Short Biography of Our Founder
St. Louis de Montfort was born on January 1673 in a small Town 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 coveringnearly 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.
A man of God
The secret of this life wholly devoted to others was in order to bring them to God. An intense spiritual life nourished by silence and prayer; often he withdrew in hermitages to pray.
He was courageous in speaking the truth and doing what was right before the eyes of God. He was victimized by the powerful people of his day for his honesty and convictions.
St. Louis de Montfort was an extremely versatile man. He was a great scholar, powerful speaker, philosopher, writer, poet, musician, artist, sculptor, choreographer, builder and social reformer. The Montfortian philosophy is therefore, one of totality and universality.
Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel first came to India in 1903. Being a French Congregation, the Brothers landed in Pondicherry first, French colony then. Having taken root, they slowly spread to other parts of the Country. As early as 1973, Indian Brothers have gone as missionaries to Thailand. Later, Countries in Africa, Mauritius, Fiji Islands, Philippines &Madagaskar welcomed Indian Brothers.
At present, Brothers are serving in 5 Continents. Their aim is to be missionaries for the youth, in the footsteps of Montfort and to devote their lives to teaching, catechizing, animation of the youth, paying special attention to the poor, forsaken and handicapped children.
Spirit of Montfort lives on
In today’s church, besides his three congregations namely Brothers of St. Gabriel (Montfort Brothers), Company of Mary(Montfort Fathers) and Daughters of Wisdom (Montfort Sisters) which carry on his mission, there are many other groups that nourish themselves with his spirituality.
To quote a few:
Montfortian Secular Institute
– The Fraternity of Mary Queen of Hearts
– The Legion of Mary