3 Vision and promise - the Fourvière pledge

At the end of the summer of 1813 Jean-Claude set off for the major seminary of St Irenaeus at Lyons for the final years of preparation for the priesthood. He was twenty-three years old.  Here he met with Jean-Claude Courveille, a fellow seminarian who spoke of an amazing encounter with the Blessed Virgin. Mary had spoken at the cathedral shrine of Le Puy. She wished to have a missionary society bearing her name: Marist.

'Ah, this suits me well', thought Colin, and the stirrings of a missionary spirit began to emerge.

The idea spread amongst a dozen of the young men. They would form Our Lady's Society. It would be a tree with several branches: priests, sisters, brothers and laity.

On Jul 22, 1816, several deacons of St Irenaeus were ordained priest. They included Colin, Courveille and a youthful Marcellin Champagnat.

Next day, Jul 23, twelve Marist aspirants climbed the hill of Fourvière overlooking Lyons to the ancient chapel of the Blessed Virgin. Here, for centuries, Catholics had sought the intercession of Mary for their future dreams. The youthful group solemnly pledged to establish the Society of Mary as soon as they could.


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