June 6 – THE BEATIFICATION OF MONTFORT AT SAINT-LAURENT
THE BEATIFICATION OF MONTFORT AT SAINT-LAURENT
The triduum in honour of the beatification of Montfort came to an end. Archbishop Richard of Paris had given the panegyric of the newly beatified in the parish church on 3 June. On 4 June Bishop Ardin of La Rochelle gave his in the chapel of the Daughters of Wisdom. On 5 June Canon Simon, Vicar General of Lu on exalted the founder of charitable schools in the chapel of the Brothers.
The closing day 6 June now began. It was so extraordinary that the Cardinal Archbishop Place of Rennes, who presided, said, “In all my life I have never seen anything so beautiful.” Nothing so beautiful as the crowd of 100,000 pilgrims, 2,000 priests, 13 Bishops and ·a Cardinal. Nothing so beautiful as the pontifical office celebrated at the calvary by the eloquent Bishop Freppel of Angers who declared in his powerful voice: “You are the brightest and purest beam of his earthly glory, you Montfort Missionaries, the Daughters of Wisdom and Brothers of Saint-Gabriel. Father de Montfort lives on in you in your works and virtues. His grave is the cradle of your Congregations: it is near his grave that you came into existence, have grown and will remain forever as the living proof of his genius and holiness.”
Finally, nothing so beautiful as the procession to venerate the relics in the afternoon; after Mass the sun had gone in and given place to rain, but now it broke through again during the procession. The order of the procession was as follows: Saint
Laurent parishioners, the Brothers of the boarding school and their students, the religious who had travelled to Saint-Laurent, the Daughters of Wisdom, other nuns, the seminarians from the diocese, the clergy, the Montfort Missionaries, the Bishops and the Cardinal. They were followed by a human tide, including women from all western parts of France in their local folklore costumes. The procession was enhanced by loud singing and music provided by bands from the boarding school at Saint-Laurent and other various schools. It started at the entrance to St Gabriel’s School, made its way down the paths in the school precincts which were adorned with banners, crossed the bridge over the Sevre which had been built for the occasion, entered the village and made its way down its streets adorned with hangings. A procession worthy of those which Montfort himself organised in his lifetime.
It was in the wake of the beatification that it was decided to build the present church of Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre to take the place of the Romanesque 11th-century church dedicated to Saint Lawrence. The foundation stone was laid in 1889. Each Brother was invited to pay 10 centimes a week for five years to the parish priest. It was not completed until1949. A decree of John XXIII raised it to th rank of minor basilica in 1963.