St Marcellin Champagnat Founder of the Marist Brothers 1789 1840

St Marcellin Champagnat
Founder of the Marist Brothers
• In 1789, France was
rocked by the Revolution.
In that same year, a child
was born who was to start
another kind of revolution.
He was the son of Jean
Baptiste Champagnat, a
farmer who lived in a little
village in the south of
France, and his wife,
Marie Chirat. The boy
was the ninth of their ten
• The day after he was
born, he was brought to
the little parish church
in Marlhes, a couple of
miles from their home,
and there baptized with
the names Joseph
Benedict Marcellin. The
last name was the one by
which he was to be
known throughout his
Home Life
A great influence in his life
was his aunt Louise, who
was a nun, but had been
forced to leave her
convent when it was
burned down by the
revolutionaries, and had
come to live with the
Champagnat family
Marcellin’s father
• Marcellin’s father was in
favour of the ideals of
the Revolution, but not
of the way they were put
into practice. He
became Commander of
the local National
Guard, and used his
position to save many
priests from capture and
What will I be?
• Like his brothers and
sisters, Marcellin grew
up looking after his
father’s flocks and
helping on the farm.
The skills he learned at
this time were to stand
him in good stead in
later life.
• His father sent him to
school, but the
schoolmaster was a very
badtempered man, who
struck the children on
the least excuse.
Marcellin refused to go
back to school, and later,
laid down strict rules for
his Brothers about
The Call
• When he was 16, a priest
came looking for boys to
join the priesthood, and
Marcellin decided to
follow his call. His
schooling had not been
the best, but he got down
to his studies, although
with great difficulty.
However, he worked
hard, and succeeded.
Leaving Home
• He finally reached the
standard for entrance to
the Junior Seminary,
sold off his lambs to help
with the expenses of new
clothes, etc, and left
home. Though he did
not know it, both his
father and his mother
were to die before he
became a priest.
Happy Gang
• Marcellin and a few
friends made a name for
themselves as the
“Happy Gang”, who
were always getting into
trouble. However, the
death of his best friend
and then of his mother
mad him more serious,
and he began to work in
• He eventually became a
prefect in the school, and
had a room of his own.
He took advantage of
this to work at his
studies during the night,
and succeeded in
reaching the required
• Finally the great day
came, and he was
ordained priest on July
2nd, 1816. The next day,
with another seven new
priest and four deacons,
he went to the church of
Our Lady of Fourvières,
where they promised to
work towards founding a
Society of Mary.
New Curate
• He was appointed as
curate to a little
mountain parish called
Lavalla, where he soon
became well-liked by
everyone. The parish
priest was old and ill,
and most of the work fell
to Marcellin. He said
later, “Every road here
was drenched with my
The Montagne Boy
• He had always insisted
on the need for Brothers
to teach the children.
Now he was called to a
dying boy, and found he
had never even heard of
God! This decided him.
We would found a group
of Brothers to work in
schools in the country
The First Brothers
• He spoke to Jean Marie
Granjon, who had gone
with him to see the
Montagne boy, ans
asked him if he would
like to become a Brother.
The young man agreed,
and was joined by
another, Jean Baptiste
Audras. So, on January
2nd, 1817, the Marist
Brothers began!
• Schools were closed for a
long time in summer, so
to keep his young men
occupied and to help
with the expenses of the
house, Marcellin taught
them to make nails,
which they sold to the
local craftsmen.
Notre Dame de l’Hermitage
• By 1824, the numbers
were too big for the
house in Lavalla and
Marcellin bought a
property further down
the valley, where he built
Notre Dame de
l’Hermitage, which is
still in constant use, and
where he is buried.
Memorare in the Snow
• One day he had been on
a sick call with one of the
Brothers, and they were
caught in a snowstorm.
Things got worse, and
Marcellin prayed to Our
Lady to help them. Just
then they saw a light
come out from a house,
and went towards it.
They were saved!
With his Brothers
• By now Marcellin had
about 50 Brothers, and
the Archbishop gave him
permission to stop his
parish work to be with
his Brothers. He was
now able to visit all the
schools where they
taught and to encourage
them in their work
• Requests were coming in
for Brothers to teach in
many of the small towns
and villages in the area,
and he tried to grant
them all. He insisted
that there should always
be at least three Brothers
in a school, and he spent
most of his time going
round to make sure that
all was well.
Hail, Holy Queen
• In 1830, France had
another revolution and
some of the Brothers
wanted to go into hiding.
But Marcellin told the
Brothers that Our Lady
would protect them, and
to ask her help, he began
the practice of starting
and ending each day
with the Hail, Holy
Queen, a practice still
carried on.
• Marcellin’s health was
now giving way to the
pressure of his work,
and in 1840 he told the
Brothers to elect a new
Superior. On May 3rd he
said his last Mass, and a
month later, on June 6th,
as the Brothers were
singing the Hail, Holy
Queen at their Morning
Prayer, he went to his
• Marcellin’s life was ended
but his work was not, and
his Brothers spread all
over the world.
• On 29th May 1955, Pius XII
beatified him, and finally
on 18th April 1999, John
Paul II proclaomed him
• Saint Marcellin,
Founder of the
Marist Brothers
Marist Brothers
Mary – Marist – Mission
encircling the globe