Marcellin Champagnat, Marist Founder

Saint Marcellin Champagnat and the Little Brothers of Mary


– Brother Bernard Beaudin, F.M.S.

Published in Marian Studies Volume 54 (2003)

In troublesome times and during persecution, the Church invokes the assistance of the Virgin Mary. During the Counter-Reformation, members of the Society of Jesus rendered great service to the Church. So, after the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773, founding a religious congregation that would offer to the Church comparable services to repair the damage from the “Enlightenment” and the French Revolution was the fervent wish of many. This project was especially associated with Jean Claude Courveille who, after experiencing a miraculous healing at Le Puy in 1809, resolved to begin a new religious order called the “Society of Mary.” The significant event leading to the founding of the Marist Family (Marists) took place at the altar of the “Black Virgin” at the Fourvière shrine in Lyons, where Mary had been venerated since apostolic times. A group of twelve seminarians and newly-ordained priests, together with Jean-Claude Courveille, resolved to begin a new religious order dedicated to the Virgin Mary on July 23, 1816.

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