Letters of Marcellin – 018

Marcellin Champagnat

1830

This text raises many questions for which we have no answers. From its general tone, it is certainly a letter, but there is no indication that a good copy was ever made and sent. We may also wonder why the Founder would be writing to a neighbor rather than settling their differences face to face. It is possible that this neighbor did not live anywhere near his property.

We cannot know for sure for whom this letter was intended. According to Bro. Avit (AA, p. 202), the Founder had a bone to pick with a neighbor by the name of Nicolas François Motiron. But the land-survey register of the period does not show any property owned by anyone named Motiron adjoining that of N. D. de lHermitage, although Pierre-Marie Monteiller, whose son Hippolyte would later marry a young lady named Motiron, owned a field next to the brothers. Perhaps we should think rather of Mathieu Pathouillard, another neighbor, who Bro. Avit tells us (AA, p. 271) had annoyed the Brothers for 15 years and who sold his property to Fr. Champagnat in 1839.

We are just as uncertain about the date. Judging by where we find this text in the notebook, we could place it anywhere between May 1827 and January 1832, but we have no proof that the pages follow any chronological order, nor that Fr. Champagnat might not have later used a blank page, of which there are a number in this notebook. We have therefore placed it, pretty much at a guess, in the chapter on Difficulties.

I have already had the honor to tell Mr. Motiron that I want to live in peace with everyone, and with all the more reason, with my neighbors. I will defend myself if I am attacked. You are wrong to accuse me of wanting to cheat you out of your property. I am not the least bit interested in it. The compost heap is not on your property and cannot do you any damage. If you sue me, as I expect you will, I will profit by the opportunity to obtain compensation for the days we spent doing your compulsory road work; I will obtain compensation for the land you took from me; I will have uprooted the trees you planted too close to, if not actually on, my property. Finally, we will have a definite boundary line drawn. As for the water you are asking for, you have no right to it.

Edition: Translation from: Lettres de Marcellin J. B. Champagnat (1789-1840) Fondateur de l?Institut des Frères Maristes, présentés par Frère Paul Sester,1985.

fonte: Daprès un brouillon AFM, 132, Nº 132, Nº 2, p. 6

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