Saint Marcellin’s Formative Years
Saint Marcellin’s attitudes toward life were influenced by three people whom he loved:
- Father – an intelligent and hard working man who taught Saint Marcellin how to live as a good citizen.
- Aunt – a Sister of St. Joseph who was an example of living a life of faith dedicated to God.
- Mother – strengthened the faith of Saint Marcellin by her example and everyday practice of faith as a believer in Christ.
Saint Marcellin Champagnat Ordained
Saint Marcellin attended a seminary located in Verrieres from 1805 to 1813. It was not always easy for him in the seminary and he was tempted to give it all up and move on. Saint Marcellin continued as a seminarian in Lyon to be educated in spiritual and theological formation.
While attending the seminary in Lyon, Saint Marcellin and other seminarians began thinking about the basics for the foundation of the Society of Mary. Saint Marcellin convinced the other brothers that the society should be a teaching group to educate the needy Christians in remote areas because they were in the most ignored children.
Saint Marcellin was ordained a priest on July 2, 1816.
Saint Marcellin Founded Marist Brothers
When Saint Marcellin was given his first assignment as a priest in Lavalla-en-Gier, he was horrified at the ignorance about the Catholic faith that existed in the village. The people had no idea about the basic beliefs of the faith.
Saint Marcellin asked two young men to join him in forming the Marist Brothers on January 2, 1817. His plan was to form a group of teaching men to educate the children in the Catholic faith and academics. Soon other men between the ages of fifteen and eighteen joined him as Brothers teaching the children. He taught these men how to live in a religious community, how to pray, and how to teach.
The success of the school Saint Marcellin opened in La Valla caused other schools to be founded in other parts of the country.
Saint Marcellin Afflicted with Cancer
Saint Marcellin Champagnat died on June 6, 1840 at Our Lady of the Hermitage in Gier River Valley. He suffered a long battle with cancer and died at the age of fifty-one. Saint Marcellin’s final message was: “Let there be among you just one heart and one mind. Let it always be said of the Little Brothers of Mary as it was of the early Christians: See how they love one another.”