St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort
April 28 holds another special place on the Sulpician liturgical. It is the feast day of a famous priest-preacher, St Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, who attended the newly established “Little Seminary of Saint Sulpice” in Paris.
Born in the village of Montfort-sur-Meu in Brittany in 1673, De Montfort arrived in Paris at the age of twenty and began studies at the Sorbonne, where he lived the life of an impoverished student. He then entered the seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris and was ordained a priest in 1700, celebrating his first Mass in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church of Saint Sulpice.
De Montfort was highly influenced by the spirituality of Sulpician founder Jean-Jacques Olier, from whom he also took an emphasis on the Cross and on devotion to the Virgin Mary. He also became renowned for his apostolic zeal and for preaching many missions among the poor throughout his ministry in the West of France, in his native Brittany. He especially promoted devotion to the rosary and wrote both poetry and treatises on spiritual themes, especially centering on Mary.
In one passage, he writes of his central desire to promote devotion to Mary in order to know her Son better:
“If, therefore, we develop a solid devotion for the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, it is only to ground our devotion for Jesus Christ more perfectly. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, only gives an easy and assured meaning for finding Jesus Christ.” (Extract from the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin)
Several religious congregations trace their roots to this humble saint, especially the Daughters of Wisdom, the Montfort Missionaries (the Company of Mary), and the Brothers of Saint Gabriel. De Montfort was also known for his spiritual writings, especially The Love of Eternal Wisdom and Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII on 27 July 1947. Blessed Pope John Paul II greatly admired de Montfort’s teaching and took his notion of total devotion to the Virgin Mary as in inspiration for his motto,” Totus Tuus.”
The present Church of Saint Sulpice in Paris preserves the memory of this great saint through a lovely statue sculpted by Pierre RESNAYS in 1890 and appropriately kept in the Chapel of the Virgin Mary where he had celebrated his first Mass.
As we commemorate the memory of this great priest just days before the month of May, devoted to Mary begins, we pray for his intercession in promoting faithful and zealous priests to continue his mission to spread devotion to Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church.
Collect for Prayer for the Day
You made St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort
an apostle of the mystery of the cross
and an eminent servant of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
During this Easter season, grant that we my commune
with the Victory of the Crucified One
and share the joy of his mother. We ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.