Letters of Marcellin – 059

Marcellin Champagnat


Since he had written directly to the king the preceding year (cf. L. 34), Father Champagnat wrote this time to the queen, confident that she would not fail to speak to the king on his behalf. The year can be determined from the ministers reply of 4th September 1835 (see below), and the month from the content of the letter itself.


Great Queen,

The purpose of this letter is to beg Your Majesty to please urge His Majesty Louis-Philippe to approve by ordinance the authorization which his council was willing to grant to the society of the Marist Brothers, by approving their statutes, as contained in the General Manual of Primary Instruction, NÂş6, for the month of April 1834.

Four of the above-mentioned brothers will be affected by the drawing of 1835. We have no other way to exempt them.

Your great devotion to Mary, the royal devotedness of your ancestors to the Mother of God, the beginning of this month consecrated to honoring her, all fill me with great confidence. All our brothers will join me during this month for the success of this matter and for the prosperity of your household.

Our statutes are enclosed, if His Majesty wishes to read them, with a brief introductory note giving the main reasons for which I founded this society of teaching brothers.

1Âş Ordained a priest in 1816, I was assigned to a town in the district of St-Chamond (Loire). What I saw with my own eyes in that new post, with reference to the education of young people, reminded me of the difficulties I had experienced myself at their age, for lack of teachers. I therefore quickly carried out the project I already had in mind to establish an association of teaching brothers for the rural towns, very many of which, for lack of financial resources, cannot afford the Brothers of the Christian Schools. I gave the members of this new society the name of Mary, since I was convinced that this name would of itself bring us a good number of subjects. Rapid success, despite our lack of material resources, both justified my belief and surpassed my expectations.

In 1824, with the help of Bishop de Pins and some good people of the area, I built a house for the novitiate. At present, there are one hundred and forty subjects in the society, of whom eighty are working as teachers in a good number of towns. We receive many requests to open new establishments as soon as we have subjects trained. By authorizing us, the government will facilitate our growth remarkably; religious and society will both profit greatly thereby.

Please excuse the self-assurance which leads me to Your Majestys feet, and accept the expression of the sentiments of deep respect and total dedication with which I will always be, Great Queen, your most humble, most obedient and most faithful subject,

Note: Reply of Mr. François Guizot, Minister of Public Instruction. Ministry of Public Instruction, Copy Nº 29139, to Father
Champagnat, Superior of the Brothers of Mary, at N.D. de lHermitage, near St-Chamond (Loire)

Paris, 4th September 1835

Dear Sir, the petition which you sent to the Queen was forwarded to me by Her Majesty, since its contents were under the jurisdiction of my ministry.

I must inform you there are no grounds for making any distinction between the Brothers of Mary and other teachers concerning exemption from military service, except that flowing from the authorization granted to the Society which you direct. Therefore, only when these brothers have been legally called to direct public schools, will they be entitled, by that very fact, to make the ten-year commitment.

As for the request itself, to authorize your house as an association, it has not appeared possible to me to grant it at the present time.

Please accept, etc….

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, dans AFM, 132.1 pp. 47-49; édité dans CGS, I, p. 193 et dans AAA, p. 169


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