2023-05-27 SPAIN

Saint Marcellin and Mary… Beyond an image

At the end of the month of Mary, the Good Mother, we share a text written by Br. José María Ferre, of the Mediterranea Province.

The affection that we feel towards Mary is materialized in pictures, images, and statues that due to various personal circumstances, attract or motivate us.

I don’t know if they had any representation of Mary in Marcellin’s house. Surely, they had one in the parish. Over time, he became familiar with some Marian images.

We know of the pilgrimage he made with his mother to the shrine of La Louvesc, and to the most popular of Our Lady of Puy, closely linked to the origins of the Society of Mary.

His visits to the Fourvière Marian Shrine began during his years as a seminarian in Lyon. There, before the black image of Mary, the promise of the first Marist Fathers was fulfilled, and there Marcellin received the inspiration to found the Marist Brothers. His biography tells us that when he arrived in La Valla as a young priest, he cleaned up the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, which was abandoned, and he went there to pour out his heart. His biography tells us that when he arrived in La Valla as a young priest, he cleaned up the hermitage of Our Lady of Dolours, which was abandoned, and he went there to pour out his heart. The image of the Virgin of the Hermitage continues to preside over the chapel of the house that Marcelino built.; we know that in her heart-chest there were two ribbons with the names of the brothers who professed, and those who left as missionaries.

In one of his trips Marcellin found an image of Mary, made of plaster, made with a mold and painted by hand. There were several models, but he liked one, perhaps because of the expression of tenderness; he bought it and placed it in his office. This is what has been called the Good Mother. Similar images can still be found in other places, such as in the parish of the famous Curé d’Ars.

With all this, I am inclined to think that Marcellin did not identify with any specific Marian image. Each of them expressed something of what he felt for Mary. In any of his images, he saw Mary as the good Mother, the resource he turned out to, the model to imitate.

Marcellin taught his brothers to know Mary, to be inspired by her, to imitate her, and to do the same with the children in the schools. And here I see an openness of spirit that we should not lose.

We know that there are religious groups that identify with and propagate different Marian devotions: Mary Help of Christians, the Salesians: Perpetual Help, the Redemptorists; Good Counsel, the Augustinians; or the Virgen del Carmen or La Merced, etc. There are also congregations that carry specific Marian aspects in their names such as the Assumption, the Immaculate Conception, the Visitation, the Sorrows…

Marcellin gave us the name of Mary. Just like that: simply Mary, the one of the Gospel, the one that the Church venerates, and the people invoke.

He never asked the brothers to propagate a specific image or devotion: he insisted that we get to know it and make it known and loved. And I think this contains great wealth: it prevents us from locking ourselves in a possible “hermeticism” and opens us up to the universal church.

That Mary of the Gospel who inspires us Marists is simply Mary, the woman of a thousand names and a thousand representations, the patroness of our towns, and the one of the hermitages where pilgrims go, the one who fills our calendars, and the one that is offered to us in all kinds of statues and paintings. . Marcellin’s Marian experience goes beyond a concrete image; and the challenge that we have is to live this Marian experience, deepen it, update it, purify it and transmit it.


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