June 24 – BIOGRAPHIES OF MONTFORT
BIOGRAPHIES OF MONTFORT
The early biographies of Montfort were by Joseph Grandet, a Sulpician (1724), Canon Blain (1724) and Fr. Charles Besnard smm (1770). The last one was printed with addenda by Fr. Picot de Cloriviere sj (1785). Many more have been published since then: a dozen in the 19th century, about twenty in the first half of the 20th century, and about thirty in the second half.
Among the French authors considered, are, unless stated otherwise:
– SMM priests: Joseph Dalin in 1839, Fonteneau in 1885 and 1887, J.-M. Texier in 1904, Louis Le Crom in 1942, Henri Daniel in 1966; Louis Perouas in 1966 and 1973, Bernard Guitteny in 1993, etc.
– other priests: Abbe Querard in 1887, Mgr Laveille in 1907, Theodule Rey-Mermet CssR in 1984 and 1996, Max Vilain (in Belgium) in 1994, Rene Laurentin in 1996, etc.
– lay people: Georges Rigault in 1930, Louis Chaigne in 1937, Gaetan Bernoville in 1946, Raymond Christoflour in 1947, Louis-Marie Clenet in 1988, Benedetta Papasogli (in Italian) in 1979, etc.
The part played by the Brothers of Saint Gabriel in this production is a special one. It consists of many writings popularised for the young in Tamil and English (Br. Lawrence), in Thai (by many contributors), in Italian (Br. Agostino), in French (Br. Donatien Thullier). We must add to this the duplicated biography by Br. Bernard Guesdon for the young in the houses of formation in Africa.
A special mention must be made of the book by Br. Gabriel-Marie, Grignion de Montfort, Routier de l’Evangile, published in 1966 concurrently in France and Canada. The author drew on the historic and traditional sources but avoided the edifying genre of the early biographies. It is a lively fast-moving account, without scientific and documentary array (chronology, source material, notes and references, description of places). It is also an account which, unlike other recent biographies, does not try to adopt a historico-critical or socio-psychological approach to the saint. The author tried to delineate the spiritual features of Montfort, especially his complete surrender to Providence, his effective love for the poor, his patience and availability in the midst of painful confrontations with the Gospel and the Cross.