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Marist Bulletin - Number 146

 

BROTHER FRANÇOIS: LIVING PORTRAIT OF THE FOUNDER
20/05/2004

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Bro. Giovanni Bigotto, Postulator General
BROTHER FRANÇOIS: LIVING PORTRAIT OF THE FOUNDER

Bro. Lluis Serra

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto, 65 years old, was born in San Giorgio di Nogaro, Udine, Italy.He worked for 33 years in Madagascar and 7 in Nairobi, Kenya. At present, he is Postulator General in Rome, in charge of the causes of holiness of the Marist Institute.


We are celebrating the year of Bro. François. Who was brother François?
Gabriel Rivat (Brother François) was born in 1808. At age ten he became the sixth Brother in the Congregation. At age 18 Marcellin called him to the Hermitage to be Director of the house. In quick succession he became his secretary, his counselor, his replacement. From 1839 to 1860 he guided a congregation in full expansion. Then he was again Director of the Hermitage. He died in 1881.

What aspects of his personality attract us the most?
First of all, the love he had for the Brothers; his letters show it often, and with him the Congregation goes from 280 Brothers to 2086. Then, the will to be the living portrait of the Founder. François translated Marcellin’s charism into solid structures: Rules, Constitutions… Open to culture, he left thousands of pages in which we once again find the Founder and our origins. Capable infirmarian, both doctor and mother, he cultivated medicinal plants and protected birds.

Does his spirituality have something to tell the Brothers and Lay Marists: men and women?
Under the style of those times we discover his passion for Christ, his great confidence in Mary, his fraternal feelings. Attentive to the poor, he visited them, brought them medicines and advice. He was a mystic, and he told us the joy of meeting God. He launched devotion to the Founder and made the Hermitage the Marist shrine.

Don’t you think people know very little about the life and thought of Brother François?
Yes, and they also have prejudices. It’s true that aspects of his style have aged, but not his tenderness, nor the energy he put to serve the Congregation. At 52 he was exhausted, like Marcellin who died at 51.

Where does Brother François’ cause stand?
The title of Venerable recognizes that he is a path to the Lord, a man of love, of service, of self-effacement, a model for every Christian. That’s a lot. We are now waiting for a miracle for his beatification.

Is it worth making so much effort to obtain his canonization?
Are we making so much effort? His canonization would be a great grace for our family: a Marist Brother canonized, he would be the first!

Is there any sense making a novena to Bro. François?
A novena requires an adult faith, a deeply human heart that loves the person we’re praying to and which is familiar with the saint being invoked.

What are the goals of this year of Brother François?
To rediscover Brother François and the freshness of our identity as Brothers; to pray for Marist vocations; if God so wills, a miracle for the beatification… in 2008?

(FMS Marist Echo 47, March 2004)

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