2023-06-06 GENERAL HOUSE

Easter Celebration of Saint Marcellin Champagnat

On the founder’s feast day, June 6, we remember his Easter through the biography written by Jean-Baptiste Furet in 1856 (Life of Saint Marcellin Jos├ę Bento Champagnat).

Read the Superior General’s message – June 6, 2023
Live of the Celebration at the Generalate – YouTube -18:00 (Rome)


His death took place on Saturday, June 6th, the vigil of Pentecost.

He had declared several times during his sickness: “I would like to die on a Saturday, but I don’t deserve that favour, while I do hope for it from Mary’s kindness.” Not only was he given that grace, but also another: he died at the time, which for thirty years he had devoted to meditation and to union with God. It was during the prayer which followed the Salve Regina that the Mother of Mercy led him from exile to the fatherland, and showed him Jesus, the fruit of her virginal womb.

His death plunged the community into deep sorrow, but the prolonged suffering of the Founder had prepared them for this painful sacrifice. Besides, they were so convinced of his holiness that their feeling of grief was mitigated by the firmness of their belief that his sufferings had been transformed into an immense weight of glory. After his death, he was shaved and washed then dressed in soutane, surplice and stole; his profession cross was put in his hand and he was placed on view in an armchair in his own room. At his side, was a small table with his breviary, his biretta, pictures of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, and two lighted candles. He was extremely pale but not at all distorted; his face still had its manly features and that expression of kindness and dignity which had given him, in life, such influence over minds, and had captivated hearts.

No difficulty was experienced in his presence; the Brothers were quite at ease there and loved to gaze on him and kiss his feet. They came, one after another, to contemplate in love and confidence, the dear remains of their tender Father. They took turns in groups of six to recite the Office of the Dead and the rosary, beside his body. Throughout the day, all visited him several times. On the very day that he died, his portrait was drawn by an artist especially summoned for the purpose. Sunday evening, his body, clad in priestly soutane, was put in a leaden coffin and enclosed in a strong oaken one. The body was still perfectly supple.

Before the leaden coffin was closed, a heart-shaped leaden plaque was inserted, in the presence of Father Matricon, chaplain, and of Brothers Francis, John-Mary, Louis and Stanislaus. On it was inscribed:

The Bones of M.J.B. Champagnat, 1840.

The funeral ceremony took place on Monday, June 8th; almost all the priests of the district and the leading citizens of Saint-Chamond were present. The coffin was carried to the vault by the professed Brothers, taking turns. Wrung with grief, they mingled their tears with the prayers they offered for the one they mourned.

As soon as Father Champagnat was dead, Brother Francis wrote a circular letter I to the Brothers to announce the sad news.

“My dear Brothers”, he said to them, “on Saturday, June 6th, at half past four in the morning, our venerated Father Superior fell asleep peacefully in the Lord after a mild death struggle lasting three quarters of an hour. On this sad occasion, we invite you to join your tears and hopes with our own. Let us weep for a loving Father, a worthy Superior and Founder, a holy priest , our mainstay, our guide and our comforter. Yes, we weep, because death has carried off one who was so well able to share all our difficulties, who so skilfully guided our steps along the path of salvation. His life of penance, of labour, of good works, zeal and devotedness, has been brought to a close by a long and painful sickness. His death, like his life was full of edification, and we are quite confident that it was precious in God’s sight. Let us take consolation and courage, my very dear Brothers, from that thought! We have lost a protector on earth; but he will be more efficacious and more powerful in heaven with Mary- to whom he entrusted us all at his death. It is our task now to take up his last, touching advice and to follow it with care; it is up to us to make him live on in each one of us, by imitating the virtues which we admire in him.”

_________________________

Biography (Life, Furet): English | Espa├▒ol | Fran├žais | Portugu├¬s
Spiritual Testament:  English | Espa├▒ol | Fran├žais | Portugu├¬s ÔÇô PDF manuscrito

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