June 27 – A TOWN’S TRIBUTE TO A BROTHER
A TOWN’S TRIBUTE TO A BROTHER
The voice of a whole nation rocks them in their graves. These words written by Victor Hugo come to mind when we consider the large crowds that accompanied many Brothers at their funerals. As an example, this is a local newspaper account of Br. Julien’s funeral.
“On Sunday 27 June, at the time of Vespers, good Br. Julien, a Brother of Saint Gabriel, well-known and venerated in the whole town of Montmorillon and the parishes round about, died after a few days’ illness; he had just returned from a pious pilgrimage to Paray-le-Monial where he had prayed to the Sacred Heart to grant him the grace of a holy death.
“His wish was soon granted, and his last moments were as calm and peaceful as only religion can make them for God’s true servants.
“For over fifty years good Br. Julien lived at Montmorillon. He had come here shortly after taking his religious vows, and he devoted his entire life to teaching and giving their early education to the sons of all the families in this town. Rich and poor alike knew him, loved him and venerated him. The news of his death spread as if everyone had just lost a relative. All hastened to comand pray beside his mortal remains laid in one of the rooms at the Brothers’ residence. Everyone wanted to pay him a tribute of gratitude and veneration. ·
“His funeral was a real triumph, the triumph of virtue, self-denial, and selflessness, which everyone recognised and proclaimed. Good Br. Julien led a humble and selfless life for over fifty years, and the tribute which all were eager to pay to his memory was striking and general; it was meant to honour his name, his character, his tidiness, his good works and his virtues.
“On Tuesday 29 June, when the time came for the funeral the whole town was in readiness, and the church of Notre-Dame, his own parish, filled rapidly. All the authorities, the notables, past pupils, schoolchildren and their parents, together with many of the clergy from the parishes of the town and from the seminary, made up a cortege of honour whose significance was obvious. The transfer of the body was presided over by the parish priest of Notre-Dame, one of the fortunate witnesses of the deceased’s’ rare and great virtues. The archpriest of Saint-Martial, attended by his curates, celebrated the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and the superior of the seminary led the prayers in the church and beside the grave. All the members of the philanthropic society, partly made up of good Br. Julien’s past pupils, were present and followed their banner, as if they were attending a benefactor’s funeral.
“The pall-bearers were the presiding magistrate, the mayor, Mr G. de Taveau and Mr J. de Moussac, leaders of the fabrics of the parishes. The sub-prefect and most of the town councillors and notables of the town accompanied the mourning Brothers of Saint Gabriel, followed by their many pupils and those of the La Sagesse schools.
“As a public tribute of gratitude for the service given by good Br. Julien, the mayor and the town councillors made it public that the plot in the cemetery in which the body of the deceased was to be buried had been given free. A fund set up spontaneously by the town was to cover the cost of the monument to be erected in memory of the pious religious whose whole life could be summed up in two words: humility and dedication.”