Letters of Marcellin – 159

Marcellin Champagnat


Having been encouraged by several people (cf. L. 141) after the appointment of a new Minister of Public Instruction, Fr. Champagnat once again takes up the matter of the authorization of the Institute. This letter to the minister merely repeats what he said in the one he previously sent to the king (L. 34). He sends it through channels, first to the prefect, who will pass it along on 5th December, with this note: I have the honor to present to Your Excellency the request of Fr. Champagnat, Superior of the Establishment of the Marist Brothers, for the approval of the statutes of the Society of which he is the founder.

My Lord,

Having been born in the township of Saint-Genest-Malifaux (Loire), I became aware, because of the extreme difficulty I encountered in learning to read and write, of the urgent neces-
sity of creating a society which could, with less expense, provide for the rural areas the good education which the Brothers of the Christian Schools provide for the cities.

Having been raised to the priesthood in 1816, I was sent as curate pastor to a rural parish. Once again, I saw for myself the importance of putting into immediate execution the project I had been thinking of for a long time. I therefore began to train some teachers; I gave them the name of Little Brothers of Mary, quite convinced that that name alone would attract a good number of subjects. In a few years, its success exceeded my expectations.

In 1824, under the protection of His Lordship the administrator of the diocese of Lyons, with the assistance of that prelate and the worthy people of the area, I built a very large house near the city of St-Chamond, in order to establish there the training school of the new society. One hundred and thirty subjects are already teaching in a good number of towns, while ninety are preparing to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.

On 28th February 1834, having drawn up our statutes, we sent them to the king with the request that we be authorized. The Royal Council for Public Instruction having read and examined our statutes, modified them as follows:


Article I. The Little Brothers of Mary will have primary instruction as their aim; besides moral and religious instruction, they will teach reading, writing, basic French grammar, arithmetic and the legal system of weights and measures, elementary geometry, geometrical drawing, singing and elementary history and geography.

In their teaching they will use the new pronunciation and the simultaneous mutual method.

Art. II. Brothers will be sent to the towns which request them and which guarantee each brother a fixed salary of 400 francs.

Although the brothers should not generally go less than two together, a central house may be set up, from which they may
go individually to nearby towns.

Art. III. The schools will be free, but the towns may collect a monthly fee from the well-to-do parents, to cover part of the expenses of the establishment.

Art. IV. Each establishment will be headed by a local director who will remain in office for as long as the superior deems it appropriate, but who may not be withdrawn until his successor has been installed.

Art. V. All the establishments depending on the association will be open to inspection by those persons charged with the supervision of public instruction.

My Lord, we therefore request Your Excellency to please approve these same statutes by a royal ordinance which will give the Marist Brothers the right to carry out their important and demanding task in a legal and much more advantageous manner.

The civil and ecclesiastical authorities who know our work and all the influential persons who seek the public good, have strongly encouraged us to make this new attempt.

Since we are sure that Your Excellency would appreciate having an overview of our Society, we have drawn up the following statistics

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 lexpédition aux Archives nationales, et de; la minute, AFM, RCLA 1, p.70, nº 76; éditée dans CSG 1, p. 237 (avec une modification à la fin); et pp. 306-307


Letters of Marcellin - 157...


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