“We have seen Rome! We have seen Leo XIII! We have been the happy witnesses of the beatification ceremony of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort! Our wishes have been granted! Glory to God for ever and ever!”

These were the words with which Br. Hubert, Superior General, opened his circular of 19 March 1888; however, it is not clear whether we, as used in the enthusiastic exclamations, is the royal we or whether it refers to the group made up of the Superior General and three of his Assistants: Bros. Fortune, Georges and Narcisse. Let us make it clear that the meeting with Leo XIII and the beatitication proper are two separate events, as in those days the Pope officiated only in the case of canonisations, and in the case of beatifications delegated the cardinal president of the Sacred Congregation for the rites.                                                                         ··


The first event took place early in the morning on Sunday 22 January 1888 on the occasion of the Pope’s Mass in his private chapel. Only members of the Montfortian family could attend, but the mayor of Saint-Laurent was allowed to join them. Mass was followed by a brief audience during which Br. Hubert made an offering on behalf of the Congregation and of the deaf and mute students.

The beatification ceremony began at 10.30 a.m. in St Peter’s Basilica. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Richard of Paris who was born in Nantes and brought up to revere Father de Montfort. In the afternoon, Leo XIII, wearing a red hat with golden acorns, venerated the relics of the saint then granted an audience to the delegation from Vendee. The Bishop of Lu on offered him a gold rosary, recalling that devotion to the rosary was the secret of Montfort’s successful preaching. Then the pilgrims knelt down around the room. For half an hour Leo XIII moved from one to the other, holding out his ring to kiss and listening to some pilgrims’ requests. In most cases they were introduced by the Bishop of Lu on who also acted as interpreter. When it came to Br. Hubert’s turn, the Bishop reminded the Pope that the Superior General, who had long been visitor of the schools for the deaf and mute, was begging a special blessing for them and their teachers.

A triduum (26, 27 and 28 January) held at the church of Saint-Louis-des Fran ais, brought the celebrations in Rome to a close. Each day a Mass was celebrated by a Bishop, vespers were presided over by a Bishop, and a eulogy of the saint was given in tum by a Montfortian priest, a Dominican and the rector of the church of Saint­ Louis.

When they arrived back at Saint-Laurent on 12 February the Gabrielite delegation were welcomed at the entrance to the school by all the Brothers residing at the Mother House and at the boarding school; they then moved in procession to the chapel to the sound of music and the singing of hymns.