Letters of Marcellin – 288

Marcellin Champagnat


This letter raises serious problems because it does not give us sufficiently precise details. The annals of the establishment in St-Genest-Malifaux tell us that,

Once the preparations were finished, Brothers Pierre-
Marie, Maxime and Jean-Louis arrived, were received with open arms, and opened the school in November 1834.... In 1836 the assistants were Bros. Germain and Hilaire.... On 25th April 1838, the Brother Director gave a letter to Bro. Rémy, his assistant, who was going to the Hermitage. In it he stated that the two classes still had 80 children, of whom 13 were caméristes [boys who slept at the school but did not eat there], and he begged the Founder to select him for the missions of Oceania. He was in fact chosen and Bro. Andronic replaced him here. He stayed only a short while and was sent to the department of the Nord. Bro. Avit replaced him on 16th August 1840 (pp. 6-7).

In the register of those entering, Bro. Pierre-Marie is listed for 27th October 1832: 28 years old, knows how to read and write, has followed a regular course of studies, has a brevet certificate of good conduct and morals... (p. 43). If one looks closely, it is evident that, having written the word brevet, Fr. Champagnat hesitated, started to cross it out, then went on without a break to write certificate of good conduct and morals. Having all this information, we can understand how he could have been put in charge of a school immediately after his novitiate. But it is harder to understand why, especially after the law of 1833, he was not sent to get his certificate of competence (if in fact he did not already have it). Perhaps the school was not a town school from the outset. When it became so, perhaps in 1836, it was not Bro. Pierre-Marie who made the declaration, but Bro. Germain. We mention his name only because he died on 31st August 1839, but we have no proof that he had his certificate. In that hypothesis, this letter makes sense, and shows that Bro. Pierre-Marie was certainly reassigned to St-Genest for the 1839-1840 school year, as the assignment list for 1839 indicates. We do not know if it was because of the certificate of competence that he had to be replaced by Bro. Andronic. Even though the assignment list was not corrected, we must accept the direct testimony of Bro. Avit, who himself replaced Bro. Andronic in St-Genest in August 1840, and not Bro. Pierre-Marie.


Since I am afraid that Bro. Pierre-Marie may not have sufficiently explained to you the means we thought it best to take, to get you out of an embarrassing situation regarding the certificate of competence, I am going to share my ideas with you in writing.

The mayor and the town councillors must be urged to send a petition to the prefect to explain to him:
first, that death has just removed from the town of St-Genest their authorized certified teacher;
second, that the first assistant of the said teacher having merited on all counts the goodwill of the authorities, the confidence of the parents and the affection of the students, it is greatly to be desired that the prefect be so good as to authorize him to teach until the month of March; that at that time he will take the examination and that, in view of his recognized ability, he can be counted on to obtain his certificate.

I think the prefect will not refuse this request, all the more so since he speaks in his circular of these authorizations. This way, once Bro. Pierre-Marie has been authorized to teach, the tax-collector will not raise problems about giving him the checks.

Moreover, Father, we are very determined not to let your establishment collapse, and if Bro. Pierre-Marie does not pass his examination, we will try to find you a brother with his certificate. Meanwhile, let us try the procedure I have just described to you.

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 la minute, AFM, RCLA 1, p. 145, nº 186


Letters of Marcellin - 286...


Letters of Marcellin - 289...