shall make your first attempt in the Vouvant mission.”

Rene Mulot hesitated no longer. At Vouvant he preached, heard confessions, felt cured. At Saint Pompain he witnessed the conversion of his elder brother, the Prior Jean. The two brothers were much attached to each other, and the Prior sheltered the missioners of Mary during their weeks of rest and retreat until the day in 1722 when they were installed in the house at Saint Laurent which the Marquis de Megnane had bought.

Father Rene Mulot, the confessor and confidant of Father De Montfort and his executor, had the entire responsibility of seeing that his master’s work should last. For thirty-nine years he was at the head of the two communities, for the Daughters of Wisdom were also at Saint Laurent. Mme de Bouille, the widow of the Seigneur de la Machefoliere, had done for them what M. de Megnane had done for the Fathers. The latter worked ceaselessly in Anjou and Lower Poitou and preached hundreds of missions up to 1793. When the laws of Paris threatened the faith of Vendee, the Quis ut Dcus? was to resound in Saint Laurent and to be heard as far as the coast. Saint Louis De Montfort did not choose this little town in the Mauges district for the seat of his foundations, but his sons and daughters adopted it as their home because God had brought their Father there, to die there and find there his last resting-place.