February 12 – TWO UNUSUAL CIRCULARS
TWO UNUSUAL CIRCULARS
The first two Superiors General who travelled to Italy were Br. Eugene-Marie and Br. Hubert. The former spent six weeks in Rome in November and December 18Q4. The latter travelled in January-February 1888 and was a member of the delegation from Vendee which travelled to Rome to attend Montfort’s beatification ceremony, then went by rail to Northern Italy and also took in Vesuvius and Pompei. Two very long texts were inspired by these journeys and are different from any other among the Superiors’ circulars because of their journalistic approach. Although the two Superiors mean above all to edify t.heir confreres by sharing their impressions as pilgrims rather than tourists, Br. Hubert adds: “However, we did not bypass whatever could instruct and interest you. As we are a teaching Congregation, we ought to become familiar with anything historical and artistic. When you have a chance to see with your own eyes the things you read about in booksyou should make the most of it” ·
Actually there is not much difference between the two circulars. The history they concentrate on is almost exclusively religious. It is the history of the saints venerated in the places where they have lived or are revered: St Mary-Magdalen of Pazzi in Florence, St Mark in Venice, Sts Catherine of Genoa, of Sienna and of Bologna… It is the history of countless relics whose authenticity is never questioned. As for the arts, deliberately omitted from the first circular, they are only mentioned in the second in the Jorm of Hsts of artists and_ _ buildings, with an_ impressiYe array of figures (size of the buildings, number of columnsand statues, weight and price of objects) out no particular work was described in detail.
The real difference between the two circulars is in the style. Only that by Br. Eugene-Marie can be called a work of art because of the quality of the writing and the tight structure. A long section devoted to the Rome of the saints precedes and introduces another one, just as long, on the Pope and the fascination he engendered. We would have walked on live coals to see Pius IX sooner and longer,” he writes.
No other Superior succeeding these two indulged in writing a circular on what they had seen in Rome; not even Br. Benoit-Marie, who enjoyed writing and wrote well. As for his successor, Br. Anastase, he travelled to the Eternal City on the occasion of the canonisation of Montfort, but he left it to his secretary, Br. Gabriel-Marie, to describe the ceremony as well the places he visited. The 43 pages of Chronique No. 153 (October 1947) surpass anything written about Rome in the Institute until then because of the accurate observation and the style of writing.
Let us mention as a matter of curiosity the 210 handwritten pages in which Br. Andronic (1866-1940), who was a primary teacher at Vieillevigne, relates a strange pilgrimage he made to Rome on foot and by rail during the school holidays from 30 July to 19 September 1904.