St.Louis-Marie Grignion De Montfort
The Man Who Walked with God
St. Louis de Montfort was born on January 1673 in a small hamlet called Montfort. His parents named him ‘Louis’. His mother was a pious woman who worked hard to educate and bring up the large family. From his early age he was devoted to Blessed Virgin Mary. Montfort’s devotion to the Mother of Lord Jesus was an integral part of his spiritual life. At the age of eleven he went to Rennes to study in a Jesuit Institution. After 8 years of study, he left for Paris to study at St. Sulpice seminary to become a priest. On his way he crossed a bridge called ‘Cesson’ and took a radical decision never to be attached to any worldly possessions or material goods and to live a life of total dependence to God. He gave away everything to the poor and even exchanged his clothes with a beggar. He felt that ‘God alone’ was his Father and Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother. He prepared well for his future ministry as a priest by reading most of the books in the library and spending a lot of time in prayer. He paid his fees watching over dead bodies at night.He was ordained a priest in 1700 overcoming a lot of difficulties and problems.
Throughout his life he worked with the poor, orphans, destitutes, widows, lepers and the sick. He lived the Gospel radically and challenged the rich who refused to share their wealth with the poor and the needy. He went from parish to parish as a vagabond preaching numerous missions and bringing people back to God. In many places he constructed Calvaries and statues to facilitate people to reflect on the mystery of the cross and salvation. He was a mystic living like Jesus. Yet he found time to write many books and poems such as -True devotion to Blessed Virgin, Love of Eternal Wisdom, Letter to the friends of the Cross, The secret of the Rosary, The secret of Mary, and many other hymns. Due to his prophetic role in the society and radical life as a true disciple of Christ, he had many enemies. He walked all the way to Rome covering nearly 1200 kms to meet Pope Clement XI, in 1706. His love for the cross and his absolute trust in God made him declare “No Cross what a cross”, which ultimately became his philosophy and watch word.
He started many schools for the poor & the youth. Worn out by his apostolate, weakened by his life of poverty and attempts on his life, he collapsed during a mission at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre and died on April 28, 1716 at the age of 43. People acclaimed Montfort a Saint followed by the church.Pope Pius XII canonized Montfort on July 27, 1947.Three congregations trace their foundation to St. Louis de Montfort. They are: Daughters of Wisdom, Company of Mary, Brothers of St. Gabriel. They continue the work and mission of Montfort all over the world.
In the beginning of 19th Century, Fr. Gabriel Deshayee re-founded and gave a new impetus to the Brothers of St. Gabriel. The flame lit by this Holy man continues to burn and shine with greater intensity even after 300 years.
BEST KNOWN FOR
Grignion de Montfort’s approach of “total consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary” had a strong impact on Roman Catholic Mariology both in popular piety and in the spirituality of religious orders. His book True Devotion to Mary has been considered one the most influential Marian books.
Words of Wisdom
» If we do not risk anything for God, we will never do anything great for Him. – to Marie Louise Trichet, the first daughter of Wisdom
» Whatever happens I shall not be worried. I have a Father in heaven who will not fail me (L2)
» To know Jesus Christ wisdom incarnate is to know enough and not to know Jesus is to know nothing.
» Never the Cross without Jesus, or Jesus without the Cross.
» Wisdom is the cross and the cross is wisdom.
» Christ is the answer to all our questions.
» The wise man should be graciously firm and firmly gracious (LEW 53).
» If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.
» I am all thine, and all that I have is thine, O most loving Jesus, through Mary Thy most holy and Immaculate Mother.
» I only want to do God’s will (L 6)
» When we praise her, love her, honour her or give anything to her, it is God who is praised, God who is loved, God who is glorified, and it is to God that we give, through Mary and in Mary.–T.D.M., p. 145
» Whoever wants to have Jesus must have Mary. Jesus came into this world through Mary. Through her, He will reign over the world and lead souls to heaven. Mary is the wonderful echo of God (SM 21)
»A poor person is a great mystery. One must be able to penetrate it.
» Wisdom is for man and man is for Wisdom (LEW 64)
» Mary is a mould capable of forming people into the image of the God-Man.
» It would be easier to separate light from the sun than Mary from Jesus.
» If Christians only knew the value of the cross, they would walk a hundred miles to obtain it, because enclosed in the beloved cross is true wisdom (L 13).
“With stick in my hand
My bare feet on the road,
I speed through the land
For I carry no load.
Like a bird in the tree
With no worry or care
My heart is quite free
For no burden I bear.
With no cash for tomorrow
I live day by day
And I know that I follow
The far better way” (H 144).
“No cross what a cross.”
The early part of his life: – Fr. Gabriel Deshayes was born on 6`h December, 1767 at Beignon in Brittany, France. He lost his mother when he was five years old. His father was a farmer and local butcher. As a boy he looked after sheep. He was very generous and helpful to others. As a youth, he showed much joviality, common sense, leadership and ability. He joined a seminary run by the Vincentians. During the French Revolution, he went into exile to the Island of Jersey and there, he was ordained a priest on March 4, 1792. Coming back to France under disguise, with exceptional courage he ministered to the faithful along with six or seven priests grouped around the parish priest of Beignon, during the difficult years of 1792-1800.
Founder of Congregations: – In 1805, Fr. Deshayes was appointed parish priest of St. GiWas, Auray. He was a good preacher. He started a school for boys, another one for girls, a college and a minor seminary. He started a co-operative bank to give loans to the poor, a spinning mill and a hospice. In 1816, he was the Vicar General of the diocese of Vannes. In 1816, Fr. Deshayes started a novitiate to form Brothers to teach in rural schools and in 1819, he got this new Institute of Brothers amalgamated with a similar one started by Fr.Le Mennais. This was the beginning of the Ploermel Brothers. In 1807, he founded Sisters of St.Gildas.
On 17`h December, 1820, Fr. Deshayes was officially admitted into the Company of Mary and on the same day he was elected Vicar General of the Montfortian congregations. He recruited many young men and started a novitiate for Brothers. In 1823, he wrote a Directory for the Brothers. As legal approval for teaching in schools was obligatory, he got an official recognition from the government as the Institute of the Brothers of the Holy Spirit and Brothers were allowed to teach in five Provinces. On 22°d September 1824, 42 Brothers made their annual vows. In 1825, Fr. Deshayes went to Rome to get the Rules of the Company of Mary and Daughters of Wisdom approved by Rome and to work for the Beatification of Montfort. On 7`h September 1830, Montfort was declared Venerable. In 1835, there were Brothers, novices and postulants put together 132, of whom 57 continued to stay in the Holy Spirit House while 75 were attached to St. Gabriel’s House i.e., 33 of them had their residence there and 42 were teaching in various schools. “The Brothers chose from their own number a Superior who is to govern the Congregation”. He signed the Rule on January 7, 1837 and it was approved on April 9, 1838 by the Bishop of Lucon. This Rule was to be kept as a secret and it was to come into effect only after Fr. Deshayes’ death. Fr. Deshayes altogether started 76 schools and out of those 29 were given up during his life time itself. In 1838, he founded St. Gabriel’s Boarding School in St. Laurent. One of the greatest achievements of his was the founding of schools for the deaf and schools for the blind. Thus La Chartreuse, Rouille, Orleans and Lille were centers started by him for handicapped children. After a full life of missionary activities and after contributing much to the Montfortian Congregations, Fr. Deshayes died on 28 Dec. 1841. He was buried in the Daughters of Wisdom cemetery, actually at the 14″ Station of the Way of the Cross, that he had erected.