Wherever you go

Rule of Life of the Marist Brothers



Social networking

Marist Brothers

RSS YouTube FaceBook Twitter



Calls of the XXII General Chapter


Archive of updates


Marist Calendar

27 January

Saint Angela Merici
Day of Mourning the Holocaust

Marist Calendar - January

I Chapter - 1839, Hermitage


12/10/1839 - 92 Brothers participants

A meeting held at Our Lady of the Hermitage in 1839 is considered as the first General Chapter of the Institute.

Champagnat’s sensible deterioration in health1 was the circumstance which gave rise to the organization of an election for a Brother to succeed him in the government of the Institute. Fr  Colin advocated that each branch should  “have its Rules, its government and its Superior”2. Champagnat, on the other hand, “had laboured all his life with a single Society in mind”3, but he supported Colin’s desire “for the election of a Brother to succeed him.4”.  “Father Colin could see Marcellin’s strength decreasing daily, and he took it upon himself to approach the Archbishop, to inform him of Marcellin’s state of health and request the necessary powers to have a Brother elected to succeed him. The Archbishop authorized Father Colin to carry out the election, so he went to the Hermitage at the time of the annual retreat; there he explained to Father Champagnat the urgency of the step for the good of the Community and for his own peace of mind. It was decided that the election would take place at the close of the Retreat”5.
The Brothers were called together to be informed about electing by secret vote, the Brothers most capable of governing the Institute”.6

On 12 October 1839, the professed Brothers, 92 in number (another 18 remained in the establishments or on the missions), met in the Chapter-Room and, after a meditation of half an hour, each wrote on a ballot paper the names of three Brothers. Fr. Champagnat proposed as scrutators  Brothers Louis, Laurent, and Gabriel, and as secretaries Brothers  Maurice, Cassien and Andronic, who were elected by acclamation.7

When all had finished writing the names on the ballot papers, Fr. Champagnat collected them in an urn, and then the scrutators read them. The result was as follows: Brother François 87 votes; Brother Louis-Marie 70, Brother Jean Baptiste 57.

“Father Colin, with those results known, withdrew to consult Father Champagnat and the other Fathers. Before long he returned to the Chapter-Room and, in the presence of the whole Community, declared Brother  Francis Superior General of the Brothers and Brothers Louis-Mary and John-Baptist his Assistants”8.

Brother François received the title of Director General, Fr. Colin remaining the common  Superior 9 of  Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters of the Society of Mary. In practice, thanks to the openness of Father Colin, the entire administration of the Brothers was left in the hands of Brother  François.10

1 “His wearisome visits in Paris and the frustrations of every kind that he endured, ended up ruining his constitution and exhausting his little remaining strength. The result was that, on his return, it was quite evident that the end was fast approaching”. Br. John Baptist, Life of Joseph Benedict Marcellin Champagnat, Centenary Edition,  Rome 1989, p. 217.

2 Ibid.  p. 217.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.  p. 218.

5 Ibid.  pp. 218-19.

6 Ibid.

7 Procès-verbal of the election, Annales, Fr. AVIT, Tome 1, Rome 1993, p. 269.

8 Br. John Baptist, Life, p 220.

9 Up to 1853.

10 Histoire de lInstitut des Petits Frères de Marie, Vitte, Lyon, 1947, p. 29.


I Chapter - 1839, Hermitage


Government of the Insitute (1839 - 1852)