February 19 – APPROBATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONS
APPROBATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONS
The approbation of the Constitutions on 19 Febuary 1910 came at the end of a long process like an obstacle course. The desire to move the Congregation from diocesan right to pontifical right goes back to Br. Eugene-Marie who made it one of the aims of his journey to Rome in 1864. It was Br. Martial who was granted this wish. To this end he had an audience with Pope Pius X in October 1905. On the eve of the General Chapter in April 1908 he travelled to Rome again to examine the dossier submitted to the Vatican. He found that it was progressing. However, the Chapter had to adapt the rules to the Normae just published which were designed to serve as a basis for the constitutions of the newly-founded Institutes.
In January 1910 the Superior General Br. Martial travelled to Rome for the third time. In 1906 the expression “sons of Montfort” in the draft of the decree had prompted the publication of a leaflet claiming that it should be removed; this led to several written replies in French. In January 1910 Br. Martial took a summary of these replies in Italian to the Sacred Congregation for Religious, which held a meeting on 4 February.
On 7 February, the secretary of the Sacred Congregation, Mgr. Janssens, conveyed a good piece of news to the Superior General: the Sacred Congregation had acknowledged that “the Brothers of Saint Gabriel have Blessed de Montfort as their father and invoke him as such” Bro. martial was overjoyed and informed the Institute.
On 15 February Pope PiUs X approved the decree. On-18 February he granted a private audience to the Superior and said to him, “Your blessed founder will be your advocate and powerful intercessor with Jesus and Mary. Like him may you be apostles of the Cross and the Rosary.”
Then events took a dramatic tum: at the last minute, under the pressure of some Montfort Fathers, Mgr. Janssens modified the text of the decree. Considering Br. Martial’s firm attitude; the early text was restored and signed on 19 February by Cardinal Vives, Prefect, and Mgr. Janssens, secretary. This text, along with the two signatures, preceded the Rule itself in all the editions of the Rule which followed.
When they read the decree the Montfort Fathers asked Mgr. Janssens to have the expression duo Jere secula (two centuries’ existence) removed. The prelate gave in and asked our procurator, Br. Candidus, a Marist, to send the following telegram to Brussels: “Suspend publication text of decree. Wait for further information. Slight modification.” Br. Apollinaire, an Assistant, replied in the absence of the Superior General: “Text already published.” Mgr. Janssens stood by the early text.
An appeal was lodged with the Congregation for Religious which held a meeting on 3 June and decided that no change should be made to the decree. Br. Martial, who had speeedily travelled to Rome again, could be satisfied when he left.