Marcellin Champagnat, a Marist Priest, dreamed of a worldwide community of brothers wholeheartedly devoted to making Jesus Christ known and loved among children and young people, especially the least favored. He embraced God’s call to found the Marist brothers, the religious congregation that continues to pursue his dream today.

When seeing children and young people without schooling and knowledge of their faith, Marcellin would say, “We need brothers!” On January 2, 1817 he set in motion his plan for the Congregation of “the little brothers of Mary” with two young recruits.

At a ceremony and Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 18, 1999, Pope John Paul II declared that Marcellin is a Saint of the universal Church.


An edited compilation of the recollections and reflections of Brother Sylvestre, one of the first of St Marcellin Champagnat?s Little Brothers of Mary

Founder of the Institute of the Marist Brothers

A Vision for Marist Education Today

Saint Marcellin Champagnat - The life and mission

A compendium of the life, virtues and miracles






29 May 1955

Marcellin Champagnat, our founder, was beatified in St Peter’s Square on 29 May 1955. The course which led to his beatification and then to his canonisation (18 April 1999) started forty-six years after his death. The diocesan process lasted five years, then in 1896, Pope Leo XIII signed the decree for introducing his cause; it was then that Champagnat became « venerable ». Fifty-nine years later, on the solemnity of Pentecost, he was beatified at a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Tedeschini.

Bulletin de l’Institu n. 160 – Tome XXI, p. 628


On this warm Pentecost morning, 29 May 1955, while the air is not yet heavy with the crippling heat of the Roman summer, groups of Marist Brothers, from all the provinces of the Institute, coming from 35 countries and representing as many nationalities, have been converging from all parts of the city on the basilica of Saint Peter. They are going to assist at the beatification of their Father, the Venerable Marcellin Champagnat. They number 600 chosen to represent their confrères at these grandiose ceremonies, 600 privileged ones, designated by lot or chosen by office because of their functions, or for other reasons which make it a bit confusing for them to find themselves there, in preference to so many others of equal merit. But in the end, someone has designated them and they have come.
For once, obedience will have come very easily for them. Since the evening before, one has had the impression that there are Marist Brothers all over the Eternal City, for their white rabat and black habit make them recognizable from afar and, since they have so little time, they have been making the best of their opportunity to see the beautiful monuments of Rome.
So they are hurrying towards the basilica, happy and excited. And why shouldn’t they be? It is for their beloved Father, all this display, those grand banners hung at the entrance to the basilica or in the glory of Bernini, those sumptuous decorations inside Saint Peter’s; for him all the homage paid at the centre of Catholicism. The pilgrims by chance, going to Saint Peter’s to take advantage of a beatification, look on them with gazes of admiration little short of envy.


18 April 1999

At a ceremony and Mass in St. Peter’s Square on April 18, 1999, Pope John Paul II declared that Marcellin is a Saint of the Universal Church.


The canonization of Saint Marcellin Champagnat, founder of the Marist Brothers, took place on April 18, 1999, in St. Peter’s Square of the Vatican. This video brings together images and words of the celebrations that took place in Rome that long weekend. Thus, in just under thirty minutes, events and emotions of a historical page are condensed. They are like sparks of a fire that can stir up memory and memory. It is not a matter of nostalgia. It is a commitment to live today, in every faithful heart and in every country of the world, the spirituality and mission of a saint who has understood in his life the Gospel as love without borders.