Presentation of the General House

On the left of the main entrance to the house, on the plaza, is a statue of Marcellin, the work of  Eugenio de Courten, symbolising the Marist educational presence among children and youth: “Remain with the children, love them and lead them to Jesus”.  And to left and right on the wall, sculptured in Traventine marble, the Marist salutation: Laudetur Jesus Christus, el Maria mater ejus. Amen

Entrance Hall
At the end of the hall, facing the entrance, is a statue of the Virgin in polychrome ceramic, work of the maestro Biancini. Standing 2.40 m high, it represents Mary at the moment of her going to visit her cousin Elizabeth, carrying Jesus in her womb. The open armed posture, welcoming those who enter the house, also defines, with the folds of the mantle, the form of a boat, which is a reference to the Church. Of particular interest are the different colours of the ceramics.

Memorial of the beatification
Beyond the glass doors, on the right, is a series of pictures representing the most significant events in the life of Marcellin. They were published in the form of a booklet for his beatification in 1955.

Marist martyrs
Beneath the arch of the staircase, is a large picture with portraits of the Marist Brothers martyred in Spain and China.

Mural of the Marist Family
Above the glass doors appears a large mural, 9.56 m x 1.85 m., by Goyo. The painter composed this mural using the acrylic technique (1988). To appreciate the dynamism expressed by the picture, it should be viewed from left to right. Marcellin Champagnat is inviting all types of persons to form part of the Marist Family. There are also representatives of other congregations with Marist roots. The Virgin is represented, not in an attitude of contemplation, as is usual, but as the mother of a family, pointing the way towards Jesus.

Sala Champagnat
This is a multi-purpose room. The walls are decorated with Champagnat’s signature and seven photographs. The two closest to the entry doors allude to the beginning and end of the life of Marcellin, his birth at Rosey (Marlhes) and his death at  l’Hermitage. The centre two represent Mary, the “Good Mother” who “has done everything for us” and the letter to the King of France requesting authorization of the Institute. The two at the end of the room portray the granite statue in the church of Marlhes (by P. Brun) and the one in Vatican City, placed in an exterior niche of St Peter’s Basilica, the work of the Costa Rican sculptor JimĂ©nez Deredia. On the front wall of the room there is a large photograph of the table of La Valla which symbolizes brotherhood. And above the right-hand door, the crucifix which the Founder kept on his desk.

The cloister
The cloister, the work of the architect Enrico Lenti, is spacious and modern. It differs from traditional cloisters in having no columns. This architectural form seeks to signify openness to the world, to change, and to youth, and expresses a concept of religious life appropriate to an institute of brothers, that is, lay religious.

Corridor of the Superiors
This corridor takes its name from the gallery of portraits which line its walls. They show Saint Marcellin, Father Colin, and all the Superiors of the Marist Institute from 1839 to the present. The majority are the work of Santini.


The main chapel
The main chapel is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus. It was built in accordance with the project of the architect Enrico Lenti. The concept is a great star with the tail of a comet, supported on four pillars, each one recalling an attribute of Mary: Immaculate Conception, divine Motherhood, Assumption, her title as Mediatrix. The silence, light, architecture, and symbols create an exceptional atmosphere for personal prayer.

• The windows of the cupola give a privileged place to the colour blue and refer to the invocations of the litanies of Loreto. They are the work of D’Aloisio.
• The tabernacle of the main altar is a great ceramic work of Biancini. Mary shows a naked child Jesus as sign of the Incarnation. There are angels at the sides. On the right, Marcellin, barefooted, praying to the Good Mother, his ordinary resource. Behind the altar, there are two walls of ceramic,  13 m. long and  2.15 high, by the same master, with representations of various Christian symbols.
• Way of the Cross. The fourteen stations, also by Biancini, 0.90 x 1.40m. in average measurement, are considered masterpieces of their kind  for the drama of the scenes and the spiritual power emanating from them.
• Above the side door is the giant image of Marcellin, by Goyo, which was displayed in St Peter’s Square on his canonization in 1999.
• The door and adjacent reliefs. The main entrance is marked by a door of bronze, and reliefs in cement, also the work of Biancini, recalling the Old Testament prefigurings of Mary: Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel (left) and Ruth, Esther and Judith (right).

First floor
• Chapel of the General Council. On ascending the central staircase, one finds on the right the chapel of the superiors. Six of the windows, made in the studio of Giuliani-Melis in Rome, recall moments in Marcellin’s life (left to right): the prayer at the approach to the village of La Valla, the meeting with the dying youth Montagne, the recitation of the “Memorare in the snow”, the sending of the first brothers to Oceania, Marcellin’s agony and death, and his beatification by Pope Pius XII. The seventh represents his canonisation (“Vetrate d’Arte Giuliani” 2003).

The altar is the one Marcellin himself had made and at which he celebrated the Eucharist.

On the right, facing the altar, is the statue of the “Good Mother” before which he prayed. It was recently restored by Brother Claudio Santambrogio.

In a prominent place is the original portrait by Ravery (1840), made a few hours after Marcellin’s death. It holds an exceptional value for us as one of the three originals in existence.

Also on the right of the altar, there is a golden reliquary containing the bones of a finger of the saint’s right hand. The relic rests on a stone brought from the Hermitage.
• High reliefs. On the rear wall at the top of the staircase, there are two parallel reliefs of the same size (3.60 x 1.60 m), the work of Brother José Santamarta, made on the occasion of the bicentenary of Marcellin’s birth (1989). It is interesting to observe the contrast between the blank spaces (symbol of the acceptance of the call of God) and the hands (symbol of the human response). A rich Marist symbolism is contained therein.

On the wall above is the mural of Augusto Ranocchi, representing the various General Houses in the history of the Institute, from the Hermitage to the present in Rome. A phrase in Latin reminds us that “time passes, but the works remain”.

• Entrance to the office of the Superior General. In the foyer to the office of the Superior General, can be seen the original picture of Champagnat painted by Goyo for the canonisation.

• Council Room. On the left of the reliefs is the Council Room where the Superior General and his Council meet at intervals to take decisions of importance for the Institute.

Second floor
On the second floor are the offices of the General Administration: the Secretary General, the Administrator General, the foundation FMSI, the Postulator General, the Procurator General, the  Communications Office, the translators, accounting, computers, etc. The community chapel and a meeting room are also on this floor.


Third floor
The third floor contains the bedrooms of the brothers and the community room.

From the terrace one can enjoy a splendid view of Rome, including the top of the cupola of St Peter’s.

On the lower floors, -1 y -2, are the offices and storage space of the General Archives of the Institute. There are preserved the documents, relics and records of the life of the Institute. The archives have undergone several moves, not always under the best conditions of transportation. They were transferred from the Hermitage to Saint Genis-Laval, later to Grugliasco, and finally to their current location in Rome.

We hope that this brief visit has not only entertained you but that it has also contributed to filling your hearts with the values which Marcellin Champagnat has passed on to us. The brothers living in the General House are happy to see you. This is the place for all who have a Marist heart and, therefore, your place. It is Marcellin who has welcomed you. Thank you for coming.