June 2 – ARTISTIC WORKS ON MONTFORT

ARTISTIC WORKS ON MONTFORT

On 2 June 1938 a statue of Montfort “teacher of youth and founder of charitable schools” (as inscribed on the plinth) was erected in the quadrangle of St Gabriel’s School at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre to mark the centenary of the school. The statue was added to the long list of silent tributes paid to Montfort from the beginnings of the Institute to this day in the shape of statues, paintings or simple inscriptions.

In India images of the saint can be seen everywhere. At Santhome in Chennai, for example, it can be seen in four places: at the entrance to the school, in the reception room, on a column in the middle of a square, at the entrance to the stadium. The same wealth exists in South-East Asia: a statue of Montfort standing between a boy and a girl, which is common in Thailand, has a replica in Singapore. This profusion is matched on the other continents. Local artists have decorated with Montfortian frescoes the Brothers’ chapel in Ndiebel (Senegal) and the entrance hall at the school in Majunga (Madagascar). Br. Joseph Cuylen- a talented sculptor who works on corrugated iron -from Braine-le­ Comte in Belgium has enhanced the chapter hall at the General House in Rome with a powerful image of “Montfort the pilgrim” which clearly expresses the complementary aspects of the saint: boldness, humility, strength and gentleness, action and contemplation.

Sensibilities change. In 1938, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the beatification of Montfort, a picture was made in Canada which showed Montfort surrounded by cherubs, with two Brothers in their blue rabats pointing him to a group of

children; this picture was replaced in 1988 by a statue of the Saint walking by the artist Jean Bauduin. In spite of a distorted view of history, an illustration dies hard: one made in Italy was reproduced nearly everywhere; it showed Montfort as a teacher, surrounded not by poor children but by young nobles in stylish Clothes.

The cinema has brought Montfort to life. The 250th anniversary of his death was marked by an unprecedented undertaking: a short film was made on the Saint designed for showing in public cinemas. The film called La Route d’un homme was produced by Georges Hacquard.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the canonisation in 1997 Br. Raphael Maria (France) added a video to the two previous ones: Montfort, routier de l’Evangile (1979) and A Ia suite de Montfort, les Freres de Saint Gabriel (1988). In the United States the Province of the Company of Mary made a feature-length film, Jesus living in Mary, The life of St Louis-Marie de Montfort, designed to be shown on American television in several episodes.