The Marist Brothers continue to be inspired by St. Marcellin Champagnat (1789-1840), a young French priest who founded the order in 1817 to combat the illiteracy and spiritual poverty in post-Revolutionary France. Marcellin believed God called him to help young people, especially those in need. He responded by forming a religious community of Brothers dedicated to educating youth and conveying the love of Jesus Christ through Mary.
Like many youngsters of his day, Marcellin did not attend school regularly; the French Revolution wreaked havoc on civic life in that period. Although gifted with natural intelligence, Marcellin’s lack of formal education caused him to struggle as a seminarian. From those difficulties sprang his educational philosophy, “To educate children you must love them and love them all equally.”
Realizing that many young people had little religious or academic education, Marcellin was determined to combat the illiteracy and spiritual poverty caused by the violence and chaos of the Revolution.
While still in the seminary, Marcellin joined small group of seminarians that pledged themselves to form a new society dedicated to Mary and open to religious and laymen and women alike. Six months after his ordination, after encountering a dying teenager who knew little of the Catholic faith, Marcellin founded a religious community called The Little Brothers of Mary -- now called The Marist Brothers of the Schools. His goal: to make Jesus Christ known and loved through the Christian education of youth, especially the most neglected.
When Marcellin died in 1840, there were 280 Brothers evangelizing and supporting youth. In 1955 Marcellin Champagnat was declared Blessed by Pope Pius XII. He was canonized a SAINT by Pope John Paul II on April 18, 1999.
For an in-depth video presentation on
the life of St. Marcellin Champagnat, click here.
Our Founder: St. Marcellin Champagnat