Uruguay: Maristas San Luis, Pando
Santos: Victor, Pastor e Irene
Close as he was to the brothers, Fr. Champagnat did not try to hide how happy he was to announce their vacation, which would not be one for him, since he would have to be taken up with them the whole time. The chapel, one may recall, had been built the year before and blessed by Bishop Pompallier on 4th October 1836. Hence we should see in Fr. Champagnats allusion only his personal feelings about that sanctuary, into whose construction he had put so much of himself.
On the site of the present chapel, a mass of solid rock, belonging to Mr. Montellier, served as one end of the inner court, which was entered from the Gier side, where the kitchen is now. Having bought this rock, Fr. Champagnat started to break it up, with the help of the strongest brothers, and soon the new building began to go up. Thus, with the extension of the west wing, which was built at the same time, the quadrangle of actual buildings was completed. (Notre Dame de lHermitage pendant son premier siècle, 1825-1925, C. Bordron, St-Chamond, 1925.)
Notre Dame de lHermitage, St-Chamond, 12th August 1837
My very dear brothers,
Our vacation this year will begin, like last years, on 28th September. Be very careful to arrive exactly on 1st October, which we will try to celebrate as solemnly as possible in our lovely chapel. I enjoy informing you of this decision, knowing your submission and your docility.
How pleasant, how flattering it is for me, my dear children in Jesus and Mary, to think that in a few days I shall have the wonderful pleasure of saying to you, with the psalmist, while embracing you, Quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum. It is a delightful consolation to me to have you all together again, one in heart and mind, as a single family, seeking only the glory of God and the good of his holy religion, all fighting under the same banner, that of the august Mary. If possible, the retreat will begin at once. I have the honor to be your devoted servant,
The copy sent to St-Didier-sous-Rochefort added:
We would be pleased to have a brief summary of what has happened in your establishment: the number of children who attended your school, etc.
We have a house in La Grange-Payre for the postulants under the age of fifteen. Room and board 300 francs.
CIRCULAR OF 15th AUGUST 1837
In the first volume of the Circulaires there appears, immediately after the one of 12th August 1837, reproduced above, another dated the 15th of that same month. An examination of its style permits us to affirm, without too much fear of contradiction, that even though it bears Fr. Champagnats signature it was not written by him. Besides, why would he have written two circulars only three days apart? It does not seem to be simply an error in dating, for both texts are obviously identical in several places: the same date is given for the vacation; and the three details given in the P.S. of the circular of the 12th can be found in the text of the 15th, whose fourth paragraph reads as follows:
The vacation this year, like last years, will begin on 28th September. Besides what is stated about vacations in Chapter X of the Rule, the brothers director will please bring us some details in writing about their respective establishments. Since we have opened a house in La Grange-Payre for postulants who have not reached the age of fifteen, you may bring with you those whom you think are well-disposed. Room and board is 100 écus per year.
The obvious question is: where did this text come from? We cannot find any original of this circular in our archives, nor any copy of it in the RCLA, which does however include that of the 12th. The collection of Fr. Champagnats writings gathered for his Cause of Canonization does not mention it. However, three other relatively recent manuscript collections all include it, as does the first volume of the Circulaires, immediately after the circular of 12th August. So we may conclude that some secretary, perhaps Bro. François, drew up this text; but that still does not tell us why. For lack of documentation, we can only guess.