IX Chapter – 1893, Saint-Genis-Laval

04/1893 – 49 Brothers participants

This Chapter met during the pontificate of Leo XIII.

The report presented to the Capitulants by the President of the Chapter declared that, despite the secularization of the public schools under the direction of our Brothers in France, new schools had been opened and the Brothers had maintained their positions thanks to the zeal of the clergy and the generosity of the faithful.

In fact, during the ten years prior to the opening of the Chapter, 129 new schools were opened, in other countries as well as in France, the Institute had grown to number 2,200 Brothers and during the same time period four new provincial houses were built, a number of Juniorates were established and the main boarding schools had to be enlarged.

“The maneuvers of the Masons since 1880 had shown results, but not as many as had been expected. And so with all the efforts put into in having the teachers from the religious Congregations thrown out of the state schools—where education was to be obligatory, free of charge and secular—it was not expected that, in face of these schools, others would be established, also free, with more students than the state schools. Evidently, public opinion was on the side of the religious schools.
Then they changed tactics. The persecution laws began to tighten more and more. A truly monstrous project was prepared: to prohibit our personnel from teaching, simply because they were religious. This project had its justification in that teaching was supposed to be secular. But this was so contrary to common sense that the government had to prepare public opinion before delivering the final blow”1.

Convoking the Chapter
In his circular of February 19, 1893,2 Rev. Br. Theophane announced the convening of the General Chapter in Saint-Genis-Laval for the election of the Brothers Assistants, in accord with the prescriptions of the Constitutions3 in force at that time. The number of delegates totaled 38, including the members of the General Administration. The delegates were elected based on the number of professed brothers in each province: 7 from the Province of Saint-Genis-Laval, 6 from the Province of the Hermitage, 6 from the Province of Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, 5 from the Province of Aubenas, 4 from the Province of Bourbonnais, 5 from the Province of Norte, 1 from the Province of Oeste, 1 from the Sector of the British Isles, 1 from the Sector of Oceania, 1 from the Sector of Canada and the United States, 1 from the Sector of Spain-Colombia.

The expansion experienced by the Institute since the previous Chapter resulted in the presence of new delegates who came to take part in the sessions, such as those from the British Isles, from Canada and the United States, and from Spain-Colombia. The gathering took place from the 19th to the 26th of April, 1893 at Saint-Genis-Laval.

Brother Theophane, named for a life term in 1883, according to the provisional Constitutions of the time, nevertheless took it upon himself at the General Chapter of 1893 to present his resignation from a post that he considered beyond his abilities and strength.

After explaining at the first session the reasons motivating his decision, he handed in his resignation in writing to the first Brother Assistant, after having read it aloud. Then he rose and announced that in order to allow full liberty of discussion to the delegates, he would retire from the Chapter hall for this session, and headed for the door.

All the delegates, surprised by this unexpected development, got to their feet and some surrounded the door to prevent his leaving. Many pleas and respectful but firm protests arose from the delegates. Some Brothers, deeply moved, could not contain their tears. He was taken by the arms and conducted to the podium almost forcefully, where he stood, after having tried in vain to escape. The venerable Superior requested clarification if this was a matter of respect or deference, or an order. The delegates unanimously affirmed that it was an order. The poor Brother fell to his knees for a moment before the deeply moved delegates. Then, after a short but fervent prayer that was hardly audible, rose to his feet4.

This scene can be better understood, perhaps, if we are aware that not all the delegates were filled with the same filial affection for the Superior. One of those present was Br. Jules, whose actions had caused much grief for Br. Theophane.5 History shows us that we cannot but admire the patience, kindness and civility of the Reverend Brother in his relationships with this Brother.


Brother Superior General informed the Chapter of the wish of Br. Euthyme, Assistant for legal affairs, that he not be reelected for reasons of poor health and his resignation was accepted. But by the explicit wish of the Reverend Brother, he would continue to be part of the General Council as supernumerary Councilor, with the title of Honorary Assistant and member of the Council6.

Brothers Assistants Philogone (First Assistant), Procope (Second Assistant), Norbert (Third Assistant), Gerald (Fourth Assistant), Berillus (Fifth Assistant), Adon (Sixth Assistant), and Stratonique (Seventh Assistant) were reelected7.

An eighth Assistant was named, Brother Climacus, who was responsible for the Province of Beaucamps. Br. Climacus had taken the place of Br. Norbert in Beaucamps when the latter was named Assistant for Varennes. And Br. Norbert, in his turn, succeeded Br. Gerald, who had been named Assistant for legal affairs.

Following the custom of the time, when a Brother Assistant died, his replacement was named by the major superiors and an appointed commission, as mandated by the Constitutions. Using this procedure, always outside of a General Chapter, the following Brothers were named: Br. Liborio, in 1895, replacing the deceased Br. Filogonio; Br. Augustalis, in 1899, replacing Br. Norbert, who died at sea following a visit he had made to Brazil; and Br. John, who in 1900 took the place of the deceased Br. Procope.

Among the accomplishments and mandates of the 9th General Chapter, one must list:

“The daily recitation of the Rosary in all schools and boarding schools according the schedule established by the Rule”8.
“The solemn celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart in the Novitiates and Juniorates of the Congregation”9.

“Recalling the duties of the Provincial Vicars, who help Br. Assistant in the assigning of the Brothers: they visit every house of the Province annually; their visits relate above all to regularity, to the formation of the Brothers, the supervision of studies, of the schools and of finances. Br. Superior General always has the right to revoke, restrict or widen their duties”10.

“The separation, in provincial houses, of the Scholastics from the community and, as far as possible, in the dormitory and recreation areas”11.

“Special attention to the care of the sick and elderly Brothers”12.

“The prohibition, in our schools, of the teaching of Latin by the members of the Institute, as had already been mandated by the Founder”.13

1 Br.. Luis di Giusto: History of the Institute of the Marist Brothers, Marist Province of Cruz del Sur, Argentina 2004. pp. 120-122

2 Circulars VOL. 8, pp. 286 and ff.                                             

3 Constitutions, Chapter IV, Section 1

4 Our Superiors: Rev. Br. Theophane, Fourth Superior General (1824-1907), E. Vitte, Lyon, 1953, pp. 246-247.

5 Chronology of the Institute of the Marist Brothers of the Schools, Rome,1976. pp.161 and 162

6 Circulars, Vol. 8, p. 298

7 Circulars, Vol. 8, pp. 298-299, and Marist Chronology (1893).

8  Circulars Vol. 8, p. 299

9  Circulars Vol. 8, p. 300

10 Circulars Vol. 8, p. 301

11 Circulars Vol. 8, p. 300

12 Circulars Vol. 8, p. 301

13 Circulars Vol. 8, p. 303